As the comedy rap trio The Lonely Island, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer have mocked everything from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to having sex with your best friend’s mom. Nothing seems off limits for these SNL 9 to 5ers, whose Digital Shorts are the only sure thing on the show. But on their sophomore album, Turtleneck & Chain (out May 10), a song called “Japan,” about “three cool white friends in Japan,” took on unfortunate and unintended undertones after the series of disasters that rocked the nation last month.
Like most Lonely Island songs, “Japan” is one extended joke. Over sunny synths, the boys sing about their dream trip to Japan, which they hope their label will pay for. (Sample lyric: “Here we are at our five star hotel, the one from Lost in Translation.”) But yesterday, they revealed to us they would have removed it from the track list, if the album’s packaging wasn’t already “locked” when the earthquake struck on March 11. “It’s a bummer,” says Samberg, “because it was written out of us wanting to take a trip there.” Schaffer, who calls the song a “love letter” to the country, said “It’s a very positive song about Japan, but we didn’t want anybody to misconstrue it in light of the new things that have happened.”
They said they hope to talk about the song enough so that people who do hear it, or even see “Japan” on the tracklist, won’t take it the wrong way. “Obviously everything that’s happened there is tragic,” an uncharacteristically serious Andy Samberg added. “And we’re planning on making a donation to the red cross immediately, based on the record.”