Tag Archives: Barenaked Ladies

18: Stunt (Barenaked Ladies)

Album: Stunt
Artist: Barenaked Ladies
Year: 1998

1, One Week
2. It’s All Been Done
3. Light Up My Room
4. I’ll Be That Girl
5. Leave
6. Alcohol
7. Call and Answer
8. In the Car
9. Never Is Enough
10. Who Needs Sleep?
11. Told You So
12. Some Fantastic
13. When You Dream

Stunt was BNL’s American breakthrough, as One Week hit number one for, naturally, one week on the pop charts. It’s their most frenetic song and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I still enjoy it from time to time. Their other American hit from the album was It’s All Been Done, which is definitely an easier listen. The album continues with Light Up My Room, a mesmerizing dance of rhyme I think synthesizer, but there are several instruments on this album that I’ve never heard of, including the clavinet, the melodica, and the wah wah guitar. I’ll Be That Girl is an exceptionally written song about relationship anger and severe depression cloaked in BNL’s usual light-hearted whimsy.

The album slows down just slightly from here. Leave is a really simple and bitter break-up song. And while Alcohol is probably my favorite song about alcohol, I just don’t care that much about songs about alcohol. I will say though that the lyrics mirror my life a bit, with the singer discussing his previous snobbish condescension to those who drank before realizing that it can be quite enjoyable, though I never used it as an antidepressant like Steven Page did.

Call and Answer might be BNL’s best ballad, about a painful reconciliation that is highlighted by some excellent harmony. Then we get to four songs that have the trademark clever lyric but musically are nothing special. Never is Enough is an oversimplification of college being a useless degree factory. Who Needs Sleep?, about insomnia, has a catchy rhythm but like One Week I can only listen to it every so often.

Some Fantastic is my favorite song here. It’s just so damn easy on the ears. I can also identify with desperately wanting an old love back and fantasizing about all the ways I could convince them to come back. Either way, if you like BNL and haven’t heard this one, give it a shot.

Unfortunately, they end yet another album with another really slow, boring song. It gives props to Del Shannon”s Runaway, one of my favorite songs from the 60’s, but it’s not enough to overcome how boring the melody is.

Looking through the rest of BNL’s discography, there are almost enough songs to make up an album of songs in my top 500, but they’ve really slowed down in quality over the past ten years. For the record, those five songs are Straw Hat and Dirty Old Hank, Shoebox, Conventioneers, The Wizard of Magicland, and Bank Job.

36: Maybe You Should Drive (Barenaked Ladies)

Album: Maybe You Should Drive
Artist: Barenaked Ladies
Year: 1994

1. Jane
2. Intermittently
3. These Apples
4. You Will Be Waiting
5. A
6. Everything Old Is New Again
7. Alternative Girlfriend
8. Am I the Only One?
9. Little Tiny Song
10. Life, in a Nutshell
11. The Wrong Man Was Convicted
12. Great Provider

The second album by the Barenaked Ladies takes right off where Gordon ended, with incredibly creative lyrics. While the ballads don’t have as much emotional weight, the up tempo songs are even better. Life, in a Nutshell is easily my favorite song by the band, and only partly because their grammar skills (which are better than they admit in These Apples) stand out by correctly using “she” vs. “her.”  A small thing, but I appreciate it.  I can also identify with Jane, as I’ve been the safe guy in the friend zone, and the frustration in the lyrics is both genuine and sweet.

Other highlights are Intermittently, A, and Little Tiny Song, which I hope was inspired by the existential cow from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Alternative Girlfriend was a popular single in Canada, and I like it, but it really should have ended with “So we can get out of this town, cuz it makes me sick.” Instead, like a Bryan Adams ballad, it continues past it’s natural endpoint and does the chorus again.

The album ends on kind of a whimper. The Ladies are famous for their energy, and ending with two slow songs just feels wrong. But the first ten tracks are enough to make up for it.

62: Gordon (Barenaked Ladies)

Album: Gordon
Artist: Barenaked Ladies
Year: 1992

1. Hello City
2. Enid
3. Grade 9
4. Brian Wilson
5. Be My Yoko Ono
6. Wrap Your Arms Around Me
7. What a Good Boy
8. The King of Bedside Manor
9. Box Set
10. I Love You
11. New Kid (On the Block)
12. Blame It on Me
13. The Flag
14. If I had $1000000
15. Crazy

An extremely talented group that never really could gain any steam in America despite having a #1 hit, the Barenaked Ladies are a great mixture of creative (but mostly not kitschy) lyrics and harmonies. Their debut album Gordon shows of their talents very well, if also their weaknesses.

The album starts out with a bang, with Hello City, upbeat and you can sing along to it before it’s even over. Enid has some amazing harmonies, perhaps the best BNL has ever had. Grade 9 is a pitch perfect explanation of what it’s like to be fifteen years old, and then we get to their magnum opus, Brian Wilson. It’s catchy, it’s sad (mostly about Brian’s life going in the shitter), and it’s a great tribute to the Beach Boys front man. While some worried that Brian Wilson would react negatively to the song, he loved it and even covered the song and sang it with BNL. It’s one of their songs that is even better live.

Be My Yoko Ono is catchy but the not-so-subtle insult to John Lennon gets old after a while. Other highlights are What a Good Boy (about parents living vicariously through their children), Box Set (about a band that sells out and releases a you know what), and The Flag (about spousal abuse).

Their most recognizable song, If I had $1000000 is also here. I thought it was hilarious when I first heard it, but it gets old really fast, and if I never listen to again I’ll be okay with that.