Al’s new album is number one and it deserves to be. Everyone loves Al right now, and everyone should! Al is a man we need to clone – he brings such joy to the world, and he’s such a freaking nice guy! Seriously, search for stories about Weird Al being a jerk. You might find a couple, but I guarantee you’ll find an overwhelming majority of said stories showing what a nice guy Al is. Al is such a nice guy that he asks permission to parody artists. He’s not even legally required to!
But I digress…in response to all this love of Al that’s happened over the last few weeks, I’ve decided to show a little Al love of my own. So….here’s my favorite original Weird Al songs.
10. Frank’s 2000″ TV – This song is full of hyperbole (having a drive in movie, in your own living room!) and a musical nod to REM. Those two facts alone have me sold. Oh, but Frank’s 2000″ TV is more than that! Frank’s 2000″ TV is a commentary on society. Rabid consumerism, “keeping up with the Joneses,” and our culture which strives for entertainment, no matter the costs – these are all prevalent themes in this song. Even several deadly sins find their way into this song: Sloth, Envy, Greed, Pride, and if you stretch it, you can probably find Gluttony (snacking while watching TV), and Lust (BAYWATCH IS ON!!!!). Just don’t touch Frank’s remote control, else you ensure his wrath.
9. Craigslist Craigslist may be only a few years old, but it has instantly become a favorite Weird Al song of mine. The music, melody, and singing (reminiscent of the Doors) makes the listener say “hey, this is not a standard Weird Al song!” Ok, ok, maybe there is no standard Weird Al song, but this specific song is special, and it’s not just the music that makes it special, it’s the tie in to modern society. Craigslist has become a modern flea market, lost and found, shady singles bar, and many, many other things – all rolled into one. Going onto Craigslist is a venture into humanity – one never knows what one might find in this strange world of Craigslist. Al recognizes this – Al recognizes there are people naive enough to believe someone wants their styrafoam peanuts. Al recognizes the lonely people who can’t get the up the nerve to ask out the flatulent, half Asian they saw at Sizzler. Al even recognizes there are people who think it’s rude to not let them finish their phone call – even though said phone call is holding up every other customer. Craigslist, both the song and the actual site, gives humanity a flavor that…well….is better read about than experienced. By the way, I’ve got a stapler and a wheelbarrow….I’m looking to trade for a 64 Chevy Malibu. Any takers?
8. Happy Birthday I have a picture of Al talking to his band before recording this song. He says something along the lines of “ok everyone, let’s keep this upbeat; This is the happy birthday song after all.” Seriously, this is one of the happiest depressing songs you could ever listen to. So dark, yet so uplifting. Like many of Al’s songs, it’s a juxtaposition of the happy and the not so happy. But Happy Birthday doesn’t stop with juxtaposition…it’s a song of mania. Yes, we’re happy….but we’re not happy because it’s our birthday. We’re happy because, well, we’re a little insane due to the state of the world. The mania we feel is actually extreme optimism….yes, we’re all going to get nuked, the world is going to blow up, and yadda yadda yadda, but that’s no excuse to not to be optimistic about life! Happy Birthday actually takes a concept in Monty Python’s “Always look on the bright side of life” and runs with it. No, it doesn’t run….it sprints…it dashes….it goes frigging ludicrous speed with this concept.
7. Skipper Dan This song was done in the style of Weezer, but I see it more or less of Weird Al does They Might Be Giants.Regardless of who this song is a tribute to, this song is perhaps Al’s deepest songs, and certainly the most depressing song. Sure – on the surface, the song is pretty fun, but really if you look at the text, this song is all about broken dreams and lost ambition. I mean, you would have to be some kind of monster to laugh at this song! Seriously, you’re all a bunch of sick jerks! STOP LAUGHING AT MY LIIIIIIFFFFEEEE….. Ok, maybe I’m getting a little carried away. Regardless, I hope Al does a bit more of this in the future. It really suits him well.
6. One more minute Perhaps what makes this song so absolutely brilliant is that it takes something we all want to say at sometime or another, and says it in a way that’s usually reserved for saying the opposite. Du-wop as a style was usually reserved for lovey-dovey “I can’t help but fall in love with you” type of songs which adds insult to injury. When I listen to this song, I think of a woman I dated ten years or so ago. She never officially broke up with me, but when I realized it was over, I felt like yelling every last lyric of this song to her. And while I was hurting, I also felt free.I mean, I would have rather cleaned all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tongue than to have spent one more minute pining for that woman. So if you see someone jumping naked on a huge pile of thumbtacks, or gluing their nostrils together with crazy glue, don’t feel sorry for them. Sure, they’re grieving, but they’re also free.
