Backlash is such a strong word, and perhaps not the most appropriate one given the level of antipathy the group evokes among the internet cognoscenti, but it’s impossible to avoid the term in reacting to the Lonely Island’s new single ‘I Just Had Sex,’ which features imaginary tough guy Akon.
As an unabashed fan of the Lonely Island’s first CD, 2009’s Incredibad, I’ve always found it difficult to reconcile my love of their music with my complete disdain for SaturdayNight Live, and in particular Andy Samberg’s turgid contribution as a sketch actor. Like most of the SNL cast, Samberg as an actor represents the banal strand of comedy that dictates saying something in a funny accent automatically makes it ha-ha funny, when in fact all it does is make him look like a douchebag.
It’s a similar concept that has prolonged the painful career of Kenan Thompson. Thompson, who most famously played the part of the unfunny half of Kenan & Kel, seems to most rational observers to serve one purpose on the show: to play black characters in sketches where it would be racist for the white members to wear blackface. That’s not to say that SNL producers are racist. In fact, it’s the opposite – they hold black comedians to the same low standards to which they hold themselves. It’s equal opportunity mediocrity, and it’s rampant on SNL.
Which brings us back to the Lonely Island.
Over the past three or four years, the Lonely Island sketches have been exactly that – an oasis of genuinely innovative and thought-provoking humour on a show that has long outstayed its welcome on television. So it’s disappointing to see the first single from the trio’s second album is so utterly predictable and unimaginative. Thematically, it sits somewhere between Incredibad’s ‘I’m On A Boat’ (feat. T-Pain) and ‘Dick in a Box’ (feat. Justin Timberlake), riding on the same suspension of disbelief concept that energised the former in particular.
True, Akon’s contribution is pretty damn good – and his almost maniacal pride in what’s just gone down, particularly reminiscent of T-Pain, makes the video alone worth watching – but Samberg and Jorma Taccone’s contributions are awful (and not in the religion sense of the word). There’s a dreadful sense of inevitability about the way Samberg drops the “best 30 seconds of my life” line. Anybody reading the song title in advance could have guessed there’d be some flippant reference to a short lead time, and most could probably have guessed that the reference would be exactly 30 seconds.
Obviously, it’s hard to gauge what will follow based on one single – and if Samberg & Co. are anything like the rappers they work with they’ll take the feedback on the single and adapt accordingly – but first impressions are far from encouraging.