Seth MacFarlane has produced and starred in some of the shows responsible for the most hilarious and reprehensible jokes to ever grace TV airwaves: Family Guy and American Dad! His silver screen offerings, A Million Ways to Die in the West and the Ted franchise, are also firmly rooted in the brand of humor that you would never let your grandma hear.
But to sum MacFarlane up as merely a crass animator with lowbrow taste is to paint him with far too broad of a brush.
In addition to his science advocacy (which is deserving of an article of its own), those who don't know about MacFarlane's musical prowess are missing out on arguably the most fascinating part of him.
MacFarlane released his third album entitled No One Ever Tells You on Sept. 30, with physical copies available in stores at the end of October. It features new versions of lesser-known American standards while he is backed with a full orchestra.
His first album, Music is Better Than Words, was released in 2011 and contained refreshing new takes on old classics, including a reinvented version of "Something Good" from The Sound of Music that is absolutely to die for. The album featured duets with Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles, which are heartfelt and brilliant.
Holiday for Swing was his second offering, released in 2014. He reunited with both Jones and Bareilles, and he channeled the king of classic Christmas tunes: Bing Crosby. The songs, again, are mostly happy and upbeat, celebrating the best parts of the holiday season.
No One Ever Tells You is different.
The album is absent of duets, but the clearest difference between this and his previous albums is the tone. While Music was largely upbeat, the melodies in No One are slow and sad in the best possible way. It's the kind of album where the orchestra wraps you up and indulges your sorrow while the nuances in his voice break your heart completely. If you thought Adele was the only one who can provide a good cry, think again.
MacFarlane's singing career is no pet project and he's not in this genre ironically: he has a formally trained baritone voice with a genuine knowledge of what makes good music.
He received vocal training from the same couple who coached Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra. MacFarlane even borrowed Old Blue Eyes' favorite microphone from the Smithsonian to record his first album in, as he called it, the old-fashioned way.
Another part of what makes MacFarlane's music stand out is the amount of emphasis he puts on the arranger and conductor, Joel McNeely, who has worked on all three of his albums. While arrangers used to be revered, their talents are no longer widely celebrated in quite the same way. McNeely deserves an incredible amount of recognition and it speaks volumes about MacFarlane as an artist to ensure he receives it.
The same care and devotion to music MacFarlane brings to his albums can also be seen on his shows. A full orchestra provides the background music for each episode, harkening back to a time when this was common practice.
The implications of this, of course, are hilarious, because it means every single "why would somebody ever say that" song on Family Guy is backed by a full orchestra.
"You Have AIDS." Orchestra.
"Bag of Weed." Orchestra.
"Prom Night Dumpster Baby." There's clearly a pattern.
His brand of comedy may be unorthodox and uncouth, but his music is unadulterated, genuine and reminiscent of a time when quality reigned supreme. When taken as a whole, Seth MacFarlane's body of work is quite a dichotomy. But a glorious one, indeed.