Thursday, May 19, 2016

When Music Mattered - "Weird Al" Yankovic

If "Weird Al" Yankovic had not been born, some producer somewhere would have created him and instantly regretted it. But seriously folks, the music business needs "Weird Al" desperately, and most of the music business knows it. There were parody songwriters before "Weird Al," but "Weird Al" was the first parody artist to play an accordion, and make music videos. One of those two things, or the two together, helped to propel him to becoming a superstar.

The debut album from "Weird Al" Yankovic was called, conveniently enough, "Weird Al" Yankovic. It is an album that took three years to make, and it was worth every minute. I think the biggest significance of this debut album is that the two songs that helped to break the record out to the public ("Another One Rides The Bus" and "My Bologna") were done completely on Al's accordion without any significant accompanying instruments. I don't think Al realized it at the time, but this meant that people would focus on the song instead of trying to hear if the music was played right. It is his early use of the accordion that separates Al from the other parody song writers, and it is his accordion that propelled him to fame.

Is "Weird Al" clever? No, I never thought so. His comedy reminds me a lot of Jeff Dunham's in that they both use very basic, elementary level comedy. But the fact that Al acts like a complete idiot just to make people laugh is what makes him so popular. Sometimes Al can get clever when he is confronted by others in the music industry, but his work is base level comedy that just seems to work.

Another reason Al is so popular, in my opinion, is based on his virtuoso approach to the accordion - once again. If you have never listened to any of Al's accordion-based medleys of music by popular bands, then you should listen to at least one because they are pure genius. On the album "Weird Al" Yankovic you get an introduction of medleys to come with original songs like "Buckingham Blues" and "Such A Groovy Guy." These songs are not the high-energy medleys Al would write later, but they show that the guy can write songs.

There are actually a lot of original songs that are not parodies on "Weird Al" Yakovic, but everyone who grew up in the 80s remembers the song "Ricky." This song is actually fairly clever, and the video was on heavy rotation on MTV. An artist with a video on heavy rotation on MTV in the 80s was almost assured of being a success, and "Weird Al" remains a success to this day.

The world needs comedians and the music industry needs someone like "Weird Al" to remind everyone to stop taking themselves so seriously. Al recorded these songs over the span of three years, and you can kind of tell when he started to get a recording budget because his songs got much more complex. This is the album that introduced "Weird Al" to the world, and the world and "Weird Al" have never looked back.

Rating: 3 out of 5

George N Root III is a music fanatic who loves classic albums. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at