Straight Outta Lynwood

"Weird Al" Yankovic

Volcano, 2006

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Everyone’s Weird Al Yankovic story starts out the same way: “Well I first heard him in middle school and thought he was funny!”

My story is no different. Weird Al is at the forefront of many of my middle school memories. Here was a guy with a sense of humor that seemingly applied perfectly to my age group. Luckily, as I have aged, my enjoyment of Weird Al’s material has not diminished -- which either means he creates timeless humor or I haven't matured much beyond age 13. Maybe it's a bit of both, since some (hell, most) of his songs are sophomoric in nature but are by no means exclusionary to adults.

Today, much of what I find compelling about Yankovic’s music is how well he pulls off the parodies. “Canadian Idiot” and “White And Nerdy,” in particular, play out as carbon copies of their serious counterparts, and yet again one needs to give serious props to Yankovic’s band for nailing the various sounds.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Then, of course, there is the razor sharp wit. The best example of this comes from the lead single “White And Nerdy.” On the surface, it would appear easy to mock the nerd, but how does one go about it without it sounding clichéd? Weird Al does it by combing the present day for cultural references. Wikipedia, Java Script, Minesweeper, Star Trek, a pimped out MySpace profile and the ever present ROTFLOL are all proudly mentioned as how nerdy Yankovic’s character is, set to the tune of Chamillionarie's hip-hop hit “Ridin.” It's hilarious.

“Pancreas” is a brilliant take on Brian Wilson, mixing Beach Boys and Wilson solo material together. This is the most impressive bit of music on the entire album. SMiLE is not easy music to play, but Weird Al and Co. “copy” it perfectly.

However, the crown jewel, the song on which everything comes together, is “Trapped In The Drive-Thru.” R. Kelly’s “Trapped In the Closet” bordered on parody all by itself, but Al just skewers the song, pushing it to even further hilarious heights. Yankovic has always used food as inspiration for his parodies, but I’d be hard-pressed to find an example of where it’s more suitable, as he sings for ten minutes about the long wait of sitting in and dealing with a drive-thru fast food place. It's a lot funnier than it sounds.

Of the original numbers, Al manages to put forth some of his best original material, period. “Don’t Download This Song” is an absolute perfect takeoff of songs like “We Are The World” but with lyrics about how downloading leads to doing drugs. Truth be told, somehow I get the picture the RIAA sees things as Al portrays them, which is scary in itself.

The main problem with this disc is that since I don't bother with pop radio, I don't always recognize the parodies. Sometimes this is forgivable if Yankovic turns the song into a classic, but in this case the Usher and Taylor Hicks parodies just falter.

And while the three aforementioned parodies and “Pancreas” are great, much of the rest is run of the mill Yankovic, which keep this from being counted among his best work. Still, the good moments outweigh the average ones, meaning Yankovic fans will love this and newcomers will likely enjoy it as well.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Volcano, and is used for informational purposes only.