October 20, 2015
Todd plays "Butterfly" on the piano
CRAZY TOWN - BUTTERFLY
A one-hit wonder retrospective
Todd: Hello, and welcome back to One Hit Wonderland, where we take a look at bands and artists known for only one song. And today, we're taking a look back to the vat of toxic gunk that was early-2000s rap metal.
- Clips of Limp Bizkit - "My Generation", Korn - "Falling Away from Me", and Staind - "Mudshovel"
- Fred Durst: Take my advice
- You don't wanna step into a big pile of shit
- The captain's drunk...
Todd (VO): Now, nu metal was, by any measure, an ugly genre. It intentionally sounded ugly, and its practitioners were also ugly, and they sang and rapped about ugly things. And that's why, even though it dominated the cultural landscape in a way that rock music hasn't since, nu metal tended to not have very much play on the pop charts. The pop audience did not have any time to spend with these grody, pierced metal guys. There are, of course...
- Video for "Butterfly"
- Shifty Shellshock: Come, my lady
- Come, come, my lady
- You're my butterfly
Todd: Sugar, baby
- Shifty: Come, my lady
- You're my pretty baby
- Yo, make your legs shake
- You make me go crazy
Todd (VO): This, as every single one of you definitely already knows, is "Butterfly" by Crazy Town. And while I have bent the rules for this show in the past, let it be known that today, I am covering a band with indisputably one hit and no more. Even fans of this song had to know that this had "fluke" written all over it.
Todd: They were these tattooed rap metal guys rapping about how much they love you, girl. Like, most nu metal guys were [still shot from Limp Bizkit - "Nookie" (I did it all for the nookie)] angry at girls, if they ever even mentioned 'em.
Todd (VO): And here are these guys trying to be romantic. They were the boy-bandification of nu metal.
- Epic: Hey, sugar mama, come and dance with me
Todd (VO): So it's no wonder that they couldn't sustain a career. Even for a genre as instantly mockable as nu metal, "Butterfly" destroyed its band's cred nearly instantly. If you make a Crazy Town station on Spotify, you get a lot of [picture of...] Smash Mouth, and not a lot of Disturbed, which...
Todd: ...is not a good sign. I even remember a [poster and clip from Orange County] Jack Black movie that used this song as a symbol of everything vapid and worthless in the world. That movie only came out a year or two later. That's how instantly dated and lame they were. I mean, the name of the song was "Butterfly". [Brief clip from opening to Reading Rainbow] "Butterfly".
- Shifty: Butterflies in her eyes and looks to kill
Todd (VO): Mariah Carey named songs "Butterfly". For the love of God, the name of the band was Crazy Town.
Todd: [posturing] Yeah, come at me, bro. Just try it, 'cause I'm about ready to take you to Crazy Town.
Todd (VO): But were they so bad, really? Well, I mean, they had to have been, right? Surely, a band like this couldn't be worth a second listen.
Todd: Could they? No, they couldn't. But they could get us a few cheap laughs, so let's check it out.
- Shifty: Life is precious
- Then I guess it's true
- But to tell truth, I really never knew 'til I met you
Before the hit
- Early concert footage
Todd (VO): The core of Crazy Town is their two frontmen—[promo pics of...] Bret Mazur, a.k.a. "Epic," and Seth Binzer, a.k.a. "Shifty Shellshock." It's not the name of an '80s action figure cartoon, that's literally what he calls himself. Shifty Shellshock.
- Picture of the two
Anyway, Epic and Shifty started a rap duo in the mid-'90s called the Brimstone Sluggers.
Todd: And they have always maintained that they are a hip-hop act, first and foremost. [Brief clip of "Jump Around" by...] Epic was even a DJ for House of Pain for a brief period. After the Brimstone Sluggers, they eventually formed a band, [promo pic of JBJ] and their drummer—an actual black person in rap metal, believe it or not—[cover of Check Your Head by...] played with the Beastie Boys for a little bit. [Pic of...] And they also got themselves a turntablist, DJ AM.
Todd: Holy shit, DJ AM, really?
- Footage of DJ AM
Todd (VO): I know that name. I don't know much about DJ's, but yeah, I knew that guy. [Clip from Iron Man 2] He was a big deal until he ODed and died a few years back.
Todd: Speaking of overdoses,...
