John Flansburgh and John Linnell, founders of They Might Be Giants, have no shortage of imagination and creativity when it comes to songwriting.
Over the last 37 years, TMBG has released songs of varying styles and subjects, and they have never once settled for anything less than abnormal. Perhaps the Johns’ “geeky” style is what has given the band such a long and lavished career.
In January 2018, the band released “I Like Fun” which is said to“draw on themes of dread, death and disappointment.” Similar to their previous albums, “I Like Fun” previews catchy, melodic tracks that create a juxtaposition against the dark, nerdist themes.
The Johns’ early goal was to capture the attention of college-aged students. In the 1980s, the two had built a cult following of listeners, but had yet to sign with a record company. So, in an attempt to spread their music, the two set up Dial-A-Song, a phone line that plays music through an answering service. Their strategy not only won them the opportunity to sign on to a record label, but it helped them gain mass popularity.
Today, Dial-A-Song has evolved into a website, a YouTube Channel and even a smartphone app for Apple and Android.
This kind of forward thinking from the band members has certainly given them an advantage in spreading their popularity, aside from only using Dial-A-Song. In fact, their willingness to produce commercial music further boosted their early fame. Additionally, they were one of the first to put their music online and sell music on their own site in 2004.
As the years passed, the band continuously evolved and maintained a popular sound while remaining as weird and nerdy as when they first started. The band’s sound eventually made it to the screen where they further revealed their flexibility and adaptability as artists. Many of their songs were featured in shows that I, and maybe you, grew up watching.
TMBG created theme songs for Spongebob Squarepants, Malcolm in the Middle, Meet the Robinsons, Coraline and many others. The band also released a few educational albums for children such as “Here Comes Science,” “Here Come The ABCs” and more.
The music industry has seen many other long-lasting bands, and even some of greater popularity, but what makes TMBG so unique? For starters, they have impacted many adults, including today’s adults who grew up listening to their music as children.
Like a pile of sand, a thing is what it is made up of, and in the case of TMBG, the band is the lively band members. They are confident nerds with great musical talent. Even after 37 years, the band’s music remains lighthearted, and the accompanying videos are as dramatically absurd as ever. They aren’t afraid of standing out and creating something insanely different from what is currently streaming.
Additionally, they are willing to adapt and are quick on their feet (figuratively speaking). The fact that the band released mostly children’s music from 2005 to 2011, and were still able to surprise (and please) their adult fans with the release of “Join Us,” proves TMBG is a band for everyone at any stage in life.
TMBG was recently in Philadelphia for New Year’s Eve and will be touring in Australia starting in February. The band promises their shows will be “spontaneous and occasionally ribald.” TMBG certainly knows how to keep their loyal fans entertained. Their music reminds us that even in the darkest time, positivity is possible if one focuses on a happy note.