Monday, May 16, 2011

Michael Bolton speaks about his Andy Samberg/TLI song "Jack Sparrow"

Michael Bolton, featured on “Jack Sparrow”

How did you first get into the Lonely Island?
I was in the studio working on my last CD, and there were computer screens everywhere, and three or four guys were glued to a screen—and they were definitely not working on the music. They said, “You gotta see this!” And it was the Lonely Island boys, in “* in a Box.” In short order we found Natalie Portman, which is another sick and shocking Lonely Island–guys brand of comedy. Very, very funny stuff.

Was there a particular video that made you laugh on SNL?
I don’t recall seeing Natalie on SNL—maybe there was a lot of bleeping. Of course, “Ji$$ in My Pants.” Sorry if the spelling’s wrong. I’ve never written ji$$ before this!

Were you at all surprised when they reached out to you?
Yes, pleasantly surprised. I thought the guys were hilarious and couldn’t believe what they pulled off and how well it was shot and executed.

What was your reaction when you first heard the demo for “Jack Sparrow”?
I thought the visual would be insane but the original lyric was nasty! It was funny for sure, shocking to put it mildly, but too far for me.

Had you done much comedy before?
Just walk-on parts as myself in some Dangerfield films. And finding the “funny” is the first rule in my life.

How was the recording process?
The process was easy except for my schedule, as I was touring steadily. We found a studio in Atlanta to go into and do my vocals. They Skyped me and produced as I sang. It was actually fun doing layers of harmonies to their tracks, but we worked until, I think, 2am, all with a show coming up that night. I appreciated them wanting it all to be done right and hanging in there online until we all thought, “We’ve got it.” That’s when I thought, Ruh-roh, there’s some interesting lyrics going on here.

Did you have any reservations about any of the lyrics? Either the silliness (“The Jester of Tortuga!”) or the saucy quotes (“This whole town’s a pu$$y just waitin’ to get bon*d”)? Or can it be a relief for a “serious” artist to do something playful?
If you had only seen the lyrics Andy was pitching to me earlier you’d know what a relief this version was. Andy has no reservations when it comes to an all-new lower level of illness in the dialog. Some of it was immediately laugh-out-loud freakin’ funny, too, but I couldn’t go there. This one [“This whole town’s a pu$$y.”] is definitely an out-of-character quote for me at the end of the song, but it’s perfectly in character with Pacino’s masterpiece portrayal of Tony in Scarface. Which, of course, is one of my favorite films. I wish they had let me do more speaking in this one. Maybe next time. And yes, it’s a relief to have fun in the skin of different characters and to just have a moment where you can say * it, let’s have some fun with this!


Thanks to Anony for the scoop!

So this is what I took away...
- Michael Bolton first heard of TLI from their 2006 hits (* in a Box was Christmas 06), and he's been a fan, so he was definitely excited to do this with them.
- He required a rewrite process because he didn't want it to be nasty shock comedy.
- They Skyped to produce Bolton in the studio (due to his schedule).

Overall, I have to agree with Bolton. While I loved the shock comedy of Natalie's Rap, their funniest stuff goes a little too far. It's when the song is all about going too far that I lose interest and don't find it funny. For example, they lost me with Sloths, Giraffes, Roy Rules, and now We're Back. I think the shock can be funny when it's in moderation.

So I think Jack Sparrow is an even funnier song because of Bolton's push back.

What do you think?



It Builds Character. said...

Thanks for the article. Thanks to Jack Sparrow, I can now say I have a Michael Bolton song stuck in my head regularly.

So, I came across this bizarre event: Joanna Newsom and actress Busy Phillips hosted an event at Barney's for jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth, who happened to go to camp with Andy Samberg when they were kids. Weird. There are a couple pictures of Andy and Joanna at the bottom of the page.

Sprinkler Buff said...

I think it's awesome that Bolton lowered the tempo a little bit when it comes to vulgarity. I'm sure I wouldn't like it as much if it were over the top. Because it's (mildly) clean I can watch it over and over again without feeling sick.

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