Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Turn-back Tuesday: Weird Al, His New Single, and Why I'm 5 Years Behind

[Note: Turn-back Tuesday has nothing to do with the failed and seldom updated postings previously known as Memory Lane Monday. That feature was horrible and this one is at least six times better.]

Coolio is an asshole. Years ago I was listening to Love Line and a caller asked him why he was upset about Weird Al's parody of Gangsta's Paradise. The caller asked why Weird Al had to get Coolio's permission and not Stevie Wonder's since Wonder owned the rights to the original Pastime Paradise which Coolio sampled. Coolio exploded. I can't remember any exact quotes but it went something like "I don't want to go there or get into that, next caller yo".

It wasn't until 2006 (five years ago) that the mighty C embraced the song and hugged it out with Al at the Consumer Electronics show. That picture (courtesy of rosiedemario.blogspot.com) just made my day. Shame on all of you for not letting me know this happened and for making me waste five extra years hating the dread-locked wonder.

All of this came about because Weird Al was trending on Yahoo! and Twitter. Worried, I hopped over to his Wikipedia to make sure everything was alright. That led to me finding the picture above as well as a link to his new Lady Gaga parody video, Perform This Way.

There's not much to say that you don't already know about Weird Al's music. He's the best at what he does and at 51 he still makes it look easy. The truth about parodies is that for every Naked Gun there's Scary Movie, for every Spaceballs there's Vampires Suck. Clever funny vs. stupid, mundane funny. Yankovic works hard at his craft so that something as silly as Fat and Smells Like Nirvana are as memorable as they are. Daniel (IEC Contributor) pointed out to me years ago that Don McLean, famous for his song American Pie, came close to singing Weird Al's Star Wars themed parody (The Saga Begins) at live shows because he was so happy with Al's work and his kids played the song nonstop. Al's ability to keep musicians humble and not take themselves so seriously will be his legacy once everything is said and done. My favorite line from Perform This Way is when he reveals, from Gaga's perspective, "No reason I should regret / All the attention I get / I'm not completely crazy / I perform this way". And while the entire song and video doesn't have the same replay value for me as White & Nerdy or Gangsta's Paradise, it provides a great laugh throughout and that's all that matters. You listen to Weird Al expecting to laugh and he still makes it happen 28 years after his first studio album.

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