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Andrew’s Angles – Bo Burnham’s Inside & Inside Outtakes – Song Rankings

Note: This article covers a special that covers a wide range of current-day social and mental health issues. While mostly in a comedic sense, please be aware that these topics will be covered in this article. If you need help, please use the contact details on the following website: https://www.oml.world/needhelpnow

 

One of the most unique projects that I feel has come out in the past couple of years is Bo Burnham’s Inside – a 2021 Netflix special entirely made by the multi-instrumentalist comedian Bo Burnham. The special is a rollercoaster – taking you through a wide range of emotions and topics, and takes place in a single room for the full runtime. Despite being a result of the pandemic, it is never at all mentioned once by name throughout the special – instead, the viewer is taken on an often comedic and morbid journey through all of the trends and ills of the world, packed with 20 songs. On 31st May 2022, he released outtakes to Inside on his YouTube channel – coming in at an additional hour, an extra 24 songs were released! As a recent big fan of the special and outtakes, I felt it would be my duty to give my ranking (and reasoning) for all of the songs. Since some are instrumental-only (or lack many lyrics), they will be ranked separately from the songs with lyrics in a later article. Without further ado, here we go!

Songs With Lyrics

32. Sexting (Inside)

A pop-style ballad about the joys of getting intimate with the power of texting and emojis, with the lyrics showing the overthinking and anxiety associated with such a topic. While a fairly harmless song as far as the content of Inside goes, it doesn’t capture the concerns that we’ve all been feeling the past couple of years – it instead focuses on a more general topic that’s been in place for a while now. The sultry repetition of “Ay, Ay, AT&T” unfortunately doesn’t save this song from the last place spot.

31. 1985 (Inside Outtakes)

My lowest-ranked song from the Outtakes, 1985 takes us back over 35 years to the mid-80s. While this song has a great synth opening and funky beat, the lyrics focus on how in 1985, the best thing to be was a “white guy in 1985”, before it diverts into him singing about his dad in that era. At its core though, it has the same issues as Sexting – it focuses on topics that are well outside of the pandemic bubble. I can see why this didn’t make it into the final product.

30. Feel Good (Inside Outtakes)

A relaxing, beachy vibe provides us the background to this 43-second song. With a deceptively cheerful melody with the lyrics of “I just wanna feel good”, it does hit the mindset and topic that I’m sure many of us had during the various lockdowns and uncertainties in recent times. The reason that this song is so low is that while it is relevant, the fact that the lyrics for this short runtime are about wanting to feel good and variants thereof, the topic seems to be skin deep.

29. This Isn’t A Joke (Inside Outtakes)

I really dig the experimental, almost lo-fi style of the song. The instrumental sounding almost uncertain of itself and off-key, combined with the vocal style of someone who sounds like they’re halfway through eating their microphone certainly sets a specific mood. However, the melody is somewhat over the place, going from an autotuned style sing-talking, before going into a full talking segment over the backing music. It’s this uncertainty that puts this song at rank 29, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

28. Biden (Inside Outtakes)

I am far from qualified about talking about any pros and cons to Joe Biden as the current POTUS, but I can appreciate the humour of “They’re really gonna make me vote for Joe Biden” as being one of the key lines in this short, 51-second piece with an interesting, almost murky beat to it. A fun bit of filler without much substance.

27. Any Day Now (Inside)

The song that plays over the end credits of Inside, the cheerful organ-like piece over the repeated phrase of “It’ll stop any day now” can be interpreted in very different ways – on its own, and as the end piece of Inside, it could be considered as a note of positivity – the need to stay inside would soon be a thing of the past and we can get back to normality. However, when taking songs such as All Eyes On Me and That Funny Feeling, it could take on a much more ominous meaning – is there so much going on, and is humankind doing so much damage, that the world as we know it would be the thing that stops in the near future?

26. Bezos III (Inside Outtakes)

One of the 4 songs referring to the former CEO of Amazon, this song paints him as some sort of religious figure or saint. This is achieved through a repeated choral melody of “Jeffrey Bezos”. While some of the other Bezos songs in this list can be considered deeper, this is not one of them – at this point in the track listing, the Bezos songs are stretching a bit thin, but that might be the point of it. The best part about this song? The drumbeat that leads into The Future.

25. WTFIGO (Inside Outtakes)

WTFIGO (or, What The Fuck Is Going On) was a tough song to rank – the vocals and beat are top-notch and extremely catchy, and the repeated lyrics of “I don’t know what’s happening” and “What the fuck is going on?” are certainly questions that I (and many others) have thought of in recent times, and not just due to the pandemic! However, the Achilles Heel of this great song is the limited lyrics.

