"Weird Al" Yankovic / Straight Outta Lynwood / CD Review

Way Moby / Zomba

It takes a special kind of guy to make a living off of other people’s songs. That guy is Weird Al Yankovic. In most cases, the Weird Al version is better than the original, often exploiting the ridiculousness of the source material. Of course, what most people don’t seem to notice is that Al also has original songs. A lof of the time, his originals are homages to certain bands or sounds. On his latest release, Straight Outta Lynwood, the originals are as strong as the parodies.  

The album begins with the excellent “White and Nerdy” which delves into familiar territory for the Weird one. The song is about a nerd set against Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’.” This one is even stronger than the similar “It’s All About the Pentiums” from his Running With Scissors album. It packs in more nerdy references such as mySpace, Wikipiedia, Segway, D&D and William Shatner. The accompanying video (which can be viewed at his Website) is a must see. The R. Kelly parody “Trapped in the Drive-Thru” is Weird Al’s masterpiece. At almost eleven minutes, it proves how overblown and ridiculous the inspiration track was. It details a married couple’s simple task to get dinner. It describes in painful details the most mundane of actions such as getting in the car and starting it. Al also parodies tracks by Usher, Green Day and Taylor Hicks.

The originals on this album are quite strong. “Pancreas” is an homage to the Beach Boys. Even lyrically, this song wouldn’t be out of place on Brian Wilson’s Smile. “I’ll Sue Ya” has Al fronting Rage Against the Machine while mocking America’s love of frivolous lawsuits. He’ll even sue you if he sprains his ankle while robbing your place. The Styx like “Virus Alert” is a tale of those emails that you always get telling you not to open certain email messages. The highlight of the album is the “We Are The World” styled “Don’t Download This Song.” He namechecks Lars Ulrich and Tommy Chong while warning of the dangers of downloading mp3s. You can tell that even though it’s making light of the subject, he still feels strongly about it. He even calls you a “cheap bastard” for preventing him from obtaining another solid gold humvee.

This dual disc release also contains DVD footage of animated videos for each of the Al originals. It also has a 9 minute making of featurette. Watch this and you’ll see exactly how hard it is to create something like this. It’s amazing to see how talented Al and his band are. You normally don’t see that from him because he makes it look so easy.

Straight Outta Lynwood is another solid release in the Al catalog. It contains his greatest parody to date “Trapped in the Drive-Thru” and a slew of other strong songs. The only thing holding it back from being excellent is that he futhers the myth that Joe Dirt isn’t a good movie. However, he does suggest a preemptive strike against Canada so I guess that evens it out.