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Make a little birdhouse in your soul

"Why is the world in love again?
Why are we marching hand-in-hand?
Why are the ocean levels rising up?
It's a brand new record for 1990
They Might Be Giants' brand new album: Flood!"
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Flood is the third studio album by They Might Be Giants, released in 1990 by Elektra Records, marking the band's major-label debut. It was their most commercially successful album, thanks to the cult hit singles "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)". It remains considered one of the band's best, and many people pointed it as their gateway to the band.

Tracklist

  1. "Theme from Flood" (0:28)
  2. "Birdhouse in Your Soul" (3:20)
  3. "Lucky Ball & Chain" (2:46)
  4. "Istanbul (Not Constaninople)" (2:38)
  5. "Dead" (2:58)
  6. "Your Racist Friend" (2:54)
  7. "Particle Man" (1:59)
  8. "Twisting" (1:56)
  9. "We Want a Rock" (2:47) note 
  10. "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair" (2:23)
  11. "Hearing Aid" (3:26)
  12. "Minimum Wage" (0:47)
  13. "Letterbox" (1:25)
  14. "Whistling in the Dark" (3:25)
  15. "Hot Cha" (1:34)
  16. "Women & Men" (1:46)
  17. "Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love" (1:26)
  18. "They Might Be Giants" (2:46)
  19. "Road Movie to Berlin" (2:22)
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Someone Keeps Troping My Chair

  • Album Title Drop / Album Intro Track: "Theme from Flood"
    It's a brand new record for 1990
    They Might Be Giants' brand new album "Flood"!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Mr. Horrible of "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair" undergoes many humiliations, starting with — presumably — his nickname and also including things being spilled on his brain and a "visiting friend" being killed. Still, the only thing he thinks to complain about is the inconvenience in the song title.
  • Be Yourself: Subverted in "Whistling in the Dark", which is what the narrator says he is doing when he is being himself. However, "whistling in the dark" often means "speaking of something despite having little knowledge of it", which means that when the narrator is being himself, he has no idea what he is supposed to be doing. This could lead the listener to assume that the meaning of the song is that we often actually do need other people telling us what to do.
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  • Berserk Button: "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair": Whatever you do, don't move his chair!
  • Bluebird of Happiness: "Birdhouse in Your Soul", by John Linnell, includes the phrase "blue bird of friendliness".
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: From "Theme from Flood":
    Why is the world in love again?
    Why are we marching hand in hand?
    Why are the ocean levels rising up?
  • Cover Version: "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", a cover of the 1953 Four Lads song. (TMBG made a point of not listening to the original again until after they recorded their own arrangement.)
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover is in green and white except for the Flood logo, having been taken from a Great Depression-era photo.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Particle Man"
    Particle Man, Particle Man
    Doing the things a particle can
  • Drowning My Sorrows: In "Lucky Ball and Chain"
    Now I rock the barstool and I drink for two
    Just pondering this time-bomb in my mind
  • Extreme Doormat: Mr. Horrible in "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair", who keeps having bad things done to him by the narrator and his Ugliness Men, yet Horrible's only complaint is the song's title.
  • Guttural Growler: Linnell greatly deepens his voice for "Whistling in the Dark".
  • Hypocritical Humor: The video for "Birdhouse In Your Soul" features marching protesters holding signs that say STOP ROCK VIDEO.
  • "I Want" Song: "We Want a Rock".
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): One of the band's well-known songs.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: The titular character in "Your Racist Friend" is implied to have used this when he gives a backhanded apology for his behavior.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The harsh guitar solo that closes out "Hearing Aid".
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Minimum Wage" is just the title, a "hyah!" shout, and a whip crack. The rest of the song is instrumental.
  • Mind Screw: "Birdhouse in Your Soul"
    I'm your only friend
    I'm not your only friend, but I'm a little glowing friend
    But really, I'm not actually your friend, but I am
  • Miniscule Rocking: Many tracks are less than two or three minutes long. "Birdhouse In Your Soul," "Hearing Aid," and "Whistling in the Dark" are the only songs longer than three minutes. "Theme From Flood" and "Minimum Wage" are less than a minute long, while "Twisting" is almost two minutes.
  • Motor Mouth: "Letterbox"
  • One-Man Song: "Particle Man".
  • One-Word Title: "Dead", "Twisting", "Letterbox".
  • Patter Song: The lyrics of "Letterbox" go by so fast that it's difficult to discern them without a lyric sheet by your side.
  • The Power of Love: "Birdhouse in Your Soul"
    Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet
  • Properly Paranoid: "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair".
  • Protest Song: "Your Racist Friend" was their first fairly direct example.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Song: "Your Racist Friend"
    This is where the party ends
    I can't sit here listening to you and your racist friend
  • Reincarnation: "Dead", about a man dying and reincarnating as a grocery bag.
  • Refrain from Assuming: ... that Istanbul is still called Constantinople.
  • Runaway Bride: "Lucky Ball and Chain" is about a guy reminiscing about his relationship with his fiancee after she left him at the altar.
  • Serious Business: In "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair":
    You have to try on these pants so the Ugliness Men
    Can decide if they're just as embarrassing as we think
    We have to be sure about this.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Flood logo on the front cover is a nod to the logo of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union that most film crews belong to, with the logo most always displayed prominently at the end of closing credit rolls. The idea was to convey that this album was more "cinematic" in scope than earlier TMBG albums.
    • "Birdhouse In Your Soul" refers to the Greek Mythology tale Jason and the Argonauts.
      Though I respect that a lot
      I'd be fired if that were my job
      After killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts
    • As different as the songs sound, "We Want a Rock" takes both its title and theme from Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock".
    • "Lucky Ball and Chain" references Darlene Love's "(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Going to Marry."
    • "Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love" takes its title from a very short 1973 Mahavishnu Orchestra song. Lyrically, it sounds like a shout out to Green Lantern; Hal Jordan's girlfriend, Carol Ferris, has a tendency to become Star Sapphire, whose powers are fueled by love, when she feels scorned by him, and, while John could be referring to the two bandmates, it could also be Hal's partner, John Stewart.
      John, I've been bad, and they're coming after me
      Done someone wrong, and I fear that it was me
    • The music of "Minimum Wage" is borrowed from a Frank Sinatra cover of Petula Clark's "Downtown".
  • Singer Name Drop:
    • "Theme From Flood"
      It's a brand new record for 1990
      They Might Be Giants' brand new album "Flood"!
    • "They Might Be Giants"
      We can't be silent
      'Cause they might be giants
      And what're we gonna do, unless they are?
  • Stop and Go: "Road Movie To Berlin" has several sudden interruptions before they continue the song again.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Birdhouse In Your Soul" does this in the second bridge before reverting back to its original key for the following verse.
  • The Walrus Was Paul: "Particle Man" seems like a very cryptic song, and it isn't clear who the four "men" are supposed to represent, if anyone. John Flansburgh described it as "just a song about characters in the most obvious sense" and claims that the lyrics are not intended to invoke real people, though Linnell later said that Triangle Man was based on a friend's observation that Robert Mitchum looked like an evil triangle when he took his shirt off in Night Of The Hunter.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: "Particle Man".
    Who came up with Person Man?
  • With Friends Like These...: "Your Racist Friend".

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