I guess since I’ve written up a review of the last album, it’s now a tradition. I do this because Pete is the songwriter in this band. I have very little to do with it. Sure, I give him frequent, honest feedback during the recording process. I try and stop him when I feel he’s used too many effects or samples. I cry and whine when he writes backup vocals outside of my narrow range. Like a lot of people, I give him a lot of those “why don’t you write a song about _________?” suggestions—the difference being that he actually takes mine. So I’m involved, yes, but mainly I’m still and always his biggest fan. I’m not all that musical and am still in awe of the songwriting process, especially how he is able to write songs that really get to people in one way or another.
I’m going to lay it out there right away: this is a weird fucking album. All EG albums are weird to varying degrees, but this one stands out, especially among the more recent stuff. I think Love in an Escalator was probably the most commercial. People who have only heard Love would probably find this hard to believe. Those who met the challenge to sit down and listen to all of the epic retrospective Make a Joyful Noise would not.
But back to The Bodyguard Soundtrack. We agonized over the title. I would say we spent a minimum of 60 hours discussing it. Before settling on the eventual winner, we had very few ideas. Some rejected titles included Van Halen (Pete’s choice) and Compact Disc (mine). We tested the title with a few friends early in the year. Most of them loved it. One of them loved it with a but—it reminded her that Whitney Houston was dead and that Bobbi Kristina would probably be soon, as she was then in a coma or something. This shot me into a spiral of doubt. Not because I was worried people would be “offended” or whatever, but mostly because I didn’t want to be a downer. EG is all about the party. You don’t want people thinking of dead pop singers and their near-dead daughters during the party. After conducting a bit more polling, I we decided it was just that one friend and settled. Until I had a bit of doubt following Bobbi Kristina’s actual death. Only briefly though.
Maybe you didn’t know that The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album is the greatest selling motion picture soundtrack of all time? What’s more, it’s also the fourth greatest selling album of all time. That kills me. It is because of this and the unusual personal relationship we each have with the soundtrack and the film itself that it became clear that this was to be the title of the album. Also because it’s a weird rip off that we both probably thought was a lot funnier than anyone else did. Which also brings us to the art. We had Roxplosion photograph us with only a general idea of what we wanted to do. Then we gave all of the photos to Photoshop genius and Electric Grandmother visual artist laureate, Noah Sorah, who ran with it. I initially had mixed feelings on the idea of doing a 1:1 parody on the actual soundtrack album cover, but when we saw what Noah had done, we didn’t really have a choice. It was so brilliant as it was.
In addition to a title and a cover, there is actual music related to this album we’re about to release. I think it’s usually unconscious, but Pete is a good album composer. There ‘s usually some kind of cohesive theme to it. The way I see it, The Stenographer was a reflection of his mixed feelings about the past. Listening Party was a bit of a temper tantrum about the politics of local music. Love in an Escalator was about change and transition. The Bodyguard Soundtrack is more or less about fame.
Thematically, the songs kind of mirror artists (loose term) at the top of their game. The de facto title track, “The Bodyguard” is about the movie, but the movie is only really remarkable because of the wildly successful soundtrack (and the salubrious Whitney Houston, of course). Similarly, “Michael Jordan” is probably assumed to be about the movie Space Jam, but it’s actually the first-person account of an obsessive fan whose only exposure to Michael Jordan is from the movie. There are two songs that are, to varying degrees about Madonna, one that’s really about the Saved by the Bell episode “Rockumentary.” The song is called “Mr. Madonna,” FYI. The other one is a bizarre one called “Madonna Was Once Just Like You.” Incidentally, this was one where I yelled at him for writing backup vocals out of my range. He barely changed it though and we just did it a krillion times until I got as close as I did. I’m kind of proud of it! To this day, I still cringe, waiting to hear myself go out of tune and I don’t. Not really. “They Photographed My Penis” is about that time in 1993 when Michael Jackson put out a statement about one of the molestation trials’ investigations that he felt was too invasive (call the wahmbulance).
As I said, this is a weird album. A few of the songs I’ll just mention by title because they kind of speak for themselves in this regard. “Bill and Hillary Clinton Making Out in a Hot Tub Full of Poop and Pee,” “Food Gives Us Shit,” “We Here at NASA,” and “Kiss Your Food” are pretty much as advertised. Another, which might actually be my favorite song on the album, “We Threw Up on Nuns” might get the video treatment. But not until spring, at the earliest. The title of “The Hawk” isn’t all that outlandish, but when you hear it, you’ll understand why I’m lumping it in here.
Speaking of music videos, may have heard our musical celebration of the return of our favorite sitcom-core show of all time, “Fuller House.” Shout out again to Mason Shelby for helping us make our very first music video happen.
The straightforward, topical classics you’ve come to expect from us are well represented on The Bodyguard Soundtrack as well, some of which have been performed live already. “Yo Palm Springs” is actually about two sitcom-core episodes about Palm Springs, one on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the other on Saved by the Bell. Two shows in one song, unified by an on-location setting. This is highly experimental stuff, folks. “Raptor Rap” is NOT about Jurassic World, it’s actually another Mrs. Doubtfire song, believe it or not. “Skis CDs” is about our favorite Valentine’s Day themed horror movie of all time, Valentine (which starred David Boreanaz and Denise Richards if you don’t remember it). We’ve watched it every year since we saw it in the theater on Valentine’s Day 2001. It’s one of my favorite traditions. We’ve been performing “Three Men and a Baby” for several months already and I think it’s one of the poppier ditties this album offers. There’s also a quietly brilliant song about the Michael Keaton vehicle, “Mr. Mom.” “Vulture Lives” is about a 30-second bit on Full House where Jesse rightly recognizes that the Rippers are kind of old-fashioned and he needed to be more like Whitesnake or Ratt. I can’t believe I just typed those words.
I don’t have a lot to say about the two latest installments of the Tired Robots instrumental series. Except that I always enjoy them and hope you do too.
Finally, there’s “Red Hot Oahu Blues,” which Pete says is probably the last love song he’ll ever write. It’s actually probably the most personal one he’s ever written as well. I won’t go into it too much (for that very reason), but will explain the origin story. I was excited about my first trip back home to Hawaii in four years and was talking about it a lot on Facebook. Noah, as he does, whipped up a fake album cover with the title “Red Hot Oahu Blues” on it. We loved it so much that we did briefly consider naming the album after it, but then Pete got the inspiration to write this song. He wrote it during the couple days’ head start I got on that trip back to Hawaii. I remember sitting on the bed in my brother’s house, straining to hear it on the crappy laptop speakers, and being so touched by it. He’s a good guy, my husby.
So that’s the album. I think it’s great. Come see us at the show on Saturday or catch us on tour if you can. Look forward to seeing you!
Mary Alice, 10/11/15