“Um… it’s not gonna be about food, is it?”
-Kurt Cobain, asking Al about his parody of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
It’s an event I’ve celebrated for the past 20 some odd years, the release of a new album by Weird Al Yankovic, the master of musical parody. Al has defined and then transcended a genre he created for the MTV generation, sticking his spatula in the ground and not only outlasting other novelty artists, but even most of the mainstream artists he’s parodied. One could argue that Al hasn’t even hit his peak, after 2007’s Straight Outta Lynwood landed in the top ten. If you’re a new Al fan though, you may have missed what I consider to be his best track. Recorded for his third album, Dare To Be Stupid, “One More Minute” is this week’s hook worth no longer overlooking.
Al and company prove they can cook up an infectious do-wop sound, parody or not. The song makes me imagine he and his band born 30 years earlier and falling in with The Four Seasons, only once in a while breaking out the accordion and bringing down the house. This is the genius of Al though, he can sound like the veteran of any genre in just one song. The lead vocal has a great call and response with his background singers (they take an even more prominent and funny role in the video). The musicianship is tight, and this is what it takes to pull off a good parody. The cadence that sticks closest between my cochlea is “so I pulled (I pulled) your name out (name out) of my Rolodex…” The line climaxes with the song’s first payoff joke, “burned down the malt shop…” but then drops back into the verse’s dynamics again before the chorus, getting out first and foremost that the man has moved on, and he’s about to tell his ex-lover how many detestable acts rank above spending just one more minute in her presence.
Wow, what a kiss-off song (80’s to Cee-Low Green’s 2010’s translation: “eff off song”). Looking for a feel-better tune after a disastrous dumping, I’d much rather hear this 100 times than any angsty Emo I might find. What better way to get rid of the blues by hearing from a guy who’s in worse shape than me? There he is, “stranded all alone, in the gas station of love” where he “has to use the self service pumps”. Lyrically, that’s where Al’s protagonist turns a corner there and gives up, saying “let me help you with that suitcase, you ain’t gonna break my heart in two…” That’s when we get to all the screwed up stuff he’d rather do than spend one more minute with you.
If you’ve not listened to the Weird One before, or if you’ve written him off as just an imitator, I’m here to make the case that he’s a comedic legend. And no, I’m not even kidding. Sure comedy can be subjective, but I’ve laughed at his lyrics and marveled at his musical creativity and recreativity as both a 9-year-old and 29-year-old kid. Spend 4 minutes, 11 seconds with Al on this song and see if you hear what I have. Maybe you’ll decide to stay a few minutes more.