The Lonely Island
|The Lonely Island|
The Lonely Island at Comic-Con. From left to right: Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone
|Origin||Berkeley, California, United States|
|Genres||Comedy hip hop|
|Associated acts||Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Green Day|
The Lonely Island is an American comedy group formed by Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone, best known for their comedic music. Originally from Berkeley, California, the group is currently based in New York City. The group broke out due to their collective work from 2005 to 2011 on Saturday Night Live, featuring Samberg as a cast member and Taccone and Schaffer as writers. All three left their jobs at SNL, with Taccone leaving at the conclusion of the 2010–2011 season and Samberg and Schaffer departing the next year.
Once on the show, they wrote "Lazy Sunday", a music parody video that became an instant hit on YouTube. In August 2007, the group premiered its first feature film, Hot Rod. Following the success of "Lazy Sunday", the group produced the Emmy-winning "Dick in a Box", "Jizz in My Pants", "Like a Boss", and the Grammy-nominated "I'm on a Boat", which have subsequently had huge success both on SNL and on the internet, and prompted the release of the 2009 album, Incredibad. In 2011, the group released their second album, Turtleneck & Chain, which featured songs from such SNL digital shorts as "I Just Had Sex" featuring Akon, "The Creep" featuring Nicki Minaj, and "Jack Sparrow" featuring Michael Bolton. The music video of "I Just Had Sex" featuring Akon has received over 200 million views on YouTube. In June 2013, they released The Wack Album, featuring Hugh Jackman, Solange, Adam Levine, Robyn, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and more. The album included such songs as "Semicolon", "Diaper Money", "YOLO", "Go Kindergarten", and more.
Saturday Night Live
Beginning in junior high school, Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone began creating live comedy skits that expanded to comedic shorts, music parody (both songs and videos), and one full-length television pilot, before being invited to write portions of the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, which Jimmy Fallon hosted. Impressed with the group's material, he brought the trio to the attention of Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night Live, who agreed to see them. Performing standup comedy in his free time, Samberg fulfilled a lifelong dream by auditioning for the show. He was called back for a second audition a few weeks later and was ultimately invited to be a cast member; Schaffer and Taccone were invited to join the writing staff based on their work in the trio. Since their arrival, the group has written some popular bits in recent SNL history, most notably, the SNL Digital Shorts (collectively) and MacGruber (Taccone, with John Solomon and cast member Will Forte).
Uncertain if Michaels would approve of a wacky prerecorded skit on the show, the group borrowed a video camera and filmed a faux lettuce commercial starring Samberg and fellow SNL cast member Will Forte. They presented the finished product to Michaels in December 2005, who liked the short and agreed to air it. It was the first of what would become a regular feature of the program, called Saturday Night Live's Digital Shorts. "Lazy Sunday", the second digital short, enjoyed runaway success in the virtual media, as fans responded with t-shirts and response videos. Many of these shorts have skyrocketed to Internet fame, including "Natalie's Rap" (with Natalie Portman), "Iran So Far" (with Adam Levine), "Jizz in My Pants", "Shy Ronnie (Eidan)" (with Rihanna), and "I'm on a Boat" (with T-Pain), the latter of which was nominated on December 2, 2009, for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 52nd Grammy Awards.
The song "Dick in a Box", which was performed with Justin Timberlake, won the 2007 Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. Credited for its production are Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Justin Timberlake, in addition to Katreese Barnes and Asa Taccone for music. Based on 1990s contemporary R&B, such as Keith Sweat, Jodeci, and R. Kelly, the song is about giving gift-wrapped genitalia as a Christmas present to one's girlfriend. Samberg and Timberlake made a sequel to "Dick in a Box" called "Motherlover", which aired on May 9, 2009.
Other recent shorts by the comedy group include "Threw It on the Ground" which aired October 2009; "Great Day" aired on May 15, 2010; "Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde" featuring Rihanna aired on October 30, 2010; "I Just Had Sex" featuring Akon, was aired on December 18, 2010; "The Creep" featuring Nicki Minaj and John Waters was released on January 29, 2011; and "Jack Sparrow" featuring Michael Bolton, which was released on May 7, 2011. The sequel to Motherlover, "3-Way (The Golden Rule)," featured Lady Gaga and aired on May 21, 2011.
In Summer 2010, Taccone quit Saturday Night Live, but has returned to work on a handful of Digital Shorts in the 2010-2011 season. In 2012, more digital shorts were aired that may appear on a future album, including the 100th digital short and "Lazy Sunday 2." On January 26, 2013, they debuted their new song "YOLO" featuring Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar. This was the first Digital Short to air since Samberg left SNL. It featured host Adam Levine and musical guest Kendrick Lamar.
The comedic influences of the group include SNL forebears such as Adam Sandler, Chris Farley and Mike Myers, as well as luminaries such as Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, the Monty Python troupe and the Marx Brothers. While the group is most strongly inspired by hip-hop and R&B, the lyrics are commonly rooted in self-deprecation as is reflected in a 2011 interview conducted shortly before the release of Turtleneck and Chain. The Lonely Island's debut Incredibad was produced with the goal in mind to make an impact on listeners just as They're All Gonna Laugh At You (1993), a musical comedy album by Adam Sandler, which heavily influenced Samberg. Songs by The Lonely Island rarely exceed three minutes, as brevity is very important to the troupe, who believe that is "about as much as the audience can stand."
