If Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, then Weird Al Yankovic must be the Court Jester. For the past 25 years, Weird Al has been simultaneously entertaining and annoying millions of music fans around the world. He's set to do it again with a new album later this month (Straight Outta Lynnwood).
All hail the return of novelty music's reigning king! Straight Outta Lynwood
easily bests 2003's Poodle Hat
and shows that Yankovic does know what he does best. Part of the secret to Weird Al's success is that he's never been very weird at all, and very rarely are his satires in any way "biting"--or even satires, really. The 11-minute parody of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" is funny at least for the first listen, but it's hard to ridicule something so largely ridiculous in the first place (plus Jimmy Kimmel totally got the jump on him). The best thing Mr. Yankovic has always done is to take some decent pop tune, change a word or phrase, invent an entirely new premise for the tune, and make an inspired video to go along with it. He does that several times here; Green Day's "American Idiot" becomes the hockey-obsessed "Canadian Idiot," and "White & Nerdy" is a truly inspired take on Chamillionaire's "Ridin'." That song is breakneck-paced and so funny it's a disservice to quote from it at all. "Polkarama!" is a return to W.A.'s novelty roots: a handful of mildly dated hit songs (50 Cent to Modest Mouse!) delivered in straight-ahead, sped-up polka style. It's toe-tapping and sweet. Hopefully we'll not have to wait three years for another Weird Al record. --Mike McGonigal