Monday, May 15, 2006

Song of the Day: Rockin' the Suburbs (from "Over the Hedge") - Ben Folds

Ben Folds has five songs on the soundtrack to the upcoming animated kids'movie Over the Hedge. The soundtrack, to be released tomorrow, includes "Rockin' the Suburbs."

I know what you're saying, you're saying "Rockin' the Suburbs?" Could there be a more inappropriate song for a kids' movie soundtrack? Was "Brick" somehow unavailable?

To be fair, Folds has written new lyrics for the song. In its original version, Folds takes aim at Limp Bizkit and their fans with lyrics such as

Let me tell ya'll what it's like
Being male, middle class and white
It's a b----, if you don't believe
Listen up to my new CD
Sham on

And it only gets more profane and more angry from there, until it ends in a fury of cheesy rap-metal. It all seemed a bit too much; making fun of Bizkit and the attitude of their fans (even at the time) was akin to shooting fish in a barrel. Sleepy fish in a barrel. It was overkill, perhaps, but amusing, and fully thought out in execution.

So now for this new movie, which tells the story of some timid wood animals facing an encroaching suburbia, Folds has turned his aim from 20-year-old white males to, er, soccer moms?

Let me tell y'all what it's like
Watching idol on a friday night
In a house built safe and sound
On indian burial ground
Sham on
(Rest of the lyrics are here)

From there, Folds turns his aim to cookie-cutter suburban development and how houses all look the same. It's as if he thought that five-year-old kids have a working knowledge of Jane Jacobs, enough to nod sagely at the critique. It's a song lobbed completely over the kids' heads at their parents, and, sadly, it's not telling us anything we don't know. (You either agree completely, or don't care at all.)

Now, the song also includes a bizarre voice-over by frequent Folds collaborator William Shatner, which must be in character (Shatner does have a part), as Shatner rails on and on in the persona of a slightly too nosy neighbor. Again, vaguely amusing for the adults, kinda odd for the kids. And, most strangely, the song ends in the same cheesy rap-metal that's part of the original, only now it's devoid of any context.

I really like Ben Folds, and I'm sure he was excited to help out with a kids' movie soundtrack (as he has at least one child of his own), but this is one song mostly likely over the he...ads.

You can check out the Over The Hedge soundtrack website (with radio) here. If you think I'm gonna link to a Limp Bizkit song, you're nuts, but if you go to the Ben Folds Five website and click on "Music," you can hear my favorite Folds song, "The Battle of Who Could Care Less."

3 comments:

Mrs. Davis said...

I love Ben Folds. But he's one of the last people I would think to use for a kids/family movie soundtrack. I think "Rockin' the Suburbs" in its original form is brilliant, and it's one of my favorite BF songs. What he's done with it here is terrible, though, and you're exactly right - kids won't understand it at all.

Mr_Poop said...

ummm...have you SEEN the movie? it's NOT for kids. it's PG, it's based on a pretty edgy comic strip, and the message in the song is aimed at it's EXACT target maket audience. ther are showings at midnite and later...this ain't no Shrek and it ain't Cars, neither. do you always hold such strong opinions about things you haven't experienced and rally so strongly against things you do't know about?

Stefan said...

I probably should take "mr_poop's" comments with a large grain of salt. Who, for example, would criticize someone for not seeing a movie while using as part of his argument a reference to a movie -- Cars -- that hasn't actually been released yet?

So setting aside the merit of his argument (which I don't feel like arguing), I did want to make clear that my comments were based on my experience of hearing the song on a satellite radio's kids' station (several times) and not from seeing the movie (which, like "Shrek," is rated "PG").