Weird Al Yankovic, ‘Alpocalypse’ – Album Review
“Weird Al” Yankovic is back, and this time he’s poking fun at Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars. The pop parodist is set to drop his 13th studio album, ‘Alpocalypse,’ June 21, and we’ve got an early review of all 12 songs.
Yankovic has been parodying professionally since 1979, spoofing the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson and Nirvana over the years. The first new track to surface from ‘Alpocalypse’ was ‘Perform This Way,’ a send-up of Gaga’s ‘Born This Way.’
Al was finally able to release the song after a misunderstanding in which he was initially denied permission by Gaga’s manager, before the artist herself heard the song and approved it.
In addition to his parodies, the album includes a polka medley of pop hits by Kesha, Justin Bieber and others, as well as original tracks that aren’t direct parodies but are “style parodies” meant to sound like the White Stripes, Hanson, Queen and Meat Loaf.
1. ‘Perform This Way’
Yankovic tackles the synthpop hit of the year with a song about Gaga’s bizarre outfits. “I might be wearin’ Swiss cheese or maybe covered with bees / It doesn’t mean I’m crazy, I perform this way,” he sings. Al manages to mock the superstar performer without being mean. It’s a funny lead single and impressive way to kick off the album. (Listen Here)
One of a handful of tracks on ‘Alpocalypse’ that also appeared on last year’s ‘Internet Leaks’ EP, ‘CNR’ mixes the garage rock sound of the White Stripes with tall-tale lyrics about late actor Charles Nelson Reilly. The jarring convergence of these two opposite worlds makes for an interesting original song.
We’re betting that Taylor Swift never expected someone to change ‘You Belong to Me’ into a song with the lines, “You just picked up some transvestite / Seconds later it’s up on the website / Get a Vegas wedding, a quickie divorce / And they’ll be sneaking in, snapping pictures, of course.” Yankovic’s grilling of the paparazzi makes ‘TMZ’ one of the stronger tracks on the album.
4. ‘Skipper Dan’
‘Skipper Dan’ is an original song about a poor guy who dreamed of being a movie star but ends up as a jungle cruise guide at Disney, “doing 34 shows everyday, and every time it’s the same.” This song is a strikeout; not only is it not particularly funny, but the story is actually kind of a bummer.
5. ‘Polka Face’
Every Al-bum contains a medley of pop hits hilariously recorded polka style. Name a pop star, they’re probably featured in this one: Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Owl City, Kid Cudi, Kesha, Katy Perry all earn acknowledgements. Best moment: When the funnyman sings, “Boy, don’t try to front, I know just what you are,” from Brit’s ‘Womanizer,’ while accordions, horns and whistles play in the background.
In this ode to the popular classifieds website, Yankovic brilliantly channels Jim Morrison, switching from high-pitched screams to spoken-word interludes. The parodist captures the spirit of the site when he sings about posting a Missed Connections ad for a “blond half-Asian with a bad case of gas.” Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek was impressed enough by the trippy rock song to agree to play keyboards on it.
7. ‘Party in the CIA’
Weird Al turns the Miley Cyrus hit ‘Party in the USA’ into a recitation of interrogation techniques and military intelligence. While it’s humorous to hear him sing about “shreddin’ the files like yeah, staging a coup like yeah,” something’s missing here. This just doesn’t have the same irresistible vibe of Miley’s original.
‘Ringtone’ doesn’t have many funny jokes, but you can’t help but be impressed by how Yankovic manages to reproduce the classic rock sound of Queen. All the qualities that made the band’s music popular are here: Operatic harmonies, piano breakdowns and guitars that seem to replicate the distinctive tones of Queen’s Brian May.
9. ‘Another Tattoo’
We love it when Weird Al raps. Some of his best hits, like ‘Amish Paradise’ and ‘White & Nerdy,’ have come when Al puts on his MC hat and spits ridiculous rhymes. Here, he capably plays the roles of both B.o.B and Bruno Mars on a humorous parody of ‘Nothin’ on You’ that mocks our cultural obsession with getting inked.
10. ‘If That Isn’t Love’
We love Hanson, and so does Al. The singer invited Taylor Hanson to play keyboards on ‘If That Isn’t Love,’ which mimics Hanson’s pop-rock sound with a chorus reminiscent of the brothers’ 2004 hit ‘Penny & Me.’ It’s not the best song on the album, but who knows — maybe it will remind people how awesome Hanson is.
11. ‘Whatever You Like’
“We can clip coupons all night, and baby you can have whatever you like,” Yankovic raps on this timely but not-so-funny parody of the T.I. hit of the same name. On his version, Al promises his girl that even though the economy is struggling, he’ll treat her right, with dinners of Top Ramen and government cheese.
12. ‘Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me’
Yankovic finishes with an original song about useless email forwards, done in the style of Meat Loaf and songwriter Jim Steinman. Al nails every element of Steinman’s dramatic, bombastic sound. With fresh song ideas and strong parodies, ‘Alpocalypse’ is one of the better records Weird Al has made in recent years.
Watch Weird Al Yankovic’s ‘CNR’ Video