David Wu began producing his Fringemunks project back in 2008 shortly after the FOX science-fiction television series Fringe premiered on September 9, 2008. With the project still running in 2014, this might be one of the longest-running musical projects in the history of music. The project was originally intended as a joke not to be taken seriously and also originally intended to be a very minor project that would only span across an episode or two. The project soon became a series-long commitment, however, and Fringe fans such as myself couldn't be any happier about that, since the Fringemunks project has drastically enhanced my experience as a fan of the series. The project, inspired by Alvin and the Chipmunks, involves a song being released for each and every episode of Fringe (there are 100) that recaps the plot of the episode using a parody of at least one popular song. Most recently, Wu has completed his eighty-eighth Fringemunks song which recaps the Fringe episode “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” (3.19) (usually abbreviated to “LSD”), a song parody which is a medley of “Wouldn't It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys and “Say You Like Me” by We the Kings, an interesting medley of parodies because while “Wouldn't It Be Nice” is a very old song (originally released in 1966), “Say You Like Me” is much more recent (having been released in 2011), an interesting juxtaposition of time, which, of course, is fitting for a series like Fringe.
There are two factors that make this particular song parody by Wu's Fringemunks project significant. (1) The most recent (prior to this one) Fringemunks song parody was a parody of “Everything in Its Right Place” by Radiohead, which recapped the fourth season episode of the same title of Fringe; that was released on August 9, 2013, exactly 200 days ago. The span between that Fringemunks song and this Fringemunks song is quite possibly the longest span between two Fringemunks songs since the formation of the project in 2008. (2) This particular Fringemunks song was premiered today via radio on WRLR 98.3 FM Illinois, making it one of the very few Fringemunks song to receive radioplay. I am particularly excited by the latter fact because it suggests that even well over a year after the series finale of Fringe, there are still outlets in which Fringe maintains survival. I am quite sure that I have said this before, but I will say it again because it cannot be said enough times; I have been a part of many different fandoms, including LOST, Once Upon a Time, and so forth, and I have never known a more driven and passionate fandom than that of Fringe. It is ultimately because of us, the fandom, that Fringe continues to live; it is because of us that the series has found a home.
Wu's new parody begins with the dreamy opening of “Wouldn't It Be Nice” played on the piano but is not as upbeat as the Beach Boys' tune, mainly because Wu's production is quite stripped in comparison to the original song. It gives the listener an acoustic feel, which is something that I really like (and have always liked) about the Fringemunks. Not only does the project give Fringe fans the opportunity to experience Fringe in a much different way, it also gives them the opportunity to experience songs that they probably know in a much different way. My favorite Fringemunks song, for example, is the parody of “New Divide” by Linkin Park, which recaps the episode “A New Day in the Old Town” (the second season premiere). Instead of the electronic break that occurs in the original song, Wu uses a dramatic piano rendition of the Fringe theme, using that as an ongoing hook throughout the remainder of the song, and it is simply amazing, much preferable to the original version in my opinion. While the “Wouldn't It Be Nice” portion of the “LSD” recap probably doesn't veer away from the original Beach Boys tune that drastically, it definitely, as I said, gives listeners a slightly different feeling. What makes it a great choice for the “LSD” episode of Fringe is that it features a very joyous, playful, and colorful melody, very appropriate for an episode that is primarily animated.
Using the Beach Boys song to help recap the Fringe episode “LSD” has actually been Wu's plan for quite some time. Nearly three years ago, he sent me a forty-second snippet of the song, a very rough cut that is essentially the first verse of the full, fully produced song that exists now. In justification of using the classic tune, Wu says that “'Wouldn't It Be Nice' had a good opportunity for me to rhyme 'fervor' and 'Observer.'” Originally, the second part of the song was going to use “God Only Knows” (another Beach Boys song from Pet Sounds, the same album on which “Wouldn't It Be Nice” is found) instead of “Say You Like Me” by We the Kings, but Wu felt that since “God Only Knows” is so short (under three minutes), he would have found a lot of difficulty in using it to fuel approximately half of the episode's story, as he “would have had to cram a lot of details into few lines.” I have, admittedly, only heard the We the Kings song once, so I can't offer as much insight into that part of the song, but the original song has a very catchy, summery sound to it and is not too far of a jump from the Beach Boys song, so it was a wise decision for Wu to have made, especially because of his interesting justification: “...the 'Say You Like Me' storyline for the video also involves a quest to find a lost girl,” a storyline that parallels the storyline of the episode, which involves Peter and Walter entering Olivia's mind to find her consciousness and bring it to the forefront in exchange for that of William Bell.
I think that my favorite part of the song is during the We the Kings section of the medley, when Wu interrupts the song to include the “I lost her” scene from the episode, during which listeners can briefly hear Chris Tilton's tense and dramatic score. It is a great scene, and including it in the song surprisingly works very well in juxtaposition with the We the Kings song. Lyrically, however, my favorite part of the song is during the Beach Boys segment: We knew it would be tough to find Liv's ego/In her mind's projected world, where would we go? Wu agrees that lyrically, that is probably his favorite part of the song, as well, and lyrics such as this show that Wu is not only musically talented (if the Fringemunks project isn't enough to convince you of that, listen to his instrumental piano album Orbiter) but is also talented with word usage, able to creatively find ways of rhyming even within the constraints of recapping an episode of a television series. Although the “LSD” recap is not my favorite Fringemunks song to date (that has already been mentioned), it is definitely some of Wu's finest work. “The song was an interesting one to process on my end,” Wu comments on his newest Fringemunks parody. “I set up the arrangement to be in the same kind of 'oldies' theme that I used for the bulk of the Season 3 album... lots of harmonies and weird bits thrown in.” Those who enjoy the Fringemunks project still have much to which to look forward, since Wu still has twelve songs to complete in order to fully complete the project, but in the meantime, look out for the official “LSD” release tomorrow, Tuesday, February 25, 2014!