Album Review: The Lonely Island, “Turtleneck & Chain” (2011)

I’ll admit to enjoying The Lonely Island’s debut album, Incredibad.  The comedy trio (made up of Saturday Night Live comedian, Andy Samberg, and his two friends, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) was able to create an entertaining- albeit, uneven- album; though some of the songs weren’t too funny, and a few of the sketches were too broad, the triumph was really in their original comedy songs, like J-zz in My Pants and Like A Boss.

The band saw quite a bit of success from the singles released from Incredibad; I couldn’t go anywhere during the summer of ‘09 without hearing I’m On A Boat, and my friends and I constantly made references to the lyrics in Dick in a Box and Natalie’s Rap.  Hoping to follow up on the success of their first album, The Lonely Island released Turtleneck & Chain in 2011, to the excitement of their many fans (including myself).

Unfortunately, the album is mainly disappointing.  While the group is still able to deliver the laughs on a few songs, the majority of the disc is filled with over the top, amateurish jokes that feel more in place at a junior high school boy’s locker room than on a comedy album for adults.

The disc opens with We’re Back! a track that perfectly illustrates what I was I was just talking about it terms of immaturity.  The song starts off sounding like a rap track, with the band proclaiming they’re back from their short musical hiatus- but each of the band members keep interjecting talking about their various sexual issues (“Hey, yo- my dick don’t work, that s–t is soft as a pillow”).  The idea is funny for the first few seconds, but it becomes tiresome after the third or fourth dick joke.

One of the biggest songs from the album was I Just Had Sex, another hip-hop parody track.  Rapper/R&B singer, Akon, even makes an appearance during the choruses, which act as an anthem for anyone who “just had sex” in the last half hour.  The song is pretty funny- there are a few zingers thrown in throughout the verses (“I’m so humbled by a girl’s ability to let me do her/’Cause honestly I’d have sex with a pile of manure”), and the concept of men being so excited about having sex that they need to sing a song about it is fairly clever, but I still don’t feel like the song is as good as some of the other better executed songs in The Lonely Island’s catalogue. 

I’d never really think of Michael Bolton as being funny, and in fact, I still don’t, but that doesn’t stop him from collaborating with the band on Jack Sparrow.  The rap song is set up as being a duet between Bolton and the band, but when it’s Bolton’s time to sing his parts during the chorus, he goes into an homage to the Pirates of the Caribbean main character, Jack Sparrow.  The song only works the first time you listen to it, really- it is pretty funny when you’re expecting Bolton to start singing about being in the club and he begins wailing about Captain Jack Sparrow instead, but after the first listen, the song isn’t catchy or funny enough for repeated listens.

The two songs I like the most are during the latter half of the album, and are actually back to back.  The first of the two, Motherlover, was first introduced as an SNL sketch.  The song plays as a sort of sequel to Dick in a Box, and Justin Timberlake returns as Samberg’s R&B duet partner.  The song premiered on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and I remember actually watching the episode with my own mom and both of us laughing hysterically.  Timberlake and Samberg promise each other to help give their respective mothers the perfect mother’s day, by pleasing her in bed (“This is the perfect plan/For a perfect Mother’s Day/They’ll have to rename this one/‘All up under the covers day’”).  The lyrics are sharp and smart, and Timberlake does a perfect vocal impression of late 80’s/early 90’s R&B singers.

The Creep was another SNL sketch, and another that made me laugh hysterically.  Actually, I recommend that everyone watch the actual sketch on YouTube or something before blindly hearing the song; the guys in their “creep” costumes (which consist of suspenders, big glasses and slicked back hair) is utterly hilarious and worth seeing.  Rapper Nicki Minaj is featured during the song as well, and though I don’t typically care for Minaj’s music, I have to admit that I do enjoy her rap and her addition as the female creep.  Most of the lyrics are just about the guys (and Minaj) “creeping” on people they find attractive, but I still find most of the lines to be pretty funny (“Yeah, I knew I was a creep since the day I was born/Came poppin’ out my mama like some kettle corn” is my favorite), and the song is a lot of fun.

The collaborations don’t stop there, though.  The title track has an appearance from rapper Snoop Dogg.  The song itself is pretty good; the chopped and screwed sound is pretty authentic, and the simplistic chorus (“Turtleneck & chain/Turtleneck & chain/Turtleneck & chain/’sippin on a light beer”) makes the song seem like something you’d unironically hear on a rap music radio station (and if you don’t believe me, just listen to DJ Webstar’s “Chicken Noodle Soup” song, which I’ve realized this song is likely a parody of.  The choruses are just too similar).  The song isn’t actually that funny, though, and Snoop’s rap isn’t very amusing either, but I genuinely do like the sound of this song, so that saves it for me.  R&B singer, Rihanna, is the vocalist on Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde.  Rihanna sings about robbing a bank with “Shy Ronnie” as her accomplice, but Ronnie is terribly shy, and can’t stop mumbling about his part in the heist.  The fun part of the song really lies in hearing Rihanna’s distinctive vocals taking on the absurdity of this track (“No one in the bank can hear you/Shy Ronnie, use your outside voice!/…Please, please use your words!/Just imagine that everyone’s naked”).

The rest of the album is (to put it nicely) just stupid.  Rocky is an homage to the movie of the same name, but there’s just nothing funny about it.  Mama is about the guys’ love for their mothers, but the idea is already explored on Motherlover and done much better there, too.  Trouble On Dookie Island is as idiotic as its title suggests- the track is about a bunch of criminals who keep soiling themselves, and really, anyone over the age of 12 that refers to feces as “dookie” is just obnoxious, and not in a funny way.  I think my boyfriend’s favorite song on the album is Threw It On The Ground, in which the guys rap about receiving different things but just snobbishly throwing them aside, and while the track is worth a few chuckles, it’s not very clever or funny, overall.  Songs like Japan and Attracted To Us are so flimsily written and asinine that I feel like I’m losing brain cells just by listening.  And I won’t even get started on the (many) pointless, unfunny interludes and sketches.

The Lonely Island really failed on this album. The few standout tracks on Turtleneck & Chain are the ones where the lyrics are cleverly written and humorous.  It feels like the rest of the album was sloppily put together, and the guys just relied on cheap gags and toilet humor to get them through, which isn’t funny to anyone past the age or maturity level of 12.  It’s mostly just disappointing because the strong tracks on their debut were promising, and there’s a few glimpses of that here, but it seems like The Lonely Island is running out of funny things to sing about.

Rating: 2_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. We’re Back!
2. Mama
3. I Just Had Sex
4. Jack Sparrow
5. Attracted To Us
6. Rocky
7. My Mic – Interlude
8. Turtleneck & Chain
9. Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde
10. Trouble On Dookie Island
11. Falcor vs. Atreyu – Classy Skit #1
12. Motherlover
13. The Creep
14. Watch Me Do Me – Classy Skit #2
15. Threw It On The Ground
16. Japan
17. After Party
18. No Homo
19. No Homo Outro

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