Albums Reviewed 02: Weird Al Yankovic
Weird Al Yankovic
A very cool debut album. Al was still finding his style here. He used the accordion in every song on this album, and personally, I think it gets a bit annoying. On the other hand, in recent years he usually only plays accordion on 2 or 3 songs on an album, which I think is too few. Some of the biggest hits on this album are "My Bologna", "I Love Rocky Road", and "Ricky" (Al does a good impression of Ricky Ricardo, but I think it would've been funnier if he did Lucy too). None of the songs on this album are terrible, but none are that great either. Disclaimer: I have a disadvantage for some of the older albums because I haven't heard the songs these are based on; I think Al's songs are always better if you know the original. Someday, maybe I'll download all the originals, but I'm too lazy now.
Favorite songs: I Love Rocky Road, Another One Rides the Bus, I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead
"I guess you know the Earth is gonna crash into the sun, but that's no reason why we couldn't have a little fun. So if you think it's scary, if it's more than you can take, just blow out the candles and have a piece of cake!" (Happy Birthday)
"Now's the time to go for all the gusto you can grab. You'll have plenty of time to be low-key when you're laid out on a slab." (I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead)
"I shoulda gotten off a couple miles ago, but I couldn't get to the door. There isn't any room for me to breathe, but we're stopping to pick up more, yeah!" (Another One Rides The Bus)
"I'm proud to say you're not the only critic of mine, so if you wanna sue me, I'm afraid you're gonna have to wait in line" (The Check's in the Mail)
"Oh, Ricky, what a pity, don't you understand that every day's a rerun and the laughter's always canned?" (Ricky)
I'm sure that you've heard "Eat It", one of Al's biggest hits, which won him his first Grammy. Another big song on this album is "I Lost on Jeopardy." This album also features the first polka medley, "Polkas on 45", which mashed together 13 different songs, including "Hey Jude", "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "My Generation", and "Every Breath You Take", among others. Al was still finding his musical style here, but this is a better album than his debut, though the satire isn't really fully-fledged yet, ifyaknowwhatImsayin. However, the album does contain Al's very first style parody, "Mr. Popeil", intended to sound like the B-52's. Al would do many more style parodies later in his career, where he isn't really parodying a specific song, but it sounds like one particular artist (i.e., "Germs" is a style parody of Nine Inch Nails, "Trigger Happy" is a style parody of Beach Boys). That first style parody was a big step in the right direction for Al.
Favorite songs: Eat It, Midnight Star, Theme to Rocky XIII
"How come you're always such a fussy young man? Don't want no Cap'n Crunch, don't want no Raisin Bran. Well don't you know that other kids are starving in Japan?" (Eat It)
"Eat jelly donuts and lose 20 pounds a day! Hear the story of the man born without a head!" (Midnight Star) ~ a song about tabloid newspapers; purely by coincidence (or not), there is a fan newspaper about Al called the "Midnight Star"
"So today, his deli comes first; still, he dreams of his past days of glory. Goes in the back and beats up on the liverwurst" (Theme From Rocky XIII)
"What have you got to lose? If you like the 6 o'clock news, then you'll love 'Nature Trail To Hell!'" (Nature Trail to Hell)
"Ain't gonna work in the field no more, gonna be Amway distributor" (Buy Me a Condo) ~ a reggae song about becoming a middle-class American
Dare to Be Stupid
Here, Al has finally managed to pull it together. And just look where it got him. He produced such classic songs as "Like a Surgeon", "Yoda", "Dare to Be Stupid", "One More Minute", and "This is the Life" (which was the theme song for the movie "Johnny Dangerously"). We also get another polka medley, "Hooked on Polkas", and, for some strange reason, a cover of the theme of "George of the Jungle" (???). Al's label, Scotti Bros., has had a history of forcing him to do things he didn't want to do, and that's present here; Scotti Bros. wouldn't let Al release "Dare to Be Stupid" without a Cyndi Lauper parody, so we have the rather half-assed "Girls Just Want to Have Lunch." But hey, I'm not complaining (much); this is a great album.
