David’s been doing his musical articles for a while and I figured it was about time I stepped up to the plate. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly as well-versed in music as he is. Then I realized that Alpocalypse, the new Weird Al Yankovic album, is coming out in a couple days. Hey, I know Weird Al pretty good!
Weird Al is someone I grew up listening to that I’m glad to see is still at it. I got into him at age 7 with Even Worse, which gave us the Michael Jackson “Bad” parody “Fat”. It took me years to even realize the joke about the album’s name. While I stuck with Weird Al for years (he used to come out with a new album every year or two back then), I don’t think I really got a lot of it. I only caught the absolute outer shell of his work and ignored the rest. I’d listen to his parodies, but fast forward through the originals.
As time went on, this changed. Like with watching Adam West Batman, the older I got, the more I got. The more I was able to see the actual talent and genius that my younger self didn’t notice. It became a thing where I’d come for the parodies but stay for the original music. Now we’ve reached a point where I look at the sources for the parodies on his new album’s track list and I don’t recognize a single one (I know “Born This Way” now, but only after the brief controversy with “Perform This Way” momentarily not being released). It doesn’t matter for me because even if I’m unfamiliar with a lot of it, I know I’ll still be fully entertained.
I wanted to pay a little tribute to Weird Al’s catalogue. I thought I’d cover only his original songs. No direct parodies (style parodies are more than fine), no polka medleys and no covers. Doing the research was a complete blast. I listened to favorites, old tunes I never gave the time of day to and even some older ones off albums I never heard before.
For the record, if I had been doing a list of his best parodies, “I Think I’m a Clone Now” would win.
27) MR. FRUMP IN THE IRON LUNG
“Weird Al” Yankovic (1983)
Y’know, Mr. Frump is my very best friend.
He’s never a chump or a tease
He never tells me lies and best of all,
He never disagrees
“Mr. Frump” lacks replay value, but I really needed to represent it on the list. When I listened through Al’s debut album, I didn’t think too much about most of the tracks. It was his first album and a lot of the songs were really rough around the edges. This final track, on the other hand, threw me for a loop. It’s probably Al’s darkest song in all his years.
The accordion-fueled track has Al happily sing about his possibly one-sided friendship with a man named Mr. Frump who is in an iron lung and therefore can’t talk. When Al cues him to sing in the song, the music would stop completely and we’d hear creepy, mechanized breathing. As off-putting as it is for the first two verses, it gets even worse when we hear Frump’s dying “words”, which are panicked, fast-paced gasps before silence and Al sings, “Amen!” What an absolutely disturbing way to end a comedy album.
26) I REMEMBER LARRY
Bad Hair Day (1996)
All those wedgies he gave, all those shoestrings he tied
All those brownies he made with the ex-lax inside
Oh Lar, I swear, it was a laugh a minute with you
The optimistic-sounding rock song “I Remember Larry” relates the story of Larry, a prankster who does some heinous stuff to our singer. The terror escalates despite Al’s tendency to keep a cheery disposition up until the final verse where he happily explains his deranged revenge that involves kidnapping and murdering the guy. No wonder he’s in such a good mood!
Only now do I get the joke about Weird Al referring to tying up Larry as a pretty good “gag”.
It’s a solid song with some great comedic payoff. It also features an odd little Easter egg where Al moans something incomprehensible after the final verse. Playing it in reverse it reveals him saying, “Boy, you must have an awful lot of time on your hands.” Even better is how it’s delivered in such a way that it makes the actual intelligible line sound more awkward phonically than the backwards mumbling we actually get.
25) TRIGGER HAPPY
Off the Deep End (1992)
Oh, I accidently shot daddy last night in the den
I mistook him in the dark for a drug-crazed Nazi again
Now why’d you have to get so mad?
It was just a lousy flesh wound, Dad
You know, I’m trigger happy, trigger happy every day
I’ve never been a big fan of the Beach Boys, but I have to respect this style parody. Where I work, I get customers buying stacks of gun magazines in one go and it honestly creeps me out just a bit. The happy-go-lucky beach song goes into the opinions of a guy who is a little too into his ability to bear arms. It wouldn’t work nearly as well if it wasn’t for such a macho view being contradicted with such a sunny form of music. While a lot of the lyrics don’t hold as strong as they should with me, the high-voiced background singers adding, “Shoot to kill ‘em, now! Shoot to kill!” during the third verse absolutely makes the song worthwhile to me.
