Project: Review of “Poodle Hat” by Al Yankovic
Client: Common Sense Media
People who’ve been living under a rock and don’t know Prince from Prince Charles or Eminem from a chocolate candy won’t get the full benefit of POODLE HAT. But anyone with a sense of irreverence will appreciate how well “Weird Al” Yankovic turns icons of pop music into humorous rants on the media, materialism, and whatever else comes to mind. Those listeners “a few fries short of a happy meal” may miss the virtuosity of Yankovic’s musical parodies, but no one can miss the unrelenting inventiveness of his lyrics. There’s the macabre Bruce Springsteen/Buddy Holly inspired “Party at the Leper Colony,” where “Finger food and an ice cold keg…won’t cost you an arm and a leg.” There’s the industrial rock litany “Hardware Store” featuring “kitchen faucets, folding tables, weather stripping, jumper cables… pesticides for fumigation, high-performance lubrication.”
Sometimes the singer plays the fool, other times he points out our society’s foolishness. In “A Complicated Song,” a spin-off of the Avril Lavigne hit, a partygoer takes home too much pizza and asks, “Why’d you have to go and make me so constipated?” He finds out his date is his cousin—“How was I supposed to know we were both related?” Then he stands up on a roller coaster— “Why’d I have to go and get myself decapitated?” In “Trash Day,” a parody of “Hot in Here” by Nelly, the singer laments, “Look at all this garbage that I keep generatin’…I sit around all day and watch it biodegradin’…Bet there’s a hundred health codes that I’m violatin’….”
The musical productions are stellar. Layers of subtlety distinguish each song: a piano man Spider-Man, Prince Wanna B horn stabs, incomprehensible Dylan, a Zappaesque Genius in France, the Angry White Boy Polka parody medley of 13 bands. On the album cover, Yankovic wears a poodle on his head for no apparent reason. And he wears it well.