Favorite songs: Like a Surgeon, Yoda, This Is the Life
"If money can't buy happiness, I guess I'll have to rent it" (This Is The Life)
"I'd rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tongue than spend one more minute with you" (One More Minute)
"The long-term contract I had to sign says I'll be making these movies till the end of time, with my Yoda" (Yoda)
"It's time to make a mountain out of a molehill, so can I have a colunteer? There's no more time for crying over spilled milk, now it's time for crying in your beer" (Dare to Be Stupid)
"I can hear your heart beat, for the very last time" (Like a Surgeon)
Unfortunately, this is probably Al's least popular album. This may be due to the fact that there were only 10 songs on it. Or maybe because the album was named after the polka; I mean, only hardcore Al fans really like the polkas on the albums, most people only buy the albums for the funny stuff. It's a shame too, because there are many funny songs on here, although I admit that this is one of his weakest albums. It was rushed; Al made it more quickly than usual, and it shows. However, some hits on this album include "Living With a Hernia", "Christmas at Ground Zero", and "Addicted to Spuds."
Favorite songs: Don't Wear Those Shoes, Living With a Hernia, Dog Eat Dog
"Can't run, barely crawl. Gotta bulge in my intestinal wall. Walk real funny, bless my soul. Can't play tennis, and it's hard to bowl" (Living With a Hernia)
"I suppose, you can lick the middles out of my Oreos, or start laughing when you're drinking milk so it comes out your nose, and you know that I'd do anything to please you, but I'm begging you down on my bended knees, oh honey, please don't wear those shoes" (Don't Wear Those Shoes)
"You're sort of everything I've ever wanted. You're not perfect, but I love you anyhow. You're the woman that I've always dreamed of. Well, not really, but you're good enough for now" (Good Enough for Now) ~ Weird Al is such a romantic
"Sometimes I tell myself, 'This is not my beautiful stapler!' Sometimes I tell myself, 'This is not my beautiful chair!'" (Dog Eat Dog)
"Your greasy hands, your salty lips. Looks like you found the chips." (Addicted to Spuds)
After the failure of "Polka Party!", Al pulls it together again. He didn't include a polka medley on this album, perhaps to escape the curse of "Polka Party!" BTW, if you're wondering about the title, it's a parody of Michael Jackson's album "Bad." There is a parody of the song "Bad" here, called "Fat"; it's another of Al's huge hits, and the video for it won him a second Grammy. This is a really awesome album, which also includes the hit "Lasagna", and one of my personal favorite Weird Al songs, "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long." Unfortunately, it also contains "Good Old Days"; many of Al's songs are darkly humorous, but "Good Old Days" is just disgusting. It's his only song that really pushes the limit of taste.
Favorite songs: Fat, (This Song's Just) Six Words Long, I Think I'm a Clone Now
"Well, I can be my own best friend and I can send myself for pizza, so I say, I think I'm a clone now" (I Think I'm a Clone Now)
"I gotta fill time, three minutes worth of time. Oh, how can I fill so much time? I'll throw in a solo, a solo, a solo, a solo, a solo here (saxophone solo)" ([This Song's Just] Six Words Long)
"Now I'm bein' followed by these Russian spies, they give me some velcro and an order of fries. Suddenly, I'm bowling on the Starship Enterprise. I fall down a hole, and that's when I realize I'm stuck in a closet with Vanna White" (Stuck in a Closet With Vanna White)
"And my shadow weights forty-two pounds, lemme tell you once again - who's fat?" (Fat)
"I took her for better or for worse, yeah. Then she took me for everything, yeah everything, she could get" (Alimony)
UHF - Soundtrack and Other Stuff
The problem with this album is that it never should have attempted to be a UHF soundtrack. "UHF" didn't have enough songs in it to be a soundtrack. Al should've just taken "Money For Nothing / Beverly Hillbillies" and "UHF" and put them on his next album. "Spatula City" and "Gandhi II" were funny, yes, but they are not songs. "Let Me Be Your Hog" (from the movie), while it is a song, lasts all of 10 seconds, and that 10 seconds is completely worthless, so that should not be here either. "Fun Zone" has some really cool music, but as it's an instumental and therefore not particularly funny, it feels out of place here. As for the "Other Stuff", that's mostly good. I always thought that "Isle Thing" (a parody of "Wild Thing") felt kinda forced. It's about Gilligan, but no one calls the show "Gilligan's Isle Thing." The other songs are good though. A polka medley of all Rolling Stones songs ("Hot Rocks Polka") was a cool idea, and it turned out nicely. He really needs to do more polka medleys that revolve around the works of only one artist. I'd like to see a Beatles polka or an Elvis Presley Polka.