24) FUN ZONE
“Fun Zone” is something I couldn’t help but add to the list out of principle. It has no lyrics to speak of and is way too short at a minute and forty-five seconds, but like the song advertises, it’s just so damn fun and peppy! Apparently it was originally written to take over as the theme song to Saturday Night Live, but was instead incorporated into the movie UHF. To this day, it’s played to open up Al’s concerts.
God, I wish a longer version existed. It would be like Red Bull in musical form.
23) DON’T DOWNLOAD THIS SONG
Straight Outta Lynwood (2006)
Don’t download this song (Don’t do it! No, noooo!)
Even Lars Ulrich knows it’s wrong (You can just ask him!)
Go and buy the CD like you know that you should (You really should!)
Oh, don’t download this song
Back in the days of Napster, I remember Al expressing his disdain for the concept of illegally downloading music. While I’m sure he still has problems with it, his disposition seems to have matured. Not only did he release some of his eventual Alpocalypse tracks on iTunes a few years ago to capitalize on an evolving market, but he poked fun at the whole concept with this song.
By doing a benefit song in the style of “We Are the World” and “Do They Know it’s Christmastime”, there is a catch 22 mixed in there. On one hand, the concept loses a bit of flavor when it’s only Al doing the singing when the song style is usually about as many musicians as possible getting their five seconds of vocals in. On the other hand, just having it as Al does make it smoother for repeat consumption. He goes over-the-top with the concept that pirating music makes you worse than Hitler, but the song doesn’t really get great until the finale.
The part of the song that always gets me is during the final chorus, right before it fades out when it suggests that downloading music is what got Tommy Chong tossed in jail, immediately accompanied by Al as a backup singer yelling, “Remember Tommy!” The fadeout keeps it up by angrily claiming that you deserve to burn in Hell and a really faint, “You cheap bastard!” before the song completely ends.
The real genius of this song is that Al put it up on his MySpace as a free download. But don’t download it!
22) WANNA B UR LVR
Poodle Hat (2003)
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
One of my favorite albums is Beck’s Midnite Vultures, so naturally, I can’t help but enjoy Al’s style parody of Beck circa that time. “Wanna B Ur Lvr” is mostly reminiscent of “Peaches and Cream” with a little taste of “Nicotine and Gravy”. In the song, Al tries to play it smooth with a series of pickup lines, all of which are completely confusing, unattractive and/or insulting. Like with the two aforementioned songs, there’s a lengthy end segment based on different vocal moments from throughout the song playing at the same time with more and more adding on the further it goes. I’m a sucker for that kind of crap. If there’s anything working against it, it’s that it does dull out after a while and almost makes you feel like it’s longer than it really is.
It is worth noting for such a squeaky-clean guy, Al hits PG13 territory when he starts getting into his innuendo bridge. I’m still taken aback by hearing the man say, “I wanna be your Krakatoa, let my lava flow all over you.”
Don’t you know that we control the horizontal?
We control the vertical, too
We gonna make a couch potato out of you
That’s what we gonna do now
“UHF” is a fantastic rock song with an excellent opening guitar riff and an even better video. The movie’s pretty nifty too. That said, the album version is better than the video version just for the extra minute or so of rocking out. I don’t know if Al’s trying to ape anyone in particular here, though if I had to guess, I’d say it feels most like Huey Louis. Either way, it may be Al’s most straightforward original. Not counting “Fun Zone” for obvious reasons, “UHF” may be the least humorous song Al’s given us. I don’t just mean that it isn’t funny, but that it doesn’t even try to be funny. The lyrics are cute, but they aren’t exactly something that’ll make you even snicker. That’s okay, though, because the song still rocks.
