Wednesday, February 14, 2007

CD: Weird Al Yankovic, "Straight Outta Lynwood"

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery; it's also a great way to develop talent at something. While Weird Al Yankovic's lyrics haven't evolved beyond his childish antics (like "Weasel Stomping Day"), his original songs and musical compositions have flourished: "I'll Sue Ya" makes for a passable heavy metal song, "Close But No Cigar" is a catchy dirty jazz piece, and "Don't Download This Song" is a powerful anthem against the RIAA. The best track, "Pancreas" puts the disgusting biological functions of that lovely gland in contrast with the soft rock of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys, going at one point into a round with lines like "Flow flow flow pancreatic/juice flow flow/into the duodenum," "Insulin, glucagon, comin' from the islets of Langerhans," and "Lipase, amylase and trypsin/they're gonna help with my digestion." For all the throwaway spoofs like "Canadian Idiot" and "Trapped in the Drive-In" (do we need to make fun of either?), Weird Al has managed to make "Straight Outta Lynwood" a rich and textured album, and I'm not kidding.

There's the R&B of "Confessions Part III" and the amusing rap that is "White & Nerdy," and the traditional polka medley of pop hits manages to poke fun at everything from Velvet Revolver to Kanye West, Gorillaz, and The Black Eyed Peas -- heck, it even makes Weezer's "Beverly Hills" sound like a decent song. Heck, he even channels Taylor Hicks on his spoof "Do I Creep You Out?" The CD also comes with an embedded DVD track filled with a piss-poor karaoke option (better than nothing, though) and an amusing series of music videos contributed by various independent artists, from the Crumb-like influences of John Kricfalusi's "Close But No Cigar" to Bill Plympton's brilliantly sketched "Don't Download This Song."

I was surprised to find such a well-produced album hiding under the layers of parody, but when it comes down to it, you have to really love music to spend so much time ripping off the worst of the worst, and it shows here. You won't find a more eclectic mix of songs recorded by a single artists anywhere else, and whatever you may think of the man's one-liners, his beat's no joke.

[First posted to Silent Uproar, 2/7]

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