Favorite songs: UHF, She Drives Like Crazy, Spam
"Make yourself a TV dinner, press your face right up against the screen. We're gonna show you things you ain't ever seen, if you know what I mean" (UHF)
"Listen to 'em squeal, they think the whole stinkin' world is their exercise wheel" (Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters From a Planet Near Mars)
"Where'd you learn how to steer? You do eighty in second gear. When you drive, I can't relax. Got your license from Cracker Jacks." (She Drives Like Crazy)
"Think about addiction, wonder if I'm a junkie now...Spam, in the back of my car. Spam, any place that you are. Spam, any place that you are. Oh, Spam!" (Spam)
"I gave our camera to Bernie, and we stood by the ball, and we all gathered round and said cheese. Then Bernie ran away with my brand new Instamatic, but at least we've got our memories." (The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota)
Off the Deep End
This is a great album. I have nothing to criticize here. "Smells Like Nirvana" is a great send-up of Nirvana, and I heard that Nirvana said that they never realized that they had "made it" until Weird Al Yankovic wanted to parody one of their songs. "Polka Your Eyes Out" is one of the best polka medleys he ever did. "I Can't Watch This" is probably the opposite of "Cable TV" - in the latter, Al talks about how much he loves TV shows, and in the former - well, you get the picture. "The White Stuff" is also a great song. "You Don't Love Me Anymore" and "I Was Only Kidding" are more hilarious anti-love songs, but for some reason, Al decided to write a happier love song for this album: "Airline Amy", and it's actually funny! "Trigger Happy" is a twisted song in the style of Beach Boys. And of course, "Taco Grande", "When I Was Your Age", and "Plumbing Song" are cool too.
Favorite songs: Smells Like Nirvana, The White Stuff, You Don't Love Me Anymore
"Sing distincly? We don't wanna! Buy our album. We're Nirvana!" (Smells Like Nirvana)
(BTW, he's talking about Oreos here:) "But I love the filling most, I rub it on my roast, mix it in with my coffee, and spread it on my toast." (The White Stuff)
"You slammed my face down on the barbecue grill, now my scars are all healing, but my heart never will" (You Don't Love Me Anymore)
"Amy, darlin', don't you know you really drive me nuts, every time you're handing out those honey-roasted peanuts. Airline Amy, this is my new mission: gotta get you in an upright locked position." (Airline Amy)
"Just take the rest home in a doggie bag if you wanna. You can finish it manana." (Taco Grande)
The album following the very strong "Off the Deep End" is not quite as good as OTDE. For some reason, it only has 4 song parodies, instead of the usual five. Furthermore, "Harvey the Wonder Hamster" is just kinda lame. "Young, Dumb, & Ugly" has great lyrics but rather annoying music (maybe I'm just not really into this kind of music). "Traffic Jam", on the other hand, has really fun music but pretty lame lyrics. And the other songs, while not horrible, are not that great either. I'd say this is one of Al's worst. Which still isn't really that bad. It has some great songs on here too (see below).