20) THIS IS THE LIFE
Dare to Be Stupid (1985)
Yeah, every day I make the front page news
No time to pay my dues
I got a million pairs of shoes
This is the life
Here we go to another movie theme. “This is the Life” was originally released as a single to go with the gangster comedy film Johnny Dangerously. This super-catchy ragtime track plays up the life of an incredibly rich dude who loves every minute of it. While the video suggests that the singer is some kind of mafia boss, there’s really nothing suggestive of it in the song itself. He’s just a really rich dude having the time of his life. He isn’t corrupt, he doesn’t treat people like dirt and he accepts that it isn’t forever. It’s pretty damn optimistic.
I will say that the electric guitar and hip-hop solos kind of take me out of the song, but other than that, it’s all good.
Charles Nelson Reilly won the Tour de France
With two flat tires and a missin’ chain
He trained a rattlesnake to do his laundry
I’m tellin’ you the man was insane
“CNR” is part of the Internet Leaks set that would eventually be stored up for release on the new album. A very blatant White Stripes style parody, it also lampoons the Chuck Norris fact meme, which itself a knockoff of Saturday Night Live’s Bill Brasky recurring skit. Rather than treat a martial arts cowboy or a mythical giant businessman as king badass, Al uses Charles Nelson Reilly, a recently-deceased comedic actor known for being openly gay to the point of being over-the-top and showing up on a lot of game shows. Other than his role on Match Game, none of this really comes up in the song. It’s just a list of absurd facts about how unstoppable he is, which is additionally absurd in how he was really a flamboyant old jokester with thick glasses and a toupee. It’s a hard-hitting song that pays tribute to the White Stripes well and also has one hell of an animated music video.
Fun fact: there’s a scene in the video where we see animal heads on the wall as trophies. Mixed in there is the head of Chuck Norris.
18) MIDNIGHT STAR
“Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D (1984)
Oh, Midnight Star
You can believe it if you read it in the weekly Midnight Star
They’re keeping Hitler’s brain alive inside a jar
Midnight Star, I wanna know, I wanna know
While I consider “Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung” to be the first pretty good Weird Al song, “Midnight Star” from his second album is definitely his first truly great song. Said to be in the style of Bruce Springsteen, Al relegates himself to play it with his normal singing voice. It’s a fun 80’s pop rock number based on a fictional tabloid newspaper in a time where the tabloids were less believable than ever. Apparently, Al has gone on record to say that every news snippet he mentions is based on an actual headline he had seen in the Weekly World News. It’s easy to hear the quality jump from Al’s first album to his second, but once this song kicks in, you can’t help but notice how much he had improved.
Best part is easily the line about how you can use your ESP to play guitar, which kicks off a quick guitar solo and leads into the lengthy “I wanna know, I wanna know!” fadeout segment.
17) WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME?
Poodle Hat (2003)
And I thought – Poor Rob, I just had lunch with him
Hey, wait a minute, he still owes me money! What a jerk
Well, there’s five bucks that I’m never gonna see again
Plus now, on top of everything else, it looks like I’m gonna be late to work
This song is a style parody of Ben Folds, who himself plays the piano for it. The two of them are pretty tight due to Al directing the video for “Rocking the Suburbs”. This is another song that is incredibly dark, but also incredibly funny. The story of the song is that Al will sing about terrible tragedies that he’s experienced and then break into how it’s slightly inconvenienced him. It’s a chill song, but is noticeably less tactful to listen to these days when you consider the real life atrocities in Haiti and Japan that are similar to the fictional Peru disaster Al makes light of in the opening verse. Now that I think about it, while the absurdity increases by the verse, the horrible events only decrease. It goes from thousands dying horribly to a couple dozen dying horribly to a man getting stabbed in the face. Huh.
16) TALK SOUP
I’m just your average schizophrenic nymphomaniac
Albino go-go dancer, you see
Nothin’ so bad that I can’t share it
With a billion friends on national TV, WHOOOOA!