- TV performance
Todd (VO): ...drugs are gonna be a major theme of this review. That first project didn't take off because the two frontmen had to go do simultaneous stints in rehab. [Album cover of...] Anyway, they released their first album, The Gift of Game, in 1999 while they were on tour [concert pic of...] with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Todd: At this point, you may notice that they have direct links to [promo pic of the Chili Peppers, House of Pain's self-titled album cover, and still shot from Beastie Boys - "Fight for Your Right"] three great acts that are also basically the progenitors of rap metals. You think it would've helped, but it really didn't.
Todd (VO): Also, much like the last band I covered on this show, the Vapors, Crazy Town realized early on that they had an obvious hit on their hands, so they just refused to release it in the desperate and ultimately doomed hopes of staving off one-hit wonderdom.
Todd: Let's see what they released instead.
- Video for "Toxic"
- Shifty and Epic: Toxic, loud and obnoxious
- Crazy Town's toxic
- With that rock your block shit
- Toxic, popping more lip
- We love to talk shit
- Rocking you block with that
- Straight out the block shit
- Toxic, loud and obnoxious
Todd: Okay, I'm just gonna say it—this reminds me way too much of Vanilla Ice's metal version of "Ice Ice Baby".
- Clip of Vanilla Ice - "Too Cold"
- Vanilla Ice: Dance, bum rush the speaker that booms
- I'm killing your brain like a poisonous mushroom
- Shifty and Epic: Toxic
Todd (VO): Yeah, they're toxic. Like a chemical spill.
- Shifty: I rock the main line
- And party with fine bitches
- Which is a dirty job
- But somebody's got to do it
Todd (VO): You know, one thing this does make me realize is that, I always kinda subconsciously associated Crazy Town with nu metal acts like Papa Roach or Limp Bizkit, but maybe I'm kinda wrong here. I mean, it's partially there, but this is also definitely rooted in a sort of different late-'90s genre—the kinda dark, SoCal, skate punk, metal scene.
Todd: I would definitely have to call Crazy Town the poor man's 311, and I hate 311.
- Epic: So fuck the critics
- We leave 'em hangin' like INXS
Todd (VO): Oh, dude, not cool! Too soon!
Todd: Well, I mean it was too soon at the time.
Todd (VO): The guy from INXS had pretty recently hanged himself, but yeah, too soon!
Todd: Okay, well, this song didn't take off, let's try another.
- Video for "Darkside"
- Epic: ...rock, shell toes,
- Horns and halos.
- Wicked white wings and pointed tails.
- Shifty: Devil’s eyes and nine inch nails
- Epic: Nocturnal renegades
Todd (VO): To be fair, I actually can imagine this song being a hit, but again, I don't really like this genre, so my opinion's not worth much.
- Epic: Nocturnal renegades.
- The eternal drug raid.
- Shifty: I go by the name of
- Mr. Shifty switchblade.
- Epic: Getting paid in the shade,
- As lyrics ricochet,
- Off the walls
- From the ceiling to the floor
- Shifty: Crazy Town.
- Yo, we strike like Deep Impact
Todd: You get overshadowed by [poster for Armageddon] similar things that are even dumber, but more popular? Yeah, that sounds about right.
- Footage of outdoor show in Montreal
Todd (VO): With two flop singles, things were not looking good. Also, Shifty had a relapse, threw a chair through a window, and got the band booted from Ozzfest. At this point, they were running out of options, so they said, "you know...
Todd: ...goddammit, just release the pop single, let's see what happens."
The big hit
- Video for "Butterfly"
Todd (VO): Okay, I've listened to the entire Crazy Town discography now, and...
Todd: ..."Butterfly" is by far the best that this band has ever sounded, which makes perfect and total sense, seeing as that's not actually Crazy Town.
- Footage of concert from...
Todd (VO): That's a loop from a tiny sample from an instrumental song by the Chili Peppers, and it sounds great, 'cause even two seconds of John Frusciante is better than any amount of nu metal sludge.
Todd: And what do they do with it? They made a goddamn love song.
- Epic: Come, my lady
- Come, come, my lady
- You're my butterfly
- Shifty and Epic: Sugar, baby
Todd (VO): Crazy Town were hardly the first hard rock to discover they could get pop success with a love ballad; they were just the only ones who came from nu metal. I mean, it's...
Todd: ...such a hair metal move.
- Clip of Poison - "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"
Todd (VO): But with nu metal, the dynamic was so different. Love songs were where hair bands brought it down a notch, dimmed the lights.