5. Nature Trail to hell Despite this song being several decades old, I only discovered this song about two years ago. I can’t decide if Al is mocking, or professing his love for, Horror Films with this song. Perhaps he’s mocking the Violence and the lack of actual art in horror films. Perhaps he’s even mocking those who like horror films but hate “violence.” Maybe he’s just saying…hey society, what the hell is wrong with you? You condemn violence, you condemn murder, and yet you fill the theater to see the latest slasher film? Seriously…..!” Then again, Al also states that if you like the six o’clock news you’ll love Nature trail to hell…that’ll teach me to commit the intentional fallacy.
4. Party at the Leper Colony If you don’t like puns…you best just steer away from this song. Party at the leper colony is seriously just a string of sadistic puns strung together….and I for one love every second of this song. Seriously, this is Jedi Master level pun-ishment here. I’m trying to find the exact moment when I fell in love with this song…but it’s so hard to choose just one line. All of these puns are quite the Stu of sadism. Quite an interesting juxtaposition from Nature Trail to hell’s “shame on you for being entertained by violence” message.
3. Don’t Wear those shoes I always see this song as a prequel to One More Minute. This is the subtext that finally made Al (or whoever the speaker of the song happens to be) yell…thank God I’m free! Now I don’t have to look at her in those stupid, stupid, dumb, asinine, shoes! In fact, perhaps the unknown back story is that the Significant Other did not cheat with another guy, but rather cheated on the speaker by WEARING those shoes! So all debts were off. Yep….she got away with murder until she wore those blasted, God forsaken shoes! OR maybe, this song was just an experiment in hyperbole. Regardless, I’m want to find a picture of these shoes. I just hope said shoes don’t drive me insane.
2. Dare to be Stupid I almost feel like including this song is cheating – because while a lot of these songs are stylized versions of bands, this song is so close to what Devo would actually write that it feels like perhaps it shouldn’t be included in this list. But then again, I’m the one writing this…so I’m the one making the rules. If you don’t like it, deal with it!
Despite the absolute absurdity of this song, Dare to be Stupid is actually quite brilliant. The lyrics make no sense, and yet – they make perfect sense in a post-modern way. The meaning is there, but it’s different for everyone. For me, this song is a battle cry to embrace my weirdness, but to another person perhaps it’s a warning against letting their weird side-show (editor’s note: those people probably shouldn’t be reading my blog). Whatever this song means to you, it’s truly your meaning. DEVO has always been about post-modernism, so perhaps this song achieves their own goals in a way they never could (with apologies to DEVO – whom I totally love). But seriously – why was this in the animated Transformers movie again? That just didn’t make sense.
1. Dog Eat Dog Just like Dare to be Stupid, this song feels almost like cheating. It’s so close to the Talking Heads “Once in a lifetime” that one almost has to count it as a parody. And yet – it’s more than a parody. The speaker in this song, and the speaker in Once in a lifetime might work in the same office, perhaps even doing the same job, but the difference is that the speaker in this song is, quite frankly, a royal tool. The speaker of the Talking heads version of this song is introspective enough to know that while the world is turning, he (or she) affects the World around them. To Juxtapose the two is to take two random workers from two random offices, and ask them about their deeper purposes. Al’s would probably say money, power, etcetera. The Talking Head’s worker might say something about poetry or philosophy or, well, something deeper.
But what’s really interesting is that the two songs combined really are more than the sum of their parts. I don’t know that I would like Once in a lifetime as much as I do if it weren’t for Dog Eat Dog, and Vice Versa. Sure, both songs are great, but together…there’s a certain co-operation, or perhaps a synergy.
As I listen to the new album, I wonder what songs might make this list if I were to write it in a year from now. Perhaps first World Problems, perhaps Sports song, perhaps Mission Statement. Maybe all three. But regardless, the new album is far worth the price and is sure to include some well-loved favorites – as all of AL’s albums do. But what’s important is that Al is still making wonderful, funny, intelligent songs. By some chance Al finds this list, I just have to say one thing: Thank You AL.