You may know “Weird Al” Yankovic as the “Eat It”
guy (check out his bio on Twitter). After all, until 2006 his parody of Michael Jackson's “Beat It” was his highest charting
single. And although he's made a name out of using other artists' songs to write funny stuff, he's gotten a lot of critical acclaim for his original work as well.
Yankovic's often PG-songs are sensitive to the fact that he has a ton of young fans. There are songs on food and television that could be mistaken for fluff, but are actually a critique on our consumer-driven and pop culture obsessed culture. His
more knowledgeable fans know him for being a nice guy, a vegetarian, a nerd, a
grammar enthusiast and now bestselling children's book author.
But Yankovic also has a dark side; many of his songs have downright
disturbing narrators. You'd be surprised at the creepy, sometimes psychotic turns his songs can
take. The following are the ten darkest Weird Al moments. Enter if you dare.
10. Weasel Stomping Day (Straight Outta Lynwood, 2006)
by JibJab has the distinct honor of being featured on an episode was made by Adult Swim's Robot Chicken and appeared on the show; the song is reminiscient of The Simpsons's
episode “Whacking Day.” Like snake whacking, weasel stomping is done
out of tradition, and “that makes it okay.” Grab your boots and stomp
your cares away, and try not to be disturbed by the sounds of guts squirting
9. Melanie (Even Worse, 1988)
You wish your stalker was this dedicated: he falls in love with Melanie
while she's in the shower, he gives her cat a Mohawk, he goes through her
garbage just to learn more about her, and he jumps out from the sixteenth story
window right above her. He may be dead but he still loves her.
My stalkers, in comparison, have all been pathetic, giving up so easily just
because I changed my phone number and my bus route twice. Losers.
8. Why Does This Always Happen to Me? (Poodle Hat, 2003)
This style parody of Ben Folds (a friend of Yankovic's who plays the piano
on the track) has the heartfelt warmth and integrity of the sweetest Ben Folds
song– the narrator laments a devastating earthquake in Peru that killed
30,000. Yankovic sets it up perfectly, as if the narrator is about to ask an
existential question: “And I said, 'God, please answer me one question–
Why'd they have to interrupt The Simpsons just for this?” (In his defense,
this was before Hulu so he really would have had to wait for the rerun to see
the part he missed).
7. Good Old Days (Even Worse, 1988)
A lovely, acoustic style parody of James Taylor starts with an idyllic
scene: dad going fishing, mom making apple pie, but our psychotic narrator
spends his time “torturing rats with a hacksaw and pulling the wings off
of flies.” And then he starts killing people.
Yankovic performed this for the Tiny Desktop Series at All Songs Considered last year. Song starts at around 1:40.
6. I Was Only Kidding (Off the Deep End, 1992)
In this taunting, teasing, belittling, harsh as hell song, the narrator
admits that his proclamations of love and his proposal were all just a prank. He's
mighty pleased with himself and surprised that he got her to fall for all his
yarns. This is his most mean-spirited song (possibly “I'm So Sick of You” can
rival it) and hearing the uncharacteristic mocking tone in Yankovic's voice saying all those things makes it even
5. The Night Santa Went Crazy (Bad Hair Day, 1996)
Yankovic has a knack for Christmas songs. In this one, as the title
suggests, Santa realizes he's been getting a raw deal all these years and exacts his revenge.
The darkest moment is when he barbecues Blitzen, takes a big bite, and says, “It
tastes just like chicken.”
4. One More Minute (Dare to be Stupid, 1985)
Reportedly written after a breakup, Yankovic's list of torture he'd rather
endure than spend one more minute with his ex girlfriend gets easier to
tolerate after 100 or so listens. But until then, the lyrics to this song cause
extreme discomfort. Even the tamest, like the paper cuts on the face thing, makes
3. Albuquerque (Running with
Like mentioning the number 27, ending albums with a really long track is
kind of Yankovic's thing. Unlike “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,”
however, this eleven-minute tangentfest serves to make one simple point (the
narrator hates sauerkraut). But until you get there, this song is a major bummer. Our narrator was kept
in a basement, fed sauerkraut every day by his mother, and when he finally
escapes, he's the only survivor of a plane crash. Perhaps the darkest moment of
the song (well, besides biting that guy's jugular): the narrator leaves his
wife and mother of his children because she wants him to join the Columbia
Record Club, which is just too big a commitment.
2. I Remember Larry (Bad Hair Day, 1996)
We all know a prankster who never tires of shenanigans, even when it's not
anywhere near April Fool's Day. As irritated as we are, most of us do not
actually kill the prankster. This is not the case with the narrator of this
“Weird Al” tune. The moment when the song makes the chilling turn
from simple nostalgia to homocide is sufficiently dark, yes, but this song may
also have the distinction of containing Yankovic's darkest pun: “it was a
pretty good gag.”
1. Christmas at Ground Zero (Polka Party! 1986)
Before September 11, 2001, the term “ground zero” referred to
nuclear holocaust. When Yankovic's record label strongly encouraged him to
write a novelty holiday song, the U.S. still wasn't pals with what was then the
Soviet Union, and the country feared nuclear war. Because of the Reagan
Doctrine, anti-communist sentiments were particularly strong, making the time
in U.S. history when Yankovic released this song not unlike the years following
the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when we were encouraged to check
the color given by the Homeland Security Advisory System every day, but still
expected to spend and live normally “or else the terrorists win.” Except
under the Reagan Doctrine, we were supposed to be constantly ready for nuclear
war while going about our daily lives. Yankovic's contribution to novelty
Christmas music (including the self-directed video which features old duck-and-cover
footage) depicts the chilling juxtaposition of happy images of Christmas and
nuclear annihilation. Despite its brilliance, the label wasn't pleased and didn't want to
produce a video and the song was banned in some markets. Yankovic insisted on a video and made it himself, probably on his own dime. Look closely for a cameo by the Gipper himself!
“Christmas at Ground Zero” was Yankovic's first attempt at
directing. He has since directed many more of his own videos and some for
others, including Ben Folds and The Presidents of the United States of America.
Weird Al's Alpocalypse Tour comes to the Pacific Amphitheatre on July 9. Tickets, $15-$35, go on sale Saturday, May 28, at 10 a.m.