By Adam Taxin
Thursday, July 28
Introducing the final of the 25 performances at last night’s Delco Idol Round 4, emcee Sue Serio (weather anchor of FOX 29’s “Good Day Philadelphia”) seemed both perplexed and amused by the title of a song with which she clearly was not familiar: “Screw Loose.” 19-year-old Jessica Sharples of Berwyn followed Serio’s introduction with a hammed-up performance, including, at its conclusion, a bizarre awkward kiss to the audience.
The panel of judges deemed Sharples’s performance sufficiently outstanding that she will continue on, as one of the 15 contestants, ages 14 to 24, who will get to compete in the final round of Delco Idol next Wednesday, August 3 at 7 PM at the Media Theatre.
The Media Theatre audience responded enthusiastically to Sharples’s performance, laughing along the way. This despite that, presumably, few there had ever heard of the song.
Philadelphia Jewish Culture Examiner was, however, one of the few in the audience familiar with “Screw Loose.” Its lyrics were written by a friend from college, David Javerbaum. (Full disclosure: this writer and Javerbaum, together, won MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head Imitation Contest in New York City in February 1995.)
Javerbaum, along with Fountains of Wayne member Adam Schlesinger, wrote the lyrics for “Screw Loose” for their 2008 Broadway musical Cry-Baby (based on the 1990 John Waters movie of the same name). Cry-Baby ran for 68 performances at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre. Javerbaum is currently working on a revised version of the musical with a smaller band and cast; it is expected to run at St. Louis’s New Line Theatre in early 2012.
Javerbaum, informed of the performance of “Screw Loose” last night, responded by saying, “It’s wonderful knowing a song I wrote five years ago is now being performed in Delco Idol, and in cabarets all over the country. It’s the best thing about songwriting, other than royalties.”
The former executive producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a winner of 11 Emmys and 2 Grammys, Javerbaum explained the origin of “Screw Loose”: “It was written for a character in the show [Lenore] who was crazy and obsessed with [title character] Cry-Baby. We thought of the Patsy Cline song ‘Crazy’ (written by Willie Nelson, by the way) and thought it would be fun to write a similar song, only the conceit was that she really was crazy.”
According to Javerbaum: “For now, ‘Screw Loose’ is the most lingering legacy from Cry-Baby. But we hope to be recording a cast album (finally!) in the next year so that people can hear the whole score.”
He adds that, as for the future, he hopes “to write a few more songs that will be well-known, but I’m certainly grateful ‘Screw Loose’ has taken on a life of its own.”