Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Ranking Al: #115-101

115. "I Want a New Duck"
(Parody of "I Want a New Drug" by Huey Lewis & the News; from Dare to Be Stupid, 1985)
I am a duck fan, and I enjoy this song, but there's not really much to it. I mostly just remember my Dad laughing really hard the first time he heard it. I love the synthesized ducks, though. And I love that this song led to this wonderful Funny or Die video.

114. "Polkarama!"
(Medley; from Straight Outta Lynwood, 2006)
Al's polkas either work for me or they don't, I suppose. They're something I look forward to on every new album, but sometimes they just fall flat for me, and this one doesn't pull from a lot of great songs or do that much interesting stuff with them. I do like the banjo during "Beverly Hills" and Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" sounds surprisingly great on the accordion. (Here's the full list of songs.) The "Pon de Replay" section is good, too. But it doesn't add up fully for me.

113. "Traffic Jam"
(Original; from Alapalooza, 1993)
This is an original song, but bits of it remind me of J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame" and the Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance." Weird that this is on an album from 1993 when it might not sound out of place on the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack. Love the bells. I just love bells in rock music. It's the Jim Steinman fan in me, I guess.

112. "Polkamon"
(Original; from the Pokemon: The Movie 2000 -- The Power of One soundtrack)
Well, your mileage may vary, but I find this a delightful bit of nonsense. I really enjoyed Pokemon, particularly some of the video games, back in the first generation, and I still like the designs and stuff. Sure, I was supposedly too old for it, but no one cares. No one. Cares. Weird that fans get steamed enough to mention it on YouTube that Al mentions Ditto twice in the song. Maybe that's a joke, guys.

111. "Midnight Star"
(Original; from "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D, 1984)
This was something of a sentimental favorite for me for a long time; the song is just kind of sincere and likable. It's less of a parody of supermarket tabloids (using many real headlines) than it is a loving ode to them and, well, the weirdness of 80s consumer culture and, by extension, the world around us. Hearing it 30 years later, it doesn't even sound like it's supposed to be funny. You can even hear in Al's performance just how much he loves the song. It's impossible not to be charmed by it.

110. "Handy"
(Parody of "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX; from Mandatory Fun, 2014)
This is one of a number of Al songs where he took an original that I found to be a dud (yet inexplicably popular) and turned it into something good in a way that let me appreciate the production of the original more. (From the last installment, "A Complicated Song" is a great example--once you get the original music away from Avril Lagivne, it's actually not that bad a number.) Frankly, Al raps better than Iggy does, and without pretending to be Black.

109. "eBay"
(Parody of "I Want It That Way" by Backstreet Boys; from Poodle Hat, 2003)
Al extols the virtues of eBay and all of the weird and wonderful things you can find at the world's largest garage sale. Like "Midnight Star" earlier, I like that Al doesn't make it sound pathetic and unnecessary; this is Al in that classic mode of celebrating the mundane and our fascination with it.

108. "Harvey the Wonder Hamster"
(Original; from Alapalooza, 1993)
Just a very short bit of nonsense from an old Al-TV bit that Al included on an album after numerous fan requests. Still, no one does short bits of nonsense like Al. Back when we made mixtapes (I'm old) I used to include short bits like this when making things for Becca. I just think a flow needs an occasional break-up.

107. "Trigger Happy"
(Style parody of the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean; from Off the Deep End, 1992)
I have gun nuts in the family, and while they're not quite this level of ammosexual, it would probably be a short leap. Sadly, time and events in the news/politics have given this one an even darker edge than it already had. And doing a happy beach party song about the weapons-deranged was already pretty dang dark.

106. "Bob"
(Style parody of Bob Dylan; from Poodle Hat, 2003)
I'm a Dylan fan, but if you've ever gritted your teeth in patience when someone goes on and on and on and on and on about how deep Bob Dylan's lyrics are, someone doing a parody of Dylan with nothing but palindromes for lyrics is deeply refreshing.

105. "Buy Me a Condo"
(Parody of Bob Marley; from "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D, 1984)
I didn't really appreciate this song when I was a kid the way I do now. Using reggae, the most laid back music there is, to tell the story of a Rastafarian who leaves Jamaica behind to embrace plastic American consumerism is actually more subversive than it sounded when I was too young to get it.

104. "Living with a Hernia"
(Parody of "Living in America" by James Brown; from Polka Party!, 1986)
I'm trying not to make this count too much, but this is a song that benefits enormously from having a funny video (which was shot on the same set as the James Brown video). It's pretty funny, and it's a good re-creation of a Brown song that, in my experience, doesn't get remembered well but is actually pretty damn well-produced.

103. "Wanna B Ur Lovr"
(Style parody of Beck; from Poodle Hat, 2003)
Al gets a pretty good groove going here and populates it with the most cliched pick-up lines you can think of. I'm not really overly familiar with Beck's music other than some singles here and there, but this sounds about right to me.

102. "Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet Near Mars"
(Original; from UHF, 1989)
It's mainly just kind of cute, but it's a lot of fun to listen to. The instrumentation and some of the thematic background is like listening to an unmade '50s sci-fi movie. This just begs for a music video. I was surprised years later to see the Invader ZIM episode "Hamstergeddon," which kind of satisfied my need to see a gigantic hamster rampage over a city.

101. "Christmas at Ground Zero"
(Style parody of Phil Spector-produced Christmas songs; from Polka Party!, 1986)
Well, the label wanted Weird Al to record a Christmas song... Having been a mere 10 years old in 1986, I remember kids joyously thinking this was the funniest thing in the world. We didn't really realize how truly subversive it was, considering how close we came (several times) to full blown nuclear war just a few years earlier. Making the video out of stock footage just enhances the choice of music style itself; basically he's saying that it's decades later and it's pretty crazy that we're still caught in the grip of Cold War paranoia.

Until next time.


Roger Owen Green said...

I forgot those 3D songs; I'd rank those, and Bob, higher. But that medley was REALLY weak, and I'd probably make it lower.

Roger Owen Green said...

Oh, re Xmas: I'm old enough to have actually done "duck and cover," not that it would have made a whit of difference if The Bomb HAD been dropped.

SamuraiFrog said...

I think I'm part of the last group of children that did duck and cover, because I remember doing it in first grade and second grade. I was working on the Tumblr where I do my autobiography a bit recently, and reading about several nuclear scares in 1983, and knowing a lot of that stuff now it makes me cringe retroactively that those tense face-offs must have been part of the reason we were practicing ducking and covering both under our desks and in the hallways, which somehow seems even more useless. I remember also our class being shown the basement shelter--we used that in case of tornadoes, but I remember seeing that yellow sign and being told it doubled as a fallout shelter and just being really chilled by that.

Nathan DeHoff said...

I was born in 1977, and I don't remember ever doing Duck and Cover. I do remember the kindergarten teacher saying something about we'd do in the case of a nuclear power plant meltdown, though. I guess this would have been about three years after Three Mile Island, and in the same state.

I pretty much always like the polkas, but "Polkarama!" did seem a little flat when I first heard it, like it just wasn't as energetic as the others.