Alpocalypse

Weird Al Yankovic remains the gold standard of comedy musicians (though, I’ll admit, The Lonely Island are a very close second). The guy is clever, talented, topical and hilarious.

What I noticed about his most recent album is how he uses some dramatic juxtapositions that, if you don’t notice them, you can still enjoy the songs, but if you do notice them, it just makes them that much more impressive.

Now some of the tracks on this album are straightforward Weird Al. Among his song parodies are “Perform This Way” is a simple parody of “Born This Way”, skewering Lady Gaga in a gentle way; “TMZ”, a discussion of that execrable show sung to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me”; “Another Tattoo”, a look at the tattoo culture to the sounds of B.o.b’s “Nothing on You”; and “Whatever You Like”, a Great Recession version of T.I.’s same titled song.

As always, Weird Al makes half the songs originals: “Skipper Dan” tells the story of a failed actor running an amusement park ride; “If That Isn’t Love” is sung from the perspective of the least romantic man ever.

Now, I’ve mentioned half the album. It’s the other half of the album that really impressed me. Each of these tracks accomplishes its parody but does it by pairing something old with something new:

  • “Polka Face” is Weird Al’s skittyteenth medley of recent hits done in impossibly old school polka fashion.
  • “Craigslist” is a song about the eponymous web service, but performed as a clear homage to The Doors.
  • “Party in the CIA” takes of-the-moment Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA”, and reframes it in stark, cold war imagery.
  • The lyrics of “Ringtone” are about an offending ringtone (we all know that pain) but the music is all Queen.
  • “Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me” echoes the annoyance of every person with an e-mail account, inside a tune that could have been written by Air Supply.

And my absolute favorite…

  • “CNR”: This is a mashup of three odd pieces of pop culture. First is the musical stylings of The White Stripes. Second is the internet meme of ascribing Chuck Norris impossible and inhuman abilities of toughness. But the kicker is the third piece, the celebrity who is so obtusely described: Charles Nelson Reilly. How can you not love a song that has this lyric: “Everyday he made the host of Match Game give him a piggy back ride/Yeah, two-hour piggy back ride, giddy-up, Gene!”

Oh, Al, please do not stop making albums. They are so deliciously ironic.

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