Released on June 21, 2011, Alpocaypse features previously released Internet Leaks gems like the White Stripes-aping tribute to Charles Nelson Reilly, "CNR," and the out-of-nowhere Doors homage "Craigslist" (featuring the Doors' Ray Manzarek approximating his part on "When the Music's Over"), as well as strong new songs like "TMZ," a parody of Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me," a Gaga-inspired polka medley of contemporary songs called "Polka Face," and the deceptively bouncy, post-9/11 mockery, "Party in the CIA," based on "Party in the USA" by Miley Cirus.
I don't know if the actual Alpocalypse is coming but I'm pretty sure we're closer to it now than we've ever been," Yankovic says of the album's doomsday title and artwork. "I figured that I might as well do my apocalypse-themed album before the actual apocalypse because I really don't think people are gonna be buying CDs at the end of the world. Getting in a few sales under the wire, y'know? But I wasn't consciously trying to tap into people's fears. It's actually an idea I had in my notebook for several years and I just thought it was a funny album title and I had that visual of me being one of the four horsemen, and I just thought that'd be funny." It is notable that so many songs from the new album have been released already, in some cases for a couple of years. "Including the Lady Gaga parody, it's literally half the album," Yankovic agrees. "Some people have complained that it's only half-new, but I was always very up-front about that when I put out Internet Leaks. Like, 'This is a preview of my new album. I'm putting this out early so you don't have to wait two or three years for these cuts.' It shouldn't have been a surprise. But that is a problem because I am straddling two worlds. I would love to take more advantage of digital distribution because that allows me to put out things very, very quickly and, especially because I'm doing topical and timely humour, that's of the essence. But at the same time, I do love physical media; I love LPs, I love CDs, I love a product you can hold in your hand and say, 'This is my new album.' There's a charm and romance to that and it's difficult for me. I think we're going more towards straight digital distribution. I think the CD's gonna go away but it's gonna be with us for a while longer, but in the meantime, it's this transitional period where it's in 'the cloud,' like music just kinda exists, y'know?"
Yankovic plans to film his two appearances at Toronto's Massey Hall in July 2011 for a forthcoming TV special. "I played Massey Hall before and it was one of my favourite gigs and I love Toronto — Toronto's one of my favourite cities in the world. My manager gave me a list of three venues in the U.S. and Canada where they were considering shooting the live show and one of them was Massey Hall. It was my first choice and we just made it happen. It's gonna be the Alpocalypse show and we're playing a week's worth of shows ahead of time to warm up and be ready for Massey Hall."
The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic
Even Worse (1988, Scotti Brothers)
Written off after poorly received albums, Yankovic hit back with a vengeance, crafting funny parodies of songs by friends like Michael Jackson and George Harrison, not to mention crafty originals like "Melanie," "Twister," and "Good Old Days." His gift for perceiving cultural trends, capturing their essence, and mocking the hell out of them shines here and its corresponding videos.
Off the Deep End (1992, Scotti Brothers/Volcano)
A curiously compelling document of the musical sea change that was the early 1990s, where bubblegum pop, cheesy rap, and hair metal gave way to the rise of subversive, challenging punk and a grittier lo-fi aesthetic across all genres. "Weird Al" taps into the teenage girl hysteria for NKOTB and MC Hammer while saluting Generation X's flannel, freak flag and the angst-y sarcasm it represents. If the era's co-existing chart toppers seem absurd in retrospect, it's that much funnier filtered through Off the Deep End.
Straight Outta Lynwood (2006, Volcano)
Whether it's the hot raps or eagle-eye lyrics about nerds and their proclivities, "White & Nerdy" is the undeniable display of Yankovic's ridiculous artistic range. And then, what of the Pet Sounds-styled paean to the "Pancreas?" Lynwood is Yankovic's highest charting album to date and with good reason. The "Trapped in the Drive-Thru" R. Kelly rip is side-splittingly funny, no to mention "Don't Download This Song," a mock "We Are the World" charity song dedicated to the faltering music industry. Just priceless.
Listen to the Exclaim! Weird al playlist at rdio.
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