They Might be Giants

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Like everyday

They Might Be Giants, or TMBG, are a band so bad not even hipsters like them, consisting of two rather odd looking men from New York, both named John. Both Johns insist there are other people in the band, but no one actually cares enough to look. The majority of oldfags will remember them as writing that one song that got stuck in their head before Chumbawumba came along and did it better. Everyone who matters will recognize one of their songs as being the theme tune to the long running, and not very good American sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. Their fans are noted for being obsessive, creepy and getting very angry when you point out that they sound like a shitty cross between the Beatles and Frank Zappa.

Avert your eyes, THEY'RE HIDEOUS

We are the shitty Beatles


—John Linnell admits the truth


They Might Be Giants have made an entire career out of ripping off Frank Zappa and the second side of Abbey Road, mixed with even more pretension than either band ever had, something previously thought impossible. TMBG disguise their lack of originality by not only being less talented musicians and having to play much simpler music, but by also filling their songs with accordion and entirely nonsensical lyrics that their creepy fans think are deep and meaningful.

Their music is so nonsensical, basic and childish that the difference between their albums aimed at adults and their albums aimed at children is arbitrary, perhaps best evidenced by the song Mammal which came out 17 years before their children's album Here Comes Science. Despite this it is just as patronizing as all of the songs on the children's album.

The Two Johns

John Flansburgh and John Linnell are the Lennon/McCartney of mediocre college rock aimed at the kind of people who quote Monty Python, wear fedoras and watch shows aimed three year old girls and still can't understand why all women won't fuck them. John and John are so bad that they in fact miss their target demographic and instead managed to gain an audience of socially awkward young women who will eventually live in homes filled with cats and die alone.

John Flansburgh

John Flansburgh with his mustache that he grew to scare away children

Oh, we're a freak magnet!


—John Flansburgh discusses the TMBG fanbase

John Flansburgh is the louder, less talented Giant. People sometimes call him Flans or Flansy, but it's probably best not to encourage him. He is responsible for the generic alt rock songs that are scattered over their 90s albums in a desperate bid for commercial acceptance, culminating in the forgettable theme song to Malcolm in The Middle. Flansburgh deals with the business side of things, so the stories of the band charging extortionate rights fees are all down to him.

While many TMBG fans think Flansburgh actually likes them and finds their creepy obsession with his band somehow life affirming, a more likely explanation is that the always money hungry Flansburgh realized he had a waiting fan-base with deep pockets that he had yet to pluck and Fox weren't going to pay for the use of his music. This may explain his association with the TMBG wiki, TMBW, which is moderated by several people who are not allowed within 200 meters of the band.

Like all super intelligent people, John Flansburgh is an atheist.

Flansburgh is also documented as having physically attacked a member of a more successful band for coming on stage to cheer for TMBG during an encore.

John Linnell

Linnell keeps a phone near by always, in case he meets one of hisfans

The thing to bear in mind is when in a song we say 'I killed my parents,' we're not actually confessing to something in the song.


—John Linnell, not actually surprised he has to specify this

John Linnell is the quieter, more talented Giant, and as such is object of many a young fans obsession. Linnell is noted for being incredibly shy and tends to avoid interviews and photos, so the TMBG fanbase decided to respect his wishes by creating obsessive blogs devoted only to pictures of his face. Linnell was previously in a new wave band, which would of been all but forgotten if not for TMBG fans somehow digging up not only their only single, but a bunch of unreleased demos. If you didn't think these people were scary, think about the fact they found a load of demos from an obscure 80s new wave band because they like the guy who played keyboards.

Linnell is the bands main songwriter on all their albums not aimed at children, and some of his lyrics concern mental illness, paranoia, murder and recurrent images of skulls. Of course the rest of his lyrics are utter nonsense with little thought behind them and he hasn't written a great song since Flansburgh started using TMBG as a jew gold farm. With Linnell's influence so strong upon the band, many wonder what Flans actually does, especially since they hired a different lead guitarist because Flans was too busy singing to play properly. The answer is invariably that Flans provides a public face for the band, something Linnell would find difficult. This is probably not true, because Linnell could hire anyone to run a twitter account, but it probably makes Flansburgh feel important. It's speculated that Linnell made Flansburgh a special captains hat for his "sad days".

Despite certain fans desperate to make him one, Linnell is not an atheist (as stated by Flansburgh on the linked podcast). This hasn't stopped certain fans from fabricating quotes from Linnell to make him agree with their atheism, because heaven forbid someone they admire have different views to them.

