French Cassettes’ ‘Good For It’ Is a Happy Song Full of Sad Feelings

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Mackenzie Bunch and Scott Huerta (left to right) of French Cassettes.  (Photo: Jeff Bender; illustration: Kelly Heigert )

Welcome to Pass the Aux, where KQED Arts & Culture brings you our favorite new tracks by Bay Area artists. Check out past entries and submit a song for future coverage here.

Happy sad songs have a special status purely happy songs can’t quite achieve. Sometimes a happy song is just too upbeat to bear when you’re upset. But a happy sad song coats its inner anguish in catchy hooks, group vocals and twangy guitars. It Trojan-horses its way into your brain, giving permission to either wallow in its company or move your feet to its beat. The happy sad song doesn’t judge you for feeling whichever way you’re feeling. The happy sad song takes its cue from you.

“Good For It” is the happiest sad song I’ve heard in a long while. Released Oct. 1, almost a year after French Cassettes’ late 2020 album Rolodex came out, the single follows in the footsteps of that excellent power-pop record, but its sound is sparer and rawer. Clocking in at 2:09 minutes, “Good For It” nourishes the soul like a complimentary shot of wheatgrass, full of all the delightful harmonies, warm swells of sound and jangling keyboards one could want from something so short and sweet.

French Cassettes guitarist and vocalist Scott Huerta describes the process of writing “Good For It” as a semi-accident, the result of spontaneously singing “I thought you said you were feeling better” while testing out a new mic at home. The rest of the song flowed from there, fueled by the knowledge that a loved one was going through a hard time. “Worked on the demo all night,” Huerta wrote of the song, “and when I finished it at 5am I messaged my brother that I wrote a new song that I think is good and I’ll never forget his response. ‘It’s kinda early.’”


The rush of emotion that propelled “Good For It” into being isn’t lost in the re-recorded single. Huerta’s vocals cascade from high to low, with Mackenzie Bunch on guitar and keyboards (adding a light, bouncing staccato), Thomas Huerta on bass and Rob Mills on drums. Brief call-and-response moments add a bit of Greek chorus to the mix. “Could you ever see yourself without me?” Huerta sings. “I hope you don’t.” “No!” the chorus replies.

In true happy sad song fashion, “Good For It” doesn’t offer just melancholy words to a peppy beat, but a jumble of conflicting feels at every turn. What are we supposed to do with the lyrics “So come back, come back” and their proximity to “Oh, dude / That’s good news”? In this respect, the song is remarkably like real life (imagine that!): a place where joy is laced with sorrow, relationships are complicated and music can momentarily turn even the most solitary experiences into shared ones.

For those who hear “Good For It” and want more where that came from, French Cassettes are about to embark on a mini-tour up the coast of California, starting Oct. 13 in Los Angeles and ending Oct. 16 at the 20th Street Block Party, a Noise Pop concert headlined by Portland’s Y La Bamba and San Francisco’s Con Brio.