Well, I totally failed at doing a post a day before Mandatory Fun! So now I’m just going to put it ALL into one big EPIC post which pretty much boils down to Al Yankovic played a huge rule in my childhood and continues to play a part in my “adult” life with the release of his new album MANDATORY FUN tomorrow.
Anyone who played Rock Band with me when it initially came out will probably have heard this phrase come out of my mouth several times: “Why do I recognize this song? Oh wait, I know it as a POLKA!” Al’s Polka mixes opened me up to many songs that I had never heard before, either because of the decade they were released or the style of music wasn’t one I normally listened to. I never would have bothered with “The Humpty Dance” or “Blame It (on the alcohol)”. I don’t really listen to radio that much anymore, so I suspect there will be several songs on the new album that I will first hear as polkas or parodies.
And now there are songs that have been eclipsed, for me, by the parodies. I knew most of American Pie‘s lyrics when I was a teen. But in 1999, The Saga Begins quickly became the first thing that popped into my head when I heard the opening chords of that song.
I think one of the things that makes me stay with Al is that he is never mean to those he is parodying. He will poke some fun at the culture or subculture around them (like “Smells like Nirvana“) it never feels cruel or in poor taste. He manages to make everyone laugh, even the artists he is having fun with. And I think that is the secret to his popularity and staying power — even if you don’t know the song that is being mocked, you get most of the jokes.
And, of course, we can’t forget the original songs that parody entire musical genres such as this classic:
By the way, if you have not seen Al live, you are missing out. It’s not just a concert – it’s a performance of epic proportions. Costumes changes, classic AL TV clips, and sing-alongs. I have seen him 5 times now and I’ve loved every single show. Him and his band are just fantastic, so much energy!
So, THANK YOU AL YANKOVIC! Thank you for so many hilarious songs and wonderful memories. Whether you release another full-length album or decide to just release single tracks online, I will be here to support your music and sense of humor.