Thursday, July 26, 2007

Weird Covers

Weird Al Yankovic came through town last night at the Capital Ex, our city's annual exposition/festival thingy (formerly known as Klondike Days). I haven't been in a couple years, but the festival organizers usually get an interesting (if eclectic) group of performers for essentially a free concert with gate admission. It's hard to emphasize the impact that Weird Al has had on my wee little brain growing up. There are just so many songs that I first heard as a Weird Al parody or polka, it's quite unbelievable. For example, Yoda was a particular favourite of mine and thinking it was one of his originals, I was floored years later when I first heard the Kinks' Lola. For the record, I think Weird Al's version sounds better and the lyrics seem to fit the song better. Similarly, Jurassic Park is practically proof that he owns a time machine because I swear he "planted" MacArthur Park just so he could parody it years later. Even songs that "everybody knows" like Hey Jude, LA Woman, Hey Joe, Sharp Dressed Man, My Generation... yep, my first exposure was via a Weird Al tune. My affinity to one of my favourite bands Harvey Danger began after I scanned the liner notes of a Weird Al polka to find out who sang that "I'm not sick, but I'm not well" song. That would be Flagpole Sitta and Harvey Danger. Thanks Weird Al, you've left an indelible imprint on my musical tastes.

He goes through so many costume changes during the show, practically every song I think. During these breaks, we're treated to classic bits of AL TV like a particularly ridiculous interview with Paul McCartney. While Weird Al "interviews" hilariously make use of some clever editing, I cannot possibly imagine the context of the real interview in which Paul McCartney says and does the wacky stuff he does in the clip. It's probably on YouTube, but it's a riot. To me it was quite shocking how many people know the lyrics and can sing along to The Saga Begins, his Phantom Menace parody to the tune of American Pie. Cheers erupted when the big screen showed the beginning bit of his Fat video and sure enough, he waltzed out minutes later in full fat suit glory. Awesome. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was a blast. You know what's crazy? I was just looking as his wikipedia entry and his first studio album was released in 1983. He's been doing this for as long as I've been alive. Way to go, Al!

Now the moment you've all been waiting for... covers of Weird Al!

Attack Slug - Dare to be Stupid
Your Mother - Dare to be Stupid
MC Chris - Dare to be Stupid
There are not a lot of Weird Al covers, but Dare to be Stupid seems to be popular. I've been told it was used in the 80's Transformers movie. I must have had a deprived childhood because I've never seen it, which is perhaps one (of many) reasons why I don't think this summer's remake of Transformers was the "Greatest Action Movie of All Time". If you browse the imdb listing of the animated movie, you'll find quite possibly the most unlikely voice cast ever assembled.

J.B.O - Ich glaube, Du liebst mich nicht mehr [originally You Don't Love Me Anymore]
This German cover of a Weird Al original is like some sort of extreme excercise in Post-Postmodernism. I love it.

Throwing Toasters - Good Enough For Now (live)
Another cover of a Weird Al original. While the original was in the style of a twangy country song, this cover distinctly reminds me of Cyrkle's Red Rubber Ball. Probably just me...

Laura Barrett - Smells Like Nirvana
Quite simply this is brilliant. Laura Barrett was making the indie blog rounds last year with Robot Ponies, another great track. Last year she was also up for a SOCAN songwriting award for Canadian indie artists, in which she was up against the likes of The Stills, Propaghandi, Final Fantasy, and Wolf Parade. If you haven't heard her music, it's kalimba-based (an African thumb instrument), which may sound gimmicky but she makes it work quite beautifully. And she's not afraid to unleash her inner nerd with this Weird Al cover from last year's Earth Sciences EP. I bought the EP around Christmas and it came in a unique hand-stitched CD case that I will treasure always (how many hand-stitched CDs do you have?). Presumably it can be still purchased directly from her myspace site.

A Weird Al tribute album made by fans called Prosthetic Lips can be downloaded in its entirety here.

1 comment:

toast said...

I'm a huge Al fan and I know all the words to "The Saga Begins", "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" and most of his other tunes!

Thanks for posting these covers!