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Out With the Weird, In With the Angry: Why It’s Time For a Gritty Reboot of Al Yankovic

“Weird Al” Yankovic has a new album, and fans everywhere immediately turned into Dug from Up, but at least Dug waited until he saw the thing before falling in love with the thing. Al fans declared Mandatory Fun hot shit before hearing a single note.

“My next single will be me cleaning my ears for four minutes … oh wow, two million sold!”

Now that it’s finally here, I can say the album’s pure Al: wacky, silly, and polka-licious to the max. And that’s the problem. We’ve been climbing the same goofy-ass mountain for 35 years, and even though some of the rocks on one side form to make a really wacky face, the face is old and wrinkly and ready to fall apart at anytime.

That’s right, Al’s weirdness is more formulaic and predictable than a Taco Bell cookbook: Parody, original, polka, excruciatingly long song at the end, lather rinse repeat. And of course, his videos are just as silly as ever, because what else would you expect? He’s that wacky uncle who won’t quit cracking jokes, even when everybody else is focused on politics, war, the crumbling economy, and death, like normal folks.

Al’s mentioned that, while this may be his last traditional 12-track record, he has no intention of retiring. That’s fine — the man’s a legitimate singing and musical talent. But does really need to be so JOKEY at age, what, 80? Now that food jokes have set him for life, it’s time for a new, bold direction. It’s time for Weird Al to don the Peter Parker black suit and and reboot himself as a dark, gritty, angry doom rocker.

Santa Claus’s murder-spree was just the beginning.

Why not? Batman, plus a bunch of other franchises probably, have benefited greatly from killing off all that extraneous color and unneeded silliness in favor of brooding and raging. Thus should Al. You can only crack wise for so long before it stops being wise, and then what? Will he resort to 75 minutes of non-stop polka with occasional weird noses to break up the “old people are probably dancing to this” monotony?

Some of Al’s previous songs, like “I’ll Sue Ya” and “Smells Like Nirvana” prove he can anger-rock as well as anyone, but even then his guitar blasts are watered down by his insistence on making everything a fucking gag. Instead of ranting about actual reasons to sue someone, he yaks about suing Coca-Cola because his finger got stuck in a bottle, or suing Ben Affleck just because. And while he could have kicked Kurt Cobain’s ass about mumbling through his songs and giving zero shits about lyrics, Al just gently jabbed him in the ribs about mumbling. That’s a good first draft, but Al should have had a much stronger, tougher, bloodier attack at the ready before his producer hit record. Since he did not, the 20+ years since have been dreary ones indeed.

Don’t let Al’s instrument of choice make you think he can’t embrace the hate either. Nirvana’s rendition of “Jesus Don’t Want Me For a Sunbeam” proved an accordion can be heavy and depressing. Who better than the master of the squeeze box to finally provide us with a second reason to look at an accordion with heaviness in our hearts?

Think of how much more influential Satan would be today if Slayer had played “Reign In Blood” on one of these.

Hopefully Al reads this, because otherwise he’ll just go on writing comedy and entertaining millions, and that’s fine if he doesn’t want to evolve. But if he does, then he should heed my advice — drop the parodies, drop the colorful shirts, drop the polka, dig into the deepest, dirtiest, darkest parts of his soul, and just explode. “Angry Al” Yankovic isn’t just clever alliteration, it’s the ultimate goal of a life fully lived.

Giggles are temporary, but grumpiness lasts a lifetime, as proven by the extreme minority who actually smile on their deathbed. Plus, if Al went dark, he’d finally have a way to tell Prince to go fuck himself.

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