Thursday, June 04, 2015

Ranking Al: #60-51

This is getting harder and harder to do. God, I love Weird Al. I'm gonna feel great all day just because I was listening to his music this afternoon doing this.

60. "Hardware Store"
(Style parody of Oingo Boingo; from Poodle Hat, 2003)
That refrain is just pure genius. This is one of those great little songs where Al turns the mundane into the glorious. (My favorite bit is just the satisfied sigh, followed by the awestruck "Would you look at all that stuff?") I think that mode is my favorite Weird Al: let's celebrate the joy we feel in things that might not seem that special, but which are special to us. Our little niches and pet interests. It's what makes life worthwhile. I don't feel like Al is necessarily successful at aping Boingo here, except for the wonderful refrain with the layered voices. He certainly has the manic tone right. I love Oingo Boingo, and so does Al: this is the second time he parodied their style.

59. "Why Does This Always Happen to Me?"
(Style parody of Ben Folds; from Poodle Hat, 2003)
Al does a pretty good mimicking of Ben Folds' piano-driven suburban power pop (Folds even plays the piano on the track). I love that he applies it to those little annoyances that we take so personally when they disrupt our days. I've definitely been guilty of similar outpourings of entitled rage. Brat Life 2K15. Hey, I'm in therapy. Al pulls out his trademark of escalating the pettiness to the point of total absurdity. (My favorite bit is the final verse, where the narrator stabs a guy in the face for talking too much, and then laments that the knife got stuck and the blade is now a tiny bit warped. A fabulation, yes, but the frustration is pretty relatable. The struggle is real.)

58. "Polka Face"
(Medley; from Alpocalypse, 2011)
Al mashes together many of the songs I actually dug in 2010/2011. (List of songs here; brilliant idea to use a bit of Frankie Yankovic's "Tick Tock Polka" as a lead-in to Kesha's "Tik Tok.") I particularly love the ragged horns on Justin Bieber's "Baby," I song I decidedly did not like. He also does something snazzy with Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," another incredibly stupid song. I love the little bit of "Fireflies" enough to wish he had just recorded a straight cover in the same style. I don't know this one just has a lovely middle section.

57. "You're Pitiful"
(Parody of "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt; digital single, 2006)
Yeah, there was a whole controversy about this song which you can read about here. I got so sick of the original, which was a constant play on VH1 back when I was still watching music videos in the mornings. This is one of those Al parodies where, once you're removed from the context and overplayed irritation of the original, you kind of realize how nice the music is.

56. "Callin' in Sick"
(Original; from Bad Hair Day, 1996)
This song could have been my mission statement for a while. In a way, grunge was sort of the perfect genre for Al to play with; grunge used to get constantly dragged for being "just a bunch of kids whining about how they don't have any real problems," as one guy I used to work with put it. (Another guy I knew often said, even less charitably, that a "Best of the Early 90s" compilation should just be titled WAAAH!!) And given Al's ability to absurdly paint small dissatisfactions as life-defining (and life-thwarting) obstacles of epic proportions, he really ran with the joke. I think it says a lot that, 19 years later, this song sounds less like a parody of a popular style and more like a legitimate grunge single. He nailed it.

55. "You Make Me"
(Style parody of Oingo Boingo; from Even Worse, 1988)
This one nails much more specifically the sound of Oingo Boingo. This is rare in the Weird Al catalog in that it's kind of a straight love song, detailing all the bizarre things the song's narrator would do in order to win over the object of his affection, rather than detailing... well, stalking, I guess, is where I'm going there.

54. "Everything You Know Is Wrong"
(Style parody of They Might Be Giants; from Bad Hair Day, 1996)
A slightly more twisted take on the TMBG sound--which Al nails, right down to the sax break. It actually just makes me want to listen to a bunch of They Might Be Giants, because I love this sound.

53. "Jerry Springer"
(Parody of "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies; from Running with Scissors, 1999)
Boy, did I hate the original song. The parody gets to me, though; I remember watching The Jerry Springer Show and just not being able to turn away from it. That show was YouTube before YouTube existed, if you catch my meaning. My favorite Weird Al albums also serve as time capsules to what my life was like back when they came out (or when the songs being parodied came out), and this parody really captures that feeling of just rubbernecking Springer and knowing it was bad for you but not being able to change the channel because something bizarre was happening. Different times. Most of the stuff he mentions in the song actually happened on episodes, except for some of the really over the top ones. Hard show to parody. The spoken line "That goat doesn't love you!" always makes me laugh.

52. "The Weird Al Show Theme"
(Original; from The Weird Al Show, 1997)
Just a fun bit of nonsense that served as the theme to Al's short-lived (but wonderful) Saturday morning series. I love the way he sings the words "nasal decongestant factory."

51. "The Brady Bunch"
(Parody of "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats; from "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D, 1984)
Dig that music. The original has always been a favorite. Thematically, this is similar to the already discussed "Achy Breaky Song." Here, Al just goes through all of the terrible things on TV that he'd rather watch than reruns of The Brady Bunch, before heading into a lyrical adaptation of that show's theme song in a way that kind of seems to imply a descent into madness. I get it. Oh, jeez, I get it. I used to watch that show when I was little, and after you hit a certain age, you just can't do it anymore. The last time I had bronchitis (winter 2014), I ended up watching something like the first six episodes on a weekend morning when I was in and out of consciousness because I was so delirious with fever. There was nothing on and I thought, okay, this is familiar, I can just deal with this. What a mistake.

One of my favorite things ever is one of Harlan Ellison's Glass Teat TV review columns collected in the book of the same name. As he's reviewing the new shows in the fall of 1969, his one-sentence review of The Brady Bunch sums it all up for me: "Mother of God!"

Until next time, when the top 50 begins!


Roger Owen Green said...

I have to listen to those early albums, 3D, and the one before it, again. have on vinyl, but not on CD. All the ones you've played, I say, "Oh, yeah, that was good, too."

Roger Owen Green said...

I just relistened to Poodle Hat. Hardware Store is climbing up the personal charts. It's the rush of words in that catchy tune.