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POODLE HAT /
BY DAVID BLUMENSTEIN
July 14, 2003
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When I heard the Pokemon-themed polka track "Weird
Al" contributed to the soundtrack of the second Pokemon movie,
I worried. After hearing Al's new album, Poodle Hat, I feel I had
"Weird Al" Yankovic
CD, Volcano Entertainment
1. Couch Potato
2. Hardware Store
3. Trash Day
4. Party At The Leper Colony
5. Angry White Boy Polka
6. Wanna B Ur Lovr
7. A Complicated Song
8. Why Does This Always Happen To Me?
9. Ode To A Superhero
12. Genius In France
FOOD & TV
"Couch Potato" is a parody of Eminem's "Lose
Yourself" which is made up of scattershot namechecks of various
recent TV shows plus a few easy-to-make-fun-of oldies (think "MacGyver").
It's not very funny.
"Trash Day" makes not very much out of the
stinkiness of rotten food, redoing Nelly's "Hot In Herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre"
without actually making reference to Nelly being a tosspot who can't
spell, which I feel is unforgivable.
OTHER CRAP PARODIES
"A Complicated Song" is an Avril Lavigne thing
which at times sounds like one of those dirty crappy parody songs
that get uploaded to filesharing networks and are falsely attributed
to Al (it's got the word "constipated" in the place of "complicated").
"Ode To A Superhero" is "Piano Man"
with lyrics about the Spider-Man movie. I didn't really like Al's
Star Wars/Don McLean thing on the last album, and I don't like it
any more the second time round.
"eBay" is about eBay. It used to be a Backstreet
Boys song. This is appropriate because eBay jokes are old and so are
the Backstreet Boys.
"Party At The Leper Colony" is full of leper
jokes. If you've never heard a leper joke, you might like it. But
you have, and you won't.
"Wanna B Ur Lovr" is slightly funky but not
funny. I'm not really sure why it's on here. Nice use of video game
"Bob" makes fun of how Bob Dylan often writes
obscure, seemingly meaningless lyrics by consisting of similarly obscure,
meaningless lyrics and a middling Dylan impression.
THE ONES WORTH LISTENING TO
My favourites of Al's songs tend to be his originals,
which often make fun of American culture in a slightly WEIRDER way
than his single-song parodies can. "The Biggest Ball Of Twine
In Minnesota", "Frank's 2000" TV", "Everything
You Know Is Wrong": they're less one-note than "Eat It"
or "Fat". They're a bit more free to run amok through Al's
twisted carnival of heartland fun, a tentful of neighborly one-upmanship,
flying cheese and Hibachis. And they demonstrate Al's facility for
writing a nice tune of his own. That's why I've been listening to
"Hardware Store" over and over since I bought this album
(also because the rest of the songs are about as dire as I stated
"Hardware Store" is Al talking about all the
fantastic, wondrous things that can be found in a hardware store,
very very quickly, without breathing and with lots of multitracked
voices and sound effects chiming in. It's fast and fun and catchy
and it's the best thing on the album other than the cover photo of
Al with a cute little dog on his head.
Then, of course, there's the polka medley, a must for
every good and not-so-good "Weird Al" album. This time around
it's called "Angry White Boy Polka" and features mostly
nu-metal tracks (you know, Korn-style shit) converted seamlessly to
honkin' accordion fun. Not knowing all of the original songs, the
effect was slightly diminished, but the humourless dirge lyrics are
great for recycling into POLKA MADNESS. I certainly enjoyed hearing
"We're the renegades of funk... we're the renegades of funk!"
delivered in Al's trademark style, followed by a quick burst of slide
"Why Does This Always Happen To Me?" is not
fantastically funny, but it is a nicely done parody of Ben Folds'
style of piano-pop, featuring Folds himself on piano.
It's worth noting here that this is an "enhanced"
CD which includes some of Al's childhood home movies and a number
of extra mixes of certain tracks. One of these is a version of "Why
Does This Always Happen To Me?" featuring only Al's vocal and
Ben's piano, which is actually better than the album version, the
bareness of the mix giving the joke a little more edge. Sadly, the
extra mixes are of fairly low audio quality (embedded in a QuickTime
movie). I've a good mind to call Al and ask him to burn me a disc
of these instrumentals, a cappellas, etc as 192kbps+ MP3s. I don't
have his phone number, though.
Then there's the final track, "Genius In France".
It features a single gag premise: that even if you're a useless loser,
you can still be considered great in France ('cos they're deluded
What's interesting about this track is that it's a parody
of Frank Zappa's mid-'70s (specifically, "Apostrophe") musical
style, complete with marimbas, squealing horns, weird noises, treated
vocals, strange time signatures and Dweezil Zappa contributing Frank-style
guitar parts. The problem is that the track is over NINE MINUTES LONG.
OK, it's quite musically inventive, but it's a pretty tired joke.
So should you buy this album? Well, if you've bothered
to read all the way to this point, you probably like Al... but consider
the possibility that you may pay list price and end up playing only
track 2 over and over again.
"Weird Al" has a tight band and knows a good
melody. I just wish he would amp up the weirdness. AND FOR GOD'S SAKE!
IF YOU'RE GONNA PARODY THAT NELLY SONG, POKE SOME FUN AT THE BASTARD!
SAVAGE, AL! MORE BLOOD!