April 17th, 2012

Ranking UHF

This is a tough one to write – not because I can’t put the songs in favored order, but because I want to write about the movie!  …which I suppose I could do, but it doesn’t fit in this series.  The official title of this album is “UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff.” It includes a few things that were in the movie, but the bulk of it is like any other album. Seven of the songs aren’t even in the movie, and a couple of the tracks aren’t even songs. I’m going to do two lists from this one.

The first list is the “extras” list:

  • Gandhi II – The audio of the Gandhi II movie commercial in UHF. “Don’t move, slimeball!” and “I’ll have a steak, medium-rare” are the highlights here.
  • Spatula City  – Commercial in the movie that is so great I’m just going to link to a video of it.
  • Let Me Be Your Hog – They couldn’t afford the song they wanted for a particular scene, so Al wrote this as a bit of filler.
  • Fun Zone – An instrumental song used as the theme to Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse in the movie.

The second list is the song ranking list:

9. Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet near Mars – Pretty much what the title of the song says. Reminds me a lot of the Slime Creatures from Outer Space song from a few albums back.

8. She Drives Like Crazy – Spoof of FYC’s “She Drives Me Crazy,” about how bad a girl drives. Kind of a “meh” song for me, partially because he does such a good job approximating the FYC singing style that it’s not terribly enjoyable.

7. UHF – All about TV, used as the theme song for the movie.

6. Spam -Spoof of REM’s “Stand” that exceeds the original, I feel.

5. The Hot Rocks Polka – I really like this concept: it’s one of Al’s standard polkas, but it only uses Rolling Stones songs. Neat! I’d love to see him do a Beatles polka.

4. Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies – Spoof of, well, “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits. Al didn’t want to title this track this way but was forced to. It was an odd thing for the label to make him do, but they figured no one would know what song it was based on. Who knows? I’ve heard plenty of stories about how music labels wouldn’t know their heads from a hole in the ground.  Anyway, this one’s about the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies, if that wasn’t evident from the title. “That little Clampett got his own cement pond” is just one of many great lines. Fun fact: Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits gave Al permission to use this song on the condition he be allowed to play guitar on it.  Al has talked about how it ended up being kind of difficult to get it all worked out, because Knopfler had played the song live so many times that his solos sounded different than the release track, which is what Al was after.  I think it ended up okay.

3. Isle Thing – Another TV song!  This one about Gilligan’s Island and is just a hoot.

2. Generic Blues – The only blues song you’ll ever need. My wife is a choir/music teacher at a middle school, and she’s in the middle of a series on teaching the blues. I gave her this one to use as an example in class and according to her it meets all the criteria. I figured I did those kids a favor.  Apparently B.B. King counts this among his favorites as well. I love that.

1. The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota – This right here is my answer to the question, “What’s your favorite Weird Al song?” It’s a folk song about a family taking a road trip to see the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota (based on an actual thing in Darwin, MN). I love the story of this stereotypical middle-of-the-country family taking this trip, one of a grillion that they’ve taken (fun fact: all the other attractions mentioned in the song are based on real places, too).  While this might not be the Al song I’ve listened to the most, it’s still my favorite. My only wish is that he would’ve included an Abe Vigoda/Minnesota rhyme in it somewhere. A missed opportunity, that.

I highly recommend the movie, as it is just silly fun. Al does for movies and TV what he’s been doing for songs, but it isn’t just a series of spoof scenes – there’s an actual plot and everything! Plus, you get to see a pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards doing a proto-Kramer schtick with a lot of fun moments.  This movie is easily in my top 20, and might even be top 10, I’d have to think about it.

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