I Am Battle Dancing Unicorns With Glitter

EngineofaMillionPlotsFor those of you unfamiliar with Five Iron Frenzy, do yourself a favor and pick up their latest album, “Engine of a Million Plots”. It is an awesome record and I will think more highly of you for owning it.

I’d like to talk about the eighth track for a moment. Indulge me.

The title is “Battle Dancing Unicorns With Glitter” and these are the lyrics:

Shut your face /  high school jerks /  We’re about to show you how this works
Are we cool? /  Laser beams /  We’re about to awesome all your dreams
And you’ll say, “What are you, some kind of computer?”
and we’ll say, “A cyborg pimp from the future.”
And I’m going def for sheezy /  I’m feeling a bit uneasy.

Let’s get this straight: /  oh yeah, we are the champions
We’ll be battle dancing unicorns /  oh yes /  Battle dancing unicorns
It’s not too late /  you could gamble on the heavy hitters
while we’re battle dancing unicorns /  with glitter

Twelve-o-clock? /  Party rock /  We’re hip- hoppin’ and we can’t quite stop
Aggro hair /  Grizzly Bear /  Bet you’ve never met a thousand-aire
Then you’ll say, “Whatever, I think you’re moronic.”
And we’ll say, “Not really, we’re only bionic.”
And you’re still in high school /  but have to acknowledge
that we are professors at Robot Spy College.

To be what I just can’t /  impale myself upon the horns
I’m fighting just to be relevant /  I’ll battle dance some unicorns

I’m battle dancing unicorns /  with glitter.

I love this song. It is everything I’ve come to expect from Five Iron Frenzy. It is clever, sarcastic, and steeped in emotion.

To give you some background about the band and this album in particular, Five Iron Frenzy, or FIF, rode into popularity (at least in Christian circles) on a (short-lived)wave of ska enthusiasm in the late 1990’s. With passionate messages dipped in acerbic wit, they’re songs inspired a dedicated fan base that stayed loyal, even when the band disbanded in 2003.

Then in 2011, a miracle happened. When a countdown to a new website design was misinterpreted as a countdown to a band reunion, the former members of FIF began to discuss seriously the possibility of a comeback tour. And when they launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 in order to record a new album, their fans met that goal within the first hour of launching and raised over $200,000 by the end of the 30-day campaign. Thus was the new album born.

In “Battle Dancing Unicorns With Glitter”, we get to see the deep-seated insecurities of a band whose popularity is somewhat anachronistic. Is it possible for a band whose heyday was a decade ago to be relevant to its original target audience of high schoolers? In an age where fads pass faster than ever, FIF decides to give it a try, even if they get impaled.

Perhaps the reason this song speaks to me so strongly is because of my interest in writing Young Adult Fiction. Can I be relevant to kids whose language I struggle to understand (for sheezy?), much less speak? The only thing I can do is what Five Iron Frenzy did. Try.

I’ll just ignore the fact that there is no pent-up demand for the release of any books from me in the same way that there was a demand from FIF’s loyal fans. Because some times you just need to bluff it until you make it, right? I mean, am I cool enough to write in the first place?

“Laser beams.”

I am a former ska band member.

Remember ska?

It was the late 90’s. Groups like the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, and No Doubt ruled the airwaves. That is, unless you were a God-fearing Christian, and then you listened to The O.C. Supertones, Five Iron Frenzy, and if you went in for them, the Insyderz.

I was sold out for ska.

This may have been due to my background interest in jazz, big band, and swing music. It may have been because this was the popular music when I was at my most impressionable age. Or it may have been because I saw the possibility of people simultaneously playing trombone AND being cool.

I was band geek in high school. King of the band geeks, actually. Voted “Most Musical” in my senior yearbook (along with “Class Kiss Up”, but we don’t need to talk about that now), recipient of the John Phillips Sousa Award, and member of the Jazz Band on Bass Trombone, the Symphonic Band on Baritone, and the Freshmen Band (as a senior, mind you) on Tenor Sax. Also, I sang in the Honors Choir. So, my senior year was dominated by music classes.

And as if I didn’t get enough music during the day, I was also in the school musicals.

But I digress. All of those accomplishments happened in my senior year of high school. It was while I was a sophomore that I was in the ska band.

Our band’s name was the Kung Foo Chickens and a Guy Named Fred. We didn’t really have a guy named Fred, and I would have been surprised if anyone in the band knew any form of martial arts. Mainly, we just thought it was a cool name for a ska band. Also, we liked the idea of our band logo including a Karate Kid version of Colonel Sanders (Kung Foo Chickens = KFC) in what would surely have been blatant copy-write infringement.

The Kung Foo Chickens had very few original songs. We were mostly a cover/praise band. We did a few songs by the Supertones, a few by Five Iron Frenzy, and a few ska-versions of praise songs. Mostly, we had a good time.

But those good times were short-lived.

After our first official gig at church all-nighter, our band disbanded. Or rather, they morphed into a rock band, leaving the horn section that defines the ska band behind.

Was I hurt? I don’t remember. Probably. But it wouldn’t have been because I was convinced that our band could have made it in the arena of ska. It would have been because I hate rejection, and the fact I chose the wrong instrument to play seems an arbitrary reason to be ousted from a group. Anyway, I’m mostly over it now.

Also, ska is coming back. I heard the other day that No Doubt is getting back together. And Five Iron Frenzy recently broke all kinds of records on Kickstarter for having the fastest and most funded money drive ever.

Perhaps it isn’t too late for a resurrection of Kung Foo Chickens. Or maybe some better-named ska band.

Anyone in need of a rusty trombone player?