So, they may still technically be making the rounds on their "Under the Sun" tour with Smashmouth et al., and cropped up on a lot of blogs a few months back after the lingering bad "poop cruise" publicity forced them to cancel a planned 90's cruise. But they didn't even play any New York shows on said tour, and I can't truthfully pretend there's any specific "peg" for this. It just is.
But really, if you dig farther into YouTube's recesses than the usual "drunk 90's living room singalong" material would dictate—or, I guess, have made a point of listening to their full albums throughout the band's career—what you find is sort of impressive, in its way. While we've been busy making jokes about 90's tours and reading about them on Buzzfeed nostalgia lists or whatever, Sugar Ray has been making an ongoing, surprisingly earnest effort to turn out covers of songs from just about every available genre (you know, within reason).
So, we'll start with the first song that pulled me into this whole thing, their bouncy, ska-inflected (if we're calling things "ska-inflected") cover of "Time After Time:"
Then there was a bouncy, ska-inflected live cover of Kid Cudi's breakout hit "Day N Night" (featuring sing-along sound effects and one helluva record scratch solo from DJ Homicide starting at the 2:55 mark):
But Mark McGrath's little "joint smokin'" hand gestures in that last one sort of belie the genuine musical ambition underlying this whole thing. Why else would they have taken on something as beloved as Brian Eno and John Cale's "Spinning Away:"
Predictably, this one was a little more controversial than the rest—the YouTube comments are a war zone—but it did inspire one person to write, "I never cry, but I wish I could with this song, it would releave alot. Its now like Im having a blatter infection with my eyes, the tears just wont come out as hard as I push."
The point being here, that you can toss just about any pop song at these guys, no matter how recognizable and classic, and they'll hurl it right back at you, sounding indelibly, unmistakably, like a Sugar Ray song. Can you tell me, in earnest, that you know anyone else with this specific talent?
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.