"Weird Al" Yankovic

Alpocalypse Now… and Then Page 7

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"Weird Al" Yankovic - Alpocalypse Now… and Then Page 7
By Vish KhannaAfter a fan gives him a copy of the book, Diet for a New America, Yankovic decides to go vegan. Currently he eats no meat and avoids eggs and dairy products. He appears on an episode of Circus of the Stars, where he slightly injures himself performing a perilous aerial stunt. He also plays "Murray the Mouth" in a Mathnet segment on the kids show, Square One and, along with Kathy Bates, Jeffrey Tambor, and Billy Bob Thornton, appears in the sci-fi mockumentary, Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun. Between 1995 and 1998, he plays different characters on The Eddie Files, a kids' TV series that demonstrates different ways in which mathematics can be applied in the real world.

Yankovic begins work on his next album, setting his sights on the box office juggernaut Jurassic Park, whose story he re-tells to the tune of "MacArthur Park." Alapalooza (a reference to the then-popular Lollapalooza music festival) is released in October, 1993 and sells well despite a chilly critical reception. The Grammy-nominated animated video for "Jurassic Park" receives heavy rotation, as does "Bedrock Anthem," a tribute to The Flintstones, set to "Under the Bridge" and "Give It Away" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose bassist, Flea, is offended because he doesn't find the treatment particularly funny. Since "Bedrock Anthem," "Weird Al" has directed all of his own music videos, as well as videos by Hanson, the Black Crowes, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and Ben Folds. A four-disc compilation called Permanent Record: Al in a Box comes out in September, 1994 with extensive biographical notes by Dr. Demento and a brand new parody of Crash Test Dummies' hit "Mmm Mmm Mmm" called "Headline News."

1996 to 2000
In March, 1996, Yankovic's ninth album, Bad Hair Day is released, featuring a mocked-up "Weird Al," sporting rapper Coolio's idiosyncratic hairstyle. During production, the Offspring deny Yankovic's request to turn "Come Out and Play" into "Laundry Day," and, while Sir Paul McCartney's on board, Yoko Ono refuses to allow the new, re-fabricated Beatles tune, "Free As A Bird" to become "Gee, I'm a Nerd," U2 allow "Numb" to serve as the foundation for "Green Eggs and Ham," but the estate of Dr. Seuss is no pal to Al. Yankovic is also unsuccessful in convincing the producers of Friends that turning the show's theme song, "I'll Be There for You" by the Rembrandts, into "I'll Repair For You (Theme for Home Improvement)" is a great idea. Weezer front-man Rivers Cuomo requests that Yankovic's brief interpolation of "Buddy Holly" be removed from the record's "Alternative Polka" medley. As usual, these non-approved album tracks still make it into "Weird Al" live sets. Bad Hair Day yields two popular singles, "Gump," which parodies the Presidents of the U.S.A. hit "Lump" by celebrating cinematic icon, Forrest Gump, and "Amish Paradise," Yankovic's wholesome turnaround of Coolio's hit, "Gangster's Paradise" (which itself is inspired by Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise"). While the Presidents embrace "Gump" (even adopting the film's tagline, "And that's all I have to say about that" when ending "Lump" in concert), controversy erupts when Coolio proclaims that Yankovic never received permission to mock "Gangster's Paradise"; at the Grammys, he says the parody desecrates the song. Yankovic contends that his label told him he had Coolio's blessing to pursue the idea and sincerely apologizes for the misunderstanding. The two are photographed burying the hatchet together at a consumer electronics conference in 2006.

