Because I haven’t sucked off the Giant Squidstravaganza’s… spermataphoric gland… enough.
[Yep, an embedded image and a single dick joke, that's all I had written originally. I do believe I'd actually worked out the list somewhere tho, lemme see... oh yeah here it is. It doesn't appear to be in any order besides roughly how they originally appeared on the album in relation to each other. So here we go, but understand that these aren't necessarily ranked in terms of quality, they're just my ten favorites from the album.]
1. “Glory Days” – The Giant Squidstravaganza
The thing I love about GSS is that it is well and truly a very, very silly band, and yet that is not the whole joke. If it was just “look at this weird voice and offbeat subject matter”, then GSS wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is. The fact that the melodies are actually catchy and well-constructed, the lyrics rhyme well and are fun, and there is sometimes actual pathos, is what makes the GSS great, and “Glory Days” is another great example of that. One of the intriguing things about Death to Humans is that even though we pretty much only ever hear directly from the Giant Squid himself (besides some dialogue from Hank, a duet with who is presumed to be Melissa, and one line from Luigi), a rather large cast of characters is built up, and you end up really caring about this poor squid who has pretty much been left by everyone. Now, some of this is because he’s self-centered, loud, and obnoxious, but at his heart he’s a very decent guy who loves the environment and likes making out with French girls, so you end up caring, despite yourself, about him and his loneliness.
So, it’s really fun to have this song that ties in references to many previously established characters, and it paints a really fun scene – you want to watch an 80′s movie about the glory days of GSS, about all these squids “staying up late and going on dates / and making out in the back of parked cars”. But as the chorus reminds you, these were the glory days, and they have long since passed, as GSS pleads “Mom and Dad and Melissa, Justin, Corey, and Jose – come back to the lake!” The instrumentation, usually solid for GSS, is especially good this time around, with some really nice electric guitar work, and there are some fun sound cues thrown in, like in the surprisingly home-hitting line “All I’ve got left is the internet / My only friend is the guitar”.
Though one does have to wonder what life for Hogwarts Students used to be like when there were at the very least SEVEN giant squids in that one lake, with at least one colossal squid sometimes hanging about (and then there is the ever-elusive Luigi, who probably at least occasionally visited [and then there's Coach McDunnuh or whatever who was probably a giant squid and also owned a car???]). They probably used up A LOT of toast back then.
2. “Death to Humans 2″ – The Whomping Willows
The Whomping Willow’s quadrant chart has had a long varied history – he has loved many a witch (corporeal and non) and the occasional wizard, been pale for both Remus and Draco, red auspisticized between Draco and Harry, and maybe even had some black feelings for Voldemort (though they were probably just platonic). Now we can add another relationship to our list – “best friends” with the Giant Squid. I put “best friends” in quotes, because by this point it has become clear that The Whomping Willow calls a lot of people his best friend, and it pretty much comes down to whoever he feels most sentimental towards at the moment.
And while when they’re not crashing cars into him, Whompy seems to be on pretty good terms with Hogwarts students and humans in general (though he’s got some problems with their society at large), he’s good enough friends with GSS to offer to “bash and smash” up students, and sing “Death to humans” with, and why? Does he now hate students? Finally completely disgusted by human society? No, though he and GSS do obviously share similar ecological viewpoints. He offers to do this “because you’re the Giant Squid, and you are my best friend at Hogwarts”.
And if that isn’t sweet enough to make King Candy say “Now that’s a tad excessive”, I don’t know what is.
3. “The Life for Me” – The Horcrux Heroes
I had not been aware of The Horcrux Heroes before this song, but this track definitely made me sit up and take note. It has really well-done electronic instrumentation with a fun drum track, and the somewhat crunchy vocals all really work together. And the lyrics are especially good, equating swimming to flight and other nice tricks of the pen, and just generally evoking a sense of swimming around with a good friend at dusk after a wonderful summer day. Again, special mention should be made of the instrumentation – it’s not only very catchy, but atmospheric, at times being reminiscent of some large tentacled being glubbing out bubbles, or a squid blooping its way through the water. This is one of those songs where everything – the music, the voice, the lyrics, all work together to create a theme, a sense of atmosphere, and it pays off like gangbusters.