Favorite songs: Frank's 2000-Inch TV, Livin' in the Fridge, Jurassic Park
"And I'm mighty proud to say, now I can watch the Simpsons from thirty blocks away" (Frank's 2000-Inch TV)
"Tell me do you think it should be carbon-dated, fumigated, or cremated and buried at sea? You try to save a little bit of your home cookin', couple weeks later, got a scary-lookin' specimen, it always happens, my friend, again and again and again and again." (Livin' in the Fridge)
"She's really really embarrassing me, this silent treatment's driving me nuts" (She Never Told Me She Was a Mime)
"I'm afraid those things'll harm me, 'cause they sure don't act like Barney, and they think that I'm their dinner, not their friend, oh nooooooooo" (Jurassic Park)
"We're wild, reckless men, we're on a rampage again. We drive with just one hand on the wheel! Danger's in our soul, we're going out of control. Swimming right after a big heavy meal! We're there wherever trouble's startin', we're rebels without a clue. We drink milk right from the carton and keep our library books till they're way overdue!" (Young, Dumb, and Ugly)
Bad Hair Day
This is Weird Al's biggest hit album, the album responsible for bringing "Amish Paradise" and "The Night Santa Went Crazy" into our lives. Is it my favorite album? Probably not, but it's a damn good one. And it does include one of my favorite Weird Al songs, "Everything You Know Is Wrong." It's one of my favorites because it's in a style parody of They Might Be Giants, another band I love. It also includes an amazing a cappella song called "Since You've Been Gone" in which Al does 3 different parts of the vocals. I have also recently discovered that "I'm So Sick of You" was intended to be a style parody of Elvis Costello. And we can't forget "Gump", another great song about Forrest Gump. There is one downside though, and that is "Syndicated Inc.", which is basically just a list of TV shows set to Soul Asylum's "Misery." But still a great album.
Favorite songs: Everything You Know Is Wrong, Amish Paradise, The Night Santa Went Crazy
"Everything you know is wrong. Just forget the words and sing along. All you need to understand is everything you know is wrong" (Everything You Know Is Wrong)
"A local boy kicked me in the butt last week. I just smiled at him, and I turned the other cheek. I really don't care, in fact, I wished him well, 'cause I'll be laughing my head off when he's burning in hell" (Amish Paradise)
"Well, I'm feeling like I stuck my hand inside a blender and turned it on. You know, I've been in a buttload of pain, since you've been gone" (Since You've Been Gone)
"Yes Virginia, now Santa's doin' time, in a federal prison for his infamous crime. Hey little friend now, don't you cry no more tears. He'll be out with good behavior in 700 more years." (The Night Santa Went Crazy)
Or, if you prefer, the extra gory version: "Yes Virginia, now Santa Claus is dead. Some guy from the SWAT team blew a hole through his head. Yes, little friend now, he has his brains on the floor. Guess you won't have the fat guy to kick around anymore" (The Night Santa Went Crazy: Extra Gory Version)
"His buddy Bubba was a shrimp-lovin' man. His friend with no legs, he called Lieutenant Dan. His girlfriend Jenny was kind of a slut. Went to the White House, showed LBJ his butt" (Gump)
Running With Scissors
The follow-up to Bad Hair Day, while it sold much fewer copies, is a stronger album than BHD. I like every song on here. It includes "The Saga Begins" (a parody of Don McLean's "American Pie") about Star Wars Episode I. It also includes "Jerry Springer" (a parody of Barenaked Ladies' "One Week") which is a pretty risque song for Al. It also includes "Albuquerque", which is a hilarious 11-minute epic that isn't really a song, but a story with singing in it. It's the most bizarre thing I've ever heard, and it's so freakin' funny. Then we have "Grapefruit Diet", the sequel to "Fat"; "Your Horoscope for Today", which gives you your twisted horoscope for the day; "Germs", a style parody of Nine Inch Nails; "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi", a great song about a great rabbi; "It's All About the Pentiums", a hilarious send-up of computer technology; and the rest, etc. etc.
