Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bo Burnham's "Words, Words, Words"

Musical comedian Bo Burnham's latest project, Words Words Words starts off with two studio tracks and then goes into a live set where Burnham is proud to offer what is most likely the smartest bunch of dirty jokes you'll ever hear, all set to a catchy beat. Sure, you need a thesaurus, a serious love of homonyms and puns, and the cliff notes to the complete works of Shakespeare to catch all of the jokes that are flying by but that's part of the fun. Burnham brings his white boy rap at full speed and that half-second between the point where you hear a line and when your brain actually registers what you just heard is part of the fun. Upon listening a second, third, and even fourth time, you're pretty much guaranteed to pick up new jokes where innocent statements once appeared to be.

"I'm a feminine Eminem, a slim shady lady but nice 'cuz I texted Haiti,

Ninety lady cops in the road and I'm arrested for doin' 80."

I still haven't decided which I prefer, the studio or live tracks. One on hand I enjoy hearing the crowd respond to Burnham as he pounds away on the piano yet at the same time I like the full studio sound where the songs are complete with beats, orchestration, and sound effects.

To break down each song indiviually would almost be pointless since Burnham's songs are pretty much all different approaches to the whole "I'm an amazing rapper and here are some examples of why I'm the best" routine. But when you're as clever a wordsmith as Burnham is, that's totally allowed.

Musically, I'm looking forward to seeing Burnham grow and stretch a bit. The live tracks reveal how similar most of his songs are. It's as if he's playing the same chords and what really differentiates them from one another are the words he's saying. Often times when he gets to a big joke in a song it seems he's so excited to hit the punchline that his fingers betray him and his enthusiasm results in some ear-splitting wrong notes.

We've all experiemented with writing our own Haikus, but in the age of Twitter where we're restrained to expressing our thoughts with a limited amount of characters, Burnham seems born to say a lot in only seventeen syllables.

"Even if he is

Your friend never ever call
An Asian person"

You may cringe, you may check to see who's in the room next to you, you may not want to, but Burnham will make you laugh. To paraphrase a line from the title track, "Words Words Words" is like having sex with a fat lady in an elevator. It's wrong on so many levels.


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