“First immortality… then the bitches.”
Comedy gold, this episode is.
“First immortality… then the bitches.”
Comedy gold, this episode is.
It’s not often I review music CDs, but Weird Al has always held a special place in my heart as one of my ongoing inspirations. In this day and age where parody and satire have gone so downhill, Al has somehow gotten better with age. Just today, I took a small hike up to HMV to grab the new album and put it on as soon as I got home. Here’s my impressions of it:
First off, I am a little disappointed that more than half the album is made up of songs he’s been releasing as “Internet Leaks.” In fact, out of the 12 songs listed, I heard 7 of them long before the album was even finished (including “Polka Face” which he’d been singing at concerts.) But even aside from that, the one thing that often bugs me about Weird Al albums is that the best ones always end too soon – this one included – and I’m always left wanting more.
What I do like about the album is that the song selection meshes together nicely without falling back on any of Al’s usual cliches. There’s no songs about food or television this time around – it seems his new feeding ground for parody/satire is the internet, the economy, and our obsession with celebrity news.
But one of my favorite things about these albums (and often the most over-looked by people) is how the band just makes any parody sound better than the original song. Have I ever sat down and grooved to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” before? Nope, but Al’s “Party in the CIA” is definitely something I can chill to. They even make Bruno Mars sounds listenable. All these subtle changes in the original music improve it tenfold.
Most of the songs follow that same “chill out and groove” rhythm, so even without the funny lyrics, it’s a very consistent and easy-going (yet diverse in style) album to just listen to. There’s no songs worth skipping, and all the humor is kept tasteful (no songs about leper colonies or burp noises this time.) I’d rank it right up there with “Bad Hair Day” and “Off the Deep End” as one of his better-produced albums.
Some of my personal picks off this album are his parodies “Perform this Way” (Lady Gaga) and “TMZ” (Taylor Swift,) and his originals “Skipper Dan” and “If That Isn’t Love.” All well-performed and well-written with clever lyrics. If I had to nitpick on any of the songs, it would be the final track “Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me.” It’s written in the style of Jim Steinman (of “Bat out of Hell” fame,) and as a huge Meat Loaf fan, I felt that if you’re going to do a style-parody of his songs, you’ve got to crank out an epic choir of angels singing, electric guitars, and piano solos at some point (instead of keeping it in the soft “Objects in the Rear-View Mirror” territory.) This could have been Al’s personal “Bat out of Hell,” or even a “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Knights of Cydonia” if he’d gone a little further with it (I think I’m taking a comedy album a little too seriously here, but I still demand awesomeness where there’s potential for it.)
And I think I might need therapy because some of his songs are affecting me on a personal level now. Here I am with ten months of film school left to go, the pressure’s on to make a career of this, and I’ve got the songs “Skipper Dan” and “Whatever You Like” still haunting me.
And just for the heck of it, I’ve had this list of some my personal favorite songs of his kicking around (I have a lot of lists kicking around.) A lot of these have inspired my work in one way or another. I’m leaving a lot of personal and fan-favorites off for shortness’ sake, but songs like “I Remember Larry” and “Eat It” are still honorable mentions.
20. Perform This Way (he parodies a Gaga parody of a Madonna song!)
19. Stop Draggin’ My Car Around (an under-rated Stevie Nicks parody)
18. White & Nerdy (a more modern fan-favorite)
17. Melanie (because the idea of stalking my friend Melanie always amuses me)
16. Jurassic Park (I remember the video for this song being my introduction to Al)
15. The Night Santa Went Crazy (I used this song for a class assignment back in high school)
14. Why Does This Always Happen to Me? (I’m a sucker for piano intros and solos)
13. Buy Me a Condo (I have fond memories of me and Brit singing along with this one in the car)
12. Your Horoscope for Today (I like how I always forget what horrible fate befalls Scorpios)
11. Hardware Store (that fast lyrical run-down near the end always impresses me)
10. The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota (great to listen to in the car!)
9. Skipper Dan (as much as this song haunts me, it’s really quite nice to listen to)
8. Everything You Know Is Wrong (this song perfectly defines Al’s original style)
7. Airline Amy (Heavily under-rated piece of work. Methinks this one could go mainstream, actually)
6. Bedrock Anthem (Mixes two Chili Peppers songs with the Flintstones. Nice.)
5. Dare to be Stupid (This needs to be featured in another Transformers movie one of these days.)
4. Yoda (Live) (a prime example of how a live concert can make one song so much better)
3. Amish Paradise (this is his best parody, and always fun to sing at karaoke)
2. Albuquerque (his longest song, but entertaining as hell and a definite show-stopper)
1. Frank’s 2000″ TV (I can never put my finger on why this is my favorite of his songs. But it is, and we’ll leave it at that.)
It’s not every day I live down the street from burning building, police cars getting flipped over, and crowds running from tear gas. Granted, this would have happened if the Canucks won the game anyway. The closest I got to the action was a food fight in Tim Horton’s where I saw a group of friends beat the crap out of each other and then obliterate the front door. After that, my class just camped out for a while at school until things died down. Then we spend a good chunk of yesterday laughing at this one video over and over again.
