Starbomb: Player Select
Comedy rock, Synthpop, Nerdcore Hip Hop
On the surface, Starbomb is definitely a strange amalgamation of talent. The band consists of a semi-popular YouTube band Ninja Sex Party (who themselves are made up of Danny “Sexbang” Avidan, and Brian “Ninja Brian” Wecht), and long-time animator Arin Hanson (who most often goes by the online moniker egoraptor). The trio come together once again for an album that features the same smooth tones of Avidan’s voice, the deep, raw rapping of Hanson, and jokes of questionable maturity. This time around however, the group really seemed to hit their stride with 12 mostly-enjoyable tracks. Although there are some rough patches, the majority of Starbomb’s second album, titled Player Select, feels like a more polished and mature venture compared to their self-titled debut record just last year.
While – spoiler alert – I mostly liked this album, it certainly didn’t start off with the best song. “Smash” features another YouTuber/not-a-professional-singer Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach, who did a decent enough job mimicking the announcer from Super Smash Bros Wii U, but it really doesn’t add a whole lot to the song. The middle of the song gets pretty muddled to the point that Danny’s lyrics become inaudible, and it really takes away from the jokes at times. “Smash” feels very much like an intro song – it reiterates a lot of themes and jokes from the previous album and does not come off as much more than a primer for the rest of the tracks.
3. “Robots in Need of Disguise”
The second track featured on Player Select is definitely funnier, but suffers a lot of the same mixing issues that have always plauged the band. Also similar to “Smash”, Danny’s singing gets oddly drowned out by both his own mixed background lyrics, and the in-your-face keyboard riffs. I also for whatever reason can’t stand Arin’s impersonation of Optimus Prime. This song does however feature a pretty great premise. Essentially, it’s about the Transformers not being to able to be in disguise because their disguises are too obvious to anyone who has seen the popular show, so they resort to being other things like a “mall kiosk” and other inane objects. Not a song that will have you in stitches by any means, but it’s a simple little premise that should draw a smile or two out of Transformer fans.
4. “The Hero of Rhyme”
One my favorite songs on the album, “The Hero of Rhyme” features a familiar smooth-rapping Link character from “It’s Dangerous To Go Alone” featured on Starbomb’s first album. In this song, instead of mistakenly grabbing an old man’s nether regions, Link mistakes being named the “Hero of Time” as being the “Hero of Rhyme.” This of course leads to him rapping instead of saving Hyrule when Ganon attacks. It’s an obvious throwback and full of references to “It’s Dangerous To Go Alone”, both in jokes and music style, but it does enough to differentiate itself that it makes it one of my favorite tracks on Player Select.
5. “Toad Joins the Band”
Player Select‘s first mini-skit to break up the songs is kind of a dud. Toad Joins the Band feels most like a reason for Arin to show off his screeching Toad impression that he does in YouTube videos and during his popular Game Grumps episodes. No real jokes, just the observation that “hey isn’t this voice annoying?” Luckily short and easily skippable.
6. “The New Pokerap”
Since announcing they would be producing a second album, Starbomb has stated their design to get away from “dick jokes” and general toilet humor. “The New Pokerap” is a bit of a relapse in the album, but it still works pretty well. Basically, the song is a twist on the old Pokerap that played sometimes during airings of the cartoon based on the Pokemon games. It’s not much more than Arin rapping random words that sort of work within the timing of the original rap. Definitely right back to schoolyard dick jokes, but I liked it well enough. If you’re on the fence about Starbomb and its brand of humor, this will definitely not be the song for you – it’s all the “bad” parts of their humor to anyone that doesn’t fully enjoy it.
7. “Glass Joe’s Title Fight”
“Glass Joe’s Title Fight” is no doubt my favorite track on the album. Lyrically, it’s the song of an over-zealous Glass Joe (the worst fighter in the Punchout! series) thinking he can be the champion but simply getting his glass butt handed to him repeatedly. This song show off Starbomb at its best when the group manages to blend well-written jokes within the song. The lyrics flow well with the instrumentals, and it’s an insanely catchy song in general. Particularly when Danny, singing as Glass Joe, begins to get punched around and mumbling, it works so well within the song. Love it.
8. “Mortal Kombat High”
Next up is another song full of references to Starbomb’s debut album and another ho-hum tune. In general, the song sounds like “generic Starbomb/Ninja Sex Party,” with smooth rhymes and not much else. Maybe I’m just missing out not being a big Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter fan, but a lot of the jokes just fell completely flat. It’s very similar (and features the same character) to Rap Battle from the last album, which I enjoyed a lot more, but this one is just kind of a dud.
9. “Inky’s Lament”
Another great song, “Inky’s Lament” is set up like a stage show musical production featuring the ghosts from PAC-MAN. Mainly it’s Danny singing as Inky as he laments the fact that they live under the “tyrannical rule” of one dot-munching arcade menace. It’s a shame that this one is so short, because it’s full of some really great and subtle jokes – like references to the ghosts running from PAC-MAN but looping to the other side of the screen. Similar to “Glass Joe’s Title Fight”, this is a song that shows how well Starbomb can blend joke lyrics perfectly with a melody when they are on point.
10. “God of No More”
“God of No More” is pretty average as far as a typical Starbomb song goes. It features another Arin impersonation (this time of God of War’s Kratos) which is mostly just him doing a grumbly voice and not carrying much of a tune. Nothing stands out in the short two minute song as being terrible, but it’s definitely one of the albums most forgettable, and not all that funny.
11. “Atari Mystery Hour”
The second intermission track on Player Select, “Atari Mystery Hour”, is pretty great. It sounds like a noire radio show where Arin and Danny are investigating “The Pong Paddle Puzzle.” All 42 seconds of the track is a set up to them questioning a pong paddle and it responding with the single tone beep like it makes in Pong. Sounds weird on paper, but the simple one-hit joke works pretty well.
12. “Minecraft Is For Everyone”
What if the creeper from Minecraft went to anger management? This deep topic is the one addressed in “Minecraft Is For Everyone”, which features a great juxtaposition between the light-hearted Danny trying to calm down Arin and his creeper persona about to explode. One of the best melodies on the entire album, the song just exudes an upbeat feeling, then gets cut sharply with Arin’s yelling, and it works perfectly. It also features a very relevant cameo from a certain game developer (who just purchased a massive LA mansion).
13. “The Simple Plot of Metal Gear Solid”
This is an obvious direct sequel to “The Simple Plot of Final Fantasy 7” from Starbomb’s first album, but “The Simple Plot of Metal Gear Solid” is much more… solid. Instrumentals are all over the place, with a thumping baseline and a digital piano overtop of it, but all come together nicely. Also one of the better mixed songs that Starbomb has done, with none of the many tones getting in the way of Arin’s rapping about the convoluted plot of Metal Gear Solid. Even as someone who has never played the MGS series, the jokes were apparent enough, and flowed well.
Tracks 1 and 14 are both Intro and Outro monologues. Nothing really worth reviewing, just a note from the band to fans.