Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A cappella Burgers

A cappella Burgers

One of my favorite cartoons on television is Bob’s Burgers. If you haven’t watched it, I suggest you do.


If you have never seen the show before, this is how I recommend viewing the episodes:

1)  Watch the pilot
2) Watch season 1 but skip “Crawl Space,” “Bed and Breakfast,” “Spaghetti Western and Meatballs,” “Weekend at Mort’s,” “Lobsterfest,” and “Torpedo.”
3) Go right to season 2 and enjoy.

I used this equation to effectively hook my wife (who is very picky about what she watches) onto Bob’s Burgers.

Why did I skip those particular episodes? It’s not because they are bad. There’s not a single episode of Bob’s Burgers I would say is “bad.” They are just not as strong as a lot of the other episodes, and to effectively convince someone to watch the entirety of a show, you need to give them a string of great episodes in a row.

I find that when I listen to a new a cappella CD, I’m hoping for a string of tracks that convince me the rest of the album is worth it. And often, I’m disappointed. This really comes down to the order of tracks. And just like the guide to Bob’s Burgers, I wish someone would give me a specific listening order so I instantly become intrigued by the remainder of the album.

I find with my short attention span I tend to make snap judgments about what I’m hearing. I can like or not like something very quickly. I know I’m wrong. But I also know I’m definitely not alone.

I learned over the course of my studies that a cappella experts place a cappella albums into two categories: Concept albums and Yearbook albums. The concept album leads the listeners through a journey with either a plot or a moral.  The yearbook album is a collection of songs you’ve been working over the past [insert amount of time here] with no discernible link between them.

Anytime I review/listen to a yearbook album, I always have the same complaint: The tracks are in a bad order. And just like my Bob’s Burgers preferred watching order, I’m always left disappointed that groups did not take into account the same formula: Hook the listener quickly, THEN break out the other stuff.

Concept albums should stay in the order they are written in. No one can really deny that. But yearbook albums need a re-organization.

I believe tracks 1 and 2 (and maybe even 3) should wow me immediately. Put your best stuff first, because listeners tend to go in track order when listening to a whole album. Once I’m impressed, then I’m more willing to listen to the risky stuff or willing to sit through the mediocre tracks.

This is just my opinion, but the second-to-last track needs to be where you bury your worst song. Either I’ll skip to the last track to hear what kind of explosive ending you’ve crafted, or I’ll leave the album running to the end and not even realize what track number I’m listening to.

I’m not an expert sound engineer. I’m not a producer of a cappella albums. I’m just a listener who hungrily grabs every album he can get his chubby little hands on. But speaking as an a cappella mega fan, if you want me to appreciate your yearbook album, I need to know you’re thinking about how to convince me as quickly as possible.

The next time you design your track list, pretend the listener is my wife. She's really picky about what television I watch, she makes snap judgments, and the only way to get her to stay is to give her your best stuff first.

Marc Silverberg

Follow the Quest for the A cappella Major:


Speaking of Bob’s Burgers…here are my 10 favorite episodes (in case you were wondering)

10) Hamburger Dinner Theatre

Linda, obsessed with dinner theatre, stages her own murder mystery in the restaurant. This was also the first episode to include music (which is now a staple in every episode) and establish that Gene is the “composer” of the family. The best feature is the naiveté of Linda, who believes her “twist” ending is brilliant, and the argument that ensues.

9) Glued: Where’s My Bob?

The 100th episode rightly keeps the family, and every character whose ever appeared on the show, firmly in the restaurant. Suffering from a prank gone wrong, Bob becomes glued to the bathroom toilet right before a big magazine interview. In true Bob’s Burgers fashion, the ending is both good and bad for the restaurant’s reputation.

8) Bob Actually

Easily the best Valentine’s Day episode, this collection of separate stories ends in the most satisfying way possible. Also, nothing makes me laugh harder than the hip-hop class Bob takes in order to impress Linda.

7) Purple Rain-union

This episode has some of the best musical material from the show, and also a strong story for Linda and her sister Gayle. Haunted by the events of her high school talent show, Linda’s band is asked to play at their high school reunion. Their first song, written by Gayle, has probably the best rhyming couplet of all time.

6) The Deepening

Bob’s Burgers likes to parody other movies and television shows, and they range from good (O.T. The Outside Toilet) to mediocre (Aliens/Freaky Friday). This Jaws parody however, is pitch perfect. Who’d ever think a mechanical shark would be a threat to people on land? Best line: “I’m literally grasping at straws.”

5) Dr. Yap

Ken Jeong plays the family dentist, Dr. Yap, who invites the family to spend the weekend at his cabin for a ski weekend. Oh, and Bob has to pretend to date Gayle, Linda’s sister. Oh, and the kids have an outstanding competition for a jawbreaker.

4) Broadcast Wagstaff School News

This episode features the best appearance by Jenny Slate, who plays Tina’s rival, Tammy. Tina investigates the mysterious “Mad Pooper,” whose been leaving poops all over school. This episode also helps establish a staple in the series: that every teacher in this school is a horrible person.

3) The Equestranauts

A fantastic parody of the “Bronies” culture, Tina gets swindled by an evil fan and Bob must participate in the convention to get her toy pony back. I love this episode for two reasons: The mispronunciation of the word “tattoo,” and the extremely quotable “Non canonical! Non canonical! Non canonical!”

2) Work Hard or Die Tryin’ Girl

Gene stages Die Hard the Musical. His ex-girlfriend, Courtney, stages Working Girl the Music at the same time. Then they combine musicals and create the original work: Work hard or Die Tryin’ Girl.” ‘Nuff said.

1) Topsy

This episode has SO many things going for it: A duet between Kevin Kline and Megan Mullaly, a villain for Louise to destroy, the first appearance of Billy Eichner, a definitive argument that Thomas Edison was a terrible person, Spi-ceps, and the absolute best song in the history of the series. If you never watch another episode, at least see this one.