On May 30, 2021, Bo Burnham released his Netflix comedy special Inside. While "comedy" is a term to be used lightly when describing the 90-minute-long film, Inside is remarkable for its ability to comment on deep and current social issues in an oftentimes humorous light. Additionally, the film is a masterclass for independent musicians, filmmakers, and storytellers - showing you can create something beautiful yourself so long as you put in the work. It's not an understatement to call Inside Burnham's magnum opus.
But Inside is just the tip of Burnham's creative genius iceberg. His comedic music has shown an intellectual prowess unmatched in comparison to other comedy musicians who came before him. Some of his songs are pure goofiness, while others aren't afraid to venture into serious territories with sprinkles of dark humor. In general, his songs touch upon themes like technology, fame, the dark side of the music industry, consumerism, and mental health.
Burnham started his career as a teen musician posting silly videos to YouTube circa 2006. Today, he's hailed as the youngest person to record a half-hour comedy special with Comedy Central, a Stand-up Showdown champion, an award-winning filmmaker with his movie Eighth Grade, and most recently, an Emmy nominee for Inside.
To celebrate his career and all the laughs he's given us throughout the years, here's our definitive ranking of the top 10 Bo Burnham songs!
10. "Art is Dead"
This song is considered to be the first time Burnham ditched pure humor in lieu of a sincere social critique. "Art is Dead" reflects upon the commercialization of art in our modern world. It also touches upon the profit-driven monopolies that fuel this commercialization, as well as how attention-seeking has become a vice not only accepted, but encouraged in order to become successful in entertainment.
While Burnham would write tighter songs about these subjects later in his career, "Art is Dead" carries a great weight that cannot be ignored. In the song, Burnham even accuses himself of participating in the selfishness of being an artist. As Burnham says about this track, "this song is honestly not funny at all, but it helps me sleep at night."
9. "Repeat Stuff"
Like the previous song, "Repeat Stuff" is also about the commercialization of entertainment, looked at through the lens of modern pop musicians. "Repeat Stuff" is both insightful about the generic nature of pop songs and their naïve consumers, as well as really freaking hilarious. Throughout the song, Burnham tries to hide a sort of demonic character who works for Satan and wants nothing more than little girls' money. It's scary, but in the funniest way.
Even funnier about "Repeat Stuff" is the fact that Burnham first performed it while, unbeknownst to him, Justin Bieber was listening in the audience. (Bieber is mentioned as a target of this song.) Burnham later had to apologize to the Canadian heartthrob while doing an interview on Conan.
Additionally, an official music video for "Repeat Stuff" was released in 2014. Some lyrics and aspects of the song were changed compared to the live version, but it's just as funny - and devilish - as its live counterpart. We guess you can call this song a "cult classic."
8. "Can't Handle This (Kanye Rant)"
Have you ever had trouble sticking your hand inside a Pringles can? Bo Burnham understands your pain.
"Can't Handle This (Kanye Rant)" is an autotuned parody finale from Burnham's special Make Happy. It mimics the style of Kanye West's "Nike Rant" from his 2013 Yeezus tour. In Burnham's version, the comedian says his problems aren't as large in scale as Kanye's, but he'd still like to talk about them. In addition to the Pringles can bit, Burnham also complains about menial annoyances like burrito overspill.
In verse 3, Burnham goes even deeper by giving us an aside about his declining mental health and how he's "putting on an act" for the audience. "Can't Handle This (Kanye Rant)" is great because of its equal mix of comedy and relatability. Plus, Burnham has a great light show to go along with it!
7. "Country Song"
"A dirt road, a cold beer / A blue jeans, a red pickup / A rural noun, simple adjective..."
We've all joked about the generic lyrics found in modern day country songs, but it takes Bo Burnham to write a satirical song about it. In "Country Song," Burnham panders to his audience with common country tropes, all while hiding a darker character inside his fake southern charm.
While "Country Song" is without a doubt one of the funniest Burnham songs on our list, it also offers a social critique about how some country artists (particularly male ones) like to glorify labor in their song lyrics when they're so rich, they've never done a hard days work in their life. We love Bo's mocking country voice, the key change, and of course, all the scarecrows.
6. "Left Brain, Right Brain"
"Left Brain, Right Brain" is Bo's Jekyll and Hyde-esque number from his comedy special, what. This theatrical song has Burnham undergoing a psychological treatment from a robot in order to have better mental clarity. It involves Burnham splitting his left and right brain in half, and forcing them to have a productive conversation with each other.
The task is harder than it seems...and really fun to watch. True to psychology, Burnham's left brain is logical, rational, and a "prick," while Burnham's right brain is more creative, emotional, and an "idiot."
