Music and comedy have always existed in together in some form or another. But when The Lonely Island brought rap and their slightly juvenile humor together for an album by the name of Incredibad a couple years back, something was different. The commercial and cult success of tracks like “I’m on a Boat”, “Jizz in My Pants” and “Like a Boss” not only grabbed the attention of Saturday Night Live fans, but outsiders, hipsters and music critics as well. If you somehow avoided the after-effects of doing anything ‘like a boss’, you probably missed out on one of the more humorous songs this side of Weird Al. So when the trio announced they’d be coming back for another album, the expectations and anticipation seemed colossal from a critical standpoint. And while their newest collection of tracks Turtleneck & Chain certainly has its moments, the end result is one of disappointment and a step back for The Lonely Island in the humor department.
Repeating as a cultural phenomenon is no easy feat, but Turtleneck & Chain certainly brings pulls out all the stops to bring these guys back to the popularity of the first album. While the first single “I Just Had Sex” is straight-up teenage humor fueled by an Akon chorus, “The Creep” attempts to inspire a dance craze that ends up inspiring us to be awkward socially above all else. Still, both feature solid guest spots, with “The Creep” featuring a couple lines from John Waters and a biting, yet equally as humorous verse from buzzing hip-hop starlet Nicki Minaj. While neither is pure gold musically, they both offer a reasonable balance of humor and musical accessibility – something this group seems unable to do through most of Turtleneck & Chain. Throw in the rest of the grab bag of guest appearances, such as Beck, Michael Bolton, Snoop Dogg and Justin Timberlake, and it is easy to see that the table is titled their way for success.
Musically, this bunch of tracks fluctuates between club-ready thumpers (“Turtleneck & Chain”, “Jack Sparrow”), brooding hip-hop (“Threw It on the Ground”) and pop-leaning comedy numbers. While in every essence this can be called a comedy album, these tracks are nothing without a good backing number, and The Lonely Island didn’t forget that. Oddly, some of the tracks could have sounded like anything and it wouldn’t help get them (“Japan”, “No Homo”) off the ground, but those tracks are in the minority when it comes to the instrumentals.
On the flip side, Turtleneck & Chain feels like a fork in the road when it comes to the lolz. Everything either hits right on point, or is painfully unfunny. Forcing tracks like “Japan” and “No Homo” make them sound even more pitiful when the same joke is slammed into the ground repetitively. Others ruin a good joke by relying on it too much (“Mama”), making what could have been an incredibly funny track only slightly funny after a few listens. There is certainly a drop-off in truly funny comedic content here, even from someone who identifies with the usually childish and often absurd brand of comedy The Lonely Island. Still, “The Creep” is oddly entertaining, “Threw It on the Ground” is certainly quotable in many a situation and “Jack Sparrow” is so goofball (thanks to Michael Bolton... not a typo) that you can’t help but laugh. Even with so many misses, there are so many laughs to be had amongst these tracks that you can’t consider this a complete failure.
Disappointing as it might be, Turtleneck & Chain could be a turning point for this group. Perhaps the pressure of delivering another knockout album ending up being too much, or maybe they got so wrapped up in themselves they forgot other people would be listening to this. With what appears to be an all-in attempt at an album, The Lonely Island sadly can’t float the boat they were on the first time around.
3. I Just Had Sex (feat. Akon)
4. Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton)
5. Attracted to Us (feat. Beck)
7. My Mic - Interlude
8. Turtleneck & Chain (feat. Snoop Dogg)
9. Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde (feat. Rihanna)
10. Trouble on Dookie Island
11. Falcor vs. Atreyu - Classy Skit #1
12. Motherlover (feat. Justin Timberlake)
13. The Creep (feat. Nicki Minaj and John Waters)
14. Watch Me Do Me - Classy Skit #2
15. Threw It on the Ground
17. After Party (feat. Santigold)
18. No Homo
19. No Homo Outro
The Lonely Island is a comedy rap group consisting of filmmakers Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg (aka The Dudes). The group was originally formed in Berkeley, California - in 2001 - but they now reside in New York City. They write, produce, and are featured in the "SNL Digital Shorts" on Saturday Night Live (Samberg is a current cast member, Taccone and Schaffer are writers) most notably "Lazy Sunday," "Dick In A Box" featuring Justin Timberlake, "Jizz In My Pants," and "I'm On A Boat" featuring T-Pain. ... read more