Hey, Soul Sister
August 26th, 2010
Todd plays "Hey, Soul Sister" on his piano.
TRAIN - "HEY, SOUL SISTER"
A pop song review
Todd: I was gonna let this one slide.
- Video for "Hey, Soul Sister"
Todd (VO): Can't get to everything. Got a lot on my plate! Bigger fish to fry! This song was certainly on my radar, but...Lady Gaga was still releasing videos, so I figured that it would just drop off the map before I got to it.
Todd: You see, that's the great thing about bad pop music—it just goes away. Right into the ether, never to be seen again. You see this?
- Video for MIMS - "This Is Why I'm Hot"
Todd (VO): This was one of the biggest hits of 2007. I haven't heard it in years, and that suits me fine.
Todd: And that's what I figured was gonna happen here. It was just gonna disappear before I had a chance to review it. Happens all the time. And yet, eight months later...
- Back to "Hey, Soul Sister"
Todd (VO): ...what do I still see safely parked in the Top 20? How did I miscalculate this this badly?!
Todd: Ohhh, right. I forgot. Train is an adult-alternative band, and adult-alternative stations never ever forget.
- Videos for Hootie & the Blowfish - "Hold My Hand" and Natalie Merchant - "Carnival"
Todd (VO): Adult alternative—where Hootie & the Blowfish are still as big as ever; adult alternative, the only place that hasn't realized that Natalie Merchant was a terrible, terrible mistake.
Todd: Not only do these songs never, ever go away, they also have these absurdly long initial runs in the pop charts, as evidenced last year when [brief clip of...] Jason Mraz and his pile of dippity-do bullshit, "I'm Yours," spent more than a year in the Top 40. So, yes, Train, just through sheer persistence, you've gotten me to review your terrible, terrible song. And we might as well start with the fact that apparently I've hit a wormhole and time-warped seven years in the past because there is no way in 2010 that I am reviewing a Train song!
- Back to "Hey, Soul Sister"
Todd (VO): Wow, it sure is great being back in 2003. [Images of...] Chappelle's Show is still on, the Red Sox haven't won a World Series in 80 years, [poster of The Room] Tommy Wiseau has just released his masterpiece.
Todd: Hey, I'm gonna go around and tell people that the next President is gonna be a black guy they've never heard of. It'll be hilarious!
From Todd's POV, he's looking at a guy on a computer
Todd: Hey, Mike. The 44th President is named Barack Obama.
Mike: What about it?
Todd: [back to keyboard] Huh, I was kind of expecting him to not believe me, or call me crazy or something. Well anyway, let me do a quick recap of Train's career to date.
- Video for "Meet Virginia"
Todd (VO): They first hit the charts in 1999 with a song called "Meet Virginia," and it was okay despite some shaky songwriting choices such as rhyming "president" with "president" and lines such as this:
- Pat Monahan: Loves babies and surprises
- Wears high heels when she exercises
Todd (VO): Apparently, Train frontman Pat Monahan is really into very stupid women with broken ankles. Anyway they followed that with [Video for "Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)"] "Droppings of Jupiter," or whatever it was called, wherein Monahan further elaborated on his exercise fetish.
- Pat: She checks out Mozart while she does Tae-Bo
Todd (VO): And then they had another hit with [clip of...] "Calling All Angels," which I believe was written entirely to soundtrack TV promos on the Hallmark Channel.
Todd: And that was seven years ago, and I hadn't heard a single thing from them since, so I'd just assumed that Train's career had derailed. (Pun!) But to my eternal surprise, Train kept a-rolling (More pun!), and in a story of perseverance that would be downright heartwarming if I didn't have ears...
- Back to "Hey, Soul Sister"
Todd (VO): ...Train has made an amazing comeback with a song six billion times worse than anything they ever recorded.
Todd: But you know what? Maybe I'm just jaded 'cause of the overplay. I'm gonna sit here and I'm gonna try and listen to the song with some fresh ears. [Rubs face] Okay...begin.
- Pat: Your lipstick stains on the front lobe of my left side brains
Todd is seething
Todd (VO): Okay, here we have a master class in how to completely destroy a lyric by adding a few unnecessary words.
Todd: We've got a simple concept—I got your kisses on my mind. Now why don't we switch that to, I got your lipstick on my brain. Questionable, but not something you necessarily have to take literally. But why don't we change it to "lipstick stains on the front lobe of my left side brains"?
- Scene from Hannibal
Todd (VO): When it gets that specific, you have no choice but to interpret it as disgustingly literal!
Todd: Actually I did some research on what the left side of your frontal lobe does. Apparently it controls the language center. [Shows picture of brain with lipstick print on frontal lobe] So if someone is rubbing their nasty mouth germs directly on that part of your grey matter, well...well let's just say that explains a lot about the rest of these lyrics.
- Pat: I knew I wouldn't forget you
- And so I went and let you blow my mind
Todd: [sigh] God, I'm irritated. Look, maybe you don't agree. Maybe it's just me. But if I had a choice to eliminate one kind of song from the entire universe, it would be the smugly insincere love songs played by [album cover of John Mayer's "Heavier Things"] douchey frat guys on acoustic guitars [cover is shot twice]. Or in this case...
Todd (VO): ...played by Howie Mandel on ukuleles.
- Pat: Hey soul sister, ain't that Mr. Mister...
Todd: Wow...that's a rhyme.
- Pat: ...ain't that Mr. Mister on the radio, stereo
- The way you move ain't fair you know
Todd: Yeah, do that dance. Do that dance you do, that sexy dance you do to Mr. Mister?
- Video for Mr. Mister - "Broken Wings"
Todd (VO): Oh, yeah, that's nice. I love the way your body moves to this droning, no-tempo, butt-ugly song that never starts. Oh, man, this song always takes me back to when I would just spend hours staring solemnly at the wall.
