Album Review: The Lonely Island, ‘The Wack Album’

luke kalamar is on a boat …

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The path of success The Lonely Island has been on over the past several years is astounding. In their early years, all Andy Samberg, Jorma Tuccone, and Akiva Schaffer had was a website and a series of comedic videos. They were just another example of guys who wanted to find success making their own content on the Internet. Very few of these people during the Internet boom actually became success stories. As it turned out, The Lonely Island was to become a member of that rare bunch that actually made it to the big time. The trio was invited to join the Saturday Night Live team in 2005, 4 years after they officially formed, with Tuccone and Akiva as writers and Samberg as a cast member. The rest really is history. Digital Shorts became a regular feature of Saturday Night Live and this troupe from Berkeley, California found unimaginable success creating extremely vulgar comedy hip hop. The trio has since worked with the likes of Akon, Nicki Minaj, Michael Bolton, and even Justin Timberlake on multiple occasions, and their hit song “I’m On A Boat” with T-Pain was nominated for a Grammy. Their music videos became a regular source of enjoyment as well for fans, which makes sense considering how the group started out. Their latest release, The Wack Album, is just another addition to their ever growing profane music library. While The Wack Album truly is a very entertaining release that can probably never be played on regular radio, it still at times is its own worst enemy.

The Lonely Island guys.  From left, Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone. (Publicity shot, 2011)
The Lonely Island guys. From left, Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone. (Publicity shot, 2011)

Before The Wack Album even got close to release, The Lonely Island released a grand total of eight singles. Their earliest was “3-Way (Golden Rule)” featuring Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga which premiered during the May 21st, 2011 episode of Saturday Night Live. Despite this coming out very shortly after Turtleneck & Chain was released, “3-Way (Golden Rule) was to be the first single off their third album. This was followed by “YOLO” featuring Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar almost a full two years later and also on Saturday Night Live. It wasn’t until May 5th, 2013 that the rest of the singles started coming out on regular basis, all with their own music videos. I haven’t seen a group release so many singles and videos off one album before, but that fits perfectly with The Lonely Island’s style, and it actually worked. The majority of the singles were really catchy, the videos were fun to watch, and it fueled my excitement for this upcoming release.

What really works against the album however is the fact that the singles are easily the best tracks off the entire album, with the exception of the T-Pain single “I F****d My Aunt” which is just terrible. Both “YOLO” and “3-Way (The Golden Rule)” have been favorites since the very beginning, and tracks like “Semicolon” and “Spell It Out” are surprisingly catchy. “Semicolon” is probably one of the funniest tracks off this entire album and the music video is incredibly well done. Extremely explicit tracks “Diaper Money,” “Spring Break Anthem,” and “Go Kindergarten” featuring Robyn are actually a lot of fun to listen to and for one reason or another get stuck in your head. I’m not ashamed to mention that I’ve silently sung “Diaper Money” to myself on occasion. It’s absurd and that actually works in its favor. The music video for “Spring Break Anthem” even features Edward Norton, Zack Galifianakis, and James Franco which makes it one of those rare tracks where watching the video makes the song even better. I’d recommend checking out any of these tracks if you like this type of music, but obviously don’t if you’re easily offended. Then again, if you’re easily offended why are you checking out The Lonely Island to begin with?

The rest of the tracks have their moments but really don’t measure up. “I Don’t Give A Honk” copies the same style as “Punch You In The Jeans” with little success and “We Need Love” features the “We Like Sportz” duo again but simply isn’t as good. “Perfect Saturday” features a whole plethora of fart sounds (which is humorously addressed at the end of the track) that gets old fast and the two interludes “Where Brooklyn At?” and “I’m A Hustler” are forgettable at best. Hugh Jackman and Kristen Wiig appear on “You’ve Got The Look” which is a funny concept but fails to make the track stand out. I will say though that I did enjoy “I Run NY” featuring Billie Joe Armstrong and “Hugs” featuring Pharrell Williams, and at least The Wack Album features less throwaway tracks than Turtleneck & Chain.

The Wack Album, in more ways then one, is not meant for play on any Top 40 radio program or mainstream television shows outside of Saturday Night Live. The tracks are vulgar, absurd, disgusting, and a lot of fun if you’re okay with that type of music. However, not even an open mind can make some of these songs work as a bad song is simply a bad song regardless of who sings it. The album could have done without a few songs to shorten its 20 track count and would’ve probably been a lot better. If you like The Lonely Island like I do, I highly recommend you actually get this release to add to your collection, but be sure to avoid playing the album in public places/on the radio/on television and around children/old people/those who are easily offended.

Rating: 7/10

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