New Series: Ranking Weird Al Yankovic
Today I’m starting a series I’ve been mulling for a long time now: going through each of Weird Al’s albums and ranking the songs in the order I like them. (Sorry, mom – this series won’t interest you much, I’m afraid!)
When I think about things that have been an influence on my appreciation for comedy, Weird Al Yankovic is in the top five. (Other influences: Bill Cosby, the Muppets, Steve Martin, and ComedySportz.) I don’t even remember when I first heard of him or who introduced me to his work (though I’m guessing it was either Eric or Josh), but I remember taking to him right away. Al parodies pop culture – music, mostly, but he tends to hit most areas – in ways that are both humorous and honoring. He might be making fun of TV, but you can tell he likes the stuff he’s poking fun at. He also parodies in what I would call a “gentle” way. He’s rarely mean towards his subjects, and he always asks permission of the artists before parodying their songs.
It’s funny to me that I have mostly experienced Weird Al/pop culture backwards from his intention. His songs generally rely on a person knowing either the song he’s rewritten or the topic to which he’s referring. Most of his music Is stuff I’ve heard before I’ve heard the originals he’s spoofing. In fact, there’ve been several things I’ve found out about through him that I’ve gone on to enjoy in their own right.
So. His first album was released in 1983 and it was called “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.” I’ll list the songs in the order I like them, from least to most. Keep in mind that I still like most all of his songs, I just like some of them more.
12. Gotta Boogie – Ugh. One of my least favorite of all his songs. It’s a disco/booger joke that gets old quick. I dislike gross humor, and I dislike this song.
11. Such a Groovy Guy – I can appreciate the 70s-ishness of the main character of this song and appreciate the skewering of that sort of guy, but I dislike the character enough that it affects my enjoyment of the song.
10. The Check’s in the Mail – A song full of “business speak” that still holds up today, really. Add a couple of “proactive”s and “think outside the box”s and it would fit right in.
9. I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead – When I was younger I liked this song more. “Let’s go be crazy!” was a common thought I had as a teen. Now that I’m older, I’m more of a “Let’s chill out” kind of guy.
8. Buckingham Blues – The story of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, set to the blues. A great song, but too sad to enjoy anymore since we saw how that story ended.
7. I Love Rocky Road – Classic. Al sings a lot of food songs over the course of the next 30 years, as you’ll see. This one only suffers a little bit because it’s hard to match the key change in the middle parts when you’re singing along.
6. Another One Rides the Bus – This song may be why I don’t like riding public transportation of any sort.
5. Stop Draggin’ My Car Around – I’ve come to love the song this one’s a parody of, so this one’s gotten higher on the list over the years. When I hear the original, though, I sing the words to this one. That… actually happens a lot with most songs Al has covered.
4. Happy Birthday – Synopsis: go ahead and have a happy birthday even though terrible things are happening all over the world! Darkly hilarious.
3. Ricky – I Love Lucy in convenient catchy song form.
2. My Bologna – One of Al’s first big hits, and one of many that’s better than the original song. Also: another food song.
1. Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung – Another terribly dark song that has always amused me way more than it should. Poor Mr. Frump.
There are 12 more albums left to go. I’m curious to see if at the end of it I can put together my top ten favorite songs or put the albums in order. We shall see!