To: The Lonely Island, Inc.
From: Abraham Riesman, analyst
Subject: Acknowledging your children
Messrs. Andy, Jorm, and Kiv—
We need to talk about Incredibad.
First off, congratulations — your debut masterpiece turns two on Friday. It remains that rarest of jewels: a comedy album comprised of original songs that you can find yourself humming during idle moments alone.
But you guys have to take some ownership. You’ve been neglectful parents to some of your jams.
Sure, you pushed most of the album’s tracks into titanic ubiquity. It’s almost awkward for a snobby comedy fan to express affection for greats like “Dick in a Box,” “I’m on a Boat,” or “Lazy Sunday.” And, unsettlingly, “Like a Boss” has become a rallying cry in the dark corners of the Internet.
But what about all of the secondary tracks? The ones without videos and that don’t get mentioned in interviews? When will you stand up for them? To remind you of their worth, I’ve assembled this little ranking of Incredibad’s forgotten heroes:
It’s like “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” except with an alien committing statutory rape. I mean, how many groups these days follow in Springsteen’s footsteps by reciting an origin story? And with the clank-a-lank guitar and round-the-horn rhyme-passing, this is the closest you guys have come to audibly hat-tipping the Beastie Boys, which is sweet of you to do. I do have to ask: given the alien’s declaration near the end, is your group’s name “The Lonely Island” or “Incredibad”? Like all your best songs, this one raises way more questions than it answers.
Skits are a hard thing to manage on any rap album. And to be honest, “Shrooms” only really works because 8-bit beats are always fun if they only last about 30 seconds. But “Normal Guy”… man, do I love “Normal Guy.” Again, we’re faced with unanswerable postmodern queries: are we listening to Jorm and Kiv interacting with the Normal Guy, or are they performing a re-creation that is entered into the Award for Best Comedy Sketch? And is the Normal Guy’s suicide prompted by his realization that he has become everything he hates? Oh, and I have a request: can you send me an mp3 of the background muzak from the opening?
There’s something admirable about the mere fact that none of you have any vocals on the fifth track of your debut album. But unfortunately, this one got some prominent haterade when the record came out. Boo to that, because there’s a lot to love. That ominous bass. The wet drums. The fact that you didn’t bother getting an actual saxophone, even when all you had to do was play it poorly. And ultimately, Sax Man isn’t the villain of this piece! Jack Black is! After all, Sax Man is said to be just a little over three weeks old! I defend him and the song bearing his name.
Oh man, where do I begin with this one? Obviously, your Jurassic 5 impersonations are eerily dead-on (you’re Bay Boys, so I shouldn’t be shocked), but this goes way beyond parody. Like so much great comedy, you combine 100% commitment with a premise that makes zero sense. For example, within the first 52 seconds, the narrators completely contradict themselves – first the pants “can be on your legs or on the clothesline,” but then “it really doesn’t matter, as long as you’re in ‘em.” And just… why? Their obsession is as irrational and laser-focused as that of a serial killer. “Gonna go back in time / find the man who made jeans / and choke him to death / if you know what I mean.” I do know what you mean, Jorm.
I used to be furious with you guys for not turning this one into a Digital Short, but then I realized that such a thing would defeat the whole purpose. It’s like an H.P. Lovecraft story – there’s no way anything could top the horrible visuals we create in our own minds when we hear the text (e.g. “You’re like Cleopatra / with the eyes of a pig”). For a year or so, I wondered what Norah was saying in the last line. When I realized she was reading Chex Mix’s trademark symbol, I audibly gasped.
If and when you take your show on the road, please don’t forget these nuggets. In closing, I turn to words used at the funeral of Willy Loman (who was, himself, something of a lonely island): Attention must be paid.
Yours in fake rap,
P.S. “The Old Saloon” is still hard to forgive.