I can only imagine the warm, cozy feeling I get inside whenever I hear a new song by “Weird Al” Yankovic is comparable to how an elderly person feels when he or she opens up the Funnies section of the newspaper and sees Garfield eating lasagna or Little Billy leaving a dotted line trail behind in Family Circus.
I have fond memories of growing up listening to Yankovic poking fun at the most popular musicians of the eighties and nineties and it just makes me feel warm and fuzzy to know that Al is still out there, continuing in his mischievous adventures through the ever-dynamic world of popular music. Unlike Garfield or The Family Circus, whenever Al pops on the scene he’s got original, satirical, and often wildly funny material to impart.
The good news for me and every other Al fan out there is that he’s got a brand new album arriving in stores September 26th. The really good news is that a listen to Straight Outta Lynwood proves it’s not only well worth the three-year wait since Poodle Hat, but that it can hold its own among Al’s greatest albums.
Straight Outta Lynwood opens with “White and Nerdy,” the album’s headline parody of Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’.” Here the singer laments his inability to “roll with the gangstas” because he’s just too, well, white and nerdy.
Al conjures up not just the stereotypical images of nerds, such as the wearing of pocket protectors and playing Dungeons and Dragons, but mixes in a healthy dose of up-to-the-moment references like MySpace, Segways, and Wikipedia with a lightning-fast, gotta-listen-to-it-more-than-once-to-catch-everything delivery that could make an auctioneer or that guy from the old Micro Machines commercials jealous.
The album’s next track is Al’s first original song on Straight Outta Lynwood and his second style parody of The Beach Boys (the first being his song “Trigger Happy” on 1992's Off the Deep End), entitled “Pancreas.” “Pancreas” seems to take particular aim at mimicking the sound of “God Only Knows” and “Good Vibrations” as it tells of the singer’s uncanny affection for said bodily organ.
Though my initial reaction to the song was that it was tepid at best, its melodies and lyrics have grown on me with repeat listens. One thing’s certain, this song’s sure to get a lot of play in the classrooms of “cool” middle school science teachers.
Up next is a parody of Green Day’s “American Idiot,” redubbed “Canadian Idiot.” Here Yankovic pokes some friendly fun at America’s northern neighbors, pulling out well-worn stereotypes about hockey, distinct pronunciation, and overt politeness. This reliance on familiar, often-trod-upon material leaves “Canadian Idiot” the weakest parody on the album, but it’s still a pretty good track.