“Talk Soup” is about a man obsessed with getting himself on any and all daytime talk shows. The Peter Gabriel style parody was originally meant to be the theme song to the TV show of the same name (and precursor to The Soup), but it never got used. Then again, that was before John Henson made the show awesome, so it makes sense that Al would get screwed over during the lousy Greg Kinnear era. Anyway, when I heard this song as a young ‘un, I didn’t know what Talk Soup was or even who Peter Gabriel was, but most certainly found this to be one of the songs on the album I kept going back to. Time hasn’t fixed that problem.
15) CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
Straight Outta Lynwood (2006)
I thought after all these years of searching around
I’d found my soul mate finally
But one day I found out she actually owned a copy
Of Joe Dirt on DVD
In terms of mimicking another artist’s style, few are as impressive as “Close but No Cigar”, which does a fantastic job sounding like any given Cake song. The story of the song is that a guy is able to land some of the most ideal women, only to scrap his relationships due to increasingly trivial matters. The idea writes itself, but Al goes a little extra creative on the lyrics. While building up these women as being near-perfect, he uses some rather fancy wordage in his descriptions like, “She was sweeter than aspartame,” or saying that one girl had a “ribbon on her left manolo.” I’m still not 100% what that is and I just checked Wikipedia.
Poodle Hat (2003)
Rise to vote, sir
Do geese see God?
“Do nine men interpret?” “Nine men,” I nod
Rats live on no evil star
Won’t lovers revolt now?
Race fast, safe car
“Bob” is without a doubt the most clever song Al has ever produced. No question. The Bob Dylan style parody is named after its inspiration, whose first name is a palindrome. Every lyric in the song is itself a palindrome. Not only was Al able to come up with 38 sets of lines that read the same backwards as forwards, but he was able to make them rhyme and sound like a ringer for Dylan’s lyrical style. It’s seriously impressive. Once that impressiveness wears off, you’re left with a pretty good song. Not great, but pretty good.
13) DOG EAT DOG
Polka Party (1986)
I, I’m climbing up, up the corporate ladder
Watch out, well, it’s dog eat dog
Nose against the grindstone, it feels all right
Watch out, hey, well, it’s dog eat dog
“Dog Eat Dog” is the two most obvious style parodies in Al’s collection, coming off as more of a love letter to Talking Heads than anything else. Talking Heads rule so that already gives the song a boost. Singing about how awesome working in an office is (inspired by how much Al hated working in an office), it goes the full nine yards by having Al do a fun little David Byrne impression. Not only with the random high-pitched shifts in his voice, but for all the little lyrical quirks usually found in Byrne’s music. I hear he even brings out the Stop Making Sense giant suit when he performs the song in concert.
On the subject of Talking Heads style parodies, I’ve always enjoyed this track, “Fake Talking Heads Song” by Liam Lynch. While I dig the hell out of “Dog Eat Dog”, I find this one to be a little less obvious about which songs it’s borrowing from.
12) GOOD OLD DAYS
Even Worse (1987)
Oh, and mom would be fixing up something in the kitchen
Fresh biscuits or hot apple pie
And I’d spend all day long in the basement
Torturing rats with a hacksaw and pulling the wings off of flies
Again, we’re getting the darkest song on the album as the final track. In the style of James Taylor, Al reminisces about his childhood. As he thinks back to the usual clichés of the wistful acoustic sub-genre, such as his childhood sweetheart and the friendly grocery store owner who acted as his mentor, he would – completely straight in his delivery – go into detail about how he’d torture and murder them. The punchlines are handed off to us in flawless fashion and even if it didn’t take a turn to the twisted, it would still be easy to groove to.
11) EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG
Bad Hair Day (1996)
I was walking to the kitchen for some Golden Grahams
When I accidentally stepped into an alternate dimension
And soon I was abducted by some aliens from space
Who kinda looked like Jamie Farr
Our subject here is based on the stylings of They Might Be Giants. The song is a bunch of nonsense, telling the stories of car crashes, alien abductions and trips to Heaven. Normally, those would be fine, but stuff is tossed in there about keeping a wolverine in his underwear and a random appearance by the floating, disembodied head of Colonel Sanders. Usually, the use of “lol random” can get grating, but there’s so much energy and gusto in this song that all I can do is enjoy it. The chorus is impossible not to get into, building into the final refrain where the singing and percussion is more matter-of-fact about it.
