Weird Al’s new album seems, believe it or not, a bit more mature (within reason, obviously). When I first started listening to Al, he appealed to the 8th grader in me. And while his jokes are often still childish and silly, he brings a certain older perspective now (he’s like 52 right?). So this album, again, is silly and funny, but actually deals more realistically with issues like love (again, within the confines of a parody song).
I was also thinking that Al has always been pretty PG, a bit violent, but always cartoonish. But as pop songs get more PG-13 and even R, Al has had to adapt, whether on purpose or not. I mean, in his medley he sings “Womanizer” and “Blame it on the Alcohol,” certainly not appropriate for 8th graders, and yet those original songs are, indeed, popular hits.
But enough seriousness. On to the music. “Perform this Way” a parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” is a weird parody in that it seems like a direct comment on the artist herself. I guess “Smells Like Nirvana” was as well, but it’s one of the rare Weird Al songs that’s not really self-contained–or actually it is self-contained but the joke works better if you know the singer. And if you don’t know Lady Gaga, this one is kind of flat (catchy as heck and quite funny though). “CNR” is a great White Stripes style parody. It gets funnier with each listen and the music is great. And the idea of Charles Nelson Reilly doing any of these things is chuckle inducing.
“TMZ” is the first of two internet based songs. Which is funny in and of itself. He makes fun of celebrities and the culture of celebrity. “Skipper Dan” proved to be very funny for us as we had recently gone to Disneyworld and wondered if the boat tour guides got to improv any jokes (I gather they don’t). “Polka Face” is one of Al’s great polka mash ups. This one was really enjoyable even though I knew virtually none of the songs (which may be a first). “Party in the CIA” is a parody of “Party in the USA” a song I don’t know at all. Based on Al’s version I think the original seems really dull .
“Ringtone” is a Queen style parody which I like quite a bit although I particularly do not like the way they sing the word “ringtone.” The rest is spot on though–especially the solo. “Another Tattoo” is great–Al is so good at doing R&B and rap songs–the voice, phrasings and echoic recordings are spot on. And this song is really funny. “If That Isn’t Love” is the song I was talking about in the beginning, about being more mature. It’s kind of a follow up to “You Dont Love Me Anymore” in which he shows how much he loves this new girl, but it’s less over the top and yet still funny. This example shows the joke but how it’s aimed at a more sophisticated 8th grader:
And when you’re telling me about your feelings I try not to yawn
And when we’re at parties I don’t talk about your spastic bladder
And I almost never pretend you’re someone else when I’m making out with you
Quite different from “Another One Rides the Bus.”
“Whatever You Like” is a parody of a song called “Whatever You Like” which I don’t know. It has to be the first parody of a song with the same title. That bothers me a little, although I have no idea what the original is about. I do like this one quite a bit. “Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me” is very funny and over the top. It’s another email/spam joke but my favorite line is vaguely sophisticated and makes me laugh every time
And your two million loser friends all have my address now because you never figured out the way to bcc:
The fact that it works perfectly with the rhythm of the song, rhymes right on and is a surprisingly clever joke is just stellar.
I’ve saved “Craigslist” for last because I think it’s just great and I can’t imagine how the idea for this was generated. How do you go from talking about Craigslist to thinking Jim Morrison? I’m imagining a session in which someone was making a joke about a letter to Craigslist that they read in various voices and then did it ala Morrison and the whole thing just blossomed from there. But heavens if the music isn’t spot on and the song is funny without being novelty-funny. You could easily play it on classic rock radio (if you can find such a station) and Doors fans would like it.
This is one of the first Weird Al albums where I knew very few of the songs parodied. I don’t follow pop music, so that makes sense, but it really shows how out of touch I am with culture. I also read a review talking about how the jokes are kind of old (making fun of Craigslist is so 2005). But Al puts out a record every three years and if the songs aren’t timely, the subjects can have more lasting appeal. Al seems to know what has staying power, so even if it’s not current it’s still funny.
And the band, as always, sounds fantastic. As does the recording quality–the Doors sounds like the Doors, The White Stripes sounds like The White Stripes. It’s very well done.
[READ: November 11, 2011] Camp Babymouse
In this Babymouse book, she goes to summer camp. And as the voice- over points out, what on earth would Babymouse be doing at camp? She hates everything that you do at camp.
But she’s excited to go and has a fantasy of being a great scout!
Stories always make summer camp seem like hell. And this one is no exception. It starts when Babymouse gets to her cabin and has to climb to the tippy-top bunk (a great fantasy sequence of King Kong comes in).
The “plot” of the story is that the campers are trying to win the most points for the week. The winners get a prize and the losers have to wash dishes. Typically, Babymouse causes some major catastrophes (a Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde sequence provides a good laugh as does a wonderful Moby Dick fantsy during the canoeing competition).
Babymouse falls afoul of a Skunk in her cabin named Susie when all of her efforts seems to somehow harm Susie (like Babymouse’s marshmallow landing on Susie’s head). But when Babymouse is able to help Susie by using her good scouting skills, the house changes their tone about her and puts her in charge of the final challenge–a scavenger hunt!
The ending is funny and manages to be not too sappy (never accuse Babymouse of being sappy!).