Yes, this is a film website, and yes, I am a film columnist, but no pop culture exists in a vacuum. And when "Weird Al" Yankovic releases his first full-length album in five years, you better believe it deserves its own column. (As usual, my picks for items dropping on DVD are below). No one satirizes our culture the way "Weird Al" does. I have been a fan of Al's for many years, and I finally got to meet him last month after a show in St. Charles, IL. I have written about his original music and his best parodies on my blog. Here on Matchflick-- I wrote a column a couple years ago about UHF in which I praise the film as an underrated comedy.
dropped this week!
Thus, I bring you my analysis of Alpocalypse.
1. Perform This Way
You may have heard the Gaga saga about how Al tried to get permission to parody "Born This Way" and even after several hoops, she said no. Only she didn't say no, her manager said no and she didn't know anything about it. And then when she did find out about it, she went for it. Of course she did! She gets that having Al parody her is awesome. Al's parody is about how Gaga wears crazy costumes. In an interview with Chuck Klosterman, Al says that he likes "Born This Way" and felt a little hesitant about parodying such an empowering song, so to justify it, he's donating all proceeds from the single to human rights charity.
This White Stripes parody is part of the "Internet Leaks" EP, so you've probably heard it. I've seen it performed several times and it's hilarious. In his live shows, Al shows a Match Game promo, which gives the young people an idea of who Charles Nelson Reilly was, which might not be completely necessary as the show is on GSN frequently, and some young 'ens watch that stuff. The idea of this flamboyant, funny man as the hero of ridiculous scenarios reminiscent of Chuck Norris jokes is the epitome of Al's unparalleled skills at juxtaposition.
New for the Alpocalypse release, "TMZ" is a parody of Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me." Something Al does in his parodies is placing the same word in the same spot of the song as the original, and in this song, he does it with "t-shirt." (Like in "Couch Potato" he uses "Lifetime" the same place Eminem does in "Lose Yourself"). Hear it; you'll know what I mean. "TMZ" is great because for most of the song, the narrator is anti-TMZ, critical of all the little stupid things TMZ catches, like bad hair days and dirty t-shirts. But then, when he remarks on racist rants, the listener begins to wonder if the narrator does think that the sort of policing that TMZ does is all bad.
4. Skipper Dan
Another song that's been around for a while, this one was inspired by a true event. Al was on the Jungle Cruise ride and the guide made an offhand comment on his failed acting career, and Al realized that there is a song there. It's not a typical (as if there is such a thing) Weird Al song-- it's really just kind of sad. "Skipper Dan," for those keeping track, kind of sounds like slower Weezer songs.
5. Polka Face
The polka medley! Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry (hearing him sing "I Kissed a Girl" is delightful),
Kid Cudi, Pink, Lady Antebellum and more stuff. It probably won't ever become my favorite polka medley, but as usual, it's solid stuff that improves the pop music of the day because everything is better with accordion.
Du chats with Al in May, 2011
You might ask, "A Doors parody? In this decade?" but trust me, your concerns are not warranted. Think about it. My generation did this, and each one since has done this: in about 9th grade, some kids "discover" The Doors. They start listening to The Doors, they read No One Here Gets Out Alive, they think they're edgy and retro. Seriously, Scott Stapp (from the never-forgotten band Creed) even moved to Tallahassee because Jim Morrison went to college at FSU for a year. Ridiculous. And maybe, just maybe, kids will try to analyze the lyrics and get into Jim Morrison's brain but sadly, they can't-- because most of it means nothing. So why not a Doors style parody about inane Craigslist ads? And in concert, those who haven't heard it before crack up when Al goes on about the styrofoam peanuts. (I have a special eye for spotting newbies at an Al concert and I love watching them at certain parts as much as I love watching Al. Sidenote: Al recently tweeted that he's retiring the tutu and not performing "Pitiful" anymore. I hope it's not true).
7. Party in the C.I.A.
This straight-up Miley Cyrus parody of "Party in the U.S.A." marks the first time Al has parodied a father and his daughter. (Surely you recall "Achy Breaky Song"). The covert missions, waterboarding, wiretaps-- not funny stuff; they are serious topics that do not lend themselves to the inane, ridiculous rhythm of "Party in the U.S.A." Lyrics like "Stagin' a coup like yeah/ Brainwashin' moles like yeah." But hold up-- I think that's the point! There really is no excuse for Miley's lyrics: "Noddin' my head like yeah/ Moving my hips like yeah." (Really, "like yeah" counts as lyrics? And is rhyming "yeah" with "yeah" copacetic?) I mean, sure, it's just a song about going to a club in L.A. and dancing, but don't kids, even Disney-watching kids, deserve something better than "So I put my hands up/ They're playin' my song"?
