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Reviewed by Jeff Giles
Writing funny songs isn’t something many musicians have been interested in during the rock era – "Weird Al" Yankovic has had the field essentially to himself for the last 25 years, even if you count the occasional one-hit wonder like, say, Afroman – mostly because music and comedy are a tricky mix. We like our albums to have a lot of replay value, but how many jokes can make you laugh more than a few times? Or, put another way, how many times could you go to the moon and back by stacking all the used copies of Jimmy Fallon and Adam Sandler CDs in three-for-a-quarter discount bins across America? And how often do you listen to your Tenacious D records?
So the odds are high, to say the least, that listening to Incredibad six months from now will make you wonder what the hell you were thinking when you bought it. But here’s the good news: listening to it today will make you laugh. A lot, even.
None of the Lonely Islanders are musicians – or singers, really – so it’s perhaps out of necessity that most of Incredibad is made up of hip-hop tracks, with a few exceptions (best of the bunch: the vaguely Pet Shop Boys-sounding "Jizz in My Pants," the New Wave funk number "Sax Man," featuring lead vocals from Jack Black, and, of course, the Justin Timberlake showcase "Dick in a Box.") Giving three white geeks an entire album to rap about stuff like "Chronicles of Narnia" and being a middle manager seems like a pretty terrible idea, but Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone are surprisingly successful – they whip up a mean musical pastiche (like the cockeyed Kool Moe Dee "tribute" "Punch You in the Jeans") and their jokes, more often than not, are really pretty funny, whether they’re mocking Carlos Santana’s champagne ("Santana DVX") or rap videos in general ("I’m on a Boat," worth listening to if for no other reason than the opportunity to hear T-Pain sing the immortal line "I fucked a mermaid").
As with just about every other comedy album on the planet, Incredibad has its unfunny moments – you can skip over anything that has the word "interlude" in the title, and the college-freshman-discovers-reggae anthem "Ras Trent" is painful – but the good stuff far outweighs the bad, and even when they miss their mark, Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone are so over-the-top exuberant that it’s hard to hold it against them. Plus, they had the good sense to pack eight videos onto a DVD that comes bundled with the CD, including "Dick in a Box." None of it may prompt so much as a chuckle after you’ve heard it a few dozen times, but for the $9.99 Amazon is asking, it’s a good enough value that you can at least avoid feeling foolish for buying it – and in the icy wasteland that is the February release schedule, that’s a rare and wonderful thing.