Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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10 Years, 100 Songs: #56. “Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 13, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

It’s hard to explain just how little I cared about Saturday Night Live in 2005. Really, I never gave much of a shit about the show in the first place–I was too young for the show’s second golden age, had no relation to the show’s first golden age, and got most of my exposure to the show through the previews for awful-looking skit-turned-flicks like A Night at the Roxbury and Superstar!. Whenever I caught a episode by chance or accident, I was unnerved by how little I found to laugh at. When I heard people seriously discussing the show, I got an expression on my face like they were discussing their latest klan meeting. When I saw someone link to a skit from it, I ignored it reflexively. The only thing SNL gave me that was worth a damn in the first half of the Naughty Oughties was Ashlee Simpson’s classic lip synching debacle–still one of the decade’s priceless pop culture moments, and tellingly, a complete accident on the part of the actual show.

Indeed, the fact that SNL was tied to “Lazy Sunday” probably meant that I didn’t see it for the first time until months after I should–really, it’s a miracle that I ever saw it at all. But, well…it was funny. I didn’t know who Andy Samberg or Chris Parnell were, I had never heard of The Lonely Island, and I was totally unfamiliar with the concept of a digital short. It all seemed like it should have just been another example of the kind of obnoxious, redundant form of humor that SNL had utterly mastered in my lifetime. But for once, I was actually with the crowd on this–the thing was clever, well-done and legitimately, laugh-out-loud hilarious. I had no idea what to make of this. And it wasn’t the end of it, either–there were plenty more, arguably even funnier videos on the way. How did this happen?

Ever since The Beastie Boys used a gigantic inflatable penis as a stage prop in 1986, Americans have had a very tempestuous relationship with the idea of the middle-to-upper-class white rapper. We want them to be funny, but not so funny that they don’t seem street-credible, and to be serious, but not so serious that they don’t seem to realize that they’re still a white person rapping. We probably don’t want them to rap about selling drugs or living in the projects, but we definitely don’t want them to rap about hanging out them getting drunk with their bros and attending Dave Matthews Band concerts. We’d like them to have at least a handful of black acquaintances, but we question their sincerity if they seem to only hang predominantly with black people. It’s a remarkably tricky tightrope, one whose walkers I do not envy, and one that remarkably few have successfully managed. And to attempt to make light of this situation, to parody it–well, that generally spells trouble for all involved.

How Samberg and Parnell managed to work “Lazy Sunday” I will never quite understand. “Two white guys rap about suburban activities in a satirical manner.” Uh, no thanks. It had been over two decades since “Rappin’ Rodney,” and there had been little, if any, evidence in the meantime to suggest that unapologetically-caucasian rap vignettes are really ever a good idea. Even today, one needs look no further than Taco Bell’s most recent ad onslaught to understand the potential pratfalls of such a venture. Yet Sandberg and Parnell pulled it off in a way that didn’t seem patronizing, pointless, or just purposefully stupid. And I guess the main reason why is because they didn’t really reach too far with it–it wasn’t exactly a hip-hop parody, in that it didn’t really mock any sort of the genre’s cliches (outside of the “It’s all about the Hamiltons, baby” part, which was my least favorite part of the song to begin with, and which may have even unwittingly inspired that Taco Bell video), and thankfully made no attempts to posit its two performers as any sort of gangstas. Indeed, it was just what it claimed to be–two guys rapping about a lazy sunday.

As always, the devil is in the details. The love of a good Magnolia cupcake, the debate about the best internet map service to use, the bravado accrued by correctly answering a pre-movie trivia question–yeah, most of us losers out there are going to understand at least a couple of those things, even if we need Wikipedia to figure out what exactly Mr. Pibb + Red Vines means (besides “crazy delicious,” anyway). It sounds like a legitimate Sunday’s worth of lazy activities, so to hear it taken to tense, cacaphonic levels of urgency–yeah, it’s pretty funny. It’d quickly become cringeworthy if the video was full of Samberg and Parnell throwing around hundreds and macking on video vixens while going about their business, but really, it’s just them doing the activities described in a relatively frill-less manner, minus the occasional endearingly-cheap montage or the insertion of lyrical phrases (“BAKER’S DOZEN,” “DOUBLE TRUE”) or movie posters (Ghost and The Notebook, both from inspired references). It certainly doesn’t follow all the rules of white-suburban-rapperdom, but it still feels honest enough with itself to get away with it. (The beat’s not even that great, but for 2:20, it doesn’t really have to be).

