I love “Weird” Al Yankovic. I’ve seen him in concert three times, and hope to see him several more times. I discovered Al’s music at about age ten, and have never stopped loving his music. I’ve listened to almost all of his music. However, 3-D, Even Worse, and Strait Outta Lynwood never made it in my musical catalog for whatever reason. I know several of the songs from these three albums, but there are a few songs from these albums I haven’t heard. So, in the spirit of completionism, I listen to “Weird” Al’s songs I’ve never listened to before.
In the spirit of other I Listen To articles, I try to be objective. As I listen to “Weird” Al’s lost (to me) songs, I will do so in a purely impartial way. I may not like these songs, even though I love “Weird” Al. We’ll see. But enough of that. Here’s I Listen to “Weird” Al for the first time, but not really though.
Midnight Star comes from the album In 3-D. The song is different from most of Al’s songs, in that it’s not a parody of any given song or even any given genre. Instead, Midnight Star uses a pretty generic mid 80s pop sound to deliver its gags.
While Midnight Star is not a parody of any song or genre, the content does parody the tabloid publications that flooded supermarket check stands in the 80s and 90s. Throughout the song, we hear tales of “incredible” frog boys, men born without heads, and aliens sleeping in someone’s car. We hear outlandish claims, such as a Jelly donut diet that will shed 20 pounds a day (sign me up!). We hear of a phone service to let you talk with the dead. There’s even a claim that someone has Hitler’s brain in a jar. Midnight Star shows a slice in time. We didn’t have Fox News or The Onion, yet strangely we had a hybrid of the two in publications such as The Enquirer and the Weekly World News.
Musically, Mr. Popeil lampoons the style of The B-52s, circa 1983. We hear hints of “Rock Lobster,” “Planet Claire,” and even “Song for a Future Generation” in the partylicious music. And might I say, Al does an amazing job imitating Fred Schneider’s voice.
The title, Mr. Popeil, is a reference to Ronco founder, Ron Popeil. During the song, we hear of amazing products not sold in any store. We hear about pocket fishermen, Ginsu knives, Vegematics, and even Krazy glue. These all seem like inventions from Al’s mind, but actually Al did not make up any of the products in Mr. Popeil. All of the products, even the Garden Weasel, are real products from early 80s infomercials. Mr. Popeil pays homage to a wondrous age of too good to be true inventions. The only thing missing is a Mr. Microphone.
Grade : B –
Theme from Rocky XIII (aka Rye or the Kaiser)
Rye or the Kaiser parodies the song “Eye of a Tiger (AKA the theme from Rocky)” in Rye of the Kaiser, Rocky Balboa has gotten fat and lazy. Instead of the raw egg energy drinks he famously drank while in training, Rocky now eats mostly deli sandwiches. The joke is funny, but it does get tiring after one or two listenings. Maybe that’s why I never heard the song, Rye of the Kaiser doesn’t have that repeat value. But at least I laughed for a few minutes.
You Make Me
You Make Me is pure fun. Done in the style of Oingo Boingo, we hear hints of “Weird Science” (not to mention later Danny Elfman projects). We want to dance to We Make Me, as it’s just a grooving tune! Oh, but don’t dance to You Make Me. Don’t you dare!
As we examine the content of You Make Me, we realize there’s some dark and sinister stuff going on. You Make Me describes a relationship where the speaker does some rather painful things in order to satisfy their partner. Al’s character hides weasels in his shorts, staples bagels to his face, and even (gasp) has to watch the Gong show! All this to please his partner. To be fair, there’s also some just random crazy things, like going to see the Care Bear movie or write a thesis on neuroscience, but still.
It might be easy to call You Make Me a regurgitation of “One More Minute” (with a little “Dare To Be Stupid” mixed in, but I for one don’t care. I see You Make Me for what it is: a strange, funny, and dark song.
Alimony parodies the song “Mony, Mony,” as covered by Billy Idol. Complete with a wall of hard rock guitars, Alimony truly makes you want to headbang and dance around your room naked. Al doesn’t quite get Idol’s singing style right, but that’s forgivable.
Alimony talks about a deadbeat dad who doesn’t want to pay his ex-wife the money she’s due. During the course of this song, the dead beat dad complains of all his pains because of his lack of funding. We almost feel sorry for the speaker, but really, how can we? He’s a deadbeat dad. Feed your kids, dude!
Sidenote, Al refers to his song “The Check’s in the Mail” where his character also tries to get out of paying his debts.
Twister parodies the style of The early Besties Boys. We hear hints of “Brass Monkey,” “Girls,” and “No Sleep to Brooklyn.” The song talks about the game Twister.” There’s no real stand out lines in Twister, but at about a minute long, we get just enough context to make the song funny. Twister does not need to say anything more than it does. Instead, we get a Faux commercial for the classic Milton Bradly game.
I’ll Sue Ya
I’ll Sue Ya parodies the style of Rage Against the Machine. With hints to “Killing in the Name, “Renegades of Funk,” “Wake Up,” and other classic RATM songs. I’ll Sue Ya would fit perfectly well in Al’s “Angry White Boy Polka.”
Of course, the anger in I’ll Sue Ya expresses itself in the form of frivolous litigations. During the course of the song, Al’s character wants to sue Taco Bell because he got fat after eating too many chalupas. He wants to sue Petco because he ate kitty litter and now his breath smells bad. Al’s Character wants to sue a date that stood him up. He wants to sue Colorado because it looks like Wyoming. He even wants to sue Delta Airlines for selling him a ticket to New Jersey (well, I guess I can’t blame him for that).
I’ll Sue You goes overboard with hyperbole, but that’s the genius of the song. I’ll Sue You makes fun of those that want to sue everyone for everything.
Do I Creep You Out
Do I Creep You Out parodies the song “Do I Make You Proud” by Taylor Hicks. Both the original and the Al version are predictable and need no explanation. Do I Creep You Out makes us cringe, Do I make you Proud, makes us, well, cringe as well. But in a different way. Whatever.
Should you listen to “Weird” Al?
The songs I missed by “Weird” Al were not huge hits. This is why I never heard these songs before today. However, just because a song isn’t a hit, doesn’t mean that song should be ignored. These songs are not Al’s best, and I didn’t expect them to be. I wouldn’t really recommend you listen to most of these “Weird” Al songs unless you yourself are a completionist. However, do listen to “Weird” Al, and not just the hits. Listen to Nature Trail to Hell, listen to I Want a New Duck, and listen to Good Old Days. Don’t forget songs like Don’t Download This Song, Airline Amy, Frank’s 2000 Inch TV, and If That Isn’t Love. You’ll laugh your ass off, I guarantee it!