Not only is this song chaotically hilarious and a great way to study if you have a psychology test coming up, it's also got fantastic wordplay. It's the double entendre in right brain's line, "You think you're the right one every time," and that final Star Wars pun (left brain quotes Han Solo while also admitting he is unable to love because he's logical) that show off Burnham's prowess as a writer.
Another hit song from Burnham's special what., "Sad" is basically about how comedy can be used to heal the hurt tragedy causes. But more than that, this song shows off Bo's cruelness and sociopathy in a hysterical way.
There's a lot to love about "Sad." Not only is the instrumental catchy and Burnham's acting is great, but the two-part joke system in the lyrics (or the lack thereof), make this song very easy to laugh to. It's simple, yet effective. The live performance of this song shows just how much Burnham is able to work a crowd.
4. "That Funny Feeling"
Although Burnham states in the beginning of this track he's not good at playing guitar, "That Funny Feeling" from Inside proves to be a stellar acoustic number that could very easily be played in a coffee shop.
In this song, Burnham essentially talks about the ironies of our modern world and the "funny feeling" they cause. It reflects on things like consumerism, cancel culture, brands using performative activism to appeal to the masses, and climate change.
The outro - "Hey, what can you say? We were overdue" - not only touches upon how long we've entertained modern anxieties, but also references how several scientists believed for years we were "overdue" for another pandemic.
The dichotomy of the soft tone yet dark themes presented in "That Funny Feeling" make it a standout track in Burnham's discography. Plus, it's wonderfully catchy.
3. "From God's Perspective"
Another classic from what., "From God's Perspective" is a song written from...you guessed it, God's perspective. In this piano bit, Burnham portrays God as an annoyed diety fed up with the human race's bickering about what's "right" and "wrong." While this song critiques religion, it doesn't get too dark - making the four-minute track impressively easy for even the most pious person to digest.
Burnham goes through all of God's opinions in this song: from holy books, to masturbation, to pork, and the afterlife. For a song about how alienated we are from each other due to religion, "From God's Perspective" offers a unifying solution: to receive love from each other, we should not turn to God, but to ourselves.
Fans of this song would be pleased to know there's actually an older version Bo sang before 2013. We still can't get over the thought-provoking line "But no one entertains the thought that maybe God does not believe in you."
2. "All Eyes on Me"
Perhaps the most popular song to come out of Inside, "All Eyes on Me" has Burnham singing in a lower-pitched voice for a faux audience. Similar to "Can't Handle This (Kanye Rant)," it addresses the anxieties Burnham faces while he's performing live. It's a perfectly-placed song within the comedy special, as it rides the wave of climatic songs like "Bezos II," "That Funny Feeling," and the song in our #1 spot.
There's not one joke in "All Eyes on Me," unless you count Burnham's "funny story" about how the COVID-19 pandemic wrecked his plans to perform again. Besides Burnham's stunning revelation, the song also touches on themes like climate change, attention-seeking, staying inside, and possibly the internet with the lyric "We're going to go where everybody knows."
Despite "All Eyes on Me" being a serious bit for the comedian, it's just as poignant as his other songs. The music production of this piece - with its gentle keys, strong reverb, and deep bass - is very well done. "All Eyes on Me" shows Burnham is just as skilled as a musician as he is a comic.
1. "Welcome to the Internet"
While "All Eyes on Me" may be Burnham's most popular song from Inside, we predict "Welcome to the Internet" will be the one to stand the test of time.
In a nutshell, "Welcome to the Internet" has Burnham playing a seedy, circus-like character who introduces us to all the internet has to offer: from the fun things like cooking tips, movies, and quirky Power Ranger quizzes, to horrible things like misinformation, incel culture, and platforms where racism, misogyny, and rudeness can thrive.
Many have said this song sounds like something to come out of a Disney villain, and we couldn't agree more. "Welcome to the Internet" is one part funny, another part catchy, some parts scary, and altogether true. With a tempo that gradually speeds and slows as if you were actually surfing the web, Burnham is able to communicate the vastness and never-ending rabbit hole of content the internet holds.
It's as if you can actually feel the addiction he touches upon, especially with the chorus: "Could I interest you in everything all of the time? / A little bit of everything all of the time / Apathy's a tragedy, and boredom is a crime / Anything and everything all of the time."
Another standout lyric can be found in the slowed-down bridge, "Mommy let you use her iPad; you were barely two / And it did all the things we designed it to do." Not only does the line address Gen Z kids who have grown up in a post-internet world (since the iPad came out in 2010, Burnham would most likely be talking to a 13-year-old now), the lyric is slightly future-proof, since parents are still putting iPads in their young kids' faces today.
What better person to talk about the dark side of the internet than Bo Burnham, whose entire career was born from it? It's Burnham's acting skills, musical genius, and ability to make us look at ourselves in a critical light throughout "Welcome to the Internet" that easily puts this Inside song in our #1 spot.
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