Nothing has quite captured the despair, mania and chaotic mental energy of Covid lockdowns like Bo Burnham: Inside – Bo’s latest Netflix comedy special.
A lot of comedians and artists have done their attempts at making lockdown album, programmes and films. But a lot of the time, these were made when staying at home and isolation still felt somewhat of a novelty. With Inside, Bo Burnham spent over a year filming, directing, writing music, singing and starring in what is essentially the Netflix equivalent of a one man theatre show. Nothing else has really captured the descent into mental despair and self reflection like Inside does.
The crux of the special is Bo’s whimsical and witty songwriting – these songs are what make Inside critically acclaimed. They’re a relic of the times we’ve lived through. A pandemic period piece.
So here they all are. The whole, brilliant soundtrack RANKED:
16. How The World Works
How The World Works is great, but it covers territory that many comedians and artists have used in sets a lot before. It’s well worn territory. But, like everything else on Inside, it’s still incredibly well done.
It’s framed as an educational song for kids, featuring Bo’s sock puppet toy Socko musing about the world and then unexpectedly going on a critical tirade about capitalism and the genocide that props up the history of America. It ends with Bo silencing Socko, and the symbolism doesn’t take a genius to figure out.
It’s all just a bit on the nose, and the style is something that’s been done for years online in work like Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.
15. Look Who’s Inside Again
Bo muses on how lockdown has got him working in the same way he was as a teenager in the origins of his career: writing and creating from a room in his house on his own.
It’s an introspective moment about how funny he really can be when his mental health is at an “all time low”. It’s poignant, but short.
14. Bezos I and II
Both mocking odes to Jeff Bezos in Inside are brilliant, and would be ranked higher if they were longer than the short, sharp annihilations that they are.
Bezos I is the wordier one, with some Jeff history and mocking how the CEO gets away with anything he wants to because he’s so powerful. Bezos II is essentially a sarcastic love song; with Bo belting out Jeff’s name with a bunch of sarcastic bellows of “you did it!!!”. It’s a hoot.
Goodbye is successful as a final song, but like a lot of final songs in shows, it’s filled with refrains and melodies used in songs throughout the show. Most of the best things in the song have already been covered.
It’s a great way to end, and a nice way to reflect on the special as a whole.
12. Don’t Wanna Know
The perfect way to kick off the second half of the special.
It’s basically Bo asking the audience directly about how they’ve felt about what they’ve watched so far, but not even wanting to know the answers. It’s his insecurities and innate need to please and get reassurance on full display.
A funky musing on depression and feeling worthless. It’s about the way you can stop taking care off yourself when you’re in a bad place mentally, and how it all gets on top of you in a way that makes your mental health even worse.
The contrast between the song content and the upbeat melody touches on how people can be so flippant with describing their feelings. Poor mental health is often used as a punchline, rather than being seriously addressed.
10. FaceTime With My Mom (Tonight)
Shot in vertical mode to reflect a FaceTime, Bo pays tribute to the long weekly calls you’d have catching up with relatives during lockdown.
It’s a relatable song that references parents’ bad grasp of technology and how something that used to potentially be a chore or something you couldn’t fit into your schedule is suddenly the height of social plans.
An existential song about the future of comedy in an increasingly bleak world, and Bo struggling to find the place for his work in that landscape. Is comedy over? Who’s going to be going for comedy in a time like this? And should we be making jokes at all?
In my opinion, there’s always a place and need for comedy. It’s cathartic, and human nature to make misery into laughter – whether that’s as a coping mechanism or otherwise. And Comedy nails that discussion dead on.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? It hits a bit close to home, this one.
I love the style of Sexting being sung like it’s some big Weeknd song. The dissecting of what sexy emojis could mean, the panic of having to actually show your cock when it looks like “the baby from Eraserhead”.
A fun, lighthearted moment that is sung so earnestly you’d think it was the sexiest song on earth.
Bo Burnham wanted Inside finished before he turned 30, and in this song he turns 30 at about the halfway mark. It’s weird hearing it happen through song.
The song has a coming of age film vibe about it that works really well, it’s the perfect end of act one moment for the show too. It has Bo reflecting on his childhood and future. Everything feels like it changes at 30, and I’m feeling it now at 25, watching people from school get married, have children and buy houses as I write about telly and move away to pay London rent prices.
“And now my stupid friends are having stupid children!” – I felt that.
6. Welcome To The Internet
A truly harrowing five minutes, that really sums up how the internet can go from mundane, bleak, funny and then to dark and terrifying within the time it takes to make three clicks of your mouse.
The internet is consumerist, begging for your interest and traffic at every corner. Quirky quizzes, feet pictures and methods to build a bomb. Dark stuff, delivered in a manic way that is pretty hypnotic. The climactic moment of Bo Burnham: Inside before its self-reflective final chapter.
“Could I interest you in everything all of the time????”
5. That Funny Feeling
Basically a long list of stuff Bo is feeling disillusioned with and things that annoy him about the human race. It’s a rare acoustic moment in the soundtrack, and it’s really effective.
The titular funny feeling is up for debate, but to me it’s discontent. “Carpool Karaoke, Steve Aoki, Logan Paul. A gift shop at the gun range, a shoot out at the mall.” It’s just another display of how good Bo Burnham is at flipping from the mundane to the horrifying during Inside.
“Robert’s been a little depressed!”
The perfect intro. It sets up everything wonderfully. The synths kicking in just let you know you’re in for a ride. It’s only short, but just does its job so well. It acts as a brief summary of how Bo’s been doing during lockdown before working on Inside, whilst setting up the work he’s going to do on it over the next year.
This might just be a me thing, but Bo Burnham referring to himself as Daddy in this song is the horniest thing I’ve ever heard xox
3. White Woman’s Instagram
Bo’s satire on every wannabe influencer’s hun culture Instagram feed. The visuals could not be more accurate.
It’s a great dissection of the social media landscape of the stereotypical white woman’s feed, and comments on how there’s a blissful ignorance and/or wilfully dismissive nature to the people who spend their time creating an idyllic feed that isn’t rooted in truth and ignores the stuff that’s going on in the world.
In its essence, this is Bo Burnham using Inside to portray his YouTuber apology, whilst also dissecting the culture of being cancelled and how people reflect on their past behaviours being problematic and offensive whilst being held accountable.
At the start of Bo’s career, his humour was rooted in content that would today be deemed offensive. This song is his way of processing bettering himself as a straight white male comedian who doesn’t want to wave off past behaviours as just “the way I was brought up” – all set to a workout video vibe. It’s great, and very interesting.
1. All Eyes On Me
It’s interesting that the best song from Inside is Bo Burnham at his most ambiguous.
All Eyes On Me is slapped in vocoder and reverb, and is definitely the song in the mix that, besides the direct interlude about Bo’s insecurities and panic attacks when he performs on stage.
It’s existential, with a large scope that focusses on Bo’s position as a performer and being the centre of your own world. There’s religious imagery, big state of the world reflection and it’s definitely the song that’s the most engaging melodically and production-wise.
The emotional climax of Inside – and it pays off perfectly.
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• Bo Burnham: From YouTuber to star of Netflix’s ‘claustrophobic masterpiece’ Inside
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View more information: https://thetab.com/uk/2021/06/23/bo-burnham-inside-ranked-211689