I don’t think I was mentally ready for Bo Burnham’s “Inside” Netflix special, but I’m so glad I watched it. This isn’t for the light-hearted, and it’s both hilarious and tragic at times to the point where you question whether those concepts are interchangeable.
A big part of why this special was so good is the soundtrack – I couldn’t believe how solid all of the songs were, and coupled with the incredible visuals it’s no understatement to say this is Burnham’s magnum opus, and the most definitive piece of lockdown media we’re likely to get.
I’ll be ranking each song based on their musical quality, how funny / entertaining they were, and also the visual appeal within the special itself.
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20 – All Time Low
- Favourite Lyric: “My heart, it gets to tappin’, and I think I’m gonna die”
I had completely forgotten about this one, and was surprised to see it on the official soundtrack – it’s one of the listed tracks, so I might as well rank it with the others.
“All Time Low” works in the scene it accompanies, and does a perfect job encapsulating how stress and anxiety can capitulate and intensify at any moment, but as a song it isn’t very memorable.
19 – Bezos II
- Favourite Lyric: “You did it!”
It was cool to see a song get a call-back / sequel later on in the special, but “Bezos II” is nowhere near as catchy as the original.
First of all, the lyrics are almost non-existent apart from random interjections like “You did it!”, and secondly the visuals aren’t too interesting, so overall this was always going to rank near the bottom.
18 – Don’t Wanna Know
- Favourite Lyric: “Am I on in the background? Are you on your phone?”
Coming straight after the intermission, it’s quite a neat idea to have a fourth-wall breaking song that directly asks the viewer if they are still watching, or if they even care at all.
This self-reflective attitude works well in the special, but as a song “Don’t Wanna Know” is a lot more unremarkable than the others.
17 – FaceTime With My Mom (Tonight)
- Favourite Lyric: “He says, ‘How ya doing, bud?’ I say, ‘I’m not so bad’. And that’s the deepest talk we’ve ever had”
This will almost definitely be my most controversial take, but “FaceTime With My Mom (Tonight)” was easily my least favourite of the “main” songs.
The visuals are good as always (but not too out-there), and the lyrics are vaguely funny, but there isn’t much that stands out to me, and this was the only song in the special where I constantly checked the runtime to see when it would end.
16 – Any Day Now
- Favourite Lyric: “It’ll stop any day now (Any day now, any day now)”
I mean, what other lyric was I gonna pick?
A lovely yet somehow sombre song to accompany the end credits, it’s quite brilliant how its positivity sounds fake when it comes straight after the heaviest songs of the special.
15 – Bezos I
- Favourite Lyric: “Zuckerberg and Gates and Buffett, amateurs can fuckin’ suck it”
Probably another ranking I’ll get some stick for, but “Bezos I” is far too short and simple to rank higher than the other tracks.
The phrase “short but sweet” is appropriate here, however, and this song is chalked full of funny lyrics and cool melodies. Again, if it had been a little longer and had some cooler visuals I’m sure it would have ranked higher.
14 – Sexting
- Favourite Lyric: “You send a Ferris wheel; that’s pretty abstract”
Bo Burnham wasn’t afraid to tackle every single aspect of life under lockdown, and I never thought a song about his horniness would be so catchy.
Strangely enough, I think this is actually one of those songs that slightly overstayed its welcome – the exchange near the middle of Bo Burnham getting mixed signals from emojis was easily the best bit, and it made everything else seem a little underwhelming by comparison.
13 – Problematic
- Favourite Lyric: “I did not realize what I did, or that I’d live to regret it”
Because of course Bo Burnham was going to make a song about cancel culture – if anyone was going to expose how insane it is, it would be him.
I really like the music video-esque images that go along with this one, but the actual song itself isn’t one of my favourites. There are some great lyrical moments that highlight the hypocrisy and ridiculousness of the situation, but they only came around every now and again.
12 – Shit
- Favourite Lyric: “Staring at the ceiling and waiting for this feeling to go away, but it won’t go away”
Coming at a perfect time in the special, this has all the lyrical hilarity you would expect, but there’s also a slightly sad undertone to it.
It also helps that the music is some of the funkiest I’ve heard all year – that bass drop is dope as hell – and Bo’s lyrics and vocals are on point (as always). I only wish it was full-length track.
11 – Comedy
- Favourite Lyric: “Oh shit … Should I be joking at a time like this?”
According to a credible internet source, “Comedy” is the most Bo Burnham-iest song that ever Bo Burnham-ed (at least for this special).
It’s interesting looking back at the start of the special to see the huge contrast in songs – Bo is still having a rough time at the start of the pandemic, but there’s an unsettling whimsy to his singing and lyrics in hindsight.
This is still a really excellent song, and the one-two punch of this and “Content” to start the special was a great choice.
10 – Unpaid Intern
- Favourite Lyric: “Barely people, somehow legal” (or the scatting bit)
The most slept-on track of the entire special, I never hear anyone talking about how groovy and catchy this little ditty is.
I suppose it can never rank that highly due to how short it is, but the catchiness of the tune and the scatting bit was enough to put this in the upper half (that scatting part in particular might be one of the funniest moments in the whole special).