Whereas "Butterfly" is one of the happiest, most upbeat nu metal songs in existence. You know, "come, my lady. Come, come, my lady."
- Shifty and Epic: You make me go crazy
Todd (VO): Spin Magazine called it the sappiest love song since LL Cool J's "I Need Love," and apparently, KROQ in LA made fun of them constantly for their repeated use of the word "lady," which they thought was a little too Lionel Richie, I guess.
Todd: Honestly, I'm fine with that. What gets me is all the bad-boy, macho posturing it came with.
- Shifty: My lifestyle's wild I was living like a wild child
Todd: I'm a badass in love, girl.
- Shifty: Such a sexy, sexy pretty little thing
- Fierce nipple pierce, you got me sprung with your tongue ring
Todd (VO): Now, this is a highly lame song. Again, it's called "Butterfly." But even though it's easy to make fun of, I'm not sure I can say I dislike it. Matter of fact, honestly, I think I like it quite a bit. Like, even as doofusy as it is. Like, somehow, the worse it gets, the more charming it is, even though the lines are just utterly cringe-worthy.
- Epic: Hey sugar mama, come and dance with me
- The smartest thing you ever did was take a chance with me
- Whatever tickles your fancy
- Girl, it's me and you like Sid and Nancy
Todd: That lyric got so much shit back in the day.
- Footage of Sid Vicious in concert and news footage
Todd (VO): Yeah, if you don't know, Sid Vicious was the spectacularly untalented replacement bass player for the Sex Pistols, Nancy was his addict sponge of a girlfriend, and Sid probably murdered her in a drug-induced stupor shortly before ODing.
So, yeah, most people probably wouldn't find that romantic. Like,...
Todd: ...why couldn't they have picked a more traditional symbol of love, like Romeo and Juliet?
- Clip from Romeo + Juliet, with Juliet (Claire Danes) shooting herself in the head
Yeah, I'm actually fine with the Sid and Nancy reference.
- Poster of Sid & Nancy
Todd (VO): I saw the movie, it's one of the most romantic movies ever made, if you ask me. I totally buy that they were the punk rock version of true love.
Todd: Quite honestly, I'm much more bothered by "tickles your fancy."
- Epic: Whatever tickles your fancy
Todd: [haughtily] Whatever tickles your fancy, dearest. Who talks like that?
Todd (VO): But yeah, I'm a sucker for a pretty guitar line and a good hook. Say what you want about "Butterfly"; it is unique. We never had another song that sounded like this. As embarrassing as it is, I give this song a thumbs-up, if for simple novelty, if nothing else. But while Crazy Town...
Todd: ...were undoubtedly happy to be finally catching on, how in the world could they build on it?
The failed follow-up
Todd: Okay, so...
- Clip from Top of the Pops
Todd (VO): ...you're a metal band who just had their first hit with a sappy love song that's totally not characteristic of your sound. How do you edge back into your normal mode without alienating your new fan base. Well,...
Todd: ...as you can tell by the title of this segment (The failed follow-up), you don't. But I think Crazy Town actually gave it a fair shot.
- Shifty and Epic: Now Ladies come, ladies go
- Out my revolving door
- Some ladies never come back,
- Most come back for more.
- I’ve got a house in the hills
- With a door that spins.
- Goes in and out,
- Out and in,
- 'Round and 'round again.
Todd (VO): If any song could have transitioned them from their first hit to sustained success, it was probably this one, "Revolving Door." Like, you go from being romantic with a girl to bragging about girls, and then maybe you move back into the hardcore stuff again. And while they don't have the Chili Peppers sample anymore, they do have a guitar intro that sounds like the riff to "Under the Bridge" played backwards. It's like the replacement for Sublime we all wanted and never got.
Todd: So why didn't this hit big?
- Shifty: Highly advanced and got the game
- To get in any girl’s pants.
- And romance her stone
- 'Cause I more than hold my own
- They call me Shifty Capone
- I make them moan
Todd: Oh, right, Crazy Town sucks.
- Shifty: Ain’t no need for me to brag
- About the way that I’m hung.
Todd (VO): Okay, but that was the first album. After that taste of success, they knew exactly who they were and what they wanted to do, and they were going to bring it to the masses.
Todd: Yes, sir, 2001 would be the year that the music world was dominated by a heavily tattooed nu metal band from California with a DJ and two vocalists.
