15 Life Lessons from The Lonely Island
For those of you who many not know them by name, The Lonely Island is the parody rap group responsible for many of Saturday Night Live’s viral YouTube hits. Off set of SNL, the group has released three rap albums, all of which are equally satirical, witty and perfectly hilarious.
Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer are the musical and lyrical masterminds that make up the group, and–quite frankly–they have a lot of inspirational lifehacks to teach all of us.
Here are 15 life lessons I’ve learned from The Lonely Island:
1. You’re never too old for anything.
Anyone who knows the name Michael Bolton probably knows him for his world famous love songs back in the day. This is the man responsible for “When a Man Loves a Woman” and dozens upon dozens of other soulful love songs. And, now in his early 60s, this same man is the featured singer of the hit Lonely Island song, “Jack Sparrow.”
If that isn’t proof that you can do and be anything you want to be no matter what age you are, then I just don’t know what is.
Watch “Jack Sparrow” here.
2. Being cool is all about confidence.
If you’ve seen the members of The Lonely Island, then you already know that their oddly attractive persona has very little to do with the way they dress. The hyper masculine attitude of The Dudes is all about confidence and self-respect, no matter what their clothes or behavior would otherwise indicate.
Wearing powder blue turtlenecks and skin tight white pants really isn’t in style these days, but somehow Andy, Jorm and Kiv just pull it off.
Listen to “Turtleneck & Chain” to get a better idea of what I mean.
3. Throwing things on the ground is funny in almost every situation.
If you’ve read any of my other Lifehack posts, then you may have noticed that I’m a big fan of exercising your inner child and not taking your life too seriously. That’s just one of the many reasons that I’m such a huge Lonely Island fan. As their video and song for “Threw It On The Ground” shows, you can throw just about ANYTHING on the ground and it will be funny to someone.
I think throwing things on the ground is an important part of keeping your outer adult in check. Plus, it looks really funny in slow-mo.
Watch “Threw It On The Ground” here.
4. Nice girls can go hard too.
One of my first and all-time favorites is “Natalie’s Rap” because, much like myself, Natalie Portman comes across as a sweet and innocent goody-goody in many of her on-screen roles.
Any girl who’s ever felt stuck in the “nice girl” stereotype can appreciate Natalie’s willingness to go hard for a day and personify a gangster kingpin whose love of violence, drugs and sex comically contrasts with her normal acting roles.
Watch the uncensored version of “Natalie’s Rap” here.
5. Work is more fun if you amp yourself up about it.
Even though early Lonely Island favorite, “Like A Boss,” is all about a guy whose job sucks, the upbeat and overly confident nature of the song kind of conveys mixed messages. So if you’re having a bad day at work, try thinking about your job as if it were a hyper-dramatized rap video and your day will likely be much more bearable.
Watch the video for “Like A Boss” here.
6. Nobody cares that you’re having sex because everyone else is doing it too.
America is pretty well known for hush-hush feelings about airing your sex life in public, but this leads many of us to feel awkward or embarrassed about our sex lives and sexuality. In “I Just Had Sex,” The Lonely Island confronts this nationally awkward topic head-on by rapping about their (hopefully) fictional, embarrassing sex lives.
Watch the video for “I Just Had Sex” here.
7. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
We’ve all heard this saying before, but nothing puts this phrase into perspective quite like “Dreamgirl.” In a slower, R&B-style song, The Dudes list off the characteristics they like about their dream girl. With characteristics including, “skin like asphalt, nose so runny,” this description of a sexy woman is the exact opposite of what most people imagine. But beauty should not be defined by one ideal image, and The Lonely Island shows us just that.
Listen to “Dreamgirl” here.
8. Partying gets old after a while.
Our culture places such huge importance on the “coolness” and consumerism of partying that many of us fail to realize that partying 24/7 would get boring pretty quickly. The Lonely Island exaggerates the overrated expectations of party life by describing the mental breakdown of a huge party-goer in the song “After Party.”
I think this song is just a good reminder that, while partying can be fun sometimes, there are more important things in life that deserve a lot more of your attention.
Listen to “After Party” here.
9. You can be masculine and give hugs at the same time.
Again playing with our cultural ideals of masculinity and sex, The Lonely Island’s song “Hugs” is a heavy rap beat that is all about…hugging? Yep.
For me, this song says that you can be any kind of man (or woman) that you want to be, as long as you’re confident about yourself. It’s also a pretty clear satire of pop culture’s objectification of women and relationships in general.
Listen to “Hugs” here.
10. Team effort makes everything better.
Everything is better when a group of people combine forces, and “We Are A Crowd” is definitely one of those things. It’s a song about people being in a crowd, and it would just suck if only one dude was singing it. Even things that sound meaningless on the surface can have genuine meaning if enough people believe in the message. So if you don’t get anything else from this Beastie Boys-esque track, there’s always that.
Listen to “We Are A Crowd” now to join in.
11. Grammar is important.
Being a writer, I can’t help but get a little irritated when people misuse punctuation, and The Lonely Island seem to feel the same. In their song “Semicolon,” The Dudes rap entirely in what they think are semicolon-separated phrases. Their grammar is a bit off, though, and it turns out the entire song should be punctuated with colons instead. But still, the message is there.
Click here to listen to “Semicolon.”
12. It’s the thought that counts.
Much like their “Dreamgirl” ideals, The Dudes’ ideas of the perfect gift are somewhat less than the norm. While you likely would be more shocked than grateful if your boyfriend did this, the song “D*ck in a Box” is a funny example of times when it’s really the thought that counts.
Watch the “D*ck in a Box” music video here.
13. Homophobic people are really just insecure about themselves.
In a surprisingly serious satire, The Lonely Island combats homophobia and masculine ideals in their 2-part song “No Homo.” This song goes from realistic bro-like expressions (i.e. “I like the way your shoulders fill out that shirt. No homo!”) to a plethora of sexual desires that are geared towards other guys.
The song’s true message works for the group, though, because their core listeners are younger audiences who are much more open to the LGBT movement than previous generations.
Listen to “No Homo” here.
14. Perspective makes all the difference.
A change in perspective is often all you need to gain new insights and interpretations about the world around you. In the case of The Lonely Island, though, those insights are pretty scary when the guys interpret the phrase YOLO (You Only Live Once) to mean You Oughta Look Out.
While you shouldn’t look for negativity in things, you should try to be more open-minded and view things from a new perspective once in a while.
See what a difference perspective can make here.
15. Not staying true to yourself is the biggest mistake you can make.
Probably the most overtly critical message The Lonely Island has ever put out, “Go Kindergarten,” is very satirical. While it’s funny and entertaining, the message of the song is really strong: stay true to yourself and don’t let other people tell you who you get to be.
Watch “Go Kindergarten” here.
Featured photo credit: Turtleneck & Chain Desktop/The Lonely Islandvia thelonelyisland.com
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