Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Weird Al & Me

I first encountered Weird Al Yankovic in 1981.  My family and I returned to Oxnard, California after a few years on family accompanied orders to Alaska and the Silicon Valley.  When returned I discover KMET, a rock station out of Los Angeles.  On Sundays they had the Dr. Demento Show.  That is when I first encountered Weird Al, with My Bologna and Another One rides the Bus.  I followed from the first album, released in 1983 on radio and with Dr. Demento.

Then as a 15 year old, I had a Mentor who had and played the second album In 3D constantly.  It was not till 1985 did I buy my first Weird Al album, Dare to be Stupid.  Soon after that I bought the other two as well.  This was all in cassette format.  I discovered the usual parodies, but also the style parodies.  These are original songs Al writes in the style of other acts.  The title track to Dare to be Stupid was one these.  It took various clichéd turns of phrase into a Devo styled song.  In Vh1’s Behind the Music about Al, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo was quoted saying the following about the song, "I was in shock. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. He sort of re-sculpted that song into something else and, umm ... I hate him for it, basically."  Al’s subject matter was all over the place in the terms of popular culture.

I was in University when he released Polka Party!  In many ways it was disappointing as was the following Even Worse.  Each had at least a few songs I enjoyed, over all I did not see the same spark as I saw in previous works.  I enjoyed Polka Party!  Its Polka medley and style parodies were more my speed.  Many of the parodies themselves did not seem to hit a chord for me.   Part of why I was disappointed with Even Worse all of the parodies were cover songs except for Fat.  The UHF soundtrack, I felt he was back in form.  It also had some commercial, film and television show parodies and spoofs.  In 1992 he followed that with Off the Deep End which also I thought was a home run.  The next year he put out Alapalooza, I felt it was solid, but nothing that really wowed me.  I felt the same way with Bad Hair Day.

1999’s Running with Scissors once again shocked me with its brilliance.  It’s All about the Pentiums, Pretty Fly for a Rabbi, Jerry Springer, The Saga Begins and Albuquerque were hitting it on all cylinders for me.  I missed out on Poodle Hat in 2003.  The only song I caught was Angry White Boy Polka which I loved.  That was also during a very hectic time in my life.  Straight Outta Lynwood and Alpocalypse again made me happy.  Even though I was getting to a point, where I had no clue about over half of the songs he was parodying. I was at that point pushing or over forty.  He still is able to capture the pulse of popular culture.

He put out Mandatory Fun in 2014.  Only one song was a parody of a song I was not familiar with. Only a third of the songs on the Polka medley were songs I had never heard. For a guy who does not have his finger on the pulse of today's Pop music, I thought it was good I knew more songs parodied than last album's parodies. Last album I only knew the original of one of the parodies. I only knew three songs on the Polka medley from Alpocalypse. Overall it is a well written and produced album. For all of my grammatically and linguistically proper friends, the parody of Blurred Lines called Word Crimes is an anthem for you.  His style parodies on this are also right on the money.

Overall I have fond memories about Weird Al and his music.  I love his artistry and sense of humor.  I still want to see him live.  I blew the chance in 2013.  I hope he will release another album in the near future and tour again.  Even if he doesn't, I have the memories he gave me from his recorded work.  This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion. 

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