Logan J. Fowler checks out Weird Al’s latest and sees if the Alpocalypse was worth waiting for …
There are not many artists I listen to regularly. I’m actually semi-picky when it comes to music. But one artist I always listen to is “Weird Al” Yankovic, song parody king.
Five years after Al released Straight Outta Lynwood, which featured the massively popular parody of Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty,” titled, “White & Nerdy,” Al has unleashed Alpocalypse, in where he parodies Taylor Swift, Rapper T.I., B.o.B., Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and skewers Top 40 artists in his traditional Polka renditions of popular songs.
Weird Al also breaks up the parodies with his original fare, where he channels such artists as Jack White and Jim Morrison of The Doors with “CNR” and “Craigslist,” respectively. Except for a couple of tunes, most fans could’ve heard/seen the rest of Al’s non-parody material (including the aforementioned ones) on youtube, dubbed “Internet Leaks.”
Part of enjoying Alpocalyse would be in the fact that you are hearing all new material, but if you did check out those “Internet Leaks” like I did, then you are really getting only six brand new tracks on a 12-track album. Now, on the plus side, you finally get those tracks to put on your iPod or computer (if you haven’t downloaded them off YouTube), or sing along with in the car. Far be it from me to be selfish, but I was kind of bummed out when I checked out Alpocalypse’s track listing that I had heard a good chunk of the songs already. And for that matter, Al’s strength has always been in his parodies anyway, although original song “If That Isn’t Love” was pretty funny, and “Skipper Dan (Another Internet Leak)” while not new, is rather catchy. The rest of the original stuff is passable for the most part.
Previously mentioning Al’s strength, the parody portion of this album really is actually really weak. Now, I will always make excuses for the man in question that he is trying to parody mainstream music that is not the greatest to begin with. Yes, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus (Al parodies both “You Belong With Me” with “TMZ” and “Party In The U.S.A.” with “Party In The C.I.A.,”respectively) are extremely popular in the female circuit, and I’m sure Al has plenty of female fans, but my estimation is that his audience ranges from early-20s to at least early to mid- 40s. While I’m certain plenty of people in that age demographic know the songs or the artists, they aren’t widely loved artists like Al used to parody back in the day. Both parodies are okay, but nothing stellar.
Besides those two, Al parodies T.I.’s “Whatever You Like,” with … “Whatever You Like (yes, same title),” poking fun at the economic state of our nation. Whereas the T.I. song has the rapper discussing how he is going to get fancy expensive stuff for his lady, Al woos with talk of Burger King, McDonald’s, and clipping coupons. While very silly, Al’s “Whatever You Like” seems somewhat behind the times to make full impact.
Two parodies own the record. While not a straight-up parody, “Polkaface,” otherwise known as this album’s version of Al’s breaking down of popular songs in a polka format, is a lot of fun, and Al covers Britney Spears (“Womanizer”), Katy Perry (“I Kissed A Girl”), Pink (“So What”), Kid Cudi (“Day And Night”), Justin Bieber (“Baby”), and several others in this accordion accompanied song. “Polkaface,” I would say, is one of Al’s best polka parodies and a highlight on the album.
Finally, the best song on the record has to go to Al’s take on Lady Gaga, titled “Perform This Way.” Al not only parodies the song but the artist herself, discussing Lady Gaga’s weird wardrobe choices (“I’d poke your eyes out with a dress like this”) and the singer’s zany ways. Al even quickly gets a jab in at Gaga for her song “Born This Way” sounding a lot like Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” While I don’t listen to Gaga at all, you’d have to be hiding under a rock to not know of this woman’s fashion choices. Al’s strongest tune on the album leads it off, but past that, except for a few exceptions, the album kind of suffers.
Does this mean I’ll stop buying Weird Al CDs? No, absolutely not. Like I mentioned before, time has not been kind to Al in finding really good music to parody. Gone are the days of Michael Jackson, Madonna, and instead the parody perfectionist has to settle for subpar mainstream music of today. You have to give him credit; he’s still giving it his all, which is highly commendable for a man in his early 50s. Even with the lackluster parodies featured on Alpocalypse, “Perform This Way” still proves the man has got it in him to place his finger on the pulse and make fun of it. If the album were released a few years back to be more on time with the jokes (“Craigslist, TMZ,” and “Whatever You Like” come to mind especially), Alpocalypse would be a riot. However, we wouldn’t get the Gaga parody with it, so you have to take the good with the bad, I guess. While Al’s latest is not a complete failure, it’s kind of a disappointment. Following up Straight Outta Lynwood would be no easy task, but Alpocalypse stands as one of Weird Al’s weakest albums in a rather awesome library.