Valentine’s Day forever placed its stamp on February as a month for love. Weeks before the holiday, boyfriends and girlfriends plan endearing tributes for their significant others while singles pine for romance. However, before the gifting of flowers and chocolates, there is a holiday seldom celebrated and often forgotten: Groundhog Day.
Every February 2nd in a sleepy Pennsylvania town, a seemingly immortal groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his burrow to prognosticate the state of winter. The holiday is shamelessly kitsch and appreciated in a lighthearted manner, but in 1993, the Bill Murray-starring movie Groundhog Day brought a new understanding to the day (or days, depending on your philosophy of time). In short, a conceited weatherman played by Murray finds himself repeatedly living out Groundhog Day. What an existential dilemma for such a minor holiday.
Interestingly, the theme of this movie continues to inspire artists and thinkers. In a 2004 article in The Independent titled “The greatest story ever told?” it is noted that religious leaders consider Groundhog Day the most spiritual movie of all time.
A band that clearly empathizes with the film’s message is the Manic Street Preachers. Formed in 1995, the Welsh alternative rock group rose to prominence toward the end of the decade. Glam punk imagery and songs about boredom and despair gained them a cult following (they released their ninth studio album Journal For Plague Lovers last year). In 2001, on the heels of their sixth album, Know Your Enemy, the Manic Street Preachers released an EP consisting of B-sides. Strangely, Know Our B-Sides was only released in Japan and can still only be purchased as an import. But while the record on the whole isn’t particularly noteworthy — the EP opens with an Avalanches remix of “So Why So Sad,” which is something — the track “Groundhog Days” clearly stands out for its thematic content.
“Groundhog Days” is a straightforward verse-chorus-verse rock song. It begins with some nifty fingerpicking and melodic vocals, which give way to an arena-filling, distortion-drenched chorus. It feels mundane in its simple, formulaic approach — but that feels like the point. “Waking up again/ to the same old things/ To the same old songs/ To the same old pain.” Indeed, just as the movie explores the monotony of continually reliving the same day, the song examines a similar feeling but ultimately coming to more “emo” conclusions. Matched with the familiar pattern of the song, “Groundhog Days” ironically creates a condition similar to the one being described: the listener hears a predictable rock song and feels the inescapable pattern.