Polka

Like many a pre-teen music nerd, I was a huge fan of Weird Al. I grew up in a house where parody was often the humor of choice and so when I heard “Eat It” I was instantly hooked. Al’s stuff wasn’t half-baked parody; it was full blown and done with a straight face. And from the looks of things, Al was a supreme nerd himself, with his loud shirts and terrible mustache. I bought his records and listened faithfully to Dr. Demento to hear the songs and to await Al’s guest appearances which, being the nerd I was, I taped and listened to over and over and over. He of course played his own stuff on the show but also played his favorite music. I heard the Ramones for the first time on one of his appearances (It being 1985, he played “Beat on the Brat” and dedicated it to the PMRC) I joined Al’s fan club and even went to see his truly awful movie UHF (I was the only person in the theater that night).

But in college my musical tastes moved on rapidly and I forgot all about Al. My need for absurdist music was fulfilled by They Might Be Giants, who didn’t depend on parody to do their thing. Plus I stopped watching TV and listening to the radio in 1989 and thus my interaction with pop culture (and pop music) made parody irrelevant. Al did a Nirvana parody which I found mildly amusing (though a little to easy a target for someone as good as Al). But by the mid 90’s anything I heard from Al did not impress me.

I clicked on a picture of Al on a friend’s MySpace page a few weeks ago and saw the video for White & Nerdy and I couldn’t stop laughing. I watched it over and over and over. I didn’t even know what song he was making fun of (I’m guessing I’d heard “Ridin’ Dirty” somewhere but didn’t make that connection) but it didn’t matter as it was that good. All the elements were perfect: the vignettes acting out the snappy song lyrics; Al’s nerd glasses and Stephen Colbert hairdo; the weird and unnecessary cameos; the fact that Weird Al is himself an white and nerdy idol and now had a song celebrating that idea. I’d written Al off years ago and suddenly he comes up with something that I could not resist. I’m still watching the damn thing almost every day. Apparently White & Nerdy is the biggest hit of Al’s career and he deserves it. After being the biz for 20+ years he isn’t washed up or completely out of step with things and can still sling parody better than anyone else.

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