Thursday, March 5, 2015

7 Things: Songs Weird Al Ruined for Me

Let me make this perfectly clear- I am a huge Weird Al Yankovic fan! From the first time the wonders of My Bologna (1979) coming out of my radio while listening to Dr. Demento, I considered Al to be a musical genius. His In 3D album (1984) remains a favorite of both mine and my son's, and we own the CD and have it on our iPods as well. That's the album that featured Eat It, the parody of Michael Jackson's Beat It that turned the whole world on to Weird Al and made it so I will never hear the original the same way again. Eat It popped up on shuffle the other day and it got me thinking- what other songs has Al ruined for me over the years? Which of his masterpieces have rendered the originals moot in my mind, because his parody is now my PREFERRED version of the song? So today I present for your consideration my list of 7 (more) songs Weird Al ruined for me. Here we go...

  • The Safety Dance - One of the quintessential songs of the 1980s was The Safety Dance by the band Men Without Hats. It was a favorite of mine, especially the music video. At least it was until the first time I heard Al's The Brady Bunch, in which he sings the lyrics of the The Brady Bunch TV theme song to the tune of the original. It was catchy and brilliant to the point that I no longer remember the lyrics to the real song. Just "the story of a very lovely lady who was bringing up 3 very lovely girls..."
  • American Pie -  Don McLean's masterpiece (released in 1971) was a cherished memory of my childhood, one of those songs that would live on forever in my heart as a classic piece of musical history. Until... Al released The Saga Begins in 1999, turning American Pie into a send-up of Star Wars, Episode 1. Now no matter how much I love the original, everytime it plays my mind begins singing, "My, my this here Anakin guy, maybe Vader someday later now he's just a small fry..." Even as mysterious as McLean's original is, it's just hard to take it seriously with those words ringing in my head!
  • MacArthur Park- This very dramatic song, first made famous in 1968 by Richard Harris and later brought back to life by Donna Summer (1978) as part of the disco craze was a legendary piece of pop music. And then came Al. All of the drama, all of the tempo changes and all of the emotions were still present- only now the song was about dinosaurs! Jurassic Park was not only hilarious, it was musically brilliant and helped show the world just how talented a man Weird Al Yankovic actually is. "Someone left T-Rex out in the rain..."
  • Lump - There were not many rock bands or songs from the 1990s that caught my attention, but one of my favorites was Lump by The Presidents of the United States of America. Just as an aside, what a really long and horrible band name! But the song was cool. However, once Al released Gump, his tribute to the movie Forest Gump, Lump became just a faded memory. Gump is classic Al, with a dead-on musical cover and great lyrics. "And that's all I have to say about that!"
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit- It was the early 1990s and the rest of the world was bestowing god-like status on Kurt Cobain and Nirvana when Al decided to parody their biggest hit. Not only did he poke fun at the song, Al also managed to toss a few zingers at Cobain himself. The lyrics to any Nirvana song were difficult to understand, so when Al sang, "What is this song all about? Can't figure any lyrics out" everyone knew what he meant. And when he added, "It's hard to bargle nawdle zouss with all these marbles in my mouth" suddenly it just didn't matter anymore what the actual words were. I still prefer Al's video too. He totally destroyed the song for me!
  • American Idiot- Green Day's classic song from 2004 was another revered piece of pop culture when Al decided to have a little fun with our neighbors to the north. Canadian Idiot is one of my favorite Weird Al songs, and because of that has reduced the original to the least listened to song on one of my favorite albums. The lyrics are just so clever, poking fun at all things stereotypically Canadian while making serious fun of USAmericans in the process. "They all live on donuts and moose meat, and they leave the house without packing heat- never even bring their guns to the Mall..."  And by the way- I share their dream of driving a Zamboni someday!
  • Eye of the Tiger-  When Sylvester Stallone was putting together Rocky III he wanted to use Queen's Another One Bites the Dust as the movie's theme song, but he couldn't get permission. Al parodied that song with Another One Rides the Bus, his first song to make the Billboard Music charts. Instead, Stallone commissioned the band Survivor to write the 80s classic Eye of the Tiger for the film. Yankovic couldn't let that one pass by either. In 3D features a lesser known Weird Al classic- Theme From Rocky VIII (The Rye or the Kaiser). The song is the story of how the now fat and lazy ex-champ buys a deli, and if you listen closely you can hear him say: "It's the rye or the kaiser or the wheat or the white, maybe I can suggest an appetizer. Stay away from the tuna it smells funny tonight, but you just can't go wrong with rye...or the kaiser." I dare you to take Eye of the Tiger seriously after that...
So that's seven. There are others- Like a Surgeon comes to mind, but I never liked the original so it doesn't matter as much. I love Amish Paradise, but that's a case where I never even knew the original (Gangster's Paradise) until AFTER I heard Al's version. His Bad parody (Fat) is brilliant, but again, I just didn't care enough about the Michael Jackson song for it to be "ruined." There are also all of the snippets of songs that are in his many Polka medleys that have distorted the way I hear some real classics. "And I'm talking 'bout my g-g-g-g-g-g-generation!" The man is a genius. I'd like to start a movement right now to have him play the next Super Bowl halftime show. Now THAT would be epic! Have a weird Thursday, my friends!!

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