Almost ten years ago, I went to a showing of “Get Him To the Greek.” I really had no interest in the film nor did I care for Russel Brand or Jonah Hill, but a friend dragged me…..and I am so glad they did. “Get Him To The Greek” introduced me to what just might be the best band there never was – Infant Sorrow.
Infant Sorrow made their original debut in the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” The two movies seem inconsistent with each other, but that’s forgivable as the sure awesomeness of Infant Sorrow makes up for everything. Infant Sorrow sometimes takes itself seriously, and sometimes they’re a parody of other bands such as U2, INXS, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Soundgarden, and so many more bands you should know. The question begs, what if Infant Sorrow was indeed a real band? Is Infant Sorrow the best band that never was, or would we all get tired of frontman Aldous Snow and his – well – personality? Let’s examine a handful of the Infant Sorrow songs and find out.
We’ve Got To Do Something
One of only two tracks by Infant Sorrow on the “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” soundtrack, “We’ve Got To Do Something” gives us a parody of pretty much every rocker who suddenly grows a social conscious. The absolute brilliance of this parody – “We Got To Do Something” shows the arrogance, ignorance, and even the hubris of said rockers. Don’t get me wrong – some rock stars really do care about certain issues, and some even educate themselves on their issue of choice. We also see a lot of hypocrites (no examples cited to protect the innocent). We see artists who have a vague notion of “something’s wrong” and then pretend to have all the answers. Infant Sorrow certainly falls into the latter category with “We Got To Do Something.”
To be fair, “We Got To Do Something” presents some amazing imagery. The line “I’d say it’s plain from the rain the sweet lady’s (Mother Earth) started to cry” – that’s pure poetry! A band who could write this – fictions or not – proves their intelligence and ability to learn about the issues. However, the song also shows us the laziness of Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow. For instance, “From what I’ve read there’s a lotta bad stuff in the world today, / It’s been said it’s getting rough to find a place where the children play” gives us a ridiculous lack of imagery and a vague feeling from someone who just does not want to take the time to understand more than the base concepts of an issue. Seriously, it sounds like Aldous Snow heard about these “bad things” from a fellow drunk at a bar.
Oh, but the real fun part of the song comes from the ending monologue. In 25 lines of ranting, we go from a singer who really seems to care about the issues, to a singer who refuses to look at their own lifestyle and the sacrifices they could make to alleviate suffering. We get a singer who just doesn’t really care, despite their pretty (and lazy) words. This is “Do They Know It’s Christmas” level of piety and arrogance!
With all that said, the strengths of “We Got To Do Something” lies in the intensity of the song! Sure – critics would lambast Aldous Snow and the rest of Infant Sorrow for the overly egocentric, lazy, and ignorant approach to the world’s problems, but at the same time….it’s still inspiring. Again, just like “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” “We Are The World,” and pretty much every other celebrity supergroup single. “We Got To Do Something” might be arrogant and dumb witted, but it does make us want to do something. We Just don’t know what!
“Going Up,” like so many other Infant Sorrow songs, uses suggestive (and brilliant) imagery to convey a somewhat positive message. Lines such as “like a dog who’s gone insane / You’re putting me down, down down,” or “And for twenty bucks in the alley / I’m going down, down down” give us a bleak picture of the singer’s life. And yet the song is called Going Up for a reason.
That’s because “Going Up” is a song about coming back! In the movie “Get Him To The Greek,” Aldous Snow opens the Infant Sorrow set with “Going Up”to signify that his downturn is at an end. “Going Up” relaunches Infant Sorrow and Aldous Snow’s career in a triumph.
But what about that bleak future stuff? What about all those verses that describe someone at rock bottom? Those verses describe someone who has nowhere to go but up.
Essentially, “Going Up” shows us we have options…even if we don’t have options. “Going Up” gives us a song to sing when we need hope…when we’ve lost our jobs, our partners, and when our own vices have taken ahold of us.
What a bloody brilliant song!
“The Clap” might be the number one reason argument for Infant Sorrow being the best band that never was. Essentially, “The Clap” is a raucous anthem about…well…gonorrhea. But it’s so unapologetic and uncaring. And that’s what makes “The Clap” such a great freaking rock and roll song.
Backing up a moment…yes…”The Clap” really is about, well, the drip. “The Clap” rejoices in their STD and doesn’t give a damn what you think about their itchy, infected nether regions. The singer celebrates their bacterial infection and wants to shove it in your face (figuratively and literally speaking). More gonorrhea for everyone I guess (eww).
“The Clap” also makes you not care about the subject matter. The song just makes you want to sing, dance, and freaking rock and roll. Furthermore, with “The Clap” we get an idea of the songs that Infant Sorrow would have in their back catalog. Songs that are both rebellious and loud. Songs that might inspire punk rockers. These non existent songs – get the true nature of rock and roll.
Sidenote – “The Clap” and its unapologetic rock style inspired this week’s playlist!
I Am Jesus
So…it goes without saying that “I Am Jesus” is one of the most blasphemous songs ever written – even for a fake band. If “I Am Jesus” had actually been a serious song, the death threats against Aldous Snow by – well – pretty much any religion with extremist factions – would number in the hundreds (or even the thousands). Sure – the song is figurative, but tell that to an angry fundamentalist, be it Christian, Islamic, or what have you. Heck, I have the feeling an angry Buddhist might feel justified in launching a holy war because of this song.
