Sunday, September 14, 2008

Candelabras in a Wonderbra

For better or for worse, my generation as chosen to associate The B-52s more closely with “Love Shack” than with any other their greater songs, Peter Griffin’s acoustic cover of “Rock Lobster” notwithstanding. It would make sense, then, that a person from my generation — namely me — would see a major similarity between “Love Shack” and “Funplex” — this week’s song and the debut single from the band’s first album in sixteen years.

That similarity: When you think about it, a “love shack” isn’t really all that different than a “funplex.” A funplex could just be a tamer version of a love shack — or, in my mind, a slightly more grown-up version. And the latter would make sense, given the nineteen years separating the release of the two songs. (Other things that a love shack could become in nineteen years: a speed dating plaza, a friendship space, a backrub annex, a swingles bar, an in-laws unit, a conjugal visit trailer, or a mediator’s office.) Also, the videos for both “Love Shack” and “Funplex” feature cameos from RuPaul, so perhaps the similarity wasn’t lost on The B-52s themselves.

Perhaps what’s great about “Funplex” is that the song manages to combine the band’s signature sound with a tone that makes it palatable for today’s indie rocker on the go. In fact, if you’re listening to the track for the first time, the fact that it’s by The B-52s might not occur to you until you hear Fred Schneider’s signature kindasung lyrics. (Gems: “Faster, pussycat! Thrill! Thrill!” and “Private property / Hippie be quiet / Your peace sign t-shirt could cause a riot!”) Granted, Schneider may not have learned to sing any better than he did twenty years ago, but lead lady Kate Pierson has never sounded better. Cindy Wilson is also there, which is nice of her.

Pay no attention to the below video, unless you already express unquestioning love for The B-52s. It’s not great and kind of seems like something that was made in Britain, perhaps by someone who used to make parody videos for Smack the Pony.

Interested? Stoked despite the video? Then get “Funplex” online, either through the MP3 store or through iTunes.

Previous songs of the week:


  1. Anonymous11:37 AM

    A new album from the B-52s? I welcome it. Unfortunately, the immediate connotation I have for "Funplex" is this lame, pseudo-amusement park/miniature golf course near my house. Here is the website. And yes, loud and obnoxious music starts playing as soon as you open the site, so be careful.

  2. For all I know, the Funplex being referred to as that one. Maybe. Is it a chain?

  3. Anonymous3:57 PM

    That would be really neat. As far as I know, only two Funplexes exist and they are both in New Jersey.

  4. Anonymous7:32 PM

    When did Peter Griffin play Rock Lobster?

  5. In the episode The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire. Clip is here. I think I’ll link the text in the post as well.

  6. candelabra is plural (it's like a cheap shot at Sugar Ray)

  7. Ben: I don't get the Sugar Ray reference.

    Also, "candelabra" is indeed plural, but I heard "candelabras" in my MP3. On second listen, it actually sounds like "chandelabras," even. But it may not be a reference to the candlestick at all, I now realize. (I could question why a candelabrum would be wearing a Wonderbra, I guess, but it's a B-52s song, so the base level for sense-making is rather low.) For all I know, Schneider might actually be saying "Chandell Labras," and that two word pair just happens to be the name of a drag queen he met the night before he wrote this song.

  8. So, I love love love the B-52s & always think of Private Idaho when I hear their band name, cause I'm not the biggest fan of Love Shack. But this song really is awesome.

    Anyway, the fact that there are mall goths in their video at 1:11 and dancing after 2:02 makes me happy. Though they are decidedly not doing "grab the bat" or any other known goth dance as described by Voltaire. Also, this video reminds me of all those 1990s videos like Ace of Base and the Spice Girls had where bands glide around in some CGI wonderland.