Comedy albums have a short shelf-life. After so many listens, the jokes tend to wear thin and the music doesn’t seem that catchy because you’ll start to realize that it was just an afterthought to the jokes anyway. The Lonely Island knows this, and strives to rise above this stereotype… And they succeed. The Lonely Island was formed by two Saturday Night Live writers (Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer) and cast member Andy Samberg, who is one of the only reasons to watch SNL these days. Their debut album, Incredibad, had one of the strongest debuts ever seen for a modern day comedy album, and it was no wonder why. The Lonely Island aren’t simply making fun of rap music, they’re embracing it while exposing what lies beneath. Their new album, Turtleneck & Chain, surpasses the first album in countless ways.
For one thing, this one actually feels like it’s a part of the genre it’s so keen on mimicking. They have obscure pop culture references sprinkled throughout, they have the obligatory ridiculous skits to act as transitions between songs, and they have a killer list of guest stars: Michael Bolton, Akon, Snoop Dogg, and Nicki Minaj (to name a few).
But none of this seems like a gimmick in the grand scheme of things. Just having Michael Bolton come in to sing the hook of your song is not funny, but what is funny is Michael Bolton coming in after just watching the Pirates of the Caribbean series for the first time and who inexplicably won’t stop singing about it. In “Japan,” the trio sings about their disdain for their label having never flown them anywhere exotic. In the song, the three of them find the most luxurious things and places to visit, all the while hoping that a music video gets green-lighted so their label has to pay for it all.
Comedy albums are hard to pull off, but it seems like The Lonely Island has a recipe for success. They know the line between what’s funny and what isn’t. They also understand the most overlooked aspect of comedy music: it must be as catchy as it is funny. They succeed on both counts.