Back in the summer of 2002, when Jimmy Fallon released his first and only album The Bathroom Wall, I was at the peak of mix CD-making phase. The albums weren’t for my friends or girlfriend (ha), but rather, for me, myself, and Josh. Mp3 players were still a few years away from becoming ubiquitous, so if I wanted to listen to multiple songs by a variety of artists, and not carry around my cumbersome, carefully alphabetized booklet of CDs, I had to make a mix for the 20-minute bus ride to school, and for the 40 it took to get back. (Don’t ask.) Rather than include anything cool, like Can’s Tago Mago, or new, like Kill the Moonlight by Spoon, most of my mixes were made up of comedy songs and illegally downloaded clips from TV shows, movies, and in one case, an award show.
In honor of Fallon’s return to SNL this weekend, I took a look at a couple of the mix CDs I made for myself, including a track of his from his entirely forgettable album, to see what I had put on them. Please reassure me in the comments section that I wasn’t the only one who felt it necessary to include an Adam Sandler song alongside one from Weezer.
“Idiot Boyfriend,” Jimmy Fallon
It’s pretty painful listening to “Idiot Boyfriend” now. It was the lead (only…?) single from The Bathroom Wall, though it did feature Mark Ronson (who would later produce Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black) on the bass and keyboards and a video starring a then-unknown Zooey Deschanel, as the girlfriend who Fallon hopes will like a “Norelco beard trimmer.” But it’s essentially a one-joke song – the boyfriend is a selfish jerk who knows he’s a selfish jerk – and sung in the same, occasionally annoying falsetto that Fallon would later use on SNL for his impression of the Bee Gees’ front man in the “Barry Gibb Talk Show” sketch. I’m not a huge “Barry Gibb Talk Show” fan but what made them enjoyable enough was a) the chemistry between Justin Timberlake and Fallon (the two would later reunite on the “History of Rap” series on Fallon’s talk show); and b) the talking segments, when the short-tempered Gibbs would become irrationally upset at his guests. It was unexpected, and therefore, funny; “Idiot Boyfriend,” meanwhile, is just a four-minute high-pitched set-up without a punch line. (Wicked bass line, though).
“Blame Canada,” Robin Williams
It made sense at the time. Before my appreciation of Robin Williams vanished quicker than the way he voices one of his vaguely-homophobic caricatures, I was a hardcore fan of his. I couldn’t have enough Robin Williams; I memorized most of his speeches from Aladdin (oh man, when he does Groucho!) the way other people did Carlin’s Class Clown album and watched him smash his face into a cake in Mrs. Doubtfire roughly 756 times. So I was stoked when it was announced that he would be singing “Blame Canada,” from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (the only movie I ever watched via pay-per-view), at the 72nd Annual Academy Awards in 2000. Trey Parker and Matt Shaiman’s scapegoat-to-the-North anthem had been nominated for Best Original Song, and it was running against Aimee Mann’s “Save Me” from Magnolia, Dianne Warren’s “Music of My Heart” from Music of the Heart, Randy Newman’s “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2, and the eventual winner, Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be In My Heart” from Tarzan. But I didn’t care if the song won or not – I just wanted to hear Robin Williams say “fuck” (and to a lesser extent, “fart”) on national TV. But he didn’t. The word was, of course, censored (more accurately, it was replaced with a “gasp” from the on-stage chorus), which was just as well, because by the time Williams got to the middle of the song, he was exhausted. He sang every line of “Blame Canada,” in muffled (Kenny), Jewish (Sheila), and redneck (Mrs. McCormick) accents, and was running short on breathe. Much to his credit, though, his enthusiasm never waned. Hell, I’m not even sure if it’s possible for Williams to turn himself down a notch, particularly then, when he was probably happy to get the stink of Patch Adams, What Dreams May Come, and Jakob the Liar off of him. He needed to be edgy again. It’s a perfectly acceptable performance, and probably one of the best ever at the Oscars (it’s not every day you get to hear someone call out Celine Dion and Anne Murray at the Academy Awards), but there’s no reason it had to be on a mix CD.
“Somebody Kill Me,” Adam Sandler
This song, on the other hand, I still listen to ALL THE TIME. It’s kind of perfect – not only does it make us feel sympathetic for Adam Sandler (no small task), it’s also the best song the Cure never wrote. Sandler penned the track with Tim Herlihy, who either co-wrote or fully wrote such modern classics as Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, and such “modern classics” as Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, and Bedtime Stories. He also wrote The Wedding Singer, which still holds up, no matter how many Jack and Jills and Big Miracles Sandler and Drew Barrymore have starred in since. “Somebody Kill Me” is sung about halfway through the movie, when Barrymore’s character Julia asks Sandler’s Robbie to sing a song for her that he recently wrote. It’s about his cheating former-fiancée, Linda, and begins, “You. Don’t. Know. How. Much. I. Need. You./When. You’re. Near. Me. I. Don’t. Feel. Blue.” Every heart-to-the-dagger word is sung like a sentence, and Robbie seems on the verge of emotionally breaking down, until he launches into the chorus: “BUT IT ALL WAS BULLSHIT. IT WAS A GODDAMN JOKE. AND WHEN I THINK OF YOU, LINDA, I HOPE YOU FUCKING CHOKE.” Woah. That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is the greatest lyric in the history of music. It sums up every revenge song in only 22 words. During the summer of 2003, I had to go to summer school because I had failed a math class with a 64 (65 is a passing grade…). I was too young to drive and humiliatingly, never learned to ride a bike, either, so, every morning, I would walk nearly six miles from my house to my high school, all because of that fucking one-point difference. So, yeah, I was bitter and angry and resentful and sweaty and hadn’t discovered the Jesus Lizard yet, so I listened to “Somebody Kill Me” a lot that summer. And every time I did, I thought of Jon Lovitz saying “He’s losing his mind…and I’m reaping all the benefits” while slowly descending behind a curtain, and I would laugh.
“Prisoners of Love,” The Producers
I mean, do I really have to explain? I’m Jewish, it’s funny, and still on my iPod. I must admit, though, that it’s really tough to find a song that works well after it. Or so I must have thought at the time, because on the mix that included “Prisoners of Love,” the next track was the live version of “If I Had a Million Dollars” by Barenaked Ladies. I bet Mel Brooks could write a Kraft Dinner joke that really makes you think.