I’m sure you remember the first time you ever heard of The Lonely Island, though even if you have no active recollection of the group’s name, it is more than likely that at least one of their songs has managed to permeate your subconsciousness. Especially in adolescent circles of friends, songs such as I’m On A Boat (feat. T-Pain), D*** In A Box and the notorious Mother Lover – the latter both featuring one Mr Justin Timberlake – carry a certain humorous high school infamy.
It is this very notion of cheeky notoriety that has pushed The Lonely Island upwards throughout their career, with the members of the mock rap group picking up some surprisingly accomplished accolades throughout their comedy career. Such decorations include a Grammy nomination for their previous album, Turtleneck & Chain in the ‘Best Comedy Album’ category, as well as winning an Emmy award for D*** In A Box, alongside hundreds of millions of YouTube videos for their music videos. The trio – made up of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone – are certainly a force to be reckoned with, especially in the U.S where they often appear on Saturday Night Live, and this is echoed by the number of high-end collaborations that they have managed to pack into The Wack Album.
Their third album since 2009 sees the group join forces once again for a number of songs, including efforts from Swedish pop queen Robyn, former N*E*R*D member Pharrell Williams, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Solange Knowles and – somewhat surprisingly – even Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. The first full track, Kindergarten (feat. Robyn) is practically a forewarning of things to come, with the declaration of ‘Party people, we are taking control of your mind’, and with The Wack Album being of epic proportions at 20 songs long, it is certainly apt. Songs such as YOLO (feat. Adam Levine) and Spell It Out practically revel in tearing into modern day pop culture, with the former making fun of rapper introductions and subsequently supplying us with the longest rapper name in history. And talking of history, there is a distinct whiff of the Epic Rap Battle wafting around the entire album, especially on the featureless tracks such as I’m A Hustler (Song?). If you’ve never encountered the series – which pits historic and pop culture figures in a rap battle against each other (eg. Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking) – take to YouTube to see what I mean.
There are more lacklustre offers however, such as You’ve Got The Look guest starring the usually hilarious Kristin Wiig and a rather awkward supplement from actor Hugh Jackman (eg. ‘You’re rockin’ one solo titty’ – quote) in a song which manages to make Wiig appear as though she has never managed to raise a snigger in her entire career. I Run NY (feat. Billie Joe Armstrong) and I F****d My Aunt (feat. T-Pain) are equally as painful, with the only other track that manages to salvage things being 3 Way (The Golden Rule) (feat. Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga), with the song continuing the motherlovin’ BFF saga that began in previous singles D**k In A Box, J**z In My Pants (???) and Mother Lover. Indeed, alongside his BFF cohort, Timberlake embodies the best character here.
Every group will always be under pressure to surpass or at least match their previous work; unfortunately for a great many types of creative output, the novelty wears off, and as the group are now on their third album, for The Lonely Island, the jokes and originality are beginning to wear thin. Whilst the various collaborations that they have managed to snare are impressive in scale, the songs just are not good enough for the people featuring on them. Lyrically, the songs alternate between crudely tongue – in – cheek (good) and borderline tragic (bad) , and with lines such as ‘I can get more ‘hugs’ than Oprah sellin’ drugs’ and ‘Cause I get more hugs than a batch of puppy pugs’ in, er, Hugs (feat. Pharrell Williams), it is hard to decide.
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