#9 – “Pirate Girls Nine” (2008)

Here Come The 123s
A.S.: Well, I swear this is a total coincidence that this is the ninth song in the mix.
L.K.: As I mentioned during the previous Here Come The 123s song we reviewed, I hate anything with a bunch of kids shouting vocals, especially if they’re just counting, I mean, I don’t know, it just seems lazy.
A.S.: There are very few songs out there that actually benefit from having children sing on them. “Dear God” is the only one I can think of right now.
L.K.: Even that, though…it’s more like something you tolerate to get to the good part of the song. Also wasn’t that sung by a girl, despite it being a little boy in the music video?
A.S.: I honestly have no idea who sang it, but I think it benefits from the subversive idea of a child singing this heavy anti-religious stuff. But we digress.
L.K.: Yes, back to this song.
A.S.: There’s nothing subversive about “Pirate Girls Nine.”
L.K.: It’s songs like this that made me really hate the idea of TMBG doing kids albums, because it’s just not up to the level of their regular stuff. Not lyrically, that’s for sure, but in this case not musically either.
A.S.: Which is a shame because there are some really great kids songs. And yes, musically, Flansburgh just repeats the same trick he did in “Secret Life of Six,” which is just using the time signature of the number being explained.
L.K.: We need to address the lackluster nature of John Flansburgh’s contributions to this album as a whole.
A.S.: Yes, with all due respect to John Flansburgh, his contributions to Here Come the One Hundred Twenty Threes really pale in comparison to Linnell’s.
L.K.: I am always a big defender of Flans from all his detractors (there are a lot of them, for some weird reason), but this album…
A.S.: Yeah, John Linnell carries the whole album, basically. This is far and beyond the only album in TMBG’s discography I can say that about thankfully.
L.K.: And I know Flans isn’t big on rhyming either, but am I the only one bothered by the fact that there is one stanza of the song where he doesn’t even attempt to rhyme anything? “One named Polly had a parrot / The second named Polly had a parrot, too / That’s the part that is confusing / And they were identical twins.” It completely ignores the rhyme scheme set up by the rest of the song, but it’s not even like it’s breaking the rhyme scheme to be clever or funny or anything.
A.S.: Yeah, it really doesn’t feel like there was a lot of effort put into this one.
L.K.: Also the sort of didactic nature of the last stanza bugs me too, but that’s mostly because it seems like he’s making a lame attempt at parenting via song. “Brush your teeth and do your chores, kids, and then I’ll tell you a story! But hopefully it won’t be as lame as this one!”
A.S.: Maybe Disney put him up to that one. “Listen, guys, the last album was great, but for this one we’d like you demand things out of children.”
L.K.: There isn’t even a story to this song though, and I think that’s the more depressing thing. Here are some pirate girls. What do they do? I have no idea. They’re just girls who are also pirates. I have a similar problem with the “clean your room” line in “One Everything”, but at least that makes sense in the context of the song in that if you are forced to share the omniverse with everyone else, they had better damn well keep their parts of it clean.
A.S.: Right, and that line at least has the virtue of being unexpected, the cause for a slight chuckle or two.
L.K.: But yeah, this is just a song with a bland setup and no payoff. Kids like stories! Saying “Hey kids, here’s some pirates. Go ask your parents.” is kind of a cop-out.
A.S.: “Now count to nine and go to bed.”
L.K.: I don’t know if the fact that they are girl pirates is more Flans feminism or whether it was just easier to write about pirates who are all the same gender. You know, traditionally women are considered bad luck on pirate vessels; this song is not doing the female pirate any favors either. (What a weird thing to encourage in children anyway. Kind of contrasts with the “do your homework” bit at the end…)
A.S.: Perhaps it’s to counter the predominant masculine roles found in such smash hits as Pirates of the Caribbean or whatever caused kids to like pirates in 2008. Since the pirate trend has kind of subsided in the last couple of years, if this song was written today, do you think it’d be “Vampire Girls Nine”?
L.K.: Oh good lord. You know, I completely forgot about that movie. A DISNEY SERIES. HMMM.
A.S.: Woah, didn’t even make the Disney connection there.  Agh, maybe this song was just a Disney scheme!
L.K.: Good, that gives us someone else to blame for it then!
A.S.: Boy, it’s a shame we have to be so negative as soon as people have started reading this thing.
L.K.: What can I say? The randomizer is a cruel master. I don’t think I need to say this, but obviously we wouldn’t be running this blog if we didn’t love They Might Be Giants. We just aren’t under any obligation to love everything they do.
A.S.: And part of loving something is being able to openly criticize it.
L.K.: Exactly.
A.S.: Hey, let’s end this on a positive note. How about TMBG posting that Sparks video yesterday?
L.K.: YES.
A.S.: Dear reader, if you haven’t done so yet, please give their music a listen.
L.K.: Nothing like when bands you like like other bands you also like.
A.S.: We both wholeheartedly agree with TMBG that Sparks is an amazing band.
L.K.: And if you own a copy of Gigantic, check out the section about the Johns’ early days in Lincoln, MA and try freeze-framing on some of the clips of newspaper articles. If you are a Sparks fan, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you will find…
A.S.: Well, maybe. You might disagree with what’s on there, as I do, but it’s worth a look regardless!
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