Remember back in the mid-Nineties when it was all the rage to record the chorus of No Doubt‘s “Spiderwebs” as your voicemail greeting? Jimmy Fallon and the Tonight Show writers gave one lucky cell phone user an even more clever gift on Thursday night’s episode, as former Police frontman Sting laid down “Message on My Voicemail,” a modified version of the band’s classic “Message in a Bottle,” direct to the fan’s device. (With shades of George Costanza channeling The Greatest American Hero theme on an episode of Seinfeld.)
“Sorry I’m away / Looks like you missed me,” Sting sings in the above clip, as the Roots recreate the track’s driving guitar riff and propulsive drums. “You just leave your name / when you hear the beep-o.” The chorus, of course, is, “I hope that you will leave a / Message on my voicemail, yeah.”
Before that hilarious bit, the singer also participated in another phone-centric game, creating Sting-ified versions of classic ringtones. The ubiquitous iPhone marimba is turned into sumptuous scat-jazz, while the xylophone tone is a perfect fit for Sting’s nimble croon – especially since, according to Sting, it sounds like a Police song. “I could make a fortune,” Sting says, playfully calling the riff a ripoff of “Synchronicity.” (Kudos to the Roots for incorporating the xylophone groove during a transition.)
Sting also takes a stab at the the old-school Nokia ringtone, though its high-octave digital bleeps offer the biggest vocal challenge.
Elsewhere, the singer talks about his musical The Last Ship, which he calls an extreme labor of love. “This took five years of extraordinary hard work and intense pleasure,” he says.