Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Certain Songs #1925: Rilo Kiley – “The Frug” | Medialoper

Album: Rilo Kiley EP
Year: 1998

. . .

While “The Frug” was the opening track on Rilo Kiley’s first self-titled EP, I first heard this song on the rkives compilation that came out in 2013, where it was the last song on the album, a nice piece of business, to say the least.

However, with a reissue of that first EP — also confusingly re-released in 2001 as (also out-of-print) The Initial Friend EP — coming out this very week, I might as well point folks to it. And point out that the original EP was financed by fellow Replacements fan Dave Foley, putting some of that sweet sweet Newsradio money to good use. (And I’m now fighting hard to not do a bit matching other Newsradio actors with the indie bands they initially funded. The point is that you should stop reading right now and watch a Newsradio episode instead.

In any event, “The Frug” was the first Rilo Kiley song people ever heard, and they started their career right: a quietly chugging guitar surrounded by handclaps. Seriously, if you work in handclaps that soon in your first song, you’re going places.

Not surprising that they worked in a sex song with a dance song, but what was surprising was that they snuck a broken-hearted sex song — a cheery-sounding broken-hearted sex song at that – in.

And I can do the Frug
I can do the Robocop
I can do the Freddie
I cannot do the Smurf
And I can hate your girl
I can tell you that she’s real pretty
I can take my clothes off
I cannot fall in love

With the backing vocal guys echoing “cannot do the Smurf”, “The Frug” initially comes off as light-hearted, but there is tinge of sadness in Jenny Lewis’ crystal clear vocals, a subtext that becomes full text in the last verse.

You’ll never see my eyes
I will not call you back
I cannot do the Smurf
I cannot fall in love
I’ll never fall in love
I cannot fall in love
I cannot fall in love
I cannot fall in love
I cannot fall in love

In any event, “The Frug” was featured in a film that didn’t go anywhere, but Rilo Kiley did get a video out of it, the beginning of Lewis’ transition from child actor to adult musician.

“The Frug”

“The Frug” Official Video

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