There are always artists who get snubbed by rock critics for various reasons. There is an artist who fully deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who deserves a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A man who is a gatekeeper of sorts, when he’s made fun of your song, you have made it.
Comedy has always been a big part of my life, almost as big as music and comic books. And who doesn’t like a good laugh? Communists, that’s who. There are very few musical comedy acts that I enjoy, especially those that do parodies, even as a kid, there was only one guy who could get the job done, Weird Al.
I can’t remember how old I was but I got a walkman for my birthday and to make sure I had something to listen to on it, my parents also got me Weird Al’s Even Worse. I had become a fan of Al’s fantastic videos and he was cool enough to get a song on the soundtrack to The Transformers Movie, so I had asked for a Weird Al tape. It was back before I really knew anything about albums so my parent probably just got the newest release.
As a kid, this had a ton of jokes that I could easily get and laugh at. “Fat” made fun of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and that was funny. “(This Song Is Just) Six Words Long,” was poking fun at George Harrison. We also got gentle jokes on songs from Billy Idol and Tiffany. At the time, I was sure the other songs were parodies too. They sounded familiar, I just must not have known the songs.
As an adult, I now truly grasp at how good Weird Al is in so many different ways. In terms of pop culture, Al seems to have an amazing act of picking out an artist that is hot and being able to make a song out of that artist’s hit song. Or in the case of “Lasagna”, the country’s re-obsession with Ritchie Valens and “La Bamba” due to the film of the same name. What makes it more amazing is he’s been able to keep that up for as long as he has. You see a lot of comics start to lose touch with what audiences laugh at. Al has not only been able to make people laugh, he is able to pick out the right song, time after time after time.
As an adult, I can now also appreciate how good Al and his band mates are. Take “You Make Me.” It’s an original Al composition done in the style of a band like Oingo Boingo with a dash of Devo. It sounds so good that you just assume that it’s a parody of one of those two bands. If you took the music without the lyrics of “Good Old Days” you could definitely see it being something someone like James Taylor would record. Hell, if you were half listening to the song and avoiding the lines about torturing rats with a hacksaw, you still might think it was someone covering James Taylor. For me, personally, my favorite Weird Al tunes these days are his originals. The parodies are still great but the originals just hold a little more magic for me.
And he’s managed to keep up all of this and get better over NINE albums later. He adapts with the times and if anything, his lyrical abilities and wit have sharpened over the years.
Even Worse isn’t my favorite Weird Al album but truth be told, I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite (depending on the day it’s probably Off the Deep End or Dare to Be Stupid) but that being said, Even Worse holds a special place in my heart. My favorite tracks from Even Worse are probably “Melanie,” “Velvet Elvis,” and “Good Old Days” which all bring me back to listening to the tape at the cottage while reading my latest batch of comic books.
At the time of this writing, Weird Al is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Given the fact he has had a career as long as he’s had and that most musicians consider it a badge of honor if Al parodies you, it’s a shame that he has yet to be recognized. What gives Hall of Fame? Are you afraid to make the Hall Weird? Are ya?
Next week, we keep with the comedy theme a little but we go with an album by an alternative rock icon. Except this music has absolutely no music on it. Stay tuned.