Todd: Seriously, who dances to Mr. Mister? I would dance to [Brief clip of "Such Great Heights" by...] the Postal Service before I danced to that.
- Pat: The way you move ain't fair you know
- Hey soul sister, I don't wanna miss a single thing you do...
Todd: [long pause] Toni...
- Pat: Tonight.
Todd (VO): Of course! Of course! How else was that line going to end?!
Todd: That's exactly how they say to end that line in [image of...] the Complete Hack's Guide to Songwriting!
- Pat: Your sweet moonbeam...
Todd (VO): "Sweet moonbeam," God, this song makes me sick.
Todd: Everything about this song is hacktastic, right down to the phrase "soul sister"! I mean, God knows what he thinks that means! [Image of cover of Erma Franklin's "Soul Sister," and another generic "soul sister"] Don't usually see the phrase "soul sister" used to refer to Mr. Mister fans. These lyrics are so bad, that the words are...
- Video shows...
Todd (VO): ...actively trying to escape from the song! Run. Run, little words. Run to where the bad man can't abuse you.
Pat: Hey soul sister, ain't that...
Oh, and for the love of God, what the hell happened to Pat Monahan's voice?! I mean, I wasn't ever a Train fan, but I certainly don't remember him having that nasally helium whine in his vocals before.
Pat: Hey soul sister, ain't that...
Todd: Gentlemen, the operation was a complete success! We have taken this man's vocal cords and successfully replaced them with a squeaking rubber ducky! [beat] Why did we do that?
- Pat: I believe in you, like a virgin, you're Madonna.
Todd (VO): Yep, another random 80s reference.
Todd: And the great thing about this reference is that no matter [like a virgin, you're Madonna] how you parse it as a sentence, [image of Madonna with "MADONNA: NOT ACTUALLY VIRGINAL] it makes no literal sense. Why is it there? Because...80s! Everybody loves the 80s! Jesus, did you steal a songwriter from LFO?
- Video for LFO - "Summer Girls"
- LFO: New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits
- Chinese food makes me sick
Todd: And that's not the only 80s reference.
- Pat: You're the one I have decided
- Who's one of my kind
Todd (VO): "You're one of my kind"? That's from "Need You Tonight" by INXS.
- Clip of "Need You Tonight"
- Michael Hutchence: You're one of my kind
Todd (VO): It's a blatant lift. I can't be the only person to notice that, right?
Todd: Someone has to have noticed that. I'm gonna go do a search. [Goes to computer and types...] "hey soul sister inxs". [His Google search shows 180,000 results] Hmmm. [Reads Wikipedia entry] "I said, 'I want to write an INXS-y song,' recalled Monahan. 'So, they started playing kind of an INXS-y song, and I wrote the song "Hey, Soul Sister" to it and the melodies and started to sing it.'"
[Back to the piano]
- Video for "Devil Inside"
- Michael: Devil inside, devil inside
- Every single one of us...
Todd: You were trying to sound like INXS.
- Video for "Suicide Blonde"
- Michael: Love devastation
- Suicide blonde
Todd: You were trying to emulate [clip of "Need You Tonight"] one of the sexiest bands of all time, and instead you wrote "Hey, Soul Sister." You were trying to sound like this...
- Video for "New Sensation"
- Michael: Got a hold on you
- INXS: A new sensation...
Todd: ...and instead you sound like this.
- Pat: Hey, soul sister, ain't that Mr. Mister...
Todd: My God! That's like if you tried to make scrambled eggs, and instead you caught syphilis! How does that level of failure even exist?! And the worst part is I'm not even halfway through finding all the terrible lyrics in this song! For example...!
- Pat: I'm so obsessed
- My heart is bound to beat right out my untrimmed chest
Todd: Chest hair! Chest hair, everybody. When you think of this song, I certainly hope you are thinking of Pat Monahan's gross, sweaty chest rug. That or the fact that, when given two syllables of space to fill, he will find the absolute worst thing possible! And now, the lightning round!
- Pat: The way you can cut a rug...
Todd: Who the hell still says "cut a rug," Grandpa?
- Pat: Watching you's the only drug I need...
Todd: That line is so overused, it's got holes worn in it. Try something original.
- Pat: So gangsta, I'm so thug...
Todd: I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND KILL YOU!
Todd (VO): When I said think of something original, I didn't mean think of something so insultingly bad that no one in the past has ever been stupid enough to write it! Using the phrase "I'm so thug" in possibly the whitest song ever written isn't just bad songwriting, it's actively slapping you in the face with how little effort he put into this!
Todd: Hmm, what rhymes with "rug"? Drug...thug? Would a line that uses the word "thug" make sense here? Oh, whatever. I mean, who cares? What does it matter? I'm the guy from Train. I haven't had a hit in seven years and I'm long past the point of caring on this one. I mean, I'm just doing this because I need to fill the album somehow. It's not like I'm ever gonna have to perform this. The record company would never be stupid enough to release this. And even if they did, no one would wanna listen to it. I might as well sing the whole thing like I'm doing a Minnie Mouse impression too. I mean, because...who cares? So you know what? We owe the record company three more songs according to our contract, so let's just can this turd, and then we can forget about it forev...
- The Ellen DeGeneres Show
- Ellen: Our next guests currently have one of the biggest hits of their career. Here to perform "Hey, Soul Sister," please welcome Train, everybody.
Todd: [laughing, not pleasantly] Screw this song so hard.
- Pat: Tonight.
Todd: Tonight, yes.
Closing tag song: Bob Marley - "Stop That Train"
"Hey, Soul Sister" is owned by Sony Music
This video is owned by me