Have you ever seen the Transformers animated movie back in the ’80s? The one with Saturday morning cartoon-like animation and the occasional swear word? Do you remember the soundtrack to that film? I do. Aside from Stan Bush’s The Touch, the other song that stuck out from the bunch was Weird Al Yankovic’s Dare To Be Stupid. Which, in hindsight, was a really odd choice for an action-oriented robo-series such as Transformers. I watched Transformers when I was about five or six years-old, and that was the first time I had ever heard a song sung by the infamous Weird Al. It wouldn’t be the last.
Over the course of my life, Weird Al’s name would pop up sporadically in random places. My music classes in elementary school featured a few songs of his. MySpace had his song White & Nerdy playing on just about every person’s profile. Random Youtube browsing had me stumble upon a few more of his songs that I had heard in other places. It seems that Weird Al has creeped up on my life enough times for me to be convinced that he’s stalking me, instead of thinking rationally that he’s quite popular and his influence simply spreads due to his talent as a writer and musician. But I wouldn’t think rationally until the beginning of my teenage years.
Listening to Weird Al’s songs, I really enjoy the range he has with his voice. His normal voice sounds very zany and nasally, insinuating the parody that his music intends. But he has a tendency to surprise me with the way his voice reflects perfectly with the tone of the song (which, admittedly, is typically silly). He can scream, he can rap, he can sing in all sorts of tones. Am I the only one who thinks the incorporation of sound effects in his songs are kinda charming?
Many people who are familiar with Weird Al’s music knows that he tries very hard to be funny. His songs are silly (usually kid-friendly), with breaking expectations as his main tool of choice. Who else do you know that will create ten-minute-plus songs about being stuck in Drive-Thrus and a random day in Albuquerque? Gangsta Paradise becomes Amish Paradise, Beat It becomes Eat It, Another One Bites The Dust becomes Another One Rides The Bus. Making songs about trivial things as if they have any importance at all is how Weird Al plays the game. A game he probably cheats at all the time.
Some of my favorites among his tracks include Trapped In The Drive-Thru, The Alternative Polka, Albuquerque, The Night Santa Went Crazy, White & Nerdy, and The Saga Begins. Not a huge fan of Smells Like Nirvana. Thought he played the joke out too long for that one. And that’s kind of the essence of parody: taking a common complaint, flaw, or cliché from a subject and turning it on its head. Weird Al has a tendency to perform this flawlessly, but not always. His use of parody has a keen sense of humor and flair that makes his songs all the more enjoyable, even if his voice can come across as too stark for some.
I think I can relate to Weird Al to some degree because parody remains one of my favorite genres in, well, anything. Comedy, music, movies, video games; all of these things and more I’ll immediately gravitate to as long as there’s a promise of parody to some degree. Even anime/manga tend to have a soft spot within me so long as they’re silly and making fun of others. Maybe I’m just conceited. Maybe. I’ve always been fond of the ways people can parody various things, and Weird Al has been the standard for parodying songs since the ’80s.
A bit short for a post, but there isn’t much more I could say about a guy’s music aside from speaking of the guy himself. And I don’t know the guy. All I know is that he makes some pretty good music. Some of that is borrowed from other classic titles, but I’m willing to excuse it for the sake of parody (and comedy). Mr. Yankovic is still going at the age of 56, and I, for one, am willing to hear what he has to say until he hangs up the accordion for good. And so should you. He’s pretty good.