Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ranking Al: #30-21

30. "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies"
(Parody of "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits; from UHF, 1989)
The theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies, adapted to the Dire Straits classic. Mark Knopfler and keyboardist Guy Fletcher actually play their parts on the track. The video is brilliant. One piece of neat trivia: Simpsons director David Silverman designed the computer-generated characters.

29. "UHF"
(Original; from UHF, 1989)
The single from Al's movie, which is one of my all-time favorite movies. Still have great memories of going to see that in the theater with my Dad the Saturday after it opened. Good thing I did, because it flopped so hard that it was out of theaters by something like the next weekend. Dad and I needed some fun... That was the summer my parents' divorce was finalized and I was undergoing a major depression that saw me sleeping a lot during the day, and my Mom's brilliant idea was to yell me into feeling better... God, my childhood sucked. Still dealing with it today. Anyway, I like this song. Sorry for the digression there.

28. "Lasagna"
(Parody of Los Lobos' version of "La Bamba," traditional; from Even Worse, 1988)
I'm married to an Italian-American woman. One of my favorite things to talk to her about is Italian food, because I'm kind of fascinated by how a word can be spelled "procuitti" and pronounced "pro-ZHOOT." (Last summer, I watched the first season of The Sopranos On Demand and had a lot of conversations about all of the food I kept seeing. Wow, if nothing else, that show sure made me hungry for Italian food all the time. And I already like Italian food way, way too much.) So I like this short little song, because it reminds me of having dinner with Becca when we were dating and her grandmother used to make a lot of these foods. She didn't talk in the cartoon accent Al uses in the song, but she did have a Chicago accent that made her sound like a B picture from the thirties, and this song just makes me laugh because of it.

27. "Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung"
(Original; from "Weird Al" Yankovic, 1983)
Oh, my Mom always thought this one was mean, but this was the whole smart-assed, snotty, MAD aesthetic of early Weird Al. I was one of those obnoxious kids who thought stupid things were hysterically funny. Not sure that's changed, actually... This one was a bit of a litmus test for me, I think. If you thought this was funny, you were "in" with me.

26. "Albuquerque"
(Style parody of The Rugburns; from Running with Scissors, 1999)
Al's longest song, a hard-driving rock spoken word narrative that rambles on for almost 12 minutes and which is absolutely brilliant. It's another of those songs where he takes something totally mundane (winning a trip to Albuquerque in a radio contest) and exaggerates the hell out of it, creating this bratty, fabulized odyssey about crashing planes, donuts, weasels and true love. It's funny that he wrote to just annoy the listener and it became one of the most loved songs on the album, but it's not surprising. It's just an amazing comedy construction. (I love the liner notes on this one... the lyrics would be so long to write out, so at some point they stop in mid-sentence and Al just goes into an apology.)

25. "Theme from Rocky XIII"
(Parody of "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor; from "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D, 1984)
The reason I think this parody especially works is that it's not mean-spirited about Rocky Balboa; he's clearly proud of his little deli and the panoply of meats he has available. I mean, I know this sound kind of strange to say, but I like the idea of an old, retired Rocky with his little delicatessen and saying things like "It's the thrill of one bite," like he's got a sense of humor about not being on top anymore. That's life, you know? Stallone should make this movie, just old Rocky running a deli. No boxing, no street fights, just catering the Stampatello wedding or something. (Weird, now I'm hungry for crackers and summer sausage.)

24. "Pancreas"
(Style parody of Brian Wilson; from Straight Outta Lynwood, 2006)
This sounds like it could be a missing track from Smile. Subject matter and all. A perfect style-alike of 1966 Beach Boys, so of course I love it.

23. "Another One Rides the Bus"
(Parody of "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen; single, 1981)
This song is always going to sound fresh to me, I guess. It's just pure novelty record smart-assery, but it's never stopped being fun to me. I linked to the live appearance Al made on The Tomorrow Show in 1981, back when he was just 21 years old.

22. "Bohemian Polka"
(Polka version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen; from Alapalooza, 1993)
I didn't really put two Queen parodies together on purpose. Huh. In fact, I didn't realize I was doing it until just now. That's pretty funny. Back in 1992/1993 "Bohemian Rhapsody" was back on the charts because of its appearance in Wayne's World. Being 16, I hadn't heard it before, but I absolutely LOVED it. I still remembered Queen from their early 80s hits from when I was a little kid and I knew "We Will Rock You" from going to sports games. And I knew "We Are the Champions." But by the end of '93, I felt the song was getting a little overplayed, and then suddenly I heard a polka version and... yes. The brilliant antidote. And now it's just one of my favorite funny little bits of nonsense. Little bits of nonsense used to get a lot of play on my mix tapes.

(Note: This is the last track left to list from Alapalooza, so that's another album down.)

21. "I Love Rocky Road"
(Parody of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts' cover of "I Love Rock and Roll" by Arrows; from "Weird Al" Yankovic, 1983)
I love the original song so damn much. When I first saw it as a kid on MTV, that was sort of the moment my love of music (and Joan Jett and girls like that) was set in motion. It's the ultimate rock song in my heart. I love how Weird Al takes it, speeds up the temp, and turns it into an accordion-led ode to ice cream. It's the kind of brilliant parody that I feel like no one really gets right very much in our reference-heavy pop culture; rather than simply make fun of the original, Al matches the original's passion but focuses it on something simple so the passion seems totally over-the-top and out of place. When I was a kid, I wanted Joan Jett (or someone similarly tight-jeansed and leathered-up) to see me standing there by the record machine. But I have to admit, I also wanted all the soda jerkers to know my name. Kids, man.

Huh. I've never tried rocky road.

Just 20 songs left. It's possible that I may have more to say about the next 20, so these entries may be shorter. Or they may be just as long, but have fewer songs. Or worse, they may just get longer and be about fewer songs.

Until next time. Hopefully before summer ends.


Roger Owen Green said...

YAY! I was playing the Synchronicity album, and I then thought of you. NOPE, song's not here yet. Good, actually.

Roger Owen Green said...

My personal preference is that you have fewer songs, but longer discussion.