They Don't Write 'Em Like That Anymore

Back in the day before music was purchased online or on small shiny plastic discs, One of the first audio tapes, most people got their music in the form of large wax/vinyl discs or on cassette tapes. The first tape I could ever call my own (because no one else in my family wanted anything to do with it) was “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D.

I would play the tape over and over again on my small tape player/recorder, ensuring that “in 3-D” was not to be the last Yankovic recording I’d own. I still listen to Weird Al today (his songs come up frequently in my every-MP3-on-my-computer playlist), although I’m not as familiar with his recent few albums.

It wasn’t until reading a recent Wired article the other day though, that I realized Al has been making music for 25 years. From what I’ve heard of his recent stuff, it’s good, but I’d rather listen to King of Suede than White and Nerdy. Sure, the newer stuff is still funny, but the material it’s based on isn’t as good musically as the material from the 80s. I don’t care about the flavor of the week rap song of two years ago, but 80s pop (no matter how cheesy) will always reign supreme.  Part of that could also be because of the diversity of what’s out there to be parodied.  Or, as Al puts it:

“Back in the ’80s, ‘Purple Rain’ would be number one for half a year,” Yankovic says. “You still have Top 40 radio now, but it’s 40 different stations. There aren’t many hits that everybody knows, and there aren’t many real superstars. That makes it more difficult for me.”

The article’s overall hook is that Al is the forefather of YouTube parodies, of which there are many (I’m still barely caught up), which is kind of interesting considering the guy who made his living using other people’s material has given inspiration to a whole new generation of artistic rip-off artists (I mean that with respect).

It is nice to see Al get his due (and to see that I’m not the only one who considers UHF to be a stroke of genius).  Even though he’s been out there for 25 years, he’s still touring and pumping out albums.  Maybe I’ll try listening to the next one with unbiased ears.

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