The illustrious Illinois blogger SamuraiFrog decided to rank all of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s songs, 165 of them, an impressive undertaking. So, I decided to come up with a list of my 33 favorite Weird Al songs. Why 33? Because LPs play at 33 revolutions per minute. And I’m going to break them up into three posts of 11 songs each, mostly because posting 11 posts of three songs each would be weird.
Why now? Other than the fact that yesterday was Al’s 56th birthday, no real reason. I just like it, and isn’t what blogging is supposed to be about? I’ll post Part 2 in a month or so, and part 3 a month after that, unless I’m desperate for blog content.
First, a couple of nearly on the list:
* The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
(sort-of-based on Harry Chapin’s “30,000 Pounds of Bananas,” from UHF and Other Stuff, 1989)
*This Is the Life
(Original; single from the motion picture Johnny Dangerously, 1984)
This is from some apparently terrible Michael Keaton movie I’ve never seen.
33. Ode to a Superhero
(Parody of “Piano Man” by Billy Joel; from Poodle Hat, 2003)
Spider-Man was the character I most related to in the Marvel Universe, and I own the first two Sam Raimi movies on DVD. No, that’s not true; it was Peter Parker, his beleaguered alter ego. I’m fond of Billy Joel’s music; I saw him live in concert c 1974. If it’s merely telling the story of Raimi’s Spider-Man, that’s OK.
32. First World Problems
(Style parody of the Pixies; from Mandatory Fun, 2014)
When The Daughter made her list of favorite Weird Al songs last year, this was #1. Love the hair, and the acting: the facial expressions, the walk. The misplaced outrage would be funnier if it weren’t often so true.
This is from Al’s first #1 album, and the first comedy album since Allan Sherman’s over a half-century earlier to hit the top of the charts.
31. My Bologna
(Parody of “My Sharona” by The Knack; from “Weird Al” Yankovic, 1983)
Those early parody versions were not as polished as they would develop into. It uses accordion (in lieu of guitar), like much of his early work. If it’s a dumb song, I enjoyed it at that level.
30. Jurassic Park; #5 in Canada, #84 in Australia in 1993
(Parody of “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris; from Alapalooza, 1993)
Have I actually seen the movie Jurassic Park? I’ve seen big chunks of it. The song MacArthur Park is such over-the-top kitsch that I developed an odd affection for the Richard Harris performance. A great pairing.
29. The Brady Bunch
(Parody of “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats; from “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D, 1984)
I never actually watched one minute of The Brady Bunch, until it went into reruns. I discovered it was a pretty terrible show, as the protagonist in the Al song notes. At least the theme song at least told you what the show was about.
28. Callin’ in Sick
(Original; from Bad Hair Day, 1996)
From SamuraiFrog: “Man, Given Al’s ability to absurdly paint small dissatisfactions as life-defining (and life-thwarting) obstacles of epic proportions, he really ran with the joke. I think it says a lot that, 19 years later, this song sounds less like a parody of a popular style and more like a legitimate grunge single. He nailed it.” I have over 125 sick days right now; I don’t call nearly often enough.
(Style parody of Bob Dylan; from Poodle Hat, 2003)
Mr. Frog got it right: “I’m a Dylan fan, but if you’ve ever gritted your teeth in patience when someone goes on and on and on and on and on about how deep Bob Dylan’s lyrics are, someone doing a parody of Dylan with nothing but palindromes for lyrics is deeply refreshing.” I especially love the cue card motif, which was used in Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues.
26. Hardware Store
(Style parody of Oingo Boingo; from Poodle Hat, 2003)
As Mr. Frog said: “That refrain is just pure genius. This is one of those great little songs where Al turns the mundane into the glorious.”
25. Mr. Popeil
(Style parody of the B-52’s; from “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D, 1984)
Not only is this a great style parody, it reminds me of all those endless Ron Popeil ads where he says, “But wait–there’s more!”
24. The Alternative Polka
(Medley; from Bad Hair Day, 1996) – songs listed HERE
My specific affection for this is that there are several songs, “Loser” by Beck, and “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden, for two, that I had never heard in their original forms until I had heard them in the medley, so it was informative. And his treatment of the angst-ridden “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette just cracked me up
(Style parody of Brian Wilson; from Straight Outta Lynwood, 2006)
This is SO much Beach Boys, circa 1967. And given that the Daughter is now studying biology, maybe this should be part of her educational curriculum.