Bad Hair Day becomes Weird Al's highest selling album, peaking at #14 on Billboard. Yankovic writes and records the title song for the Leslie Neilsen movie, Spy Hard, a parody of James Bond films, which is released in May, 1996. He does some voiceover work for the children's cartoon, Eek! the Cat and appears on an episode of the bizarre MTV variety show, Oddville. CBS recruits Yankovic to produce a half-hour, educational Saturday morning program for kids called The Weird Al Show, which debuts in September, 1997. A mix of live action and animation, the show features recurring characters like the Hooded Avenger (Brian Haley), Madame Judy (Judy Tenuta), J.B. Toppersmith (Stan Freberg) and Harvey the Wonder Hamster. The show is hampered by creative conflicts between CBS, who aren't prepared for the adult-oriented content crafted by Yankovic and his writers. As a variety show, it features some very funny ideas, and different guest stars each week, both musical (Barenaked Ladies, Hanson, All-4-One, Clarence Clemons, Dweezil Zappa) and otherwise (Alex Trebek, John Tesh, Patton Oswalt, Mary Lynn Rajskub, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Fred Willard). The first season's final new episode airs on December 6, 1997. On January 24, 1998 Yankovic receives LASIK eye surgery to correct his near-sightedness and he no longer wears his trademark glasses. He also decides to shave his moustache and grow his hair long, radically altering his well-established nerd appearance as a performer, much to some (nerdy) fans' consternation. That same month CBS decides to cancel their entire Saturday morning line-up, including The Weird Al Show; Shout! Factory releases the complete series on DVD on August 15, 2006.
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I think that "Dare to be Stupid" is a highly underrated album and easily belongs on the list of essential Weird Al records.
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When I saw Weird Al perform at the Del Mar Fair earlier this month, I met Tad Dowd after the show (and before Jay Levey came to escort him backstage to the aftershow). Al is really good about staying in touch with people who were important to him when he was starting out.
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I love being a Nameless Poseur. You might want to consider editing "Don MacLean" to "Don McLean." Just a suggestion.
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I agree about Dare to Be Stupid. It was a close one there for a while but I wanted to pick Even Worse and then felt weird choosing two outta three records from the 80s. Wanted to spread it out a bit. Plus EW, OtDE, and SoL are all amazing. I stand by my Essential picks.
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What a thrill to find such a great and detailed piece
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Excellent article. Well researched and informative.
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Even Worse came out before UHF. If anything, it was a return after the lackluster sales of Polka Party (unfortunate, because that one is even more underrated than Dare to be Stupid, Dog Eat Dog is one of his best).
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Well you could have picked the 2009 Compilation "The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic you know.. :D
I'd pick that, Alpocalypse and Poodle Hat as my Essentials
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Great article. As noted above, the author misspelled "McLean", but also misspelled "Popeil" by adding an "m". Anyway, loved the article! Al's pal and former producer Rick Derringer (who also played the lead guitar for the studio recording of "Eat It") is now touring with Ringo's All Starr band. Pretty impressive. I wanna add that some years back, VH-1 had people vote for their favorite video moment. Jim West blowing up in the "Eat It" video was one of the choices. I, of course voted for that. Never found out the results, but I thought it was a great moment in video history. Thanks for sharing this article.
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without Weird Al, the world would suck a little harder....
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Al receives his first music lesson on October 22, 1967, the day before his seventh birthday.

59-67 = 8 years !!!!
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i appreciate the effort that went into compiling all the info that went into this piece, but i have to say that the writing itself made me wince.

i'm also surprised that this website doesn't offer any indications as to how long their articles actually are.
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Who edited this article??! While this is very thorough and well-researched, there are spelling mistakes and several run-on sentences. It goes in order until the last page. After mentioning Al's 2011 work, it jumps to mentions of 1988 and 1992.
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One fairly major project that seems to be left out is "Al's Brain." Otherwise a great piece.
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Al's Brain! Good point!
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Like many others out there, "Weird Al" got me through a lot of bad times, and has indeed, made my world so much better. I couldn't imagine life being brilliant, without him around.
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Wait, you seriously want us to tell you how long each article is in advance?!
Wow, someone's really been spoiled by "This Song's Just Six Words Long."
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uh...the references to 1988 and 1992 appear to be the author's top three picks, after the proper article had concluded. Kinda like a sidebar.
Well done, Vish. Excellent piece.
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My parents drove by my elementary school during recess when I was in 4th grade just to show me that they had just purchased "IN-3D" on vinyl for me, which had just come out. I was beyond excited.
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Don't forget that he appeared in an episode of Johnny Bravo!
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He who is tired of Weird Al, is tired of life.
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Ugh, please learn how to use tense before becoming a journalist. Thanks.
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This is awesome :) all the details I ever wanted to know about Al's journey to success, without having to pick up a book. :)
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Hey Nameless Poseur, how should I be using tense?
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Nameless Poseur........ stop being a cynic and just appreciate the article for what it is will you
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Well, let me say, 2 boys in the 80's~~ saw vidioes from Wierd Al and they were hooked. What does a Mother know?? HMM Accordian?? Yeah, my Dad thrust one on me!Hey, Cindy here play this. He was a car salesman. HMMMMM?? must have been his tip??WELL!! I impressed myself, aS i PLAYED!(caps lock)Okay, reply because we want( or I do) to see you on the sunshine coast of Gibsons! BC!
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Saw Al in concert in Birmingham, England. It was his first show on his first European Tour ever. It was amazing! As a kid growing up in Kansas City in the 80's, I'd always wanted to hear Weird Al first hand. I was happy I did, and my son got to experience it too. The lady at the ticket booth never took my tickets so I still have them as a keepsake.
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Nameless Poseur or one of you, your Al messing about!
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qeer
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i love chicken and weird al
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i was here
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Article Published In Jul 11 Issue