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Who are They Might be Giants?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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They Might Be Giants is an alternative rock band known for its humorous and nonsensical lyrics. Initially comprised of two men, John Flansburgh and John Linnell, the group also frequently features guest collaborators. Although the have an extensive history and cult following in the alternative genre, They Might Be Giants has recently found an additional audience in young people, with the release of two children’s albums.

John and John, or the two Johns, as they are sometimes called, have performed as They Might Be Giants almost continuously since 1981. They met in junior high school in Massachusetts, and reunited post-college to form a band. Their shows were characterized early on by a love of silliness, and they often performed wearing ridiculous hats. By 1986, they signed with record label Bar/None Records, and began breaking into the United States record charts with their second label-released album, Lincoln.

In 1989, the band scored one of its biggest hits with the release of Flood, an album that was later certified gold by US record standards. Two of their songs from the album, “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” and “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” became both chart hits and iconic songs of the band and the decade. Chances are, if you meet a They Might Be Giants fan, Flood will be the album that brought them to the band. The record marked a switch to a new label, Elektra Records.

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Throughout the 1990s, the band released several additional albums, evolving their style to include other musicians. They composed and performed several pieces for film and television scores, including performing the theme song for the popular cable show, The Daily Show. They Might Be Giants garnered further recognition for their song “Boss of Me,” which became the theme song to the television program Malcolm in the Middle.

In 2002, They Might Be Giants began releasing music for family audiences. While their prior releases had not been particularly inappropriate, 2002’s No! was directed specifically at children. With dreamy ballads like “Where do they Make Balloons,” and kid-anthems like “Bed, Bed, Bed,” the album captivated a new generation. This album was thematically followed by Here Come the ABCs, a 2005 release honoring the letters of the alphabet.

Throughout their career, They Might Be Giants has remained an eclectic and whimsical voice in the music industry. Their versatility has constantly brought them a fresh audience, while keeping longtime fans entertained. With their bouncy melodies, cheerful lyrics and irrepressible creativity, They Might Be Giants will likely continue their long career for many more years, to the delight of their fans and the continual gentle mocking of the mainstream music industry.

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