The Fun Lovin' Criminal

Album: Come Find Yourself (1996)
Charted: 26
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Songfacts®:

  • This is the song that established the band's persona: gangsters with a goofy side. Like The Sopranos, but less dangerous.

    The band formed in New York City in the '90s when the Mafia still had a strong presence there. They were big fans of movies like Goodfellas and The Godfather, and the two key members, lead singer Huey Morgan and multi-instrumentalist Brian "Fast" Leiser, worked in clubs among many Italian Americans with lots of stories. The "Fun Lovin' Criminal" became the band's namesake and image; they wore sharp suits and wrote songs that drew inspiration from the New York City underworld and various movies on that topic.

    "When we were writing songs, we felt like we needed to have a theme song like The Monkees had theirs, Leiser said in a Songfacts interview. "So ours was 'The Fun Lovin' Criminal,' which is a very tongue-in-cheek story about big-upping ourselves, and it really does explain a lot of our origins and what we were feeling at that time in our early 20s living in New York City."

    "It was the song that for us was our breaking away from limitations in music," he added. "The band I was in was doing one type of music: house music. And Huey's band was more of a blues-rock thing. We felt with FLC we could mix hip-hop with rock and you could mix jazz with low-fi beats and you could mix Latin with reggae. There are similar middle points there. Hip-hop was our middle point, with me coming from an electronic side and Huey coming from more blues. 'The Fun Lovin' Criminal' was the perfect mix. You got these country slapstick guitars, and you've got trumpet in it, so it was all these influences and inspirations, which is what New York City meant to us."
  • This was the second song the band wrote, following "The Grave And The Constant." It was included on their first album, Come Find Yourself, and released as their second single, following "Scooby Snacks."

    Both songs got airplay in America, but Europe is where they found their stronghold. In 1997 they opened shows in the US for U2 and Oasis, but found they were much more popular overseas, especially in the UK and Ireland. Their next album, 100% Colombian, was mostly marketed in the UK, where it produced three chart hits. The band ended up moving to England, which became their home base. From 2001-2010 they released four more albums; in 2021 Huey Morgan left the band and Fast Leiser took over as lead singer.
  • The song title and band name come from a New York City graffiti crew. "There were a lot of influences from different types of art coming in to this graffiti crew, and we felt our music kind of matched it," Leiser told Songfacts.
  • "The Fun Lovin' Criminal" is the band's manifesto, so they usually open their concerts with it.
  • The video was directed by Joel Pront and shows the band performing in a room and also wandering around New York City looking like they're up to no good. Pront some of their early videos, many of which start with vignettes.

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