Solange, The Lonely Island Team Up For Grammar Lesson

For those unfamiliar with the term, "hashtag rap" refers to a delivery device in rap where the MC, instead of using "like" or "as a" in setting up a simile, just cuts straight to the word for emphasis. It’s a common tactic especially in the world of battle rap, where lines like these (usually "I’ll put [x] in a box") have become endlessly parodied clichés in and of themselves. In "Semicolon," their latest video for YouTube Comedy Week, the Digital Short veterans of The Lonely Island riff on the concept, with most welcome help from Maya Rudolph and Solange, who makes cheesy lines like "We run the game/Umpire/we chase the night/Young Squire" sound ever so smooth. 

Of course, within about 30 seconds of watching this video, those familar with the rules of grammar will notice that The Lonely Island and Solange are using the semicolon incorrectly. Instead of using the punctuation mark to separate two independent clauses, they use it to separate an independent clause from a word for emphasis, the typical job of a colon. And, as Slate’s David Haglund points out, there are a few other errors in need of a copy edit. But maybe that was the point of it all, to elaborately disguise a treatise on the futility of living your (that’s "your," not "you’re") life as a pedant and feeling better about yourself because of it in the middle of a spoof of hashtag rap. That’s probably overthinking it, but if that was the intention, then good job, Andy Samberg and collaborators. 

So, pedants and self-identifying grammar fascists, you should probably beware this video as it will either make you into a victim of trollbait or frustrate you to no end, depending on your interpretation. But, if you enjoy deliberately wack wordplay, kinetic typography and/or the presence of Solange Knowles in anything, you will enjoy this video. Watch.

Andy Samberg Returns To ‘SNL’ To Explain What YOLO Really Means

Andy Samberg returned to Saturday Night Live last night for a digital short starring Lonely Island, host Adam Levine and musical guest Kendrick Lamar all about YOLO. In case you’ve been under a rock, YOLO is the acronym everyone loves to hate and last night it didn’t mean "you only live once." With these guys, YOLO is a warning: "you oughtta look out." 

The clip reminded us what Samberg did best on SNL: absurdist digital shorts. The joke in this one gets old quickly, although Lamar’s brief, serious interlude makes it funny again. 

Still, I wouldn’t mind if Samberg comes back with Lonely Island occasionally for digital shorts on SNL:  

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‘SNL’ Celebrates 100th Digital Short with Some Star-Studded Autofellatio

What do you get when you combine Andy Samberg, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Natalie Portman, Will Ferrell, Michael Bolton, Jon Hamm, Usher and more into one three-minute music video about autofellatio? You get the hilarious Digital Short from last night’s SNL, which just so happened to be the 100th of its kind. Check it out after the jump!

Electric Guest Bring Blue-Eyed Soul Back Into Our Hearts

In this digital age of music sharing, copying, and outright thievery, it’s rare that you come across an unknown band with such raw, unbridled talent and well-constructed songs that are almost impossible to actually hear. There were few websites offering the tunes of Electric Guest, and only a handful of music bloggers and LA-based DJs were able to gush about the band’s sound after catching an unannounced weekday show at a random Southern California bar. This may be exactly the strategy that Electric Guest, or perhaps their management company Monotone Inc. (whose clients include the likes of Jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Shins, and Cold War Kids) was going for. You’d also discover, with a small bit of digging, their producer is Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, which makes you even more excited to hear the other eight songs on their electro soul-pop debut album Mondo, due out at the end of April.

“It’s kind of great, isn’t it?” says pint-sized frontman Asa Taccone. “You can usually find everything about everything online these days. James Blake has been doing this for a while—using silence as part of the song.”

You most likely don’t know it, but you’ve already gotten a taste of Asa Taccone’s talents. His older brother Jorma is one of the founding members of The Lonely Island, the troupe that brought us Andy Samberg and arguably revived Saturday Night Live to comedic relevancy. Asa was brought on to help produce “Dick in a Box,” as well as the soundtracks for the SNL-cast comedies Hot Rod and MacGruber—just a few of the gigs he worked with Electric Guest drummer Matt “Cornbread” Compton over the six years it took them to carefully craft their first album. You could argue, however, that the seeds of the band were first planted a decade prior, when a young, wily Taccone was in college at Cornish in Seattle and crossed paths with the up-and-coming Danger Mouse.

“Brian [Burton] became a mentor to me, took me under his wing,” Taccone explains. “When I moved to LA, he hooked me up with a spot to live in his old place, this communal artist house in Mount Washington that had an old recording studio inside it.”

