MetaMusician: They Might Be My Favorite


Sam Graziano

They Might Be Giants. Even if you haven’t heard the name, you’ve definitely heard some of their work. They’ve recorded the theme songs for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Malcom in the Middle among other things. They’ve also have had a career spanning almost four decades with 22 studio albums under their belts, multiple Grammys to their name, and over four million records sold. For a group as ubiquitous as TMBG, it doesn’t seem like they get as much praise as they deserve.

One of their most popular songs, “Birdhouse in Your Soul” comes from their 3rd album, 1990’s Flood. It can be extremely difficult to put this band in a categorical box, yet this song is a great introduction to what this band is all about. Even though there are many songs and even entire albums that feel like they come from a totally different planet, “Birdhouse in Your Soul” gets you acquainted with the TMBG Galaxy you now find yourself in. This song as well as the rest of the songs on this album serve as a great representation of the band’s early years. Back then the band was just John and John; two twenty-somethings with a guitar, an accordion, a drum machine, and some wild ideas. Fitting this album into a genre can prove to be a difficult task. Each song seems to exist in its own realm. A nice quick surf rock tune like “Twisting” is surrounded by songs like “Dead” or “We Want a Rock” which are both slower pieces with completely different instrumentations. Flood shows listeners that this group doesn’t really do genre. TMBG makes songs that they want to make, regardless of whether or not it “makes sense” to do so. This is not to say this is a band that lacks a cohesive, recognizable, sound. While each song on Flood may exist in their own realm, they all inhabit the same universe. Listening to Flood, one does not find the transitions from song to song to be jarring but rather, refreshing and captivating.

Over the years, TMBG has picked up more and more musicians, currently outfitted with two Dans, two Johns, and Marty on the drums to complete the band. Throughout the band’s discography the band has dipped their toes into many different sounds and styles and yet have never strayed too far from the iconic TMBG brand. This brand is not a genre or a political stance. The factor that connects everything they’ve ever released is fun. Every song is fun to listen to, fun to sing along to, and it sounds like it’s fun to play as well. The fact that their brand is such a broad and all-encompassing concept allows the band to have an expansive “anything goes” attitude while creating music. It also leaves fans always excited for what unexpected new sound is to come from the group. To get a feel for what the band has been up to recently, check out this track off 2011’s Join Us.

As anyone can see, this group’s specialty is making fun, catchy, creative songs. And while they might not take themselves too seriously, their career would not be nearly as far-reaching if the group’s work ethic and sincerity weren’t as strong as they seem to be. As a testament to TMBG’s fun and lively nature, here’s a recent video of them absolutely crushing a cover of “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child.