In another step toward obtaining the crown of King of All Media, Jimmy Fallon collects some his best musical comedy bits into an album called Blow Your Pants Off. The album features superstar guest stars like Taylor Hicks, spot on impressions of superstars and hilarious parodies of superstar songs. It would be a party in your pants if they were blown off.
When Howard Stern called himself the "King of All Media", I always had to laugh because he was a guy who really had no talent other than the capability to talk in insulting ways about vulgar topics. When Conan O'Brien moved on from his safe little late night nest on his ill-fated journey to replace Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, I had to laugh because he really wasn't very funny and generally specialized in pee pee jokes of one type or another. When Jimmy Fallon was announced as the replacement for O'Brien, I had to laugh because here seemed to be a light weight who couldn't possibly succeed in the dog-eat-dog, cut-throat world of late night television that had chewed up such luminaries as Joan Rivers, Pat Sajack, Chevy Chase and Dennis Miller. This time the joke was on me. Not only did Fallon use his boyish, nerdish, hashtag, fratboy, fanboy, over-the-top talents to make a solid landing for his show but slowly but surely he has expanded his reach until he has become, with his amazing musical guests, his books, his reach on Twitter and other social media, awards show hosting, his penchant for making the news, and his ability to be the bigget fan of almost anything, Fallon has become an actual contender for the title of "King of All Media!"
One of his most potent talents, that separates him from the typical talk show host is his ability to do sharp-edged impersonations of famous rock and pop singers. John Belushi pioneered this type of impression in the early days of Saturday Night Live. Adam Sandler rode this ability on SNL to movie superstardom back in the Nineties with both him impressions and original songs. Later Fallon was able to emerge from the cast of SNL as a sort of Sandler-lite, to forge his own style of musical humor. On his current show, Fallon creates three types of songs. One, he impersonates a famous singer in the performance of sone they would never sing that serves as a startling juxtaposition. For example, Bob Dylan performing the title song from the sitcom Charles Charge or in another example, the famous singer takes on the incredibly annoying song of the day, such as a tribute to Willow Smith's tribute to inanity, Whip My Hair sung by Neil Young. Second, Fallon performs a comical song as himself with a guest star. One example is the popular History of Rap that features Justin Timberlake and covers the history of Hip Hop with the pair re-enacting famous bits of rap styles to great amusement and effect. Another is a parody version of Yesterday called Scrambled Eggs, actually performed with the composer of Yesterday, Paul McCartney. The third style is an original comic song performed by Fallon in an impersonation of a famous singer or style.
The current release, Blow Your Pants Off contains all three types of Fallons' song bits. Besides the examples referred to above, as Neil Young, Fallon sings the theme song from Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, and as Jim Morrison of The Doors, he sings the song Reading Rainbow from the children's show to great humorous effect. In addition to the Timberlake and McCartney performances above, he also performs with Eddie Vedder on the protest song Balls in Your Mouth (referring to tar balls that are floating in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP/Halliburton oil spill that might get in your mouth if you go swimming there) and Dave Matthews on the college party anthem Walk of Shame, about returning in the morning to one's dorm room after a night of "revelry" which was performed in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina the same night that President Barack Obama slow-jammed the news with Fallon. See what I mean? King of all media! Besides his television, movies, books and albums, Fallon is hob-nobbing with the highest of the political elite as well. When Her Majesty Michele Bachman, erstwhile Presidential candidate appeared on his show, Jimmy's house band The Roots paid her an appropriate tribute. The Obama-Fallon collaboration is not included on the album.
There are some other performances that don't fit quite so neatly into the categories I outlined above. Tebowie is one of these in that Fallon performs as David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust days and sings a parody of Space Oddity, but the words refer to recent fad sweeping the nation prompted by the very religious Tim Tebow, who would kneel in a specialized obeisance to the almighty after a football performance. Fallon would milk the social media phenomenon that was Tebowing (a meme similar to planking where people would photograph themselves kneeling like Tebow in odd locations) over several weeks. This included his Tebowing Across America and an appearance by Tim Tebow himself on the show when it was coming from Indianapolis, Indiana the week of the Super Bowl. Another sports related bit that stretched the categories was Fallon performing a version of Pearl Jam's Jeremy in celebration of the crazy popularity of the obscure basketball player Jeremy Lin who came out nowhere to blast across the headlines as Linsanity and became a (temporary) star of the struggling New York Knicks basketball team. This was also notable for the journalists who lost their jobs with off-color puns using Asian-American stereotypes in their taglines and headlines.
Tebowie On Piers Morgan On Cnn
Another collaboration that is featured on the album features comedian Stephen Colbert performing with Fallon's house band The Roots on the super-annoying internet song sensation Friday by Rebecca Black. Colbert and Fallon have participated in a comedic battle/friendship over the last couple of years that has yielded some hilarious bits of craziness. From their sparring over ice cream flavors to the Colbert-Fallon project, it is enjoyable to watch the intermixing of their particular brands of humor. Colbert himself is no stranger to the comedy song, although no impressionist, It would interesting to see a full-length collaboration between the two.
This brings up a downside to the album, not a deal breaker, but certainly a diminishing of the overall effectiveness. Or perhaps it is a test to see if these impressions can stand being audio only. There is no doubt that Fallon's Neil Young is not as interesting without seeing him hunched over an acoustic guitar with his hair, harmonic rack and felt hat AS Neil Young performing a TV theme. Tebowie works better because of the strength of the song parody. The word of Tebowie's song are funny even if you can't see him tricked out as Ziggy. The group of the songs that fell into category three, including My Upstairs Neighbors, New French Girlfriend and You Spit When You Talk that fall into an older school realm of comedy album. Certainly the performance of Friday is not as funny when you can't see the insanity happening on the stage during the song a la Kenan Thompson's What's Up With Than sketch from SNL. However, this is often a problem with "live" albums anyways.
Ultimately, the verdict on this album is: funny. If I was back in the days of making mix tapes, it would be fun to slip one of these in there for the humor of it. It will be interesting to see what moves Fallon makes next to exert his power in his new kingdom of nerd-media.
1. Neil Young Sings Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
2. History of Rap (feat. Justin Timberlake)
4. Scrambled Eggs (feat. Paul McCartney)
5. The Doors Sing Reading Rainbow
6. Balls In Your Mouth (feat. Eddie Vedder)
7. My Upstairs Neighbors Are Having Sex (And Listening To The Black Eyed Peas)
8. Bob Dylan Sings Charles in Charge
9. Walk of Shame (feat. Dave Matthews)
10. Slow Jam The News (feat. Brian Williams)
11. New French Girlfriend
12. Cougar Huntin (feat. Big & Rich)
13. You Spit When You Talk
14. Friday (feat. Stephen Colbert)
15. Neil Young Sings Whip My Hair (feat. Bruce Springsteen)