24. Bezos II (Inside)

The second of the Bezos songs on the album, this song is simple in its lyrics, but strong in the message – with a funky synth groove, the lyrics congratulate him on his successes at Amazon, but in such a way that it seems that he achieved it all by himself in a fair manner.  The lyrics again are simple, and can be seen as re-hashes of Bezos I, but considering the fact that Bezos II comes after a sketch in the special in which Bo says he wants to work on the special forever so that he doesn’t have to focus on what’s happening around him, the repeated themes and lyrics seem like a great punchline as to what happens if a topic or concept is continued after it has run dry. Need proof? Check out the reviews for the new Jurassic World movie.

23. Look Who’s Inside Again (Inside)

A peppy backing track to this song that seems to show the indecisiveness of whether Bo wants to be staying inside the room or not – he laments about the difficulty of putting together a comedy special by himself and without an audience – how can he tell whether he’s making funny content or not? However, when faced with the concept of going outside, the imagery used makes it seem like he would be forced to go out – only if he’s told to come out with his hands up, and the room has been surrounded. A good allegory to what we could and could not do at various times in recent memory.

22. Don’t Wanna Know (Inside)

The first post-intermission song of the special, this song is made up of a series of rhetorical questions of the show so far (is it too fast, too slow, are the audience on their phones, etc.) due to the nature of not having an audience that can respond, with each question being followed up by Bo exclaiming he doesn’t want to know. The lyrics and the laid-back instrumental put this comfortably in the middle part of the list.

21. Bezos IV (Inside Outtakes)

The last Bezos-related track is my second-favourite one – a romantic ballad that sounds like it’s been taken from the era of diners and malt milkshakes, this 38-second song sarcastically declares the love of Jeff Bezos, asking whether he needs 180 billion reasons why. Short, simple, fun – enough said.

20. The Future (Inside Outtakes)

A lo-fi, droning type beat mixed with sing-talky vocals suggesting that the future is essentially a repeated loop of uncertainty, stress and depression are the key takeaways from this piece. While seemingly simple, it works well and evokes a groovy mood, while also giving a sense of dread.

19. Microwave Popcorn (Inside Outtakes – Move?)

This song is one of the funniest one in the entirety of both Inside and the outtakes – starting with the melody of Look Who’s Inside Again played on microwave buttons, the song then becomes a parody of trap music, with a heavy artificial drumbeat throughout the piece with Bo (and his unhelpful hype-man, who is also Bo) tell the story about trying to, and failing, to cook microwave popcorn. The song itself is no deeper than that (hence this not being higher on my list), but the parody style is pulled off well, and having Bo get increasingly annoyed at his hype-man with the constant questioning (which door is being closed, whether the popcorn was really burned, etc.) and ending with the realisation that the microwave had a popcorn setting that wasn’t used, is great.

18. All Time Low (Inside)

This song, starting off with Bo talking about how his mental health is at an ATL (All Time Low), it suddenly switches to an upbeat instrumental with him singing in a cheerful way about how he’s feeling during his ATLs, before switching back to him talking seriously. The juxtaposition throughout this short piece is what makes the song for me.

17. Problematic (Inside)

Problematic, as the name suggests, focuses on the nature of problematic content, but in a number of different ways. Bo has been making content since he was 16 (originally on YouTube, before moving to specials on Netflix). His earlier content has topics that Bo self-admittedly states in this tune, including sex, race, religion, etc, and using it to state that he’s trying to atone and improve. However, there are also aspects in the song which seem more satirical, such as stating that he dressed as Aladdin for Halloween one year, but that he did not use anything to darken his complexion, and how that he has items that are lawful but awful. This seems to be poking fun at non-apologies, as well as those who may be too quick to call things as problematic, when the topic can be a bit more complex than that.

Combine this with an 80s-style montage background tune, and imagery that makes it seem that Bo is being crucified for his previous actions, this song is definitely one of the deeper ones on the track. However, the fact that there are songs with better lyrics and instrumentals puts this in at number 17.

16. The Chicken (Inside Outtakes)

A 4-minute, emotionally driven piece asking the age-old question: Why did the chicken cross the road? The instrumental and melody are certainly powerful, and the lyrics can pack a punch – however, the links to the concept of Inside seem somewhat thin on initial listens – it could be considered as an allegory of the wishes of going outside and fulfilling dreams. One of the more optimistic songs, but the tenuous links to the special puts this at the mid-point of my ranking.

