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They Might Be Giants

This Brooklyn-based duo, comprising John Flansburgh and John Linnell, gave a refreshing new twist to pop music. Their lyrics – which were usually funny and offbeat – were accompanied by Flansburgh’s guitar and Linnell’s accordion, giving their songs a truly unique sound.

The two Johns grew up in Lincoln, Massachusetts, but parted company after high school – Flansburgh to study art and Linnell to pursue music. Several years later, in a remarkable coincidence, they both moved to Brooklyn, New York – to the same apartment building on the same day.

The duo released their nineteen-track self-titled debut album in 1986, which became a college radio hit. The video for Don’t Let’s Start, filmed in the New York State Pavilion built for the 1964 New York World’s Fair in Queens, also became a hit on MTV, earning them a broader following.

Lincoln (1989) was every bit as quirky and eccentric as its predecessor, and contained the stand-out tracks Ana Ng and Kiss Me, Son of God.

Best known in the UK for Birdhouse In Your Soul – from their major label debut, Flood (1990) – and more recently Boss Of Me (2001) –  the theme tune from the magnificent TV show Malcolm In The Middle – much of what they were singing about remains unclear (Doctor Worm? Cyclops Rock?).

Full of puns, wisecracks and thesaurus-dependent lyrics, They Might Be Giants’s music was always entertaining. Quite obviously a big influence on Toronto band, Barenaked Ladies.

John Flansburgh
Vocals, guitar
John Linnell
Vocals, accordion