The Freshmen (song)

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"The Freshmen"
Single by the Verve Pipe
from the album Villains
ReleasedJanuary 27, 1997
FormatCD single, Cassette
Length5:09 (album)
4:30 (single)
Songwriter(s)Donny Brown, Doug Corella, Jeffrey Joseph Douglas, Brad Vander Ark, Brian Vander Ark
Producer(s)Jack Joseph Puig
The Verve Pipe singles chronology
"Cup of Tea"
"The Freshmen"

"The Freshmen" is a song by the American alternative rock band the Verve Pipe. Released as the third single from their second studio album Villains, the song became the band's breakthrough hit in early 1997 and is the group's highest-charting single to date, peaking at number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 6 in Canada and number 28 in Australia.

Background and content[edit]

According to the FAQ on "Verve Pipings", the guitarist and lead singer Brian Vander Ark wrote the song about the guilt he felt from his ex-girlfriend committing suicide.[1] However, according to an external interview site, Vander Ark said that the suicide was a poetic license; the real incident which inspired the song was when his pregnant girlfriend had an abortion.[2]

In a 2019 interview with Songfacts, Vander Ark said:

"...It's for the most part a made-up story, which most of my songs are. These are stories that I come up with, and I do characters. Part of the story was true in the fact that I had gone out with a girl and my buddy had gone out with her after I went out with her, and then I went out with her again and then she ended up getting pregnant and having an abortion. But from there, there's poetic license that happens and makes the story more dramatic. A neophyte writer that I was, I ended up having her commit suicide, and that never happened."[3]


The song first appeared, in acoustic style, on their 1992 album I've Suffered a Head Injury. It was recorded a second time and released on the band's 1996 album, Villains. Later that year, the band recorded the song again, this time with the producer Jack Joseph Puig,[4] for release as a single in January 1997.[5] Subsequent pressings of Villains replaced the original album version with the single version. "The Freshmen" peaked at number 5 in the United States.

In addition, a slightly modified single version was released to radio, with Vander Ark singing the final lyrics of the second verse ("thinks about her now and how he never really wept") in the same melodic sequence as he sings the homologous lyrics at the end of the first verse ("stop a baby's breath..."), as opposed to his higher-pitched, almost yelled rendering of these lyrics in the version that appeared on the album.

Charts and certifications[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Verve Pipeings FAQ". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  2. ^ Carlini, Anne. (n.d.). "Brian Vander Ark: What’s Lurking Underneath" Exclusive Magazine. Retrieved October 28, 2007.
  3. ^ "Brian Vander Ark of the Verve Pipe: Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  4. ^
  5. ^ the Verve Pipe. "Freshmen [US #1] - The Verve Pipe". AllMusic. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  6. ^ " – The Verve Pipe – The Freshmen". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  7. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3274." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  8. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 3303." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  9. ^ " – The Verve Pipe – The Freshmen" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  10. ^ "The Verve Pipe Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  11. ^ "The Verve Pipe Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  12. ^ "The Verve Pipe Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  13. ^ "The Verve Pipe Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard.
  14. ^ "The Verve Pipe Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard.
  15. ^ "The Verve Pipe Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  16. ^ "RPM '97 Year End Top 100 Hit Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  17. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1997". Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  18. ^ "Best-Selling Records of 1997". Billboard. BPI Communications Inc. 110 (5): 76. January 31, 1998. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  19. ^ "American single certifications – Verve Pipe, The – The Freshmen". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  20. ^ "judge a Book by Skott Freedman on Apple Music". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  21. ^ "The Freshmen - Single by Jay Brannan on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved June 23, 2017.

External links[edit]