15. FaceTime With My Mom (Tonight) (Inside)

A pop-style piece near the start of the special covers one of the respites from the monotony and anxieties of the various lockdowns over the years – speaking with your relatives, even if it’s through a computer or phone screen. However, it’s not all positive, as Bo sings about the issues of this form of communication, such as his mum holding the phone too close to her face, covering the camera, or talking about the season finale of a show that he may not have seen. The video accompanying this tune also shows clips of him getting more and more frustrated, yelling at his phone (presumably due to him trying to help with the technical issues, but not being listened to). A cool, almost calm piece balances the comedy, musicality and concept of Inside very well.

14. Bezos I (Inside)

A synth-heavy motivational song about everyone’s favourite CEO – Jeff Bezos, this song is sadly very short. However, any song that calls Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg as amateurs in comparison to Bezos (in a heavily sarcastic way, mind you), encourages him to drink their blood, and then goes into a really groovy synth breakdown and finishing with a scream has a fantastic amount of absurdity and commentary that the special is known for.

13. Content (Inside)

The opening track to the entire special, this piece focuses on the fact that Bo is making content for his fans, as a direct result of the pandemic, so it balances the concept of him being glad that he has new content, but not under the circumstances that anybody wants. The song also has Bo mention the name “Robert”, adding a layer of reality to the situation, suggesting that Robert is the real person, and Bo is the performer/entertainer.

This song also has one of my favourite visuals in the entire special, with Bo sitting down and having a light attached to his head pointing up at a spinning disco ball, filling the room with a fantastic display of spinning lights – the creativity is superb, and this tune really sets the scene for what we can expect as viewers.

12. Welcome to The Internet (Inside)

One of, if not the most, popular songs out of the entire special, Welcome to The Internet is a wild and wacky tour of the World Wide Web and the sheer array of content available/activities to do – as you can imagine, the narrator covers all the bases that you would expect in the 2020s, with a jaunty, almost fairground-like piano melody alongside it. The song takes an insidious turn as Bo makes the Internet feel like an entity that is wanting to trap and damage those affected by it. While a great novelty song, made up of different “segments”, to me, it feels a bit too haphazard for me (even if that’s the purpose) to rank this as the best song in the special.

11. Shit (Inside)

Short and snappy, this song goes over why Bo is feeling like what the song title says, with the simplest mistakes like mis-pouring coffee having a deeper impact on his reaction due to being cooped up and on his own. The juxtaposition of him singing why he’s feeling down in the dumps with a cheerful melody and upbeat guitar backing is what makes this song near my top 10 of the entire piece.

10. White Woman’s Instagram (Inside)

Going into the top 10, I’m starting with White Woman’s Instagram! A soft, warm-feeling piano melody runs throughout this tune, along with saccharine-sweet lyrics around clichés that one may expect to see on a WWG – fuzzy socks, driftwood coffee tables, needlepoints of animals, poems in sand, that sort of thing. For a lot of the song, Bo lampoons the superficiality that may be attributed to these things, before quickly turning the song on its head, using it as an eulogy from these “white women” to their mothers no longer with them – which really brings home that we all have our own lives, wishes, dreams, and losses that we have to deal with – even if it’s not always apparent based on our social media presence. It doesn’t take long for Bo to go back to the jokes (goat cheese salad, anyone?), but giving it emotional depth works really well.

9. How The World Works (Inside)

This song sounds like it’s taken straight from a twisted edutainment show (ala Sesame Street), with Bo providing optimistic lyrics around how the world works through the joys of nature and the importance of all creatures with a bouncy, upbeat piano melody. It all changes when he introduces his friend, Socko – a sock puppet on his hand, who is aware of his liminal existence when not on it. Taking the cue from Bo, Socko explains how the world works in less…cheerful language (blood, genocide, exploitation, classism, with a hint of communism and conspiracy theories), even taking time to chastise Bo for making the situations around himself when he asks how he can help. The surrealism of such dark subject matter coming from a sock puppet, along with smart writing makes this song comfortably in ninth place for me.

8. Five Years (Inside Outtakes)

Going into this song, the style it parodies is not my personal taste of music, but this is an exception, largely due to the lyrics. Starting off with overly specific directions from the singer to his girlfriend around sending over a voicemail he’s leaving her so he can use it in the song, it gets better from there.

Focusing on the potential stagnancy of a long-term relationship in a rut, hearing him sing about arguments around his girlfriend stealing food from his Chinese takeaway and him demanding a dumpling (or dumping equivalent), or how she expects him to deal with a spider because he’s a man (who is standing on the coffee table at the sight of it, while she’s on the couch), this song is dripping with sarcasm and passive-aggressiveness, but in a largely humorous light. Speaking of concerns around spiders…

7. Spider (Inside Outtakes)

A heavy rock-style song about Bo freaking out about a spider being in the room with him – simple as that. Short, sweet, funny, a breath of cheerfulness without cynicism – a great antidote to the more heavier topics in the special and outtakes.

