First, don’t expect what could have been: Conner4Real’s second album, Connquest. Tracks from that are certainly here, and if you want that experience, then pick out “I’m So Humble,” “Equal Rights,” “Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song),” “Mona Lisa,” and “Ibitha.”
Nah, this is a soundtrack, straight up, and that’s kind of disappointing given that the mix of music in Popstar: Never Stop Stopping, from Conner4Real to Hunter the Hungry to the Style Boyz to Seal to a misguided solo effort by Akiva Schaffer’s “Kid Brain” character flanked by Linkin Park, doesn’t blend together particularly well.
Still, the sum of its parts is considerable, beginning with the aforementioned Connquest material. Really, all five of those tracks are so good that, I dunno, they could conceivably make some kind of best Lonely Island songs list. The least impressive of these is also maybe the funniest: “Ibitha,” a song made “for the people of Ethpaña.” The Adam Levine-heavy “I’m So Humble” sounds like the real thing as the intro song or a larger-than-life superstar, and its hilarious lines are just barely laced with any kind of satire: these are the kind of boasts straight up music is already made of.
Meanwhile, the dis track is aimed at the Mona Lisa.
Easily the best song on the album, though, is “Equal Rights” featuring P!nk. It’d be pretty good in the context of the Conner4Real character sticking his foot into social justice but not far enough to jeopardize his masculinity, but as a send-up of Macklemore’s “Same Love,” the thing is downright ferocious. Macklemore might wake up in a cold sweat hearing “if girls wanna have sex with me ’cause I said this, so be it” and start crying for years to come.
There are maybe a few other songs you can appreciate sans context, like “Fuck Off” (which teaches kids to say that and “I’m gonna live forever” to their parents), the rasta change-up of “Legalize It,” the “freestyle” of “I’m a Weirdo,” or “Incredible Thoughts,” a parody of the impossible-to-parody-and-this-is-no-exception “Miracles” so thoroughly late to the game but so full of Michael Bolton (and Justin Timberlake as Mr. Fish) that you have to love it.
The rest? Well…
Quite a few of the tracks on the soundtrack spend time on the film’s least interesting storyline: Hunter the Hunted, a take on…Odd Future. In 2016. Like Insane Clown Posse’s “Miracles,” you can’t really parody Odd Future: the material is already as ridiculous as you can go. But there’s nothing to delight in, and Chris Redd’s numerous guest spots all represent low points.
Other early interruptions to the Conner material on the soundtrack include “Turn up the Beef,” a mediocre Emma Stone track that features “the catchphrase verse,” a plot point that really only rings hilarious with the film surrounding it. There’s “Things In My Jeep,” a demonstration of how bad things got for Akiva’s character (propped up here by Linkin Park going absolutely apeshit). And Seal sings “Ashley Wednesday,” a reprise of “Mona Lisa” done as a ballad which, again, is sung by Seal, so that’s kind of hard to resist.
The rest of the soundtrack plays like a smattering ideas that couldn’t quite make the film, and it’s a shame that the first material from The Lonely Island in years hasn’t been put in a better form for repeated consumption. Still, it’s nice to hear a lot of these, and it’s nice to be given so much of it: 22 new songs in 28 tracks. An essential mess for any fan.