Weird Al Yankovic - Straight Outta LynwoodThere’s nothing quite like Weird Al Yankovic firing on all cylinders. Much moreso than most of the targets of his satire, the man has a talent that defies time’s every attempt to pass him by. He’s even endured the wrath of a few of the artists he’s parodied (such as Coolio), or their labels (Atlantic actually vetoed a song that was recorded for this album – and so, unable to sell it, Weird Al released it for free on his web site). He’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.

And yet, if there’s one problem with Straight Outta Lynwood, it’s that this album is nothing like Weird Al firing on all cylinders. There’s a roughly equal number of hits and misfires here. When the songs hit their target, whether they’re parodies or originals, they’re some of the best of his career. “Don’t Download This Song” is a wickedly funny original that picks on everything from ’80s Chicago to bloated “We Are The World”-style all-star charity epics. “Virus Alert” sets the now-ubiquitous virus hoax e-mail trend to tremendously catchy music. And of course, there’s the biggest hit single of Weird Al’s career, “White & Nerdy.” I also have to single out the surreal “Weasel Stomping Day” and “Polkarama” – the obligatory polka medley of current top 40 hits – for special praise.

Where it misfires, though, Lynwood misses by quite a margin. “Pancreas” is a “style parody” of classic Beach Boys ballads (with a special emphasis on “God Only Knows” though it steers clear of mocking any single song musically) that just never quite comes in for a landing. A certain overblown R. Kelly pseudo-epic becomes the fodder for “Trapped In The Drive-Thru”, which is one of those songs that’s funny the first time around, but as with a lot of Weird Al’s longer songs (I’m looking at you, “Genius In France”), it grates on repeat rating: 3 out of 4listening (“Albuquerque”, it ain’t). And maybe I’m missing the joke, but “Canadian Idiot” seems atypically mean-spirited for Al.

All this being said, I still give Straight Outta Lynwood high marks, because on average, I’d rather listen to half of a good Weird Al album than an entire album from most of the targets of his satire.

Order this CD

  1. White & Nerdy (2:50)
  2. Pancreas (3:48)
  3. Canadian Idiot (2:23)
  4. I’ll Sue Ya (3:51)
  5. Polkarama (4:54)
  6. Virus Alert (3:46)
  7. Confessions Part III (3:52)
  8. Weasel Stomping Day (1:34)
  9. Close But No Cigar (3:55)
  10. Do I Creep You Out (2:46)
  11. Trapped In The Drive-Thru (10:51)
  12. Don’t Download This Song (3:54)

Released by: Volcano
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 48:24