It is pretty amusing how the first two stories involve the narrator being in a terrible car crash and having his internal organs removed, but it’s a simple paper cut that does him in at the end.
Running with Scissors (1999)
That’s when I swore that someday
Someday I would get out of that basement and travel to a magical, faraway place
Where the sun is always shining and the air smells like warm root beer
And the towels are oh so fluffy!
Where the shriners and the lepers play their ukuleles all day long
And anyone on the street will gladly shave your back for a nickel
I believe “Albuquerque” can be defined as being Al’s magnum opus. If the worst were to happen to him tomorrow and he’d leave this world of ours, we can at least bask in the knowledge that he created “Albuquerque”. Everything he’s done since then is just extra. This song, which is inspired by “Dicks Automotive” by the Rugburns, goes over eleven minutes, making it Al’s longest track. It acts as the autobiography of a man who for some reason believes Albuquerque, New Mexico to be paradise. His story goes on a series of tangents that shift between bizarre and zany things happening to him and him being bizarre and zany in relation to completely mundane things. The whole thing is a mess of wackiness filled with Al emoting like a crazed cartoon character with a mood swing problem accompanied by a steady stream of electric guitar and energetic drumming.
While I recognize it as a top tier classic in Al’s repertoire, there is still the fact that it isn’t something you can listen to every day. It’s incredibly long and all over the place, which only goes so far once the novelty wears off. Still, it’s good fun when it pops up on your iPod or Pandora every month or so.
Fun fact: the finale of the song features “Albuquerque!” being said 27 times.
9) MY BABY’S IN LOVE WITH EDDIE VEDDER
Running with Scissors (1999)
I knew we were headin’ for disaster
When she caught me hangin’ out at the Ticketmaster
Now she’s got an unrequited adoration
For the frustrated, agitated, designated alienated
Spokesman for the disaffected grunge generation
The more I write about these, the more I realize just why I gravitate more towards Al’s originals. With his song-specific parodies, he has to take the song and come up with a comedic hook that works well enough, a lot of the time settling on TV or food-based songs. Song first; concept second. With his originals, he can write it about anything he wants and comes up with a lot of outrageous concepts that he can create his own song around. Concept first; song second. Look no further than this zydeco track about a man whose girlfriend is obsessed with Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. The icing on the cake is that Eddie Vedder hadn’t been in the media forefront in years by this point, making the choice of having a song written about him even more random.
This would be the best use of Al’s skill with the accordion. Even better is his use of vocals, such as the way his voice would suddenly crack the second time he’d mention Vedder’s name in each chorus or the way Al would enunciate certain multi-syllable words (especially love the way he pronounces “genius”). Just a solid song straight through.
Even Worse (1987)
I just can’t understand it
Why won’t you return my phone calls
Are you still mad I gave a Mohawk to your cat?
If you’d just say the word
I’m certain that our love would last forever… and ever
Or are you too dumb to realize that?
In my opinion, “Melanie” is by far the best of Al’s comedy romance songs. While the “Me-he-he-helanie” chorus can grate at first, it proceeded to win me over quickly and I became enthralled with how well put-together the whole package is. The subject of the song is a man’s disturbing obsession with his neighbor Melanie, who he proceeds to stalk and ogle, yet can’t understand why she won’t give him the time of day. It’s one of those songs that makes you forget it’s even supposed to be a comedy track and you can easily get into how great the singing and instruments are. This is the only Weird Al song that’s caused me to actually go seek out covers of the song off YouTube. Yes, those exist.
“Melanie” would get a similar song many years later with “Do I Creep You Out”, which had its own music video from the guys at JibJab. As a bit of a callback to “Melanie”, the video featured Al’s character watching the item of his affection in the shower via telescope, which is how the protagonist of “Melanie” came across the girl in the first place.
7) THE BIGGEST BALL OF TWINE IN MINNESOTA
Then we went to the gift shop and stood in line
Bought a souvenir miniature ball of twine, some window decals, and anything else they’d sell us
And I bought a couple post cards, “Greetings from the twine ball, wish you were here”
Won’t the folks back home be jealous?