As previously stated, though, the really remarkable thing about “Lazy Sunday” was that it served as a jumping-off point for such further greatness. All told, “Dick in a Box” is probably the more enduring classic–the pitch-perfect, Justin Timberlake-featuring Lonely Island viral video of the next year that combined vulgarity, irony and surrealism better than just about anything since The Big Lebowski. Then the floodgates opened–“Jizz in My Pants,” “I’m On a Boat,” “Mother Lover,” all eventually enough that when Samberg hosted the MTV Movie Awards earlier this year (which, needless to say, would never have been possible without all these to begin with), he got to do a parody of his own material, as LeAnn Rimes, Chris Isaak, and (most hysterically) Forrest Whitaker performed a straight-faced symphonic medley of all the Lonely Island’s biggest hits. It’s one of the more unexpected and strange phenomenons of the decade, certainly, but I certainly think the 00s were certainly richer for having had it.

And now, dammit, I have to actually have to half-pay attention when people talk about SNL. Amy Poehler still sucks, though. Unreservedly so.

(Have any thoughts or remembrances of this song? Want to correct our lyrics or call us out for relying too much on Wikipedia? Please feel free to leave a comment here, or (gulp) Tweet us about it at twitter.com/intensities. Your input is lusted after and appreciated.)

The List So Far (Now With Links!):

100. Green Day – “Jesus of Suburbia
99. The Ying Yang Twins – “Wait (The Whisper Song)
98. Crazytown – “Butterfly
97. Taylor Swift – “Teardrops on My Guitar
96. The Fray – “Over My Head (Cable Car)
95. Fergie – “Fergalicious
94. Lidstrom – “I Feel Space
93. Chevelle – “Send the Pain Below
92. T-Pain f/ Yung Joc – “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)
91. The Arctic Monkeys – “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
90. Cassie – “Me & U
89. Nelly Furtado – “Maneater
88. Mike Jones f/ Slim Thug & Paul Wall – “Still Tippin’
87. Bat for Lashes – “Daniel
86. The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love
85. Dynamite Hack – “Boyz n the Hood
84. DJ Khaled f/ T.I., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Birdman, Lil’ Wayne & Akon – “We Takin’ Over
83. Matchbox20 – “Bent
82. The Game f/ 50 Cent – “Hate It or Love It
81. 311 – “Amber
80. 3 Doors Down – “Krptonite
79. Nas – “Made You Look
78. Royksopp – “Eple
77. The Pussycat Dolls – “Don’t Cha
76. DMX – “Party Up (Up in Here)
75. Junior Senior – “Move Your Feet
74. Twista f/ Kanye West & Jamie Foxx – “Slow Jamz
73. The Streets – “Weak Become Heroes
72. Jimmy Eat World – “The Middle
71. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps
70. Snoop Dogg f/ Pharrell – “Drop It Like It’s Hot
69. Alice DeeJay – “Better Off Alone
68. Xiu Xiu – “I Luv the Valley OH!
67. Incubus – “Stellar
66. Mariah Carey – “We Belong Together
65. Andrew W.K. – “Party Hard
64. Jurgen Paape – “So Weit Wie Noch Nie
63. Taking Back Sunday – “MakeDamnSure
62. Kid Cudi – “Day n Nite
61. Paramore – “That’s What You Get
60. System of a Down – “Toxicity
59. dNTEL f/ Ben Gibbard – “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan
58. Three 6 Mafia f/ 8Ball & MJG – “Stay Fly
57. Good Charlotte – “The Anthem
56. The Lonely Island – “Lazy Sunday”

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