They Might Be Giants invented the modern world.


They Might Be Giants invented the modern world. Or it might more be accurate to say that they prefigured the modern world. They were They in the 80s and by by the 00s, the world was catching up to their genius for song distribution and audience engagement.

I wouldn't really put them on the cutting edge anymore, but that's not because they's less innovative but because they've the Rollings Stones of geek rock. They can overcharge and precharge and preovercharge [see comment's for tmbg's rebuttal] and so they do---it's hard to blame them. They took that too far about ten years ago, but with a course correction I think they've found a nice balance between being elder gods and the They Might Be Giants of yesteryear.

For instance, they've reinstituted Dial-A-Song for 2015. You can call 1-844-387-6962* and get the same over-the-wires lo-fi that a huge percentage of their fans are too young to have ever experienced before. But it wasn't only a connection to the band that Dial-A-Song provided:

Anyway, the new Dial-A-Song is online but for $30 you can get all fifty-two songs emailed to you a day early. Which is great for the classic TMBG audience who has that money and might still care about owning things. And then is available free online a day later. Which matches the classic TMBG ethos from that moment into eternity.

Here: watch the video of the first song. It's pretty fun:

Aside: Remember when Radiohead released In Rainbows and you could pay whatever you wanted? And they made a ton of money? For all the people predicting this would be the new model, may I remind you of what Eric Garland said at the time: "Step one: Be Radiohead."

Which is what I mean when I say TMBG isn't so cutting-edge anymore. They're no longer showing new bands the way inside the marketplace or the hearts of fans.

But it's also why I'm wrong. What they're doing is showing how their original model is best applied to established bands. So kids in garages, you can pick up some hints from TMBG, sure, but bands playing to dyed hair and boob jobs at county fairs? You should have paid attention thirty years ago and you should pay attention now.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Incidentally, regardless of what you personally think of TMBG's music, this is why I think it's a travesty they weren't a first-ballot Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. The influence they've had on the industry is much vaster than even their vaster-than-realized fanbase. Frankly, the kid albums should be a vote for and not against. And anyone who thinks that Green Day being bigger makes them more important is going to look back in fifty years and wonder what they were thinking.

some history via tal and sarah vowell


  1. .

    With usual adeptness, I manage to both flatter and offend.


  2. .

    [EDIT: Added note about above comment and corrected two typos.]