Before Al would go all-out with ridiculously long songs like “Albuquerque” and “Genius in France”, a long finale song for him meant nearly seven minutes. This entry is based on the style of Gordon Lightfoot and Harry Chapin (most notably his song “30,000 Pounds of Bananas”). It tells the story of a man, his family and a smelly hitchhiker as they make their way to the world’s largest ball of twine via a three day car trip. The song is a dramatic folk song, overwhelmingly epic despite a story that is incredibly mundane. There are quirks that keep the listener awake, such as the family’s obsession with pickled wieners and window decals. The song goes on and on for a while and although catchy, it starts to lose you.
Then it hits Weird Al’s greatest punchline. After four lengthy verses based on a man’s infatuation with this twine ball, we almost begin to accept that this is indeed some kind of landmark. Then the bridge of the song kicks in with a dramatic interlude where our main character proceeds to loudly wonder such questions as, “What on Earth would make a man decide to do that kind of thing?”, “What was he trying to prove?” and “Who was he trying to impress?” The song takes a break from pretending to point out that, no, this thing really is stupid and too strange to exist. Then it continues for a couple more verses to finish the story off.
The best little subtle joke in there is how he mentions seeing the twine ball in the distance at 7:37 in the evening and later quickly brings up that the place is opened from 10am-8pm. Considering they spend several minutes buying souvenirs and other hijinx, they spend mere minutes enjoying what they’ve traveled many, many miles to experience.
6) HARDWARE STORE
Poodle Hat (2003)
Guys with nametags walking down the aisles
Rows of garden hoses that go on for miles and miles
Brand new socket wrenches in a plethora of styles
All arranged alphabetically
And they’re doing a promotional stunt
There’s a great big purple sign out front
That says every 27th customer
Will get a ball peen hammer free
“Hardware Store” is that song Weird Al fans bring up whenever they want to point out to someone that the guy is talented. Dealing with the opening of a hardware store that the protagonist is way too excited about, a lot of the music is based on rhythmic power tools to go with the theme. The singing is fast-paced and for the most part, the song is just above average. What truly makes it special is the bridge, where after saying in awe, “Will you look at all that stuff…” Al proceeds to spend 30 seconds rapidly going through 62 different things you can buy at the hardware store and somehow making it all rhyme. Just for that, I have to give the song a high ranking.
5) SKIPPER DAN
Oh, the critics they used to say, I was the new Olivier
Thought I’d be the toast of Sundance, or maybe Cannes
Ah, but don’t bother trying to IMDB me,
The only place you might possibly see me,
Is riding my little boat around Adventureland
The Weezer style parody “Skipper Dan” is another part of the Internet Leaks set that would later be saved for the new album. It’s definitely the most depressing song Al’s come up with to the point that a friend of mine couldn’t listen to it or watch the video more than once. Despite its playful sound, the track tells the story of a talented actor who thought he would set the world on fire, only to find his dreams in shambles and resigning to play the role of Skipper Dan at the Disneyland Jungle Cruise. If you’ve never been on the ride, it’s cheesy and gets old before it’s over, so I can’t imagine the horror of having to host the ride again and again and again every day. The verses, chorus and the background singing in the bridge are all extremely catchy and I’m glad that this far into Al’s career, there’s still a song I can go back to again and again like this.
I also find there to be some kind of deep joke at the end of the video as during the final line, “Always said I’d be famous, I guess that I lied, because I’m working on the Jungle Cruise ride.” As he says this, we see various families happily taking group pictures with him, seeing worth in his performance that he doesn’t see as he tries to muster up a smile. It’s a real Sullivan’s Travels moment. He got what he always wanted, just not in the way he expected.