Favorite songs: Jerry Springer, Albuquerque, It's All About the Pentiums
Favorite lyrics: (couldn't narrow it down past six)
"This guy comes up to me on the street and says he hasn't had a bite in three days! Well, I knew what he meant, but just to be funny, I took a big bite out of his jugular vein! And he's yelling and screaming and bleeding all over, and I'm like, hey, come on, doncha get it? But he just kept rolling around on the sidewalk, bleeding and screaming, 'Aaaahhhh! AaaaahhhhOhhhhh! Aaaaahhhh!' you know, completely missing the irony of the whole situation. Man, some people just can't take a joke, y'know?" (Albuquerque)
"Oh my my, this here Anakin guy may be Vader some day later, now he's just a small fry. And he left home and kissed his mommy good-bye, saying 'Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi.'" (The Saga Begins)
"Nymphomaniac is back on crack, it's like When Animals Attack, they all exhibit reprehensible behavior. Hit him in the nose, tear off their clothes, step on their toes, that's how it goes, they get so violent they have to sign a waiver" (Jerry Springer)
"PISCES! Try to avoid any Virgos or Leos with the Ebola virus. You are the true Lord of the Dance, no matter what those idiots at work say...LIBRA! A big promotion is just around the corner for someone much more talented than you. Laughter is the very best medicine, remember that when your appendix bursts next week." (Your Horoscope for Today)
"People used to scoff, now they say 'Mazel tov!' He's such a macher 'cause he worked his tuchis off. Yeah, he keeps his cool and teaches shul.
What's not to like? What's not to like? On high holy days, you know he prays and prays, and he never eats pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise" (Pretty Fly for a Rabbi)
"In a 32-bit world, you're a 2-bit user. You've got your own newsgroup, alt.total-loser! Your motherboard melts when you try to send a fax. Where'd you get your CPU, in a box of Cracker Jacks? Play me online, well you know that I'll beat you. If I ever meet you, I'll control-alt-delete you!" (It's All About the Pentiums)
I just got the album today, but I immediately wanted to point out how awesome this album is. Bob Dylan fans may want to download the tribute to Dylan called "Bob" (which has lyrics composed entirely of palindromes!). Frank Zappa fans may be interested in the tribute to Zappa called "Genius in France" which features guitar playing by Dweezil Zappa. Prince fans may like "Wanna Be Ur Lovr", which isn't exactly a tribute, but a song in the style of Prince, in response to the fact that Prince is the only artist who has consistently turned down parody permission to Al so many times over the years. And I'm just getting started. A hilarious song called "Why Does This Always Happen To Me?" features Ben Folds on piano. The Eminem parody "Couch Potato" wins the record for most references to television shows and stations. The "Hot in Herre" parody, "Trash Day", is very clever, and Al's lyrics improve the song a lot. Ditto for "eBay", a parody of the Backstreet Boys' wretched "I Want It That Way." And I love the pun-filled "Party at the Leper Colony", and the obscenely fast "Hardware Store." "Ode to a Superhero", a parody of Billy Joel's "Piano Man", is a brilliant send up of the summer blockbuster "Spider-Man." And the "Angry White Boy Polka" is loads of fun, especially hearing System of a Down's "Chop Suey" as a polka. The polka also includes a song by the White Stripes, one by the Strokes, one by Rage Against the Machine, and one by Eminem, among others. My only complaint is with the haphazard parody of Avril Lavigne's "Complicated"; Al admitted that he had three good ideas, none of which would make a whole song, so he kinda mashed all three ideas into one song "A Complicated Song." I like the song, but he could've worked a little harder on it to make it more cohesive. But that's just a minor complaint on a brilliant album, definitely worth waiting four years for.
Favorite songs: Couch Potato, Hardware Store, Genius in France
Favorite lyrics (sorry, couldn't pick just five):
"Oh, the other day, my boss said we were running low on toner, and he told me I should buy another case. Well, I told him I was busy, but he still just kept on asking, so I turned around and stabbed him in the face. Oh, and wouldn't you know it? My knife got stuck" (Why Does This Always Happen to Me?)
"Sling us a web, you're the Spider-Man. Sling us a web tonight. 'Cause we're all in the mood for a hero now, and there's evil-doers to fight" (Ode to a Superhero)
"Look, there's James Lipton discussing the oeuvre of Mr. Rob Schneider" (Couch Potato)
"Do you believe in love at first sight? Or should I walk by again? My love for you's like diarrhea: I just can't hold it in" (Wanna B Ur Lovr)
"I'm about as sharp as a bowling ball, but they like me better than Charles de Gaulle. Entre nous, it's very true, the room temperature's higher than my IQ, but they love me more than Gerard Depardieu. How did this happen? I don't have a clue" (Genius in France)
"There's something rotten here (say what?), you better hold your nose. (Hey you disgusting slob, you gotta take the trash out)" (Trash Day)