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Music / Sugar Ray

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"Every morning there's a halo hangin from the corner of my girlfriend's four post bed,
I know it's not mine but I'll see if I can use it for the weekend or a one-night stand."
— "Every Morning"

Sugar Ray are a Alternative Metal / Nu Metal turned Pop Rock band who had their biggest success in The '90s, 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 and future director McG. 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 their more famous second album, Floored. The album further developed their rock stylings, incorporating Punk Rock, Funk and Reggae, and also giving the world the immortal "Fly,"note  not only the band's first hit, but a Billboard #1 airplay 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 15 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 It's 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.
  • Animated Music Video: One version of "When It's Over" was done for Cartoon Network.
  • 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!!!"
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The last song of Floored before the "Fly" version without Super Cat is called "Right Direction". Then the next album 14:59 start with the Metal intro "New Direction".
    • Pinballs also appeared a lot in Sugar Ray history. The cover of Floored it looks like a "Sugar Ray Pinball", and later in the music video of "Every Morning" of the next disc, a 90s jerk McGrath is seen playing (and mastering) one in the rollerdisco.
  • Cover Version: 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."
    • Furthermore, Mark McGrath doesn't sound the way he does on the more familiar surf rock/power pop songs. In the earlier metal songs (specifically on Floored), he sounds much angrier and doesn't so much sing the songs as much as angrily snarl them.
  • 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/Heavy 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 believe Music For Cougars came from the same band that did Floored.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Despite having their greatest 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.
  • Lighter and Softer: "Fly" compared to the rest of Floored. After that, 14:59 to Floored. And then after that, pretty much every album after.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The five-piece line-up with DJ Homicide, which lasted 15 years until he left in 2010.
  • 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. (although some songs still retained their previous sound) Their Self-Titled Album and In The Pursuit Of Leisure continued this trend and were even bigger departures from the band's original sound. "Leisure" gave their sound into a more Caribbean feel
  • The '90s: 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."
  • Rule of Three: "Fly" appears twice in Floored, the original version and one without Super Cat as the last track. Then, 14:59 also includes a rearranged version of "Fly" as the final track of the disc, too.
  • 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."
    • "Girls Girls Girls (Made To Love)" by Eddie Hodges is abundantly sampled on, well, "Girls Were Made To Love."
    • "Streaker" samples "Richie Dagger's Crime" by The Germs.
    • And finally, "Mean Machine" samples the "My pappy says 'Son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin'" line from "Hot Rod Lincoln" by Commander Cody.
  • Special Guest:
    • "56 Hope Road" from In The Pursuit of Leisure features "Mr. Bombastic" Shaggy.
    • Their biggest hit, "Fly", is a remix with Super Cat.
    • Mark McGrath becomes one making a duo in a song of Shania Twain.
  • Shout-Out: "Rivers", a B-Side that also appeared on the soundtrack album to Scream 2, is named after Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo - it was essentially their attempt at doing an original song In the Style of Weezer.
  • 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.
  • Translated Cover Version: "Someday" was translated into a Cantopop version by Hong Kong singer Hacken Lee.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: One of the few reggae examples, with Super Cat appearing on "Fly", although one version of the song doesn't have his "rap" verse.