The Lonely Island

The Lonely Island is not one of those bands that plays on the radio, nor do they play for multitudinary crowds in stadiums, and their name may not ring a bell, or that you think that they are completely unknown... but, what if I told you that they have recorded with artists like Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Julian Casablancas (vocalist of The Strokes), Lady Gaga, Michael Bolton, Norah Jones, or Snoop Dogg? Or that they have sold millions of copies of their singles? Or that they are a Grammy-nominated act that has reached to the number 1 in the list of rap albums?

Where's the trick then? Let's say that their music style is not the most popular one. The trio formed by Akiva Schaeffer, Jorma Taccone and Andy Samberg is known for its comedy and hip-hop-comedy. With a characteristic style, very different from all the other famous comedian/singers like Weird Al Jankovic or Flight of the Conchords, their compositions more energetic and powerful.

They started writing small songs and making parody-videos when they were in high school, and they were so successful at that level, that they were invited to participate as guest writer at the MTV Movie Awards. Jimmy Fallon, that edition's ceremony host and (back then) active member of the show Saturday Night Live (one of the most important and traditional comedic shows in the United States, with over four decades of experience) saw the potential in these three young men, and didn't doubt about recommending them for SNL. All three joined the show as writers, and Andy Samber also as a performing cast member (until just a few weeks back, when he announced his farewell during the presentation of the movie That's my boy.)

Although their main style is hip hop, they flirt with rock and specially with electronic music (Incredibad reminds of the Beastie Boys). The songs have a catchy rythm, and fun lyrics more often that not irreverent and off-color (most of their singles have the stikcer of "parental advisory, explicit lyrics"). A lethal combination.

For their collaboration with rapper T-Pain, they got a nomination to the 2010 Grammy Awards in the category of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, with the song I'm on a boat (the song that you can listen in the sidebar player). Although they didn't win (the award went to Run this town by Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West), their integration in American's popular culture was done.

Fast forward three years, and the music video for Dick in a box earned them an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. The song tells the story of a peculiar duo (formed by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake), in which they explain how the best Christmas present is to put their dick in a box, and let their girls open the box. The song was so successful that it derived into two sequels: Motherlover (with Patricia Clarkson and Susan Sarandon playing the role of their mothers), and 3-way. The Golden Rule (with Lady Gaga).

As part of the SNL cast, many of their music videos were released as SNL Digital Shorts, and were characterized by the famous cameos (Jessica Alba, Seth Rogen, Robin Wright...) and that add more comedy to the (already tongue in cheek) lyrics.

That's what brought us Michael Bolton dressed up as Forrest Gump and Erin Brokovich, in Jack Sparrow (you can see the video on the sidebar, with an amazingly funny Bolton dressed up as the popular captain from Pirates of the Caribbean, driving the members The Lonely Island crazy with his movie references); or some really aggressive Ryan Reynolds and Elijah Wood who don't like getting their dinner interrupted, in Threw it on the ground; the most politically incorrect Natalie Portman in Natalie's Rap; or a sexy Rihanna robbing a bank while Shy Ronnie (Samberg) "sings" in Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie and Clyde. And we must not forget their most popular song on Spotify: I just had sex.

And apart from their most famous songs, they have a great variety of not so well-known songs that are hilarious like Japan (about how they are writing a song about Japan because they have never been there and they want the label to pay for the trip), Mama or No homo.

With two albums out (Incredibad y Turtleneck & Chain), 6 golden and 3 platinum albums, we will see how their exit from SNL affects the a band that is full of talent and great sense of humor.

Article published on November 11, 2012.
This article has been modified since its original publication.