Bands That Aren't They Might Be Giants

  • The Linky Giants
  • The Mighty Giants
  • They Might Be Giant
  • They Might Be Kobe Bryant
  • Giantplay
  • They Bite Me Giants
  • Them Miter Giants
  • The Mighty Green Giants
  • There Exists a Possibility that They Are Gargantuans
  • We Apologize For the Misunderstanding, but No, We Are Not in Fact Giants
  • The Meter Gents
  • The Shitty Beatles
  • The Replacements
  • They Might & Magic
  • They Might Be Girl Ants
  • They Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
  • There Must Be Giants
  • They Are They Might Be Giants
  • There May Be Giants
  • There Is No Proof That They Are Giants
  • They're After Me' Lucky Charms
  • They Are Huge Guys
  • They Might Not Have A New Album Called The Else
  • The Lust of Giants
  • They Might be Windmills
  • Gingivitis
  • The Might of Giants
  • The Mesopotamians
  • The Super Giants
  • Sapphire Bullets
  • The Bush Administration
  • This Must be Giants
  • The Hitler Bar Mitzvah
  • Allah and the Virgins
  • They're Not Even Remotely Giants
  • We're Certainly Dwarves
  • Shoot Shoot They Are Giants, and They Just Freaking Smashed My Skyscraper
  • They Might Be Bob Dylan
  • They Might Reinvent the Steam Engine
  • They Might Be Rain
  • They Might Be Heat
  • They Might Be Frying Up A Stalk of Wheat
  • Lets Shop at Giant
  • They Might Be Sellouts
  • Hay Might Be Licensed
  • Planet of Ass
  • They Might Be Midgets on Stilts
  • They Shouldn't be Incorrectly Labelled as Giants Because They're Tall
  • The Notorious G.I.A.N.T.S.
  • Real Smooth Moves
  • The Canadians
  • The Godfather I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, X-2, XI, XII, XIII, XIII Versus, XIII Akibo, XIII: The Quickening, 3-D, and The Revenge
  • There's A Right Good Chance They Might Be Taller Than Average
  • Those Particular Living Organisms That Be And Exist Hold The Minute But Prominent Possibility That They Are Of A Brobdingnagian Nature Because Of Their Stupendous Physical Feature Of Being Of A Size Multifold Of That Of Normal Human Beings

Move to Elektra

In 1989, They Might Be Giants signed with Elektra Records, and released their third album Flood the following year. Flood earned them a platinum album, largely thanks to the success of "Birdhouse in Your Soul" which reached number three on the US Modern Rock chart, as well as "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", a cover of a song originally by The Four Lads.

In 1990, Throttle magazine interviewed They Might Be Giants and clarified the meaning of the song "Ana Ng": John Flansburgh said, "Ng is a Vietnamese name. The song is about someone who's thinking about a person on the exact opposite side of the world. John looked at a globe and figured out that if Ana Ng is in Vietnam and the person is on the other side of the world, then it must be written by someone in Peru".

Further interest in the band was generated when two cartoon music videos were created by Warner Bros. Animation for Tiny Toon Adventures: "Istanbul" and "Particle Man". The videos reflected TMBG's high "kid appeal", resulting from their often absurd songs and poppy melodies.

In 1991, Bar/None Records released the B-sides compilation Miscellaneous T. The title referred to the section of the record store where TMBG releases were often found as well as to the overall eclectic nature of the tracks.[citation needed] Though consisting of previously released material (save for the "Purple Toupee" b-sides, which were not available publicly), it gave new fans a chance to hear the Johns' earlier non-album work without having to hunt down the individual EPs.

In early 1992, They Might Be Giants released Apollo 18. The heavy space theme coincided with TMBG being named Musical Ambassadors for International Space Year. Singles from the album included "The Statue Got Me High", "I Palindrome I", and "The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)". Apollo 18 was also notable for being one of the first albums to take advantage of the CD player's shuffle feature. The song "Fingertips" actually comprised 21 separate tracks — short snippets that not only acted together to make the song but that when played in random order would be interspersed between the album's full-length songs. Due to mastering errors, the UK and Australian versions of Apollo 18 contained "Fingertips" as one track.

Following Apollo 18, Flansburgh and Linnell decided to move away from the guitar & accordion (or sax) plus backing tracks on tape nature of their live show, and recruited a supporting band that consisted of live musicians (Kurt Hoffman of The Ordinaires on reeds and keyboards, longtime Pere Ubu bassist Tony Maimone, and drummer Jonathan Feinberg).

John Henry was released in 1994. Influenced by their more conventional lineup, this album marked a departure from their previous releases with more of a guitar-heavy sound. It was released to mixed reviews amongst fans and critics alike.

Their next album, Factory Showroom, was released in 1996 to little fanfare. The band had quickly moved away from the feel of John Henry, and Factory Showroom returns to the more diverse sounds of their earlier albums, despite the inclusion of two guitarists, the second being Eric Schermerhorn who provided several guitar solos.

They left Elektra after the duo refused to do a publicity show, amongst other exposure-related disputes.

In 1998, they released a mostly-live album Severe Tire Damage from which came the single "Doctor Worm", a studio recording.

Around this same time period, Danny Weinkauf (bass) and Dan Miller (guitar) were recruited for their recording and touring band. Both had been members of the bands Lincoln and Candy Butchers which were previous opening acts for TMBG. Weinkauf and Miller continue to work with the band to the present day.

