Album Review: Turtleneck & Chain by The Lonely Island
Great, Based on 5 Critics
Rolling Stone - 100 Based on rating 5/5
Five years since "Dick in a Box" forever changed our idea of dicks, boxes and Justin Timberlake, SNL's pop-parody trio show no sign of running out of impossibly brilliant half-jokes. Their consistently great second disc combines songs you've YouTubed to death ("I Just Had Sex," "Motherlover") with top-shelf new material featuring good sports from Michael Bolton to Snoop Dogg (they also throw in a DVD of their Web shorts). The best parody is "No Homo" ("Eh, yo, no homo, but I wanna dress up like Dorothy and butt-fuck a dude while he 69s Morrissey").
Truly, ”D— in a Box” is the gift that keeps on giving for the Lonely Island, the nom de fake rap of Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg and his BFFs, SNL writer-directors Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. Since that brilliant, indisputably instructive R&B satire first appeared in 2006, the trio — along with featured players like Rihanna, T-Pain, and a very game Justin Timberlake — has had remarkable success in the notoriously difficult genre of ”funny music,” hitting a neat balance of parody and sweet-natured homage (peppered with plenty of references to their respective junk). Now, two years after Incredibad, a debut that collected many of the group’s greatest, previously televised hits, comes Turtleneck & Chain, a perfectly acceptibad follow-up.
When the Lonely Island's parodic viral rap anthem "I'm on a Boat" snagged a Grammy nomination in 2009, guest singer T-Pain expressed a bit of confusion: This thing was a lark, a skit for "Saturday Night Live" and (maybe more to the point) for YouTube, and here it is, getting one of the highest honors T-Pain will probably ever get. In "We're Back!", the opening track of their sophomore album, Turtleneck & Chain, Lonely Island member Jorma Taccone points out how weird that was: "Lonely Island! Grammy nominated!"-- this right after Andy Samberg raps about how his dick looks like "the fat that you cut off a steak. " "We're Back!" is an absurd, overblown take on the intro to every self-aggrandizing blockbuster rap album ever, but Turtleneck & Chain could well outsell plenty of the stuff it spoofs.
Back once again with the ill behavior, Lonely Island’s second effort is more of the same, which for many means that life is still worth living. Irony and stupidity abound as the crew has its way with that sweet and rare event called “lovemaking” (“I Just Had Sex” with Akon), your Mom (“Motherlover” with Justin Timberlake), hip-hop culture (“No Homo”), and popular culture in general (pretty much everything else), as interludes that owe a lot to Adam Sandler tie it all together. The jokes are the main attraction -- they contrast extreme bravado and extreme embarrassment for maximum hilarity -- but the great trick behind Lonely Island is their keen awareness of whatever genre they are mocking.
On the surface, it seems a little silly to give a real review to a fake rap album. But The Lonely Island is not your average musical comedy group. They nab huge guest spots and write soaring hooks around songs that are good enough to make you have to decide between singing along and cracking up. Plus, with a Grammy nomination under their belts, they know how important they are to the music world (“We invented this fake rap shit/the world needs us!”).