Trivia: They Might Be Giants

The Band

  • Black Sheep Hit: Thoroughly averted. The band's biggest mainstream hits ("Birdhouse in your Soul", "Istanbul" (from Flood), "Boss of Me") remain fan favorites.
  • Defictionalization: Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch. They also sold blue nightlights as promotional material for Flood, but they didn't really look like canaries.
  • Fan Nickname: Fans tend to capitalize "They" when the pronoun is used in reference to the band.
  • Hollywood New England: Both Johns are originally from outside of Boston, so they both will slip into the accent on occasion in songs. Linnell most blatantly does it in "A Self Called Nowhere," and also in "Wicked Little Critta."
  • Name's the Same: The band has done two different songs with the name "She Was A Hotel Detective" that have nothing to do with each other except the title and being TMBG songs. The version on the first album is "(She Was A) Hotel Detective" and the version on the Back To Skull EP is "She Was A Hotel Detective" (note the lack of parentheses). They also did a third song with a callback title, "She Was A Hotel Detective In The Future."
  • No Hit Wonder: Never hit the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, though they scored hits in the UK and Australia
    • They also didn't have a Top 40 album until Join Us in 2011, 25 years after their debut album.
  • Old Shame:
    • They don't believe the album version of "She's Actual Size" stands up so well anymore, especially compared to the live versions they've performed since then.
    • The music video for "Rabid Child," which was never shown publicly (outside of a brief clip) and the Johns won't even discuss. No one is exactly sure why, as it seemingly consists of little more than Flans lip-synching the song while standing in his apartment.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: An attempt to politely avert it. As they were coming up on the end of filming the documentary Gigantic: A Take of Two Johns one of the last scenes was a show for their new album, "Mink Car", which was at 11:30pm on September 10th, 2001 in New York City. On the DVD Commentary they say they had a rough time figuring out what to do - 9/11 wasn't important to the story so to mention it would be "cashing in" on it, but to not mention it when it affected the lives of those presentnote  would also be rude. A compromise was made to simply have a Title Card listing the date, letting astute viewers make the connection, but leaving 9/11 intentionally Out of Focus.
  • Sampled Up: The saxophone hook in "Number Three" is a loop taken from Lou Monte's "Skinny Lena." The band found it on a record they discovered while cleaning out an abandoned apartment.
  • Science Marches On: Scientists used to think that the sun was a mass of incandescent gas (as in "Why Does the Sun Shine?"), but now scientists believe that it's better described as a miasma of incandescent plasma. So just to be safe, TMBG wrote another song, called "Why Does the Sun Really Shine?"
  • Shrug of God: Related to Epileptic Trees above, the band doesn't often confirm or deny theories about a given song.
    • An example: when asked what their first single "Don't Let's Start" was about, they responded that it was "about not let's starting"...
  • So My Kids Can Watch: Their four children's albums, No!, Here Come The ABCs, Here Come The 123s, & Here Comes Science.. Then subverted when the puppets made for the latter two were then used for a video of their cover of "The Long Grift" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
    • The puppets have, in the past, also been used for a very child-unfriendly song in a few live performances. The title? "Puppet's Gonna Fuck You Up".
    • They've now released a fourth, Here Comes Science. The band is now at a steady clip of alternating regular albums and children's albums.
    • There's an EP that goes with the book Bed Bed Bed, too. Four tracks, the title one later reworked for No!
    • A couple of the songs also have this going on. The version of "Four Of Two" that you hear on No! is much more child-friendly than the original.
  • The Wiki Rule: This Might Be A Wiki. It's been approvingly (though a bit backhandedly) cited by both Flansburgh and Linnell (who referred to it in an interview as "the site that tracks all our crap").
  • What Could Have Been:
    • They had a new song (Details are currently unknown) created for use in Recess: School's Out to play while T.J. rode his bike alone after his friends left for camp. The song was replaced with "One" by Three Dog Night for the final film.
    • They Might Be Giants originally wrote an entire movie's worth of songs for the film version of Coraline. Only the Other Father's Song made the final cut. The director blamed Executive Meddling (although one planned song was never even written because the Johns decided the joke song the writers came up with for the scratch track was good enough), and he's expressed a desire to work again with the band to do a movie based on their music. They released the song "Careful What You Pack" over a year prior to the movie's release. What originally sounded like a metaphorical song about cautiously moving on in life turned out to be a direct summary of the movie/book's underlying themes.
    • Joe Strummer was supposed to sing the bridge of "Cyclops Rock", but he was unavailable for some reason, so the band instead settled on Cerys Matthews, singer for Welsh indie band Catatonia because she just so happened to be in the same studio at the time.
    • Elvis Costello was apparently supposed to produce Apollo 18 at an early stage.
    • Four songs, titled "Dawn Divine", "Stalker In Reverse", "Prepare", and "Lucky You", were recorded for Nanobots, but scrapped before the album's release. Little about these songs is known, except that Dawn Divine was to feature Mike Doughty. Of course, knowing TMBG, there's still a good chance they'll be released someday...

The Film