- Clip of Linkin Park - "One Step Closer"
- Chester Bennington: Everything you say to me
- Mike Shinoda: Takes me one step closer...
Todd (VO): Yes, as you may recall, Linkin Park's debut album Hybrid Theory went, like, 300 times Platinum that year, and Crazy Town definitely noticed.
Todd: Like I said, they knew who they wanted to be—[alternate album cover] them.
- Video for "Drowning"
- Shifty: Pass the glass pint, hit the flashlight, now break it.
- People say I’m a star but I still think I'll never make it.
- Epic: And I'm thinkin', just another prayer, not a second left.
Todd (VO): This song is called "Drowning." Yeah, "Drowning." I'm surprised they didn't go whole-hog and make the chorus go...
Todd: [to tune of Linkin Park's "Crawling"] Drowning in my flesh
These cuts don't appear to be mending
Todd (VO): I've listened to their second album, and it's so much angstier than their debut, and also so much worse.
- Clip of "Hurt You So Bad"
And naturally, it tanked. I have to imagine because A., they just weren't good enough writers to tap into Linkin Park's level of angst and pain; and 2., their big hit was still "Butterfly."
Todd: No one was surprised when Crazy Town broke up a year later. How can you go to being a serious metal band after releasing something called "Butterfly"?
- Clip from The Simpsons - "'Round Springfield"
- Seymour Skinner: I didn't burn down the school; it was the butterfly, I tell you! The butterfly!
- [Bart, as a butterfly, cackles with a can of gasoline overhead]
Did they ever do anything else?
Todd: Yes. Drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.
- Video for Paul Oakenfold ft. Shifty Shellshock - "Starry Eyed Surprise
Todd (VO): Actually, you may remember Shifty Shellshock from his appearance on that Paul Oakenfold song from that Diet Coke commercial.
- Shifty: Oh my, starry eyed surprise
- Sundown to sunrise
- Dance all night
- We gonna dance all night
- Dance all night to this DJ
Todd (VO): Now this was actually a minor hit, unlike all of Crazy Town's other singles, probably because it's all, you know, happiness and California sunshine. If you ask me, Crazy Town's biggest error is that they didn't embrace their pop side.
Todd: Like, Sugar Ray [clips of "RPM," "Fly," and "When It's Over"] was a similarly terrible metal band, and they got a fluke pop hit, remade themselves in that image, and became hugely successful staples of beach parties and Christian youth group hangouts. I don't usually advocate selling out and trying to recycle past successes, but in Crazy Town's case, it was probably worth a shot.
- Clip of "Slide Along Side"
Todd (VO): After that, you probably don't know anything about them, unless you saw Shifty on [clips from...] Celebrity Rehab, Celebrity Rehab 2, Sober House, and my...
Todd: ...favorite VH1 reality show, [MTV News article: "Shifty Shellshock In A Coma] Possibly Drug-Induced Coma.
- Clip from Sober House
Todd (VO): Yeah, this seemed like a pretty doomed band for a while, but apparently, in the last couple years, Shifty has been on the road to recovery, [clip of "Born to Raise Hell"] him and Epic got back together, and Crazy Town actually reunited just a short time ago. They even released their long-delayed third album in August.
Todd: They sound like they're in a better place now.
- Shifty: Drop the ceiling, pop a pill in to stop this feelin'
- I swear to god I almost pulled a Robin Williams
Todd: Oh, screw you!
Todd (VO): What the hell is wrong with you?! Why do you keep desecrating the graves of recently deceased, beloved celebrities?!
Todd: Oh, booooo!
Did they deserve better?
Todd: [imitating DJ] N-n-n-n-n-no!
Todd (VO): Unfortunately, exploring further Crazy Town records revealed exactly what I expected—a really lousy metal band who had one hit that sounded absolutely nothing like anything else they ever released. Yeah, "Butterfly" is one of those bad songs I can totally get behind. Considering what happened to Crazy Town, it's not surprising that no other band ever tried to repeat their success, but I wish they had. Can you honestly say we didn't need more of this more than we needed more POD?
Todd: Yeah, so that's my verdict. Crazy Town was mostly bad, but "Butterfly" is still awesomely bad. [Gets up and leaves singing] Come, my lady. Come, come, my lady
- Video ends
Closing tag song: Richard Cheese - "Butterfly"
"Butterfly" is owned by Columbia Records
This video is owned by me