Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Album of the Week 01/08/07
"Weird Al" Yankovich - Off The Deep End

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Suggested by: MJ

MJ: Ok – anyone that reads this is liable to think I’ve gone nuts, but I’m comfortable enough in my musical opinions to go out on a limb here. I think Weird Al is a very talented artist. Most people know him from his very popular parodies: “Fat”, “Eat It”, etc. If that’s all there was to it, I think I would leave it at a nice chuckle, and move on. But a few years ago I dug a little deeper, and found a whole lot of brilliance in Weird Al’s catalog.

The parodies of course get everyone’s attention and will likely be the songs that sucks you in. But I started really appreciating his original songs. Additionally, on each of his albums he does a polka medley of hit songs of the day. I think the polkas are what made me realize that he really is a good musician. I saw some concert video where he went through a polka medley at breakneck speed. Transitions on a dime. Him and his band were TIGHT.

I could go on and on, but let’s get to this album specifically. I picked this one because as a full album I think it’s one of his best (plus I thought it would be funny to "force" MH to listen to it). “Smells Like Nirvana” is the opener, and was likely the song that sold the album the most. Other parody gems include “Taco Grande” (“Rico Suave”), “I Can’t Watch This” (Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”, and “The White Stuff”. “Taco Grande” is so simple, but so genius. He basically just says a lot of Mexican food items, but damn is it hilarious. At first glance, you might think “The White Stuff” is something about cocaine, but instead it is a song about Oreos based on “The White Stuff” by NKOTB. This brings me to one of the reasons I’m amazed at Al. What idea comes first in his head to make him do a parody? The reason that I’m confused by this is that there are many brilliant points of his songs – which are the genesis of his idea, and which are surprises to even him as he gets into it? With this song, did he just start with the rhyme of “white” and “right”, think of Oreos, then decide to go with a full song on Oreos? That works well enough for me: “I need the white stuff, baby, in the middle of an Oreo”. But then, if you know the original song, there’s the part where the New Kids go “oh, oh, oh oooo, oh, oh, oh, oh!”. Weird Al goes with “oh, oh, oh, oooo, O Oreo”. Brilliant. But which idea came first? Drives me nuts.

One of my favorite songs is called “Airline Amy”, in which Al is obsessed with a flight attendant and just goes around flying on all of her flights. The lyrics are very clever, but the one that gets me is when he says that he wants to get her in an “upright, locked position”. Right on…

I played this the week it was AOTW while I was at the gym working out. I bet people thought I was insane – no one should have that much fun on a treadmill…

One thing I think also is a testament to his talents is that my niece and nephew think the songs are funny and they don’t even know the original song that is being parodied.

On his latest album he does a parody of R. Kelly’s “Trapped in a Closet” called “Trapped in the Drive-thru”. My god is it brilliant. I bet as soon as Al heard that song he called up R. Kelly and thanked him. As long as there’s people that put out ridiculous crap like that song, Weird Al will be just fine…

I personally think Weird Al should be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. I’m serious. There’s no one that does this like him. You hear the songs and think, “why didn’t I think of that” or “I could totally do that”. But no one else really does, and if they do, they’re not good as Al. Period. He’s been doing this for a long time, and doing it well. He’s defined this genre of music, and is the undisputed King.

If these strong feelings make me out to be some kind of dork, so be it. I think the shit is funny, and will never file this under “guilty pleasures”. The shit is funny, makes me laugh, and I’m oftentimes in awe of just how genius his stuff is. So there…

MH: Who'da thunk that Weird Al would be as long lasting as he is? I sure didn't. I remember buying my first Weird Al tape in a big ol KMart off Torrence Avenue in Lansing Il. (Future hang out sight of your fearless Brothers of Metal for Powerfest 2005 Fuck Yeah, Imagika!!!!) It was called Dare to be Stupid. I don't even remember why I bought it, just because I had to, and I was 11. It had the song, 'Girls just wanna have Lunch.' Which I still quote everyonce in a while. (She eats like she's got a hole in her neck.......) Plus the hit, 'I wanna new Duck.' (One that won't try to bite.) I fell in love with the polka medley at the end of the tape. Which I am glad that he still does on every album. He summizes the year's big hits polka style! Right on. It's great.

So basically, this album is nothing different than what I bought 20 odd years ago. And why would it be? The Polka is there. The song where his lover who is leaving him does really bad things to his shit. Go on Weird Al. The cover of the album is a paraody of Nirvana's Nevermind. It's a little more skin than I needed to see on him. But oh well. Everyone is a miracle and attractive to someone. My personal favorite on this disc is "Nacho Grande" a take off of "Rico Suave" based on the many delicious items at teh ever entertaining Taco Bell, or the T-Bizz. Nice. Right on. I 'm not sure if this will stay in rotation, but it's nice to have. I wish he would just put out a cd of all of his polkas. Dare to be stupid had 99 luft balloons and Bang your head on it. I should find that tape....I don't know if I still have it. I also had Even Worse with "Fat". He's funny. And he has a new hit out. Still cranking it out. Good for you. Make your money, Polka boy......

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