At that old, occasionally trashed home studio, Taccone would begin his work. Young artists and musicians were constantly circulating in and out of the house and one of them was Compton, a talented, soft-spoken career musician from Richmond, Virginia who had come out west in search of a change. After playing together a few times, he and Taccone connected and Electric Guest was born.

“I came from an indie rock background and a love for ‘60s-era French pop,” Compton says. “And Asa came from a hip-hop and soul background. So there’s a little bit of everything on this album.”

It certainly seems that way, judging by the three tracks you can currently hear online. “This Head I Hold” is a fast-paced, soul-tinged dance number with Compton leading the way on the drums and Taccone doing what will become his signature falsetto. “American Daydream” has an athem-esque, sing-along quality to it, soaked in mourning—the music video, directed by Asa’s brother Jorma, has the younger Taccone killing Compton in it. And then there’s “Troubleman,”  the near-nine minute moody epic antithesis of pop that you never really want to end. All of these tracks—as with many Danger Mouse-produced projects—are instantly familiar and steeped in emotion.

“Both Asa and I are drawn to music that conveys a particularly strong emotion,” Compton says, citing their film and television work, as examples. “There’s so much music out there that doesn’t particularly convey anything. We want our music to put the listener in a mood.”

Yet the real proof that Electric Guest is a breakout band of 2012 (and hopefully long beyond) came the first Monday in February, when they began their month-long residency at The Echo in the heart of LA’s hipster-centric Echo Park. This was the first of a string of shows over the next two months leading up to the album’s release, taking them from Paris to showcasing at this year’s South by Southwest Conference. It was also the first time their growing mass of followers could quell their hunger to hear the rest of the album and affirm the collective belief that these guys are the real deal. We were not disappointed.

The quartet is tight, seamlessly rolling from one track into the next like they’ve been doing it on tour for years. Taccone is especially incredible, striking in his small stature, his look and sound slightly androgynous, somewhere between Prince and Mick Jagger. These are outrageously lofty comparisons, sure—but once you hear and see Electric Guest, you’ll understand that this may be the beginning of something truly great.

Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ Was YouTube’s Most Watched Video of 2011

Today, YouTube announced their list of the most watched videos of 2011, a mix of commercials, covers, viral hits, and of course, cute animals. Leading the list was the music video for Rebecca Black’s "Friday," that behemoth of an Auto-Tuned song that was on everyone’s queue earlier in the year. Reached for comment, Black said "Since that stupid video came out, every day of my life is living agony. I dream of death." (She didn’t say that.)

Black’s video got 180 million views, enough to top every other video uploaded to YouTube in 2011 by quite a bit. The 2nd place video, "Ultimate Dog Tease," had over 100 million fewer views than Black’s ode to sitting in the back seatThe Lonely Island also made out real nice, placing two videos in the list. That god-awful Karmin cover of Chris Brown’s "Look At Me Now" did too, but, well, we can’t always have nice things.

The top 10 list can be watched below:

10. Cat mom hugs baby kitten
9. The Force: Volkswagon commercial
8. Maria Aragon – Born This Way (Lady Gaga cover)
7. The Lonely island – The Creep (feat. Nicki Minaj & John Waters)
6. Karmin – Look At Me Now (Chris Brown cover)
5. Nyan Cat (of course!)
4. Talking Twin Babies
3. The Lonely Island – Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton)
2. Ultimate Dog Tease
1. Rebecca Black – Friday

The Lonely Island Discuss ‘SNL’ & Their Hilarious New Album, ‘Turtleneck & Chain’

As The Lonely Island, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone make going viral look easy. Show me someone who hasn’t seen “Lazy Sunday” or “Dick in the Box,” and I’ll show you someone who deserves the curse of Sergio. As the creators of SNL’s Digital Shorts, their brand of unpredictable, absurdist humor is on weekly display. But if that’s not enough Lonely Island for you, the boys have just finished Turtleneck and Chain, their second album of jokey and surprisingly catchy urban music: part hip-hop, part R n’ B, all brilliant.

On it are tracks familiar to those keeping tabs on the boys’ Saturday night escapades: The Akon-featuring fuck-ballad “I Just Had Sex”; Dick in the Box sequel “Motherlover”; and “Creep,” co-starring Nicki Minaj. Michael Bolton and Santigold show up elsewhere, but it’s Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone who own this thing, track after track. We recently spoke to the Lonely Island, who gave us an in-depth look at their creative process, discussed the unfortunate circumstances behind the song “Japan,” and revealed their dream Saturday Night Live hosts.