6. 30 (Inside)

During the production of Inside, Bo’s 30th birthday took place. A more personal part of the special, he explains how he didn’t want to still be in the situation that he (and many others) was in during a milestone date for him. He uses it to show about how he had dreams and hobbies, all of which seem unobtainable or otherwise no longer relevant due to his age, while also going down the dangerous and unhealthy habit of comparing himself to others at his age.

He also uses the song as a joking way to seem older as he is, by complaining about the comments and attitudes of current day youth. The song does end with a rather morbid lyric and twisted sketch afterwards, but the beat and melody to this song, as well as the subject matter, probably applies to all of us as we approach that age!

5. Unpaid Intern (Inside)

A short jazzy ditty about the trials, tribulations and woes of being an unpaid intern for a company, the main issue I have with this song is that it’s too short! However, it’s made up by the abrupt ending and the following sketch showing Bo reacting to it, before getting into a loop of reacting to his reaction video reactions.

4. All Eyes On Me (Inside)

If ever a song was to encapsulate anxiety to a tee, All Eyes On Me would be a serious contender. With the instrumental being very murky and gloomy, and with Bo’s singing sounded muffled, as if he’s holding onto the microphone for dear life, this song is unrelenting in its uncertainty – even Bo, as the singer, can’t decide if he wants people to have their hands up and looking at him, or if they should be keeping their heads down and praying. This is further explored in his mid-song speech, where he covers how he finally got better mentally after facing panic attacks on stage, only for his plans to go back to live performances getting paused at a very inopportune time. The breathless and messy singing and his anger at the audience not following his lead makes it feel like you’re listening to your own panic attack. A very powerful song indeed.

3. That Funny Feeling (Inside)

The only acoustic guitar song in the special, this is also the song that got me the closest to crying both times I’ve seen it in the context of Inside. This song is filled with lyrical juxtaposition of what the world currently is and what it once was, both in humorous manners (going for a drive, but following traffic laws in GTA V) and devastating symbology (having gift shops at gun ranges, but having mass shootings at malls – an awful twisting of how mixed up society is) – the lyrics, combined with the soft guitar and singing style of Bo makes this song feel more raw and authentic in showing his feelings about where we are as a people.

2. Goodbye (Inside)

As the name suggests, this is the final song of the special, sending us off with a bittersweet thank you note, highlighting and recognising us as an audience (suggesting that he sits on the couch and he watches us next time, and how is anyone supposed to want to joke if they can’t hear the laughter), with a running joke that Bo won’t go outside again unless he absolutely has to, making it seem that he wants to make more content for us as the viewer. The song seems to be genuine in what it covers and stands well on its own if that was just it. However, it brings in one of my favourite aspects of music – leitmotifs – phrases or patterns that appear in multiple places through the same album. In this case, this song contains reprises and rewordings of songs from Inside including Welcome To the Internet, Comedy, and Look Who’s Inside Again, acting as the musical cherry on top.

1. Comedy (Inside)

And now, my absolute favourite song on Inside and the outtakes, is… Comedy. This song starts off in a very melancholy, gloomy manner (interjected with canned studio laughter), acting very much as the antithesis of its title, before shifting into a somewhat inspirational piece, accompanied by a heavenly-sounding chorus, a beam of light, and a deep booming voice confirming Bo’s idea that he should heal the world through the power of comedy, giving the image that Bo sees himself as a saint-like figure by thinking he can fix the world purely through comedy without actively doing anything to help. After this self-realisation, the song goes into a much more up-tempo piece, with Bo on a supposed kick of how he can save everything and everyone without doing anything deeper than that. He even suggests that in the event that your house is on fire or you’re visited by an unpleasant group who wear white cloaks, he can tell you a joke to fix the problems.

This song is a huge satire on the self-inflated ego and sense of importance that celebrities and others who are out of touch with the current issues with society wanting to make the situation about them and how they’re helping, without doing much at all. The lyrics, along with the strong sense of “phases” throughout the piece, combined with the instrumental make, for me, the best song on all of Inside.

And that’s it – my ranking of all 32 songs from Inside and the outtakes, in one handy list! What do you think of it? Any strong thoughts on where you feel the songs should go? Let me know in the comments below!

You can check out Inside on Netflix. The Inside outtakes can be found here (although they make a lot more sense after you watch Inside) – https://youtu.be/5XWEVoI40sE

 

 

 

 

By Andrew Denman

Andrew Denman is currently based out of London. When not playing video games, Andrew is interested in a range of different topics, be it Doctor Who, vinyl records, reading, or playing instruments.

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