9 – That Funny Feeling
- Favourite Lyric: “A gift shop at the gun range, a mass shooting at the mall”
When Bo sat down with just his guitar and a basic set, I was ready to be underwhelmed. Everything up to this point had been high-octane, high production value, so I didn’t get my expectations up for this acoustic tune.
Maybe setting the expectations low was a good thing, as I ended up really enjoying the simplicity of this track compared to the others in the special. Lyrically, this is one of the best, and although I’ve picked a favourite there were countless lines that stood out to me.
8 – Look Who’s Inside Again
- Favourite Lyric: “Well, well, look who’s inside again, went out to look for a reason to hide again”
This feels like the title track for the whole special, or at least the defining anthem that best sums up the vibe of it.
With a great melody and some surprisingly deep lyrics, “Look Who’s Inside Again” was an instant stand-out, and is definitely one of my favourites. I would rank it higher, but I think it was better incorporated into one of the later songs (if you know, you know).
7 – Content
- Favourite Lyric: “It’s a beautiful day to stay inside”
In the grand scheme of things, I think people forget just how powerful this opening track is. It hooked me straight away with it’s catchy melody and cool synth effects, and I was hyped to keep watching the rest of the special.
I think it was when the chorus dropped – with the Summer-y synth and disco ball visual – that assured me that this special was going to be like nothing I’d ever seen before.
6 – How the World Works
- Favourite Lyric: “The world is built with blood! And genocide! And exploitation!” (and the rest of Socko’s verse)
It’s astounding to me that Bo managed to include six tracks on his silly comedy special that are genuinely “Amazing” songs in their own right, and paired with the visuals they become truly mesmeric experiences.
The lyrical genius in Socko’s verse compared to the rest of the child-like lyrics is what sells this song, and Bo’s performance with both his vocals and acting are top-notch. Apparently Bo is writing songs for the new Sesame Street movie, so that should be interesting.
5 – Welcome to the Internet
- Favourite Lyric: “Apathy’s a tragedy, and boredom is a crime”
I’m going to get a lot of stick for this one, but no – “Welcome to the Internet” is NOT my favourite song in the special (sacreligious, I know).
That doesn’t mean it isn’t incredible though – Bo’s “Disney Villain” performance is funny as hell, and once again this is a lyrical masterpiece (I’m saying that a lot for this special, but the lyrics are really remarkably consistent).
The other 4 tracks above it are songs I’ve found myself actively re-listening to since I finished watching the special, so that’s the only reason they’re ranked higher.
4 – 30
- Favourite Lyric: “When he was 27, my granddad fought in Vietnam. When I was 27, I built a birdhouse with my mom”
I’m not even remotely close to turning 30, yet this song might just be the most relatable track to me in the whole special. The unavoidable curse of aging and feeling unaccomplished has plagued many creatives, myself included, and I’ve never seen that message so clearly and honestly conveyed that it was here.
Those disco synths at the start hook you in straight away, and the open and raw music video that brilliantly makes use of Bo’s phone light is probably my second favourite video of the lot. Speaking of favourite videos …
3 – White Woman’s Instagram
- Favourite Lyric: “Some random quote from Lord of the Rings, incorrectly attributed to Martin Luther King”
“Is this Heaven”? More like “Is this underrated as Hell?” as I never see anyone talk about it, and yet it instantly stood out to me as one of my favourites.
Boasting easily my favourite music video of the bunch, the sheer amount of effort that went into this song must have been insane (and probably drove Bo to insanity). Musically this is awesome too, and the surprisingly emotional part where Bo sincerely talks about the “favourite photo of her mom” is the highlight of the track for me.
2 – Goodbye
- Favourite Lyric: “How about I sit on the couch and I watch you next time?”
If “Content” was a great way to open the special, then “Goodbye” blew all of my expectations out of the water.
The way that Bo’s original demo plays while the current, broken Bo takes over sends chills down my spine every time, and the medley of all of the highlight tracks was the best possible way to end the special. When he says “I’ll promise to never go outside again”, you genuinely believe him after the journey we’ve seen him undertake.
Also, this version of “Look Who’s Inside Again” is my favourite, more so than the stand-alone track, and sums the whole song up perfectly.
1 – All Eyes on Me
- Favourite Lyric: “You say the ocean’s rising like I give a shit, you say the whole world’s ending, honey, it already did. You’re not gonna slow it, Heaven knows you tried … Got it? Good, now get inside”
When you’re watching “All Eyes on Me”, you know you’re experiencing something special – a genre, generation even, defining piece of media that will surely be put on a pedestal for years to come.
“Are you feeling nervous? Are you having fun?” – those lyrics entrance you straight away, and instil a nerve-wracking energy into the song that climaxes on the vocal distortion on “Got it? Good, now get inside”. This track was a masterclass in atmosphere and storytelling, and it’s no wonder most people have this as one of their favourites.
Aaaand that’s my list. Jeez, this one made me want to go outside a bit more … while I do that, you should stay inside and check out my latest blog posts:
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