This week we're shifting gears a bit to look at Bo Burnham's 2021 comedic album Inside (The Songs)
Released in May 2021 to Netflix, Inside is a musical special written, directed, filmed, edited, and performed by comedian Bo Burnham in his Los Angeles home during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. Many of the songs make satire on everyday things such as "FaceTime with My Mom (Tonight)" and "Welcome to the Internet," while some explore the dark and explicit side of life like "Sexting," "Shit," and "How the World Works." And how could you forget iconic interlude songs like "Bezos I & II" (literally just songs about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos), and "Unpaid Intern," a short minute long song that Bo then repeatedly performs a series of reaction videos to, unravelling into chaos.
Often described as a comedy special, Inside also takes a serious look at mental health and its deterioration during the modern age, especially during a time when many of us were alone. Themes of isolation and human interaction are juxtaposed through equally contrasting songs, all while keeping the viewer in a single room for the entire short. Upon release, the special was highly praised, winning numerous awards such as a Grammy, Daytime Emmy, and Peabody Award. In June 2021, an album was compiled titled Inside (The Songs) and released digitally and on CD, vinyl, and cassette. On May 30th, 2022, Bo surprised released Inside: The Outtakes to YouTube which included an entire hour of unused footage and songs that didn't make the original Netflix release. A few days later he released a deluxe album featuring said previously unreleased music.
When I watched this special on Netflix for the first time, I immediately fell in love with it. Bo Burnham's amazing ability to present hilarious moments where I was at the verge of tears, to completely take a 180 and keep me at the verge of tears (in the other way) is incredible. When I saw there was a vinyl release of this album I toyed with the idea of buying it, figuring I really don't need it but it would be a neat addition to my collection. Just like my previous post on Dear Evan Hansen, you could imagine my shock when I found this in the pre-owned stack of vinyl. Immediate sell. When I brought it home I found out why it was in there: the middle hole for the turntable was cut too small and the second disc wouldn't fit on my turntable. Nothing a little research and a scissor couldn't fix and BOOM, the album plays like new.
This album is packed with so many good songs. I constantly find myself listening to "All Eyes on Me" and the previously mentioned "FaceTime with My Mom (Tonight)," both well-crafted song with sprinkles of comedy thrown about. However, my personal favorite song in this album is "That Funny Feeling," a more serious look at the world with just Bo and his guitar. A highly underrated song in my opinion, I was thrilled to find out that pop star Phoebe Bridgers began to play it at her concerts! "Welcome to the Internet" is both chaotic and thrilling along with my occasional anthem "Shit."
No special colored vinyl this time (☹️), but the real highlight is everything else about the packaging. The cover and back of the album show the "stage" where Bo performs just about the entirety of the special; messy, cluttered, disorganized. The gatefold opens up into this collage of him sleeping on the ground surrounded by microphones and recording equipment. No detail was spared, even for vinyl sleeves of each record. Monochrome close-ups of Bo from the special adorn the fronts, while the backs show the scene from "How the World Works" and "Welcome to the Internet."
If you haven't seen Inside on Netflix yet, go watch it. Please. It's well worth the time. Once you realize that Bo Burnham did literally everything from staging, writing, producing, shooting, to editing, you start to see how incredible this special really is. It is a permanent record on a historic time in our lives, filled with laughs, drama, and a little bit of everything (all of the time).