Yesterday one of my favorite bands, Debs & Errol, announced that they were going their separate ways. Needless to say, I am sad. Now, you have to understand why my love for this band is so fierce. Not only do I love their music, and not only did it help lift my spirits during a very difficult period, but I got to know the band members as people. They became a part of my life, and I a part of theirs, however small. They were there for me during one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, my Indiegogo campaign of 2014, and not just just volunteered their album CTRL+ALT+DUETS as a perk to backers but continued to support the campaign all throughout by repeatedly mentioning it in their daily web comic as well as sharing the campaign link on both their band page and respective personal pages on Facebook.
I could go on about all the ways they mean a lot to me but I think it’s better to use the space here to pay a little tribute to this duo, and the funnest and least depressing way I can think of doing so is with a curated list of my favorite Debs & Errol songs, choosing from among both their originals and their parodies. This was truly no easy task as I set my limit to twelve lest I simply end up naming every song they’ve ever published (and, yes, I know I’ve left out some of your own favorites). So in no particular order, except for maybe the last few ones on the list, here is Pop Mythology’s salute to this wonderful band that brought much joy and delight into the lives of their fans.
Bubbly and jubilant, this song has the kind of quirky National Geographic aesthetic that you might expect from something by They Might Be Giants (like “Why Does the Sun Shine?”). And as with everything the duo has done, it shows their versatility. I think they could have put out an entire album of children’s songs and it would’ve been awesome by any adult standard, something to give parents a break from the Frozen CD on eternal rotation in their players.
Sultry, sumptuous, seductive: all the adjectives I want to use for this song start with an “s.” “S” is also for the show Sherlock on which this song is based—namely the episode “A Scandal in Belgravia.” It’s so good it received a grant from the Canadian arts funding organization FACTOR! for a professional studio recording which is the version I’ve embedded here.
You would have had to have grown up in the 80s to fully appreciate this one, and though my parents bought me an Apple IIe ’cause of that whole thing with Asian parents and educational utility, I’d always go over to my friend’s house where he had a Commodore 64 because, well, frankly the C64 had a bigger and better selection of games. “I learned to type with words like ‘kill troll with sword,’” go the lyrics. Well, it’s funny because I actually did learn how to type with words like “kill troll with sword” while playing Zork I.
The story behind this one goes that one day Debs found out that Errol had not finished watching Battlestar Galactica. In fact, he was only at the start of Season 2. She was so “shocked” and “disappointed” that she wrote this song expressing the pain, the pain. The song is even funnier if you’re already familiar with the amusing dynamic between Debs’ and Errol’s public personas.
I’ve elsewhere stated that I’m a Taylor Swift fan, and an unashamed one at that, but when it comes to this particular song I actually prefer Debs & Errol’s parody version—partly because it takes another ho-hum breakup song, albeit one with an irresistible melody, and turns it into something totally awesome by making it be about Star Trek.
If I Were an Undead Crawler
This time D&E took a song I wasn’t even a fan of (Barenaked Ladies’ “If I Had a Million Dollars”) and turned it into a bundle of sheer harmonic delight. That humorous dynamic I mentioned earlier between the perpetually “uncooperative” character of Errol and the perpetually “exasperated” character of Debs is perhaps best on display here with some subtle yet priceless moments between the two that, if they weren’t scripted, sure do sound convincingly impromptu. And that bit between them at the very end? Golden.
TIE After TIE
Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” is one of my all-time favorite pop songs and not just because I have a soft spot for the 80s. So begin with one of my favorite songs and then add lyrics about one of my favorite pop cultural mythologies ever? Well, take my hand and call me Luke Skywalker ‘cause I’m yours, Daddy.
My Pachelbel Song
Everyone knows Debs has a stunningly gorgeous voice, but I think Errol’s is also versatile and lovely and it will melt your heart here in this beautiful love song to his wife Keren. The shimmering guitars instantly transport you back to the 80s in the best way possible and Errol has never sounded more sincere and vulnerable than he does here. And Debs’ accompaniment is as ethereal as Cupid himself strumming his enchanted harp.
This is one that I had hoped would show up on their next album. Alas, that is not to be but at least we’ll always have this version on YouTube. Based on the game Portal 2, this song, as with many of their songs, goes beyond geeky homage and touches a deeper layer of profundity. There are mythical themes in this song that at some point or other everyone has experienced to some degree: feeling trapped, desperately looking for a way out, and being given a glimmer of hope via a symbol of liberation. Are you here to save me? Will you stay with me? Please don’t leave me.
Make It So
D&E excelled at Disneyesque show tunes, both in their original songs like “That’s What I Want in a Girl” and in parodies like the bittersweet “My Partner’s A Nerd.” But with “Make It So” they knocked it out of the park, combining perhaps the most beloved saying in pop culture fandom with one of Disney’s biggest hits. I challenge all long-time Trek fans to not get at least partly moist-eyed as Debs vocally shoots for the stars.
Double Rainbow / More Than That
I love this song so much that I wrote an entire long post about it (which I’m pretty sure will come across to most people as the feverish ramblings of a delusional mystic), and there was a period in which I kept listening to it over and over as I tried to appreciate the invisible double rainbows that shone in my own everyday, mundane and somewhat compromised life—I just had to look harder to see them.
Geek Love Song
Debs and Errol, there are so many ways to say “I love you” / in different languages across the land. / You haven’t heard me say them so I’ll tell you / as only a true geek can… by, uh… by using your own song.
And thus my choice to end this list with “Geek Love Song” was intentional. Beginnings and endings come and go but love is endless. Long live the legacy of Debs & Errol!