More to come soon as Term 1 comes to an end. It’s nice that video editing is actually a class in this school. It’s also nice that Student Resources gives me 24/7 access to Wacom tablets so I can get in some practice.
That last one is a caricature of my Animation History teacher. It was an odd assignment, but I’m assuming he’s collecting caricatures from us so he can show them off if we become famous.
I’ll probably be seeing a lot more movies in the months to come now that I’m just a couple blocks walk away from the theater – and because the class keeps arranging movie nights.
Oh, yeah – spoiler warnings ahead!
THOR SMASH!: Yeah, I thought this was a pretty sweet movie. I had my doubts about it because I thought it would end up like “Iron Man 2″ where they’d overplay the comedy and have little to no action for two hours. And that’s actually how it turned out – except for some reason I enjoyed it. What action there is looks great, and when the comedy starts, the tone of the movie is changed so drastically that it feels like we’ve entered a completely different movie. But even the ridiculous dramatic parts in Asgard are attention-grabbers – this movie is a good example of how presentation can make or break a movie.
The Love Story: This also stuck out at me. Instead of trying to sell itself as a typical movie love story where both the boy and girl treat each other like forbidden fruit, the chemistry between Thor and Natalie Portman comes across more like two ordinary people just checking each other out as booty call prospects. It should have just ended with Thor making the phone sign to her and whispering “call me.” That would have been awesome.
Nitpicking: To nitpick, I would complain that it’s one of those movies where the action sequences get progressively less awesome as the film goes on. I know the battle against the Frost Giants is hard to top, but come on people – try! When the Destroyer shows up, I want to see Thor get thrown around a bit more! Demolish a house! Trash a train! Make more craters! Anything!
What sold this movie for me: So there was this drunk guy sitting in the front row, and he must have been a HUGE comic book fan, because every time he saw a character or thing he recognized, he started squealing like a little fan-girl. And this would have been annoying if he didn’t have this amazing sing-song voice that he kept squealing in which was probably more entertaining than the whole movie itself. Nothing topped him after the credits when he just sang out: “It’s the cuuuuuube, baby! Oooooohhhhhhhhhhh, shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!”
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES
Why I was excited for this: No Orlando Bloom or Keira Knightly to weigh down the movie! Yes!
What they ended up doing anyway: “Hey, let’s invent two new annoying characters to fill in the sappy love story void left behind by our last two annoying characters! And let’s make their romance even more implausible!” Seriously – the movie would have been ten times better if Jack’s love story was the only one in the movie. Now we’ve got some missionary making swoony eyes at a mermaid and… making up names for her? Okay, really – where did he get “Serena?” Is she telepathic? Do they have some magical connection? Is he retarded? I like to think the movie ends with her drowning him, but he probably gets turned into a mermaid anyway. Why is this in the movie again?
Otherwise: Pretty good movie! The first two are still my favorites, but I find this one’s still far more entertaining and coherent than the third. Captain Jack can carry a movie by himself easily. I also liked the characterization of Blackbeard, where he’s lounging around in Voodoo Hell and everything about him is so predictably evil, but fun to watch anyway. In a way, he’s a lot like the Demon Pirate LeChuck (meaning POTC continues to ruin any chance of a Monkey Island movie.)
KUNG FU PANDA 2
Better than the First?: I seem to be at odds with a few people from my class regarding this, because I still feel the first one is the stronger movie. I like that the new one comes up with some darker plot elements like Po’s quest for revenge and how they portray the great threat to kung fu as something that’s somewhat historically accurate. But otherwise, I felt this one crossed the line by being “too Jack Black.” I do like Jack Black, mind you, but I think even he’d be annoyed by himself in this one. I’d like to see other members of the Furious Five get their own spotlights for a change – I mean, come on – you’ve got David Cross and Jackie Chan in there – let them do their thing!
Big Nitpick for Me: There’s nothing to top the rope bridge battle from the first movie! In fact, none of the action sequences even stand up to some of the best scenes from the first movie. There’s a rickshaw chase and collapsing building, sure, and there’s even a really good scene with some ships at the end – but my problem with the action sequences in the new movie is that they’re too dirty and overwhelming. You’ve got the Furious Five and Po running into every battle, fighting hundreds of wolves at once, with hundreds of things happening around them, and there’s no focus. Just a lot of crap happening at once. I think I’d rather see “Kung Fu Panda 3″ make a return to the one-on-one battles because 10-on-1000 is too much to take in during a camera take.
But overall…: I still enjoyed it. In spite of all the on-screen crap, the story does keep moving, and it does hit me pretty hard at a couple parts, especially at the end. I still look forward to “Kung Fu Panda 3.”
BONUS MOVIE: THE TROLL HUNTER
What is it?: It’s like “The Blair Witch Project” or “Cloverfield” – except it didn’t piss me off. A bunch of documentary film-makers are following a poacher around Norway only to find out that he hunts trolls for a living. Most of it is just scene after scene of them running through the forest and shaking the camera around, but it’s worth it for the VFX shots whenever the Hunter goes man-to-man against these monsters. Those scenes with the mountain troll kick so much ass!
What it should be: A video game. I want to be the Troll Hunter and I want to run around the woods blowing up trolls and turning them to stone. There is so much potential for an epic video game to come out of this movie.