Go and look up the word "meta." Because this song is meta in numerous ways. First, it just really sounds like a ringtone. Next, of course, you should buy a song called "Ringtone" to use as your ringtone, right? Then, if it is your ringtone, you and the people around you will be annoyed for sure, mirroring the lyrics to the song. I'll admit, I have "Weird Al" ringtones, but not this one, because when I first heard it, I thought, "That would drive me nuts!" (which is, of course, the point). Wikipedia says this is a style parody of Queen, but I think it's more of a general prog song. I hear more hints of ELO than Queen in it, frankly. Not that I'm one to disagree with the six brilliant strangers who edit Wikipedia. I would never do that. If I did, they might take my thumbs or remove all traces of me from Wikipedia, both of which would suck.
9. Another Tattoo
The least interesting song on the album for me, probably because the original does absolutely nothing for me ("Nothin' on You" by B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars). But Al's lyrics are pretty funny; they're about a guy who gets more and more ridiculous tattoos. But we all know that guy, right? The guy who gets something because it might look cool but it doesn't have any personal significance. Do you know that guy? Don't you want to say, "If you're in the mood to throw money away, give it to me!" I love that scene in FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL when she tells Aldous that his tattoos make no sense.
10. If That Isn't
Al checks out Du's twine ball earrings
Wikipedia calls this a Hanson style parody. I do not know enough about Hanson to concur, but since Taylor Hanson played piano on the track, I might be compelled to agree. (There is precedent; on Al's last album, Ben Folds plays piano on a Ben Folds style parody called "Why Does This Always Happen To Me?") Al is known for his love songs from the point of view of someone who is quite clueless, whether he be:
-The stalker type as in "Melanie" and "Do I Creep You Out?"
-A cruel monster who messes with people's hearts, like the narrator of "I Was Only Kidding"
-Or the brutally honest in "Good Enough For Now" and "I Am So Sick of You" -Or someone who doesn't realize how over his relationship is, like "You Don't Love Me Anymore."
In this one, the narrator doesn't realize he's being ironic when he says "If that isn't love, then I don't know what love is." No, he clearly doesn't, because things he lists are not even basic common decency.
11. Whatever You Like
Al's only parody to date that shares its title with the original, "Whatever You Like" reverses T.I.'s version. In T.I.'s song, he's offering hot sex accompanied by expensive booze in nice locales. Al takes a more topical approach considering the economy -- fancy stuff is replaced by tater tots, Cold Duck, and fast food (and going to the laundromat and playing cribbage replace hot sex as potential activities. I'm not sure why, since hot sex can be free).
12. Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me
It might still be too new to say this, but I think this is my new favorite Weird Al song. It's an over the top, melodramatic Meat Loaf/Air Supply inspired opus, complete with female female choir-like backup singers taking it all so seriously; this is the funniest song with the best message ever. Curiously, this is another song on the album with inspiration from the 1970s. The emotion of Meat Loaf's "For Crying Out Loud" and "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" with the repetitive heartbreaking repetition of Air Supply's "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" -- this song absolutely kills me. It will kill you, too. And you'll want to send it to every relative who doesn't know how to BCC and sends you forwarded emails with jokes to "brighten your day."
* * * *
Dropped on June 21
(as usual, this is not a complete list, but some notable releases I think would interest my readers)
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
Emily Blunt and Matt Damon star in this romantic thriller. If that's not sufficient to sell you on it, did I mention Jon Stewart?
If there's a funnier setting for a comedy movie than an insurance convention in Iowa, I haven't seen it.
Louis Season One
If you're not watching this, WTF is wrong with you? The new season started on FX this week. Get on it.
Liam Neeson was a forklift operator for Guinness as a younger man. Now he makes January Jones look good.
THE WOMEN IN CAGES COLLECTION (Roger Corman's cult classics)
This collection includes BIG DOLL HOUSE, WOMEN IN CAGES, and THE BIG BIRD CAGE. See Pam Grier in all her B movie, women-in-prison-exploitative glory.
Dropping June 28
THE LORD OF THE RINGS Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition
Nearly twelve precious hours. Get to it, geeks.
I'm bummed that Jena Malone's first big project since SAVED! reportedly sucks so much.
Are you following Matchflick on Twitter? You should do that. Tim and I do all the tweeting. We're reasonably funny and quite informative. You can also follow Dr. Karma and me @Simpsonology. We tweet Simpsons and related stuff.
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Jun 27, 2011 10:24 AM
|Yeah, the "Polka Face" medley is a winner, as always. It's disturbing, though, that with each new medley there are more songs I'm not familiar with. |
All-time favorite medley is probably "Polka Your Eyes Out" from "Off the Deep End." That's the only one where I actually know the sequence by heart.
Jun 27, 2011 12:56 PM
|Love the (annoying) cleverness of 'Ringtone' (I'm downloading it to my phone today!) and the subversiveness of 'CIA.' I love that pop music will always be wonderfully horrible and ridiculously absurd enough to keep Weird Al in business as long as he wants to be.|
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