"The Lonely Island" called themselves "Incredibad" before they started selling songs on iTunes. They have sixteen songs as demos available on their website, and they made another humorous song under the name "The Party Andersons" called "Cocaine." The group's first album, Incredibad, was released on February 10, 2009, by Universal Republic Records. The album, which includes parodies of existing hip hop songs, also includes a DVD with some of the videos, including "Wait (You Guys)" as the Bing Bong Brothers, a spoof of the Ying Yang Twins' "Wait (The Whisper Song)", and "Jizz in My Pants".
2010-11: Turtleneck & Chain and mainstream success
On their YouTube channel, The Lonely Island announced an upcoming album on October 28, 2010, which would be released in the spring of 2011. On December 18, 2010, the SNL Digital Short was the official music video of "I Just Had Sex" (featuring Akon), the first single off the album.
On January 29, 2011, the group debuted "The Creep" featuring Nicki Minaj and a cameo by filmmaker John Waters, on SNL and YouTube. On March 15, 2011, Direct Current Music reported that the album would be named Turtleneck & Chain and would be released on May 10, 2011. On April 1, 2011, The Lonely Island appeared as guests on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, where they premiered the lead track, "We're Back!", as well as the new album cover. On April 19, 2011, the group released "Motherlover" featuring Justin Timberlake as the fourth single from the album. This song was last featured on season 34 of SNL.
The group held a fundraiser to promote their new album on April 16, 2011. This event was at Amoeba Music in Berkeley, California. There were only 250 tickets available, and the only way to obtain a ticket was to preorder their album. They hosted a Q&A session and an autograph session. Shortly after, "Motherlover" was released on iTunes. On May 7, they released a new track, "Jack Sparrow", featuring Michael Bolton. Turtleneck & Chain was both Emmy and Grammy nominated (for Best Comedy Album).
After the release of Turtleneck and Chain, at the end of the 2010-2011 season of SNL, The Lonely Island released a new song called "3-Way (The Golden Rule)" featuring Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga, with an accompanying video. At the end of the 2011–2012 season of SNL, Andy's last season on the cast, a sequel to Lazy Sunday was released, also with Chris Parnell.
2011-present: The Wack Album
On January 26, 2013, the group released a new single on iTunes and Google Music, "YOLO" featuring Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar. They also released a music video on their YouTube channel which revealed a new album was coming in 2013. On May 4, they announced the new album's title and cover art, and confirmed that it will include past collaborators such as Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga and new collaborators including Billie Joe Armstrong and Pharrell Williams. They also stated that each Wednesday until the album's release, called "Wack Wednesdays", a new song or video from the album would be released. These included the Between Two Ferns video version of "Spring Break Anthem" on May 8, starring Ed Norton, James Franco and Zach Galifianakis; An audio-only version of "I F****d my aunt" featuring T-Pain on May 15; A lyric video of "Semicolon" featuring Solange on May 22; a dance rehearsal with song audio of "Go Kindergarten" on May 29; and a music video for "Spell It Out" on June 5. The album was released on June 11. On October 19, 2013 Lonely Island made a rare live guest appearance with Tenacious D at the Festival Supreme in Santa Monica, California.
The Lonely Island has collaborated with many major artists including T-Pain in "I'm on a Boat", Jessica Alba, Blake Lively and Akon in "I Just Had Sex", Justin Timberlake in "Dick in a Box", "Motherlover" and "3-Way (The Golden Rule)" (the latter also featuring Lady Gaga), Beck in "Attracted to Us", Elijah Wood and Ryan Reynolds in "Threw It on the Ground", James Franco, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis, Rihanna in "Shy Ronnie" and "Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde", Michael Bolton in "Jack Sparrow", Nicki Minaj and John Waters in "The Creep", Julian Casablancas in "Boombox", Jack Black in "Sax Man", Norah Jones in "Dreamgirl", Snoop Dogg in "Turtleneck and Chain", Will Ferrell in "Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions" (which also featured a keyboard solo by J. J. Abrams), Kendrick Lamar, Adam Levine and Danny McBride in "YOLO", Santigold in "After Party", Natalie Portman in "Natalie's Rap", E-40 in "Santana DVX", Adam Levine and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Iran So Far", and Seth Rogen in "Like a Boss". Recently, the crew worked with Justin Bieber and many of their past collaborators on their 100th Digital Short. The Wack Album includes previous and new collaborators including Pharrel Williams, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Solange. In 2013, The Lonely Island also contributed to the second Deltron 3030 album on the track "Back in the Day".
Upon landing a role as a featured player on SNL, Samberg had multiple meetings with production companies, Paramount being one of them. They told him he was being considered for the leading man in a project written by Pam Brady which had remained dormant for some years. The script was under the care of the producer Lorne Michaels, who had the final say. Paramount gave Samberg the script; he agreed and waited for Michaels' approval. After the success of "Lazy Sunday", he felt he was ready to play the lead role in the movie. It was called Hot Rod and was originally written with Will Ferrell in mind as the lead. Schaffer and Taccone were brought on as well once again due to the "Lazy Sunday Effect." Released in August 2007, the film did very poorly at the box office, released the same time as the blockbuster The Bourne Ultimatum, and barely broke even. Additionally, it received mixed or average reviews, a scenario Samberg anticipated as he stated is the case with many first-time comedies that embrace surreal comedy, such as Billy Madison.
Samberg, Taccone, and Schaffer made their cameo appearances in the film.
The crew filmed a pilot for Fox in 2005 for a TV show called Awesometown, however the network rejected it. They re-edited the pilot and added new segments for a chance at airing on MTV or Comedy Central, but it was also rejected. Samberg now also stars in the 2012 British sitcom Cuckoo and the 2013 American sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
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- The Lonely Island