watch your step
by Liz Davies
Digital Shorts, composed mostly by The Lonely Island (not to be confused with FPU’s own The Lonely Monster) have become almost as important to the show as the opening monologue. The trio, composed of cast member Andy Samberg and his two writer friends Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, produce a short, pre-taped segment almost weekly for SNL. The guys recently celebrated a huge milestone by creating their 100th Digital Short, airing on SNL on May 12, 2012. There have been some incredible gems produced, beginning back in 2006 and continuing to be a defining force of the show.
Some digital shorts act as short music videos, and often feature famous musical artists to provide backup vocals. There have been numerous times in bars and at parties where I have seen a room light up more when a Digital Short starts blasting than when one of today’s hottest hits plays. Honestly, most of the songs by The Lonely Island are better than today’s biggest radio hits. So here are my favorite songs that aired on SNL as Digital Shorts:
11. Two Worlds Collide ft. Reba McEntire. Keenan Thompson plays Reba McEntire in this Digital Short. You absolutely read that correctly. The multiple references that “Reba” makes to her penis and balls is enough to keep me laughing until next season.
10. Young Chuck Norris. Yes, the Lonely Island jumped on the Chuck Norris bandwagon, but at least they did it well. It turns out that their interpretation of adolescent Chuck Norris was of an individual who punched defenseless women, ran through streets threatening cars and pedestrians with karate moves, dug through garbage, and rocked some sweet facial hair. A valiant effort for one of the pioneering Digital Shorts.
9. Iran So Far. This is one of the Digital Shorts that relied heavily on viewers not questioning the validity of anything involved in its production or content. Andy Samberg professing his love for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Sure. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 providing background vocals? Of course. A piano on the back of a truck riding through NYC? Absolutely. Is that Ahmadinejad lying on Samberg’s piano while wearing a red velvet dress? Definitely. All of this combined to create a topical and somehow hilarious song about a president who has denied that the Holocaust happened.
8. Natalie Raps. I don’t think Natalie Portman could have looked crazier if she was pretending to be a Ballerina that may or may not have Schizophrenia. She looked like such a bad ass that I totally believed her as a hardcore rapper. She sold it. While Andy Samberg’s appearance may not have been his best, he also committed to the bit by dressing as a Viking and shadowing Natalie in the crazy department.
7. I Just Had Sex. This is one of those songs that would be a huge radio hit if it weren’t so ridiculous. It’s got a great beat and has some hilarious one-liners, so it has everything a digital short should have. With celebrity cameos from Jessica Alba and Blake Lively, and vocals from Akon, this Digital Short was destined to be successful from the start. I absolutely love how self-deprecating the guys of the Lonely Island are about themselves, and this song proves that they have absolutely no issues with making themselves look ridiculous and impotent to get a laugh.
6. The Creep. The fact that so much thought went into how to be a professional creeper for this song makes it a great guide for weirdoes. The fact that I’ve seen people who actually look like this makes me want to cry a little. But either way, this song is hilariously accurate. And seeing Nicki Minaj embrace the creepy as well makes the song that much better.
5. Jizz in my Pants. The first time I saw this, I was watching the show during its original airtime. I thought it was odd that the Digital Short was on so late in the show, but it became immediately clear why. The song starts as a catchy club hit, and then dissolves into a hilarious and self-deprecating parody. This is probably one of the most famous Digital Shorts, and rightfully so. Here are a few things that make Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone “lose themselves” in the song: grocery shopping, caller ID, an alarm clock, a light breeze coming through an open window, grapes, and Bruce Willis dying at the end of The Sixth Sense. The term “I just jizzed in my pants” blew up (pun definitely intended) and marked the start of a trend that no one saw cuming (pun also intended).
4. Lazy Sunday. This was the first digital short that I remember, and also one of the first to gain attention and a following. Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell rapping about going to see The Chronicles of Narnia on a leisurely Sunday afternoon? Sounds like a hit to me! This song also taught me that Aaron Burr assassinated his political rival, Alexander Hamilton. I love a good historical reference, and this song was just great to listen to while driving to high school my junior year in my gold dodge intrepid. Holy balls, I’m so old. Oh well, I guess that just proves how timeless this classic Lonely Island song is.
3. Dick in a Box/Motherlover/3-Way (The Golden Rule). I had to group these together just because they’re so great they would dominate the rest of the list. Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg act as the worst boyfriends, sons, and buddies ever in this Emmy Award winning short. Let me just reiterate: Emmy Award Winning. Dick in a Box won an Emmy, while Motherlover and 3-Way were each nominated. Each short continues where the other leaves off, which gives me hope that there will be a continuous string of penis-centered videos from Justin and Andy forever. These might be the best music videos that Timberlake has starred in since Bye, Bye, Bye, and he didn’t even need Chris Kirkpatrick. Although that would have been an awesome addition.
2. I’m on a Boat. Strap on your swim trunks, flippy-floppies, nautical-themed Pashmina afghans, top hats, and cut-off suit pants, cause I’m about to go on a hard core rant about how much I love this Digital Short. The production value alone makes it worthy to be at the top of the list. This particular music video begins with the Lonely Island trio sitting at breakfast when Andy suddenly finds in his cereal (as I often do) a coupon for a free boat ride for three. He obviously picks his pal Akiva and they head out to the open seas with their other buddy T-Pain. The rap that ensues can’t really be described in words; you just have to see it to appreciate how incredible it is. The music video includes aerial shots from helicopters, a mermaid, and a yacht that P. Diddy must have loaned the group for the day. This is one of the best music videos that I have ever seen, and for that, I applaud you, Lonely Island crew.
1. Jack Sparrow. I wish I could count the number of times my roommate and I yelled random lines from this song to each other, but a rough estimate would probably equal the same number of days that I didn’t do any work or anything productive during my last month of college. If you don’t know me, that’s a lot of times. Seeing Michael Bolton dressed as Jack Sparrow, Forrest Gump, Tony Montana and Erin Brockovich was one of the best things that I have ever seen in a three-minute clip. Even the Lonely Island guys found this to be absurd, as they state numerous times during the song. Michael Bolton’s commitment to his love of movie characters made this, in my opinion, one of the best Digital Shorts of all time. You may not agree with my choice, but I have such fond memories of listening to this, it definitely alleviated the pains of graduating college. The reasons that this video is my favorite are completely unique, as I’m sure yours are as well.
The Lonely Island recently celebrated their 100th Digital Short by combining nearly all of their previous videos into one epic, three-minute explosion of awesomeness. It was an incredible tribute to the Lonely Island, especially with rumors that Andy Samberg won’t be returning as a featured actor on the show next season. I hope that the Digital Shorts continue, as they have become one of my favorite aspects of the show.