So what makes “I Am Jesus” so amazing? The song expands on the egocentric saviour complex we see in so many rock stars. Just like “We Got To Do Something,” “I Am Jesus” insists that the only person that can help the world is whatever rockstar happens to care about a cause (in this case, Aldous Snow).
And oh, does “I Am Jesus” touch on so many rock stars. The melody sounds like something Coldplay might write. The attitude of the song feels like the mind of John Lennon. The backing vocals at the end of the song sound suspiciously reminiscent of The Edge. Couple that with Bono’s passionate rants, we can certainly include U2 in this song’s parody target.
True – any band that would record “I Am Jesus” as a serious song would be insufferable. “I Am Jesus” gives us our biggest case against Infant sorrow being the best band that never was. A band that would write this song – well – maybe the world is best without them.
“Furry Walls” was (9 year old spoiler) part of Aldous Snow’s recovery and redemption. The song shows a bit of depth we don’t see a lot of in Infant Sorrow songs but suggests that this depth always existed in the band’s catalog.
The backstory – Jonah Hill’s character takes a hit of a drug cocktail and has a really bad reaction. Aldous Snow tries to calm him down by telling him to stroke the carpeted (furry) walls. While the backstory gives us the imagery, the depth of the song comes from the metaphor. The furry walls serve as something or someone comforting. Essentially, Furry Walls tells us that life will slip us a “Jeffery” or two, but there’s always going to be something or someone to offer us solace.
A song of hope and even happiness like this – it’s a rare thing. Maybe such a song is only possible with fictional bands, but I refuse to believe that! We need bands who have recovered to give us A+ material like “Furry Walls.” We need them to use their experiences, even the dark ones, with their songs. You hear that Mötley Crüe? Your recovery phase didn’t have to suck! But I digress.
Bangers, Beans, and Mash
With “Bangers, Beans, and Mash” we get a lot of emotion – much more than any other Infant Sorrow Song. Sure – “Bangers, Beans, and Mash” talks about luring the singer’s partner home just for sex. However, the singer, while obviously wanting said sex, wants something more. He wants companionship – he’s lonely. He misses his partner.
The singer shows a lonely world – one where he works hard, and just can’t wait to hop on the subway to get home to his partner. The singer feels dead when he’s not with his partner. He falls asleep, staring at his phone – just hoping for his partner (or maybe former partner) to call. Seriously – this song makes me want to cry!
The emotional depth in “Bangers, Beans, and Mash” makes us long for more. I seriously want to hear what other emotional power ballads Aldous Snow might have written.
Earlier I stated that, thus far, “I Am Jesus” was the top reason why we don’t need Infant Sorrow as a real band. “African Child” is number two, and just as offensive. “African Child” literally calls Aldous Snow a white savior to the people of Africa. The song shows the ignorance found in “We Got To Do Something,” only magnified a hundredfold!
And oh is “African Child” so very, very racist. The Bridge of “African Child” is a Swahili chant. Parts of the Chant translates to “I am a god who protects children / I am peace / I am love / And in Africa I am the king.” Yeah – with those few lines, we lose any respect for Aldous. “African Child goes from just an ignorant. white savior song to an outright moronic, racist, western centric, bigot of a tune. What the actual hell!
The only good thing about “African Child” – it shoves Aldous Snow into semi retirement in the movies. I only hope if Infant Sorrow was a real band, he’d retire after this steaming turd as well.
The band there never was? Yay or nay?
Looking at the songs I reviewed here, Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow is all over the place in quality. We have conceited, ignorant songs such as “African Child,” “We Got To Do Something,” and “I Am Jesus.” We also have amazing rock anthems such as “The Clap,” and “Going Up.” Infant Sorrow gives us the amazing power ballad “Bangers, Beans, and Mash,” as well as a few songs I didn’t get to which hold their own quite well (“Riding Daphne,” “FOH,” and “Yeah Yeah, Oi Oi.” Numerically the good songs outweigh the bad, but the bad songs are really bad!
Still – we ingest all of Infant Sorrow’s catalog in only a couple gulps. Gulp one comes, the Forgetting Sarah Marshall soundtrack (2 songs). Gulp two, the Get Him To the Greek Soundtrack (13 songs). We also see that Aldous Snow does, in fact, change and reflects this with an amazing song (“Furry Walls). With any real band, we would ride the waves as they came. We would say…that album sucks, or that album rocks! With a band like, say, U2, we might forgive a really bad album because the strength of their previous work.
Would we ignore something as horribly racist as “African Child?” Eh…probably not in 2019 (or even 2010 when Get Him to the Greek occurs)? unless the artist apologized all over the place. Even then, we would probably shun them for a good long while. Fairweather fans would probably stop listening to the back catalog while the more dedicated fans might just accept their favorite band was dead.
I guess that answers the question. Personally, I know I would be an Infant Sorrow fan if they had been a real band. I would rock out to “The Clap” ten times a day. I would sing “Bangers, Beans, and Mash” to my girlfriend. One thing I would not do, however, is brush my teeth to “African Child.” In fact, I doubt Aldous Snow could recover from such a disastrous album. So as much as I would love to say Infant Sorrow is the best band that never was, the fact of the matter is they made one too many mistakes. Infant Sorrow would not make a big comeback with “Furry Walls” (and presumably other heartfelt songs). The best band that never was, whoever that might be, would be relevant even today, despite their shortcomings. Sorry Aldous, but your career is over. I would like a third movie however!