For most of their career, TMBG has made innovative use of the Internet. As early as 1992, the band was sending news updates to their fans via Usenet newsgroups. In 1999, They Might Be Giants became the first major-label recording artist to release an entire album exclusively in mp3 format. The album, Long Tall Weekend, is sold through Emusic.

Also, in 1999, the band contributed the song "Dr. Evil" to the motion picture Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Over their career, the band has performed on numerous movie and television soundtracks, including The Oblongs, the ABC News miniseries Brave New World and Ed and His Dead Mother. They also performed the theme music "Dog on Fire", composed by Bob Mould, for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. They composed and performed the music for the TLC series Resident Life, the theme song for the Disney Channel program Higglytown Heroes, and songs about the cartoons Dexter's Laboratory and Courage the Cowardly Dog.

During this time, the band also worked on a project for McSweeney's, a publishing company and literary journal. The band wrote a McSweeney's theme song and forty-four songs for an album that was meant to be listened to with the journal, with each track corresponding to a particular story or piece of artwork. Labeled They Might Be Giants vs. McSweeney's, the disk appears in issue No. 6 of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern.

Contributing the single "Boss of Me" as the theme song to the hit television series Malcolm in the Middle, as well as to the show's compilation CD, brought a new audience to the band. Not only did the band contribute the theme, songs from all of the Giants' previous albums were used on the show: for example, the infamous punching-the-kid-in-the-wheelchair scene from the first episode was done to the strains of "Pencil Rain" from Lincoln. Another song to feature in the series was "Spiraling Shape". "Boss of Me" became the band's second top-40 hit in the UK which they performed on long-running UK television programme Top of the Pops, and in 2002, won the duo a Grammy Award.

On September 11, 2001, they released the album Mink Car on Restless Records. It was their first full album release of new studio material since 1996 and their first since parting ways with Elektra. The making of that album, including a record signing event at a Manhattan Tower Records, was included in a documentary directed by AJ Schnack titled Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns). The film was released on DVD in 2003.

In 2002, they released No!, their first album "for the entire family". Using the enhanced CD format, it included an interactive animation for most of the songs. They followed it up in 2003 with their first book, an illustrated children's book with an included EP, Bed, Bed, Bed.

Other Fun Facts

  • David Bowie is quoted as saying "They Might Be Giants might be the greatest rock Band What ever rocked."
  • Jim Morrison once auditioned for TMBG in 1972, but his application was denied due to "Creative Differences." The resulting depression led him to commit suicide.
  • In 1964 Vietnamese superstar Ana Ng wrote the song "John Linnell," a tribute to the lead singer of They Might Be Giants.
  • The name They Might Be Giants was chosen only after they discovered that "Flock of Seagulls" was already taken by a very lame band.
  • Their music led to the uprise of Sith Lord Optimus Prime, pissing off fans who felt they had sold out.
  • They lead the world with the most nuclear bombs. Since 2003, they have been selling these bombs to random Iranians in an attempt to better their name.
  • After 5 years, They Might Be Giants fired their backup band, The Beatles. John Flansburgh later explained that their pro-choice position led to this.
  • Incorrect homophones make the band throe up.
  • TMBG enjoys running down the Statue of Liberty, your girlfriend's dad, and American values, in their blue, '67BC Thunderbird. They are currently on trial in a shack somewhere in Idaho for inappropriate use of the word "prevenge."
  • In the year 1990, they made a scientific breakthrough when they discovered that when it rains, it snows, disproving the previous theory that when it rains, it pours. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for this discovery.
  • They might be Giants.
  • No one in the world ever gets what they want, and that is beautiful.
  • Everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that, too, is beautiful.
  • James Ensor, the band's manager (not to be confused with Belgium's famous painter), is really a hippo in disguise. When They Might Be Giants found out, they responded, "I KNEW IT."
  • The movie "They Might Be Giants," starring George C. Scott, was named after the band. The subsequent lawsuit gained TMBG fifty billion dollars.
  • They drive around in a coffee-powered van that they made themselves one night in their parents' garage; they built it in 876 hours without sleeping.
  • After making enough money, They Might Be Giants hired contractors to build them a little empire, using some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working class. To this day, John and John can be found sitting in their thrones, laughing and making a fortune from all the people they tortured.
  • Long before the band was formed, John Flansburgh had a job at the crumb factory (where he was named Employee of the Month), while John Linnell had a job climbing the walls.
  • The Great Luke Ski has often claimed to be one of the original members of They Might Be Giants, but was kicked out for being too fat, and not nerdy enough.
  • In 2007, late-nite talk show host Conan O'Brien filed a restraining order against They Might Be Giants.

See Also

External Links

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Einsteinaspie.jpg They Might be Giants is part of a series on Aspies. [Back to your happy placeSperg out]

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