4. “9pm Whateva” – Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills feat. JFF as himself and The Sugar Quills as the Giant Squidstravaganza
First off, points must be given for having what is probably the longest Artist credit for any wrock song on iTunes. But beyond the amusingly clumsy name, the artist name reveals that this song has Justin doing a very passable GSS interpretation, making for a self-made duet. A prominent theme in this album is about all these different people appreciating and being friends with the Giant Squid (not surprising given that it’s a tribute album), which works really well in a meta-narrative kind of way – it turns out, that despite his omnipresent feelings of loneliness, GSS really does have friends, and that is a sweet lesson to be taught. On the other hand, they only came out of the woodwork because he organized this tribute album TO HIMSELF, so…
A paragraph in and I haven’t actually discussed the song yet – that seems to be my recurring theme. Anyways, it’s a classic JFF tune, with good acoustic guitar work, some inoffensive drums in the background, and as always, fun vocals. Somehow, Justin always imparts through his music that he enjoys and has fun with and loves what he’s doing, and it’s something I always enjoy about his music. The actual story told is simple in broad terms, though somewhat confusing in the specific – it’s about Justin (who in this song is Justin the wrocker who lives on the East Coast, not the Hogwarts student) and GSS’ shared habits and interests and how they manage to be friends, even across the pond. I’m not sure what all the lines about TV are really about – the song says “and even though none of us watch much TV / it’s cool to know we can watch the same things”.
Um, can you? Usually three hours is enough to throw off viewing schedules, nonetheless whatever the East Coast/Black Lake differential is. Is it because they’re both streaming? At the end there’s a nice joke about TV series being put on DVD but… it’s just kind of a confusing non-sequitur – not something entirely out of place on a GSS tribute album, but still. Nevertheless, whether or not all the individual parts make sense, it’s a fun song that’s great to sing along to. My favorite line is definitely “You listen to The Giant Squidstravaganza’s Death To Humans EP when you take public transportation”.
HOW DID YOU KNOW, GIANT SQUID?
How did you know??
5. “Giant Squid Fangirl” – Pygmy Puff Invasion!
One of the things I love about comp albums is I usually end up finding great bands I’d never heard of, and that happened like three times on this album alone. “Giant Squid Fangirl” is yet another entry in the rather large wizard rock genre of “single female voice singing with passable acoustic guitar about how in love they and/or the character they’re portraying are with a Harry Potter character”. The twist is, it’s about how in love she is with, you guessed it – the Giant Squid. And the song specifically sets this against how “all the girls in my year are in love with Harry Potter”, and other ways that the singer is perfectly aware that this is not the norm, But She Don’t Care.
The lyrics are fun, and put a nice twist on usual relationship songs (even going so far as parodying them), for example, after being bodily dragged by a tentacle into the water, the student sings “For some reason it didn’t feel wrong / I just thought to myself – ‘Oh my gosh, he’s so strong!’” or “I’m not sure how kissing would go / when he doesn’t have a mouth / But I’ll make sacrifices for looooooove!”
So yes, let’s “give it up for the giant squid,” but let’s give it up for the Pygmy Puff Invasion! as well – while it’s not the most musically interesting song out there, the voicework is good and the lyrics are clever and fun.
6. “The Lake, The Lake” – Bradley Mehlenbacher
This is one of those strange occurrences when I really like a song, but for once I don’t actually have much to say. I mean, it’s a good song, it rhymes “toasted on medium” with “stand-up comedian” which is always a cause for bonus points, and contains pointed references to the GSS “canon” as it were, which I appreciate. The character the song is about is a little hard to track – he’s scared of going to the lake because of squids and, well, it’s really deep, and then he’s drowning (the singing of which for some reason strikes me as just really well done – it’s melodic and melancholic at the same time), and then he’s singing about how great the giant squid is, and then there’s the very triumphant sounding ending where he decides “let’s move (to) the lake!”
Unfortunately, you can barely hear the “to”, so it just sounds like “LET’S MOVE THE LAKE!”, which makes me think that John Locke was enrolled at Hogwarts. But as I said, the end is a really fun musical moment, and you can’t help but get fucking jazzed and shout along, even if you have no idea what you’re actually singing about, and the whole song is well done. I just can’t tell you exactly why. But I like it, and You Should Too.
7. “Hermione’s Favorite Food” – Harry and the Potters
With the exception of “Don’t Believe It”, have Harry and the Potters EVER released a clunker on a charity comp? I do not believe so, and this song only continues to prove the rule. It continues the (rather bizarre concept when looked at outside of the context of this album) theme of all these random people being in love and/or friends with the giant squid, this time featuring the big man, Harry Potter himself. It’s really rather sweet, because despite knowing that toast is his friend Hermione’s favorite food, he will still share his food with a many-tentacled giant beast living in the lake.
