Now, upon looking at my picture I am sure that you have no doubt that I am a huge nerd. Looking good, news guy Nick, looking good. This being understood, it is not a shocking statement, probably, that I am a huge Weird Al fan. I like his sense of pop culture, satire, and his musical sense. He is so good at his musical parody that the iPhone App Soundhound confused with the original (on this album I tried it with Another Tattoo ( a parody of Nothing on You – B.O.B).
The average Weird Al album has three type of songs, parodies, style parodies, and satire. This album does well in all counts. For the parodies Weird Al comes out in Spades. The parodies are “Perform This Way” (Parody of “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga), “TMZ” (Parody of “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift), “Party in the CIA” (Parody of “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus), “Another Tattoo” (Parody of “Nothin’ on You” by B.o.B featuring Bruno Mars), and “Whatever You Like” (Parody of T.I.’s “Whatever You Like”). In general, this is where he makes his press, both good and bad. On one hand, it is seen as a rite of passage for many artists with Lady Gaga on this album calling her parody by Weird Al empowering and Kurt Cobain being proud and according to Behind the Music, Yankovic stated that when he called Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain to ask if he could parody the song, Cobain gave him permission, then paused and asked, “Um… it’s not gonna be about food, is it?” Yankovic responded with, “No, it’ll be about how no one can understand your lyrics.” According to members of Nirvana interviewed for Behind the Music, when they saw the video of the song, they laughed hysterically. Additionally, Cobain described Yankovic as “a musical genius.” Those parodied appear in videos and seem to love the attention. There are of course, a few famous exceptions; the fallout between Coolio and Amish Paradise (A parody of Gangsters Paradise), James Blunt’s manager refusing to grant permission (despite Blunt’s urging, Yankovic just leaked it online.), or Eminem’s reluctance to allow a music video of Couch Potato (a parody Lose Yourself). On this album, his parodies are strong. They range from the direct and absurd, such as the obvious parody Perform this Way, mocking Lady Gaga’s essence to the impressive Party In the CIA, which is perhaps where Yankovic shows his real talent, making a funny, entertaining song, which has lyrics more complex and satisfying than the original.
On the satire realm, there is the traditional Polka. This is usually the most impressive song musically. From a satiric perspective, this concept shows the similarity of pop music that you could change between songs almost seemlessly and make it funny. This particular one is called “Polka Face” featuring “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, “Womanizer” by Britney Spears, “Right Round” by Flo Rida featuring Kesha, “Day ‘n’ Nite” by Kid Cudi, “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum, “Baby” by Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris, “So What” by Pink, “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry, “Fireflies” by Owl City, “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx featuring T-Pain, “Replay” by Iyaz, “Down” by Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne, “Break Your Heart” by Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris, and “Tik Tok” by Kesha. This fits with other style parodies including “CNR,” a style parody of The White Stripes and a pop culture parody of the Chuck Norris/Vin Diesel Jokes, “Skipper Dan” a style parody of Weezer; “Craigslist,” a style parody of The Doors with keyboard work was performed by former Doors’ member Ray Manzarek, and “Ringtone,” a Style parody of Queen. The most successful of these is CNR, which not only nails the parody style, but the pop cultural Satire.
The album is rounded out by two songs, the parody love song and the epic. The parody love song is a Weird Al album staple. Where the relationship involved is not only doomed by outrageously so. Either the guy has no idea what romance is or the woman is trying to kill him, etc. This album is no exception, the song is satiric gold. Called If that Isn’t Love, it is a parody to the style of Hanson and sounds like a poppy love song and is very clever. The album closes with Stop Forwarding that Crap to Me, a traditional Al epic closer, like Albuquerque, Trapped in the Drive-Thru, or Don’t Download this Song (the last two being some of my favorite Weird Al songs).
However, this is not a love fest, this is a review; a critique. In some ways, this album is frustrating. The album comes with 12 tracks, of which five came out over the last three years in the form of internet leaks, the compilation of which Weird Al was nominated for a Grammy and came out nearly two years ago. One of those singles, Whatever You Like, made the Billboard’s Bubbling Under Charts in 2008. The five year gap is the longest between the studio albums, even if you assume that the album is an EP attached with the internet leaks EP from two years ago, there is still a long gap. This makes the album hard to validate purchasing. The songs are dated at points and some jokes miss. So why purchase it? Music Videos.
As you have noticed throughout the review, Weird Al loves the music video. He traditionally has made one major video for every album, (with the exception of Poodle Hat, for the Eminem based reasons listed earlier). However, for the last two albums, using many internet animators, most of the songs on the albums have been made into videos. Using animators like JibJab and Dogtoons, Weird Al has managed to put together a list of Music Videos to most comic ones online. For example, on this album, the live video is for a song called Craiglist (a Doors style Parody). The video is stylistically very trippy, psychedelic, 1960’s music.
In the end, is this album worth getting and listening too? Over the years, Weird Al has defined the musical comedy genre. Look him up on LimeWire, there more songs attributed to him that are not him than his own songs. He has been making parodies for more than 30 years and they are still relevant. However, Weird Al represents a bigger shift. We are in a very different era for comedy than 30 years ago, even 10 years ago. The average comedic video comes from a random fling on youTube, some college student or adorable pet that creates a meme and than fades away. Most comedians on this new forum are out of date before they realize their own success. If this is the case, Weird Al is destined to fail. His album is better overall than his previous two, but the high points aren’t as strong. However, Weird Al, somehow, has not failed. His jokes have matured. While still aimed at family friendly humor, there are less silly jokes and rhymes and much more measured comedy. In the end, Weird Al has succeeded and grown, when many others have faded. I think, in the end you should listen to the album, and get the album, and the next one and next one.