The driving force behind the legendary career of “Strange Al” Yankovic was evidently his titanic catalog of lyrical and stylistic parodies. But behind classics like “Eat It,” “Smells Like Nirvana,” and “Amish Paradise,” alongside dozens of other tried-and-true tracks, lie a multitude of tunes written and composed by Yankovic himself, and while some of these may not have been written to make for success of his parody works, there are a number of true gems that have come out of Yankovic’s mind all by themselves.
In celebration of Yankovic’s return to the area this weekend for a brief two-night stay at Medford’s Chevalier Theater tonight and Saturday (May 6th and 7th) as part of his Unfortunate return of the ridiculously smug, ill-advised Vanity Tourwe’ve combed through The Weird One’s discography and picked our favorite original works from (almost) every one of his 14 studio albums, for a number of reasons. One is “Because we can, so we did it,” while another is far too rare for discussion to arise about the sheer free-flowing hilarity of “Albuquerque.”
‘Mr. Frump In The Iron Lung’ out “Odd Al” Yankovic (1983)
What better way to introduce the sheer original oddity of a man nicknamed “Weird” than this song? I mean, where the hell did the idea for this song come from? The chorus is just labored breathing! How is that not weird for you?!
‘That Boy Could Dance’ out Into 3-D (1984)
A straight-ahead pick from Als’ early repertoire about finding that one redeeming quality in the odd person you seem to keep bumping into. Extra points for maintaining a wild amount of energy throughout.
‘Dare you to be stupid’ off Dare To Be Stupid (1985)
Yes, stylistic parodies count here, and this song is the perfect one to introduce that little curveball. Easily one of his most iconic tracks, and while Devo’s inspiration is embedded in the song’s base, the lyrics are undeniably Al, and that’s an unfair combination.
‘Good old days’ off Even Worse (1988)
The James Taylor-esque vibe of this one captivates you with its seemingly gooey chocolate core before you make a quick right, torturing rats in the basement, and leaving a prom date as a joke stranded in the desert. A game made in heaven, hands down.
‘UHF’ off UHF (1989)
The title track from the film’s soundtrack might be the most legitimate banger on this list, and it’s not exactly funny, but man, it gets people going when you crank up the volume and pull the knob.
“You don’t love me anymore”. From the Deep End (1992)
The nod to Extreme’s “More Than Words” music video and the ability to make insidious acts of emotional torture and psychotic outbursts of physical destruction somehow poignant and thought-provoking is just top-notch comedy every time.
‘Harvey The Wonder Hamster’ from Alapalooza (1993)
The shortest song in its catalog, and Yankovic realizes a dream most of us have by singing our praises to our pets (imaginary or not) in over-the-top marching band fashion.
‘The Night Santa Went Crazy’ from Bad hair day (1996)
Often cited as Yankovic’s darkest offering yet, the holly-jolly description of rampant carnage and death at the hands of St. Nick almost leaves one wishing for things to get darker after a while. Is that worrying? It’s entirely possible, but that sleigh ride to hell to kick off your holiday celebrations will become a tradition after a while if you’re not careful.
‘Albuquerque’ from Running With Scissors (1999)
Feet to the fire, that should be included in some kind of discussion about the best spoken word tracks of our time. Just a free-flowing babble of beautiful nonsense that wanders from take to take with little transition in between, and we couldn’t love it more for that aspect alone.
‘Truck Driving Song’ out Running With Scissors (1999)
To this day it is a gross injustice that there has never been an official music video for this song. Turning country music’s burly, bustling demeanor on its head and using one of its most iconic “male” objects is pure gold.
‘Party at the Leper Colony’ Bobble Hat (2003)
Visually traumatizing, sure, but the genius wordplay alone is enough to add this to any playlist. And the big band vibe makes it even more remarkable. Anyone fancy stew for dinner?
“Do not download this song” by Straight Out of Lynwood (2006)
Regardless of the song’s comedic factor, it’s quite a classy taunt in the face of the music industry and its half-hearted attempts to stifle file-sharing with overly intense publicity campaigns and lukewarm threats of legal action. Al rebelled against the man before it was cool.
‘Skipper Dan’ off Alpacalypse (2011)
We’ve all been there: we plan every last detail of our lives before realizing that dreams are sometimes just meant to be that (sorry, Shia LaBeouf), but this tune takes the unfortunate twists and turns of a skipper named Dan and turns them into an upbeat effort to wash away the sting of life’s diversions, no matter what profession you pursue. At least until you come back the next day.
‘sports song’ off Obligatory fun (2015)
This song brings back the old-school marching band energy, but doesn’t get nearly enough arenas and stadiums to play. But the whole “We’re great and you suck!” chant would probably get more people into it, even if “playing sportsball” wasn’t your thing at first.
https://vanyaland.com/2022/05/06/our-14-favorite-weird-al-original-songs-from-the-beginning-to-the-now/ Our 14 favorite songs from ‘Weird Al’, from beginning to date