NPR’s Stephen Thompson’s high Bizarre Al songs, 40 years after the parody genius’ debut : NPR


Bizarre Al Yankovic has made a reputation for himself with spot-on tune parodies. 40 years into his profession, a have a look at a few of his finest tunes reveals the experience and creativity it takes to do what he does.


Bizarre Al Yankovic has been the artistic genius behind a few of the finest parody songs ever made. “Eat It,” “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Dare To Be Silly” – the checklist goes on and on and on.


WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: (Singing) We have been spending most of our lives residing in an Amish paradise. I churned butter a few times residing in an Amish paradise.

PFEIFFER: It is the type of enjoyable, dorky music you are launched to as an adolescent, and also you always remember it. Bizarre Al’s self-titled debut album got here out 40 years in the past this month, and it impressed NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson to compile an inventory of his favourite Bizarre Al songs. Hello, Stephen.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Whats up. Thanks for having me.

PFEIFFER: I like this music as a result of I used to be an adolescent of the Nineteen Eighties.


PFEIFFER: So I do not know the way we examine in age, however when did you get launched to Bizarre Al?

THOMPSON: Nicely, I am 50 years outdated, and so I used to be launched to Bizarre Al at Christmas 1984.

PFEIFFER: (Laughter).

THOMPSON: I tore open a wrapped vinyl document, and it was “”Bizarre Al” Yankovic In 3-D.” My dad and mom thought, jeez, Stephen would not have quite a lot of associates (laughter). He is type of a nerd. I believe this is perhaps simply the factor. And it completely was. It opened up variety of an entire new world for me, and it was a gateway into quite a lot of nice pop music. I believe for lots of people, Bizarre Al Yankovic is a gateway into mainstream tradition. He is not essentially reflecting it for lots of the people who find themselves into him. For lots of people, their first contact is with him.

PFEIFFER: Fascinating. You suppose generally they knew his tune that he did the model of earlier than they heard the unique pop tune.

THOMPSON: I believe that is usually true. It is positively true of my mom. I imply…


PFEIFFER: So that you had been a fan, clearly.

THOMPSON: I used to be a fan from age 12 to the current day into the distant future. And I ought to observe right here, over time, I’ve truly gotten to know Bizarre Al. I labored with him on a few initiatives after I labored at The Onion a few years in the past. I booked him for the Tiny Desk. I wrote liner notes to certainly one of his compilations. I am not essentially a totally goal observer, however I attempted to offer these songs as eager a vital eye as I might.

PFEIFFER: He is most likely most well-known for his parodies. And by the best way, does he have something apart from parodies? – ‘trigger I largely affiliate him with parody.

THOMPSON: Yeah, he is largely related to songs like “Eat It” or “Smells Like Nirvana,” songs the place he is taking fashionable songs, recreating them however with totally different lyrics.


YANKOVIC: (Singing) Have some extra hen. Have some extra pie. It would not matter if it is boiled or fried. Simply eat it. Eat it. Simply eat it. Eat it.

THOMPSON: However he additionally does an enormous variety of originals and type of writes humorous songs usually within the fashion of different artists, however the tune is not a direct parody of a particular tune.


YANKOVIC: (Singing) He might eat extra frozen waffles than some other man I do know. As soon as he fell off the Chrysler Constructing, and he barely even stubbed his toe – had a tiny little scratch on his toe, did not even damage.

THOMPSON: He is taking, like, the sound of The White Stripes however writing a humorous tune round that. He additionally does polka medleys. He is carried out TV theme songs. He is carried out the theme tune for a podcast, you realize? So he is carried out quite a lot of totally different sorts of music and actually in each style conceivable.

PFEIFFER: That is fascinating. I both had forgotten or did not know he did something apart from parodies. So anyway, let’s speak about parodies. Do you will have a transparent high decide?

THOMPSON: My No. 1 favourite Bizarre Al Yankovic tune is from 2006. It is a parody of Chamillionaire’s Track “Ridin’.” And so the unique is ridin’ soiled, and the parody tune known as “White & Nerdy.”


YANKOVIC: (Singing) They see me roll on my segway, I do know in my coronary heart they suppose I am white and nerdy, suppose I am simply too white and nerdy, suppose I am simply too white and nerdy. Cannot you see I am white and nerdy? Have a look at me. I am white and nerdy.

THOMPSON: What actually jumps out about this tune for me is the joke density.

PFEIFFER: (Laughter) I like that time period – joke density.

THOMPSON: The pace at which jokes are deployed on this tune, you nearly need to hearken to the tune a number of instances simply to select up each joke. And for those who watch the video, there’s a entire ‘nother layer of jokes on high, an entire bunch of visible jokes. I simply discover it so pleasant.

PFEIFFER: As a result of I knew I used to be going to speak to you, I appeared up a few of Bizarre Al’s lyrics, and I really have a brand new appreciation for this man’s potential to jot down hysterical lyrics.

THOMPSON: (Laughter).

PFEIFFER: I used to be instructed that you simply truly went again and listened to the entire Bizarre Al canon to organize for this. Did you hearken to the whole lot?

THOMPSON: Nicely, Sacha, I’m nothing if not deeply, deeply dedicated to journalistic integrity…

PFEIFFER: And thorough. Sure.

THOMPSON: …And thorough analysis. He has 14 albums. There is a assortment of rarities. There are type of one-offs, soundtrack work. And, yeah – soiled job, however someone’s received to do it.

PFEIFFER: Any massive, profound ideas in spite of everything that analysis you probably did?

THOMPSON: One – I had so many. One of many massive, profound ideas I had is once you hearken to them in chronological order, you are listening to the evolution of not solely Bizarre Al as a parody songwriter or as a satirist or as a comedic voice. You are listening to the evolution of his band and its potential to recreate these works in such convincing methods. One of many central guidelines of satire, of parody – you will have to have the ability to do the factor you are parodying or satirizing as nicely or higher than the supply materials. And for those who do not, individuals can see the strings. Folks can see the seams, and it would not look or sound fairly proper. And so his band has to have the ability to recreate these songs completely.

PFEIFFER: He is actually a grasp of his area of interest.

THOMPSON: He’s a grasp of what he does.

PFEIFFER: That is NPR’s Stephen Thompson. Thanks.



YANKOVIC: (Singing) Actually, actually white and nerdy. First in my class right here at MIT – received abilities. I am a champion at D&D. M.C. Escher – that is my favourite M.C. Hold your 40. I will simply have an Earl Gray tea. My rims by no means spin. On the contrary, you will discover that they are fairly stationary. All of my motion figures are cherry. Stephen Hawking’s in my library. My Myspace web page is all completely pimped out, received individuals begging for my high eight areas. Yo. I do know pi out to a thousand locations.

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