Sugar Ray are an Alternative Rock
band who had their biggest success in The Nineties
, and are mainly famous for, besides a string of fondly-remembered radio staples, making one of the biggest stylistic turnarounds in popular music, after the lite-pop ditty “Fly” became a chart smash.
The band first formed under the name of "Shrinky Dinks", but changed their name to Sugar Ray. They made their name fusing Hip Hop
and Hard Rock
, established with their 1995 debut Lemonade And Brownies,
produced by DJ Lethal. The album never really made much headway, but Atlantic Records gave them a second chance, on the condition that they hire a big name producer. The band immediately chose David Kahne, after hearing his work with Sublime
, and in 1997 they unleashed the Even Better Sequel
The album further developed their rock stylings, incorporating Punk Rock
, and also giving the world the immortal “Fly,” not only the band’s first hit, but a Billboard #1 hit at that. At the time, the song was the definitive Black Sheep Hit
, a light, breezy pop number and one of the few breathers on an album full of heavy rock, and so refreshing was the song at the time, it helped the album go double platinum.
Critics and fans immediately predicted the band as a One-Hit Wonder
, so responding to claims that their fifteen minutes of fame were up, the band spitefully named their 1999 album 14:59.
The album surprised people by almost completely dropping the heavy sound in favour of a more upbeat, Pop-influenced
sound. The move paid off handsomely as the album outsold its predecessor, and spawned the hits “Every Morning,” “Someday” and “Falls Apart.” Reestablished, the band continued in this vein for their Self-Titled Album
(2001) (which had the minor hit "When Its Over") and In The Pursuit Of Leisure
(2003), while still maintaining producer David Kahne.
In 2004, lead singer Mark McGrath got a job as an anchor on Extra,
and since then, they’ve only been able to put aside time for a 2005 compilation, The Best Of Sugar Ray,
the song "Into Yesterday" for the Surf's Up
soundtrack, and one new record, Music For Cougars,
in 2009. Meanwhile, Mark, alongside Everclear
singer Art Alexakis, were the nucleus for the Summerland Tour, a festival filled with 90s bands that had “at least had a big hit or two” such as Marcy Playground
, Gin Blossoms
and Lit. The two had Creative Differences
, however, and Mark spun off his own 90s revival tour called Under The Sun. In 2010, Mark started hosting Don't Forget The Lyrics
for a couple years.
Turntablist Craig "DJ Homicide" Bullock, bassist Murphy Karges and drummer Stan Frazier have all left the band since Music For Cougars
came out, leaving Mark McGrath and guitarist Rodney Sheppard as the lone original members of the band. Unfortunately, this has come with some legal issues.
Every morning there’s a trope list hanging from the corner of my girlfriend’s four-post bed…..
- Alternative Metal: For two albums.
- Book Ends: The two versions of "New Direction" on 14:59.
- Broken Record: "Personal Space Invader." "I don't care about the things you do, I don't care about the things you do..."
- The Cameo: Mark shows up in “If Google Was A Guy, Part 3” to ask if Sugar Ray is “ironically cool yet.”
- Car Song: "Mean Machine." "DON'T FUCK WITH IT!!!"
- Cover Song: Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra,” Adam Ant's "Stand And Deliver", and Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him.”
- Early-Installment Weirdness: It’s pretty weird now to think of Mark McGrath fronting an Alternative Metal band, but Sugar Ray in 1995 were just that. This is the same band that did "Someday."
- Fanservice Cover/Sexy Packaging: Lemonade And Brownies.◊ That’s actually Nicole Eggert, aka Summer Quinn from Baywatch.
- Genre Shift: Sugar Ray are a pretty opportunistic band, evidenced by the fact that when their Funk/Metal/Hip Hop hybrid never really got them anywhere, they jumped at the chance to reestablish themselves as the definitive summery pop outfit. It's nearly impossible to reconcile Music For Cougars as the same band that did Floored.
- Greatest Hits Album: Despite having their most impact as a singles band, there’s only one to date, simply titled The Best Of Sugar Ray.
- Hidden Depths: Mark McGrath regularly cleaned up on Rock And Roll Jeopardy, owing to his mountainous knowledge of pop history.
- I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Mark has since admitted that they got signed to Atlantic Records on a lie, which was that they had 40 songs. They had two, and hadn't even really found their sound yet.
- In fact, the way Mark describes the creative process behind Lemonade And Brownies, it sounds like it was essentially Indy Ploy: The Album. It's a wonder it turned out as cohesive as it did.
- I Just Like Saying The Word: “Danzig Needs A Hug.” They came up with the title before actually writing a song with that title, essentially because they found it hilarious.
- Love Nostalgia Song: "Someday."
- Lyrical Dissonance: "New Direction" parodies their original sound from four years ago, with a short mock-Death Metal song with lyrics like "Don't play ball in the house / Don't play with scissors / Be nice to cops". It fades out 40 seconds in, only to do a 180 with the breezy "Every Morning."
- Named After Someone Famous: Professional boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
- New Sound Album: 14:59 is a particularly polarizing example, abandoning almost everything they started with in Lemonade & Brownies. Their Self-Titled Album and In The Pursuit Of Leisure continued this trend. "Leisure" gave their sound into a more Caribbean feel
- The Nineties: The band was at the height of their musical career with Floored and 14:59 in 1997 and 1999.
- '90s Hair: Mark used to love sporting frosty tips.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Danzig Needs A Hug," "Dance Party USA," "RPM," "High Anxiety," "Invisible," "Burning Dog," "Disaster Piece."
- Sampling: The harmonizing on "Suavecito" by Malo is emulated on "Every Morning."
- Of all things, the final seconds of the famous "Miracle On Ice" hockey game from 1980 are sampled at the beginning of "Caboose."
- "Streaker" samples "Richie Dagger's Crime" by The Germs.
- Special Guest: "56 Hope Road" from In The Pursuit of Leisure features "Mr. Bombastic" Shaggy
- Speed Sex: Mark McGrath admits that he isn't the greatest in the sack, and one of the songs on Floored was inspired by it.
- Title by Number: 14:59, again.