4) FRANK’S 2000 INCH TV
There’s Frank’s remote control, you can look… but don’t touch it, please
‘Cause Frank’s the one in charge and he decides what everybody sees
The picture’s crystal clear and everything is magnified
Robert DeNiro’s (Robert DeNiro’s) mole has got to be ten feet wide
This song came off Alapalooza, which in retrospect has the weakest set of parodies. There are only four on there and the two that got videos (“Jurassic Park” and “Bedrock Anthem”) don’t do a lot for me. I guess in relation to that, like some kind of musical osmosis, “Frank’s 2000 Inch TV” came to be the first Weird Al original that had me say, “Wow, this is seriously good!” Much like “UHF”, this song is incredibly low on comedy. I mean, yes, I suppose it’s humorous in that it’s about a TV being way too big, but I can’t imagine anyone actually laughing while listening to the song. Or maybe I’m just too entwined in the entrancing tune overwhelming the punchlines.
The one thing that sets this song over the top for me in enjoyment is the end of the first chorus. It seamlessly goes into Al’s melodic moaning, which itself segues perfectly into the next verse. I remember I used to rewind my cassette to that point again and again. It gave me the brain chills.
I didn’t even pick up that it was an REM style parody for well over a decade.
3) THE NIGHT SANTA WENT CRAZY
Bad Hair Day (1996)
From his beard to his boots he was covered with ammo
Like a big fat drunk disgruntled Yuletide Rambo
And he smiled as he said with a twinkle in his eye,
“Merry Christmas to all – now you’re all gonna die!”
I knew I had to place this song so high up the list when I realized how I’m totally cool with listening to this song multiple times despite it being a Christmas song and it currently being June. Coming off as a cross between Ozzy’s “Mama, I’m Coming Home” and Soul Asylum’s “Black Gold”, Al tells the story of Santa snapping and going on a murder spree at his workshop. It’s somberly folksy with a deceptively whimsical chorus and it’s really grisly. So grisly that there’s a second version of the song that was deemed a little too gruesome to put on the album in the beginning. In the regular cut, the last verse explains Santa as being tossed into prison with the promise of being let go for good behavior after 700 years. In the alternate version, Santa is shot in the head by a SWAT team sniper with his brains splattering the floor.
Yet another dark song Al had to save for his final track.
2) DARE TO BE STUPID
Dare to Be Stupid (1985)
Settle down, raise a family, join the PTA
Buy some sensible shoes and a Chevrolet
And party ’till you’re broke and they drive you away
It’s okay, you can dare to be stupid
When Mark Mothersbaugh, the head Devo guy, writes you a letter to tell you that your Devo style parody is the perfect Devo song, you know you’ve done something right. “Dare to be Stupid” still holds up in many ways. The instrumentals still hold up. The video still holds up. Even its pop culture status as part of the Transformers lore still holds up. Back in the day, it acted as the theme song to the Junkions in the Transformers animated movie. A few years ago, on one of the million different Transformer cartoons, Al voiced the main Junkion Wreck-Gar, who would proclaim, “I dare to be stupid!”
The track, which centers around a whole lot of nonsense lyrics, is just too much fun. It’s silly 80’s exuberance imprisoned in one song and if you could eat it, it would probably taste like cotton candy. Don’t question it, you know it would! I don’t think I’m legally allowed to do this list without at least having this baby crack the top 3. It came with a lot of deliberation for me to not have it as #1, but there’s one Weird Al Yankovic original I enjoy just a little bit more.
1) YOUR HOROSCOPE FOR TODAY
Running with Scissors (1999)
Your birthday party will be ruined once again by your explosive flatulence
Your love life will run into trouble when your fiancé hurls a javelin through your chest
The position of Jupiter says you should spend the rest of the week face down in the mud
Try not to shove a roll of duct tape up your nose while taking your driver’s test
Man, I’m not even into the ska scene, but I still love the hell out of this song. If you ask me, this song has everything that makes a Weird Al song good. It’s got the zany randomness of “Dare to be Stupid”, only with enough of a topic to keep the lyrics grounded. It’s got the upbeat enthusiasm of “My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder”. It’s got the comedic voice acting of “Albuquerque”. It has the amusing little talking-too-fast-for-too-long aspect of “Hardware Store”. It takes a deserving target and proceeds to blast its foolishness, while getting as much mileage as it can with the concept in as many directions as it can. In the end, it’s just an addictive and well-made song that’s absolutely hilarious.
And that’s my Top 27 Weird Al Originals List for today.