I always wonder how you come up with the basic ideas for your songs and videos, so I’m going to list a couple of tracks, and you’re going to tell me how they came to be. Let’s start with “Threw It On the Ground.” Akiva: Our friend Drew made the beat, and we had it in our iTunes library with all the other potential beats. And there was something about it, how it was quiet and then broke into those big synths that made me for no reason be like, What if it’s just ‘throwing it on the ground,’ and then we could use that Phantom camera that does the thousand frames per-second beautiful slo-mo — this was before it had been used in almost anything — and when it hits, it would just be this blossoming of slo-mo. That was the initial kernel, and then we developed it, and then it became about this guy who thinks he knows everything, almost a slam-poet kind of guy, and it’s kind of a Bay Area person that we knew, who’s so sure they have it all figured out, and everyone else is fools.

So do the ideas for videos usually come before ideas for the songs? Jorma: It doesn’t usually happen like that. Usually it’s a concept for a joke, or the beat inspires the concept for the joke. But when we are writing, often times we’ll think of things that can be visually appealing or funny.

How about “Rocky,” where Andy describes a boxing match against Rocky. Andy: We’ve loved that beat forever. I just knew I wanted to use that beat so much, so it was one of those times I just locked myself in a room and listened to it over and over again until I came up with an idea. There was something about the horns. It had that kind of nostalgic— Akiva: It’s obviously a Fresh Prince-style song. Andy: Yeah, but it became that after I started writing, because initially it was more—it just became funnier when we made it Fresh Prince. Originally, it reminded me not literally, but almost in a sort of a vibe sense, of the Rocky theme, or like a sports anthem. So I started writing it that way, but was shying away from making it full-on Fresh Prince, because Kiv had already done one kind of like that on our website.

Do you make your music with the intention of transforming them into Digital Shorts? Akiva: It happens all different ways. An SNL week, it’s all about the Short. If it’s the summer, when a lot of these songs were made, then it’s like, Maybe it will be eventually, but right now it’s all about making a funny song for the album. We’re always thinking about the video, but it doesn’t mean there ever will be a video. Is there another song off this album that will appear on the last 3 weeks of SNL? Jorma: We always hope to do videos for them, just because they make them so much funnier. Something like “Threw It On the Ground” is only funny when you’re seeing the video. Andy: I think that song could be funny without the video. Akiva: It better be, because it’s our album!

What about “Creep”? Andy: That was another one that was inspired by the beat. Kiv just started doing the dance.

So it sounds like you guys are inspired by the music a lot. Akiva: A lot of the times, but for “Dick In a Box,” Jorm just came up with the kernel of the bit, and then we designed the beat around it from scratch. On the new album, “No Homo” was a full concept we had and then we went a found the beat that we liked for it.

In light of recent events, did you consider taking “Japan” off the album? Andy: We did, but it was too late. It was already locked. We talked about. Akiva: The song is a love letter to Japan, but we didn’t want anybody to misconstrue it in light of things that have happened. Andy: It was written out of us wanting to take a trip there. Jorma: We still hope to go there and shoot the music video for it, because the whole point of that song is the possible video for it. Andy: The joke is at the expense of our record label. Obviously everything that’s happened there is very tragic, and we are hoping that we’re going to be able to talk about it enough that for anyone who does take it wrong will know we recorded it before anything happened. Akiva: I think anybody who hears the song won’t take it wrong. It will just be somebody looking at the word, and going, Whoa, they shouldn’t be joking about that. Andy: We are planning on making a donation to the Red Cross immediately, based on the record.

Who are you dream hosts for SNL? Jorma: Who hasn’t been on the show? Akiva: Tom Cruise? Jorma: For me it would be someone who just came to the show, not as a host, but Pee Wee Herman. Andy: Mel Brooks, that’d be crazy. Jorma: Larry David?

What about Jerry Seinfeld? Andy: That would be awesome. Akiva: He hosted once before we worked there. Andy: He came and did “Really!?” with Seth. I’d love for him to come back and host.

The Lonely Island Wanted “Japan” Off Their New Album

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.”

The Lonely Island’s Latest Sing-A-Long: ‘I Just Had Sex’

If you don’t know The Lonely Island guys by name, then you at least know Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone as the prodigies who brought you such Saturday Night Live blockbuster hits as “Dick in a Box,” “Like a Boss,” and the tireless summer anthem, “I’m on a Boat.” During an eventful SNL episode this past weekend – which included Lil Wayne’s first televised post-jail performance – the trio premiered their latest digital short, “I Just Had Sex.” The post-coital anthem features a hook from Akon and guest appearances from Blake Lively, Jessica Alba, and John McEnroe. Get ready to be inundated with unwanted details about your friends’ sexual escapades.

Video above.