Musically, this song is absolute tons of fun, because it jumps around into so many different modes – it starts with laid-back acoustic guitar, then it becomes a stripped-down 70′s song, complete with funky bass (set to the oddly seductive singing of the hilariously banal line “sometimes I like / walking around with a slice), and then it goes completely nuts, with crashing cymbals, electric guitars, and compressed vocals, with the most sing-alongable chorus on the whole album – it’s up there with “The Economics of the Wizarding World Don’t Make Sense” in terms of the best HatP songs to sing along with, and it’s one I’d dearly love to see them play live.
8. “Growin’ Up” – Crush the Crustaceans
For those who don’t have a frankly unhealthy obsession with cataloging every character and plot event in a double-disc EP about squids that’s also ostensibly about wizards and ends up being more about toast than anything else, Crush the Crustaceans is the former punk band that GSS was a part of. The band split up over unknown circumstances, but in the final track of Death to Humans, GSS contemplates about getting the band back together, and it’s nice to see that he was successful.
Musically, it’s classic CtC, your basic decent punk song with driving guitars, steady drums, and crunchy vocals, while lyrically this track is in the same vein as “Glory Days”, though tinged with a bit more hope. The basic gist of it is recounting how when you’re young, you feel not allowed to do so many things, but now that they have grown up, the members of CtC realize that even though they are free to do what they want, they are not happy, because they have lost what made being young truly special – the friends they had made.
Remember when I said that GSS songs had a nasty habit of being silly and over the top but still somehow catching you right in the feels? Yeah, this song is a great example of that.
Special mention must be made of the line “back in Junior High School, everyone was mad”, because, no seriously, FUCK MIDDLE SCHOOL. The great thing about this song is that it does not dwell on very happy things, and even when it does, it’s on how good things were lost. But there’s a bit of hope buried in there, at the very fact that they are at the least all together and remembering… the glory days.
9. “Humans, Clean Up This Earth!” – Hester Finch-Fletchley
“Humans, Clean Up This Earth!” is a so-bad-it’s-good song, in the same vein as Love Wrocks’ “Wizard Chess at Christmas”, Ministry of Magic’s “Time Turner”, Hogwarts Hotel’s “Dark And Stormy (I’ll protect him)”, or anything by Mermaids Above Water (and yes I’m aware some of those were intentional). I don’t know who the fuck this Hester person is – all I can assume is Justin wanted to do another song, and so he adopted what is quite possibly his most ridiculous voice yet: the only way I can describe it is it’s like if you took a recording of a 6 year-old inexpertly fucking around on a violin, put that recording in a taffy stretcher, and covered it in gravel.
And then soaked the whole thing in cheap booze. Like, really cheap booze – like the Old Crow that comes in the plastic bottle.
That’s what her(?) voice sounds like. As for the actual song itself, it’s a screeching violin filk of the classic “Dreidel” song, bizarrely enough, and it’s all about squids, of course.
I also can barely listen to it.
And that’s what makes me love this song so much, because really, what more fitting way could you tribute The Giant Squidstravaganza - a gimmicky voice, bizarre subject matter (both lyrical and melodic), and death threats as calls to better ecological awareness? Of all the songs on this list, this is far and away the one I least enjoy listening to, but as an inclusion on this specific album, it’s just about conceptually perfect.
10. “Role Model” – The Giant Squidstravaganza
And so we end where we began. As the last song on the album, GSS takes us home and reminds us what it’s all about – him. This is an album featuring him, about him, and benefiting him, and you know what, goddammit? HE DESERVES IT.
BECAUSE HE IS A ROLE MODEL.
Sure, he might be loud, obnoxious, insensitive to those he dates, bad with money, self-centered and yet generally self-unaware, and loud, but he also truly cares for his friends and family, is fiercely loyal and protective of his squid clade and his lake, is a strong advocate for the environment, and is above all other things, a philosopher.
And a romance novelist.
And a chef.
And the inspiration for an ABC Family Original Series.
And a professional baseball player.
And winner of literally every single WRPCA.
Basically, he is a really cool dude, and he is deserving of your love, your money, and your time. Besides, who are you going to give that stuff to – Michael Jordan? Did you know he has only two arms? What a lame-o.
So, should you buy this charity comp? Well, it’s ten bucks, and I found at least ten songs I enjoyed, so I’d say it’s more than worth it. Wrock Snob out.