"Weird Al" is a unique musical phenomenon, comparable perhaps only to the infamous Doctor Demento ("We are the Worms") in his approach towards moving units out of the pressing plant and into your CD player. His almost uncanny ability to parody songs with such seemingly effortless style has garnered fan acclaim and industry respect as a sort of Rich Little of the pop music world. Like Rich Little, Yankovic seems to have "it," but not to be using it in a way that can keep people interested in the long term.
You may have heard or seen the video for "Amish Paradise," the first release from "Bad Hair Day," and thought "Hey, that's a damn good song,"...with due reason. Yankovic spoofs Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" in this double jab at both the former crackhead-turned-commercial rap artist and the entire Amish culture in one fell swoop. "A local boy kicked me in the butt last week/I just smiled at him and I turned the other cheek/I really don't care, in fact I wish him well/'Cause I'll be laughing my head off when he's burning in hell." Funny as poop. Unfortunately, that and the line "Jebediah feeds the chickens and Jacob plows... fool!" were the high-points of the album, with only a few other moments coming even near the raw hilarity of "Weird Al" when he's at his best.
The problem here is that with the exception of "Gump" (a parody of The Presidents of the United States of America's "Lump:" "His girlfriend Jenny was kind of a slut/He went to the White House and showed LBJ his butt") Yankovic picked the WORST POSSIBLE FUCKING SONGS to roast. Let's look at the lineup of the recent well-known pop songs on "Bad Hair Day:" "Cavity Search" rips of U2's "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me," possibly the most pretentious and flat out boring song U2 ever decided to squeeze out of their butt cheeks. And the parody song's topic? Dentistry. Christ, DENTISTRY! That's just not funny.
There's "Syndicated Inc.," a parody of Soul Asylum's lackluster "Frustrated, Inc." The song sucked in its original form and it sucks as a parody, as Yankovic talks about television yet again, only this time to the tune of one of the most boring and uncreative songs of this century. And to top it all off, there isn't a funny line in the entire song, as "Weird Al" basically details a family's TV viewing habits, namely shows that the family watches. That's it.
But by far, the absolute worst song on "Bad Hair Day" is the parody of TLC's "Waterfalls," entitled "Phony Calls." It's a song about making prank phone calls, which has potential to be funny, but isn't. Even the guest voice talents of Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Hank Azaria as Moe the Bartender can't save this song whose structure is such that I fall asleep by the second chorus.
Yankovic's original songs are funnier than the parodies, but still not up to par with past endeavors like "Stuck In a Closet With Vanna White" and "You Make Me." "Everything You Know Is Wrong" is funny in a sort of non-sequitur (sic) way, as is "The Night Santa Went Crazy," in which any punches Yankovic pulled on "Christmas at Ground Zero" are brought through in full force. It's almost unsettling: "And he ground up poor Rudolph into reindeer sausage/He got Dancer and Prancer with an old German Luger... And he picked up a flamethrower and he barbecued (sic) Blitzen/And he took a bite and said, 'It tastes just like chicken!"
Somewhere in between a parody and a cover medley, "The Alternative Polka" corns up such popular favorites like Alanis' "You Oughtta Know," "Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" and Green Day's "Longview." Although Yankovic has done this sort of thing before, this is one joke that somehow remains funny as hell.
One thing is made clear with "Bad Hair Day," if it hadn't been in the past. "Weird Al" Yankovic uses the same concepts and themes for all of his songs: non-sequiter (sic) randomness, stories about wacky people he creates ("I Remember Larry"), and quips about people expressing their feelings to each other: in most cases, hate or annoyance. The jokes are getting old and so is Yankovic, and while "Bad Hair Day" would be funny if some young upstart had released it, we've heard all of this stuff before. You can only watch the same routine for so long before you're bored of it, and you can only do that routine for so long before you stop selling records.
And for shit's sake, cut that hair and lose the "wacky" shirts. They're dumb.
--- Ronen Kauffmann