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SpongeBob SquarePants: The Best Day Ever

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Best Day Ever

Label:Nick Records
Release Date:2006

By Geoffrey Himes | Posted 12/20/2006

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? And who has released the catchiest, bounciest, happiest pure-pop album of 2006?

No, really. If you're a fan of the rhythm-driven melodies, soaring harmonies, and air-quote-free optimism of '60s rock 'n' roll, and if you're a fan of the B groups (the Beatles, Beach Boys, Byrds, Beau Brummels, and Box Tops), this year's best example of the tradition comes from a yellow rectangle of absorbent cellulose. Or so it claims on the cover of SpongeBob's new album, The Best Day Ever. If you read the fine print, however, you'll find that the 13 songs were co-written by Andy Paley and Tom Kenny and produced by Paley.

Kenny is the former stand-up comic from HBO's Mr. Show who supplies SpongeBob's adenoidal boy tenor. Paley is the studio wizard who has coaxed terrific performances from such pop eccentrics as Brian Wilson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jonathan Richman, NRBQ, and Madonna. Wilson, who harmonizes with SpongeBob on "Doin' the Krabby Patty," is the key name, for Paley has approached The Best Day Ever as if he were making the best surf album in 40 years. He crafted the two best songs on the 2004 soundtrack for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. He recycles them for The Best Day Ever, adding 11 new songs, and lacing it all together with 13 skits about Bikini Bottom radio station WH2O. Like the skits on most hip-hop albums, these interludes quickly grow tiresome, and you will soon find yourself programming your CD machine to play only the even-numbered tracks.

Once you do, though, you'll hear the year's best ear candy. The title track has the sonic grandeur of those mid-'60s Beach Boys singles like "California Girls" and "The Little Girl I Once Knew," only, of course, with a nasally little kid's voice out front. Patrick, the dim-witted pink starfish, does his imitation of the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb" on "Under My Rock." On his Underground Garage radio show, Steve Van Zandt called SpongeBob's frat-rock gem "Ridin' the Hook" the "coolest song in the world," and he's probably right. As with the great Beach Boys singles, there's an undercurrent of sadness in these songs that gives them a certain poignancy. You have to wonder about someone who addresses his most romantic ballad to his underpants on "My Tighty Whiteys."

How do little kids respond to this record? I wouldn't know; there aren't any little kids in my house. You don't have to be a parent to enjoy the killer hooks and lush harmonies on this disc. All you need is the courage to ignore the raised eyebrows of your friends.

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