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Archive for the ‘Fine Young Cannibals’ Category

cpatain 10 SOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-Bad Hair Day (1996).

bad hair dayBad Hair Day is an uninspired album title, especially given how great of an album it is.  As I posted last week, “Amish Paradise” is great, (I forget to mention the funny Gilligan’s Island verse in the middle.  “Everything You Know is Wrong” is just a magnificent They Might be Giants parody.  Now, TMBG and Weird Al are pretty kindred spirits (they both use accordions and sing silly songs).  In that respect, this song isn’t that different from a typical Al song, but there are so many great musical nods to TMBG that the song is just awesome.  And it’s very funny too.

“Cavity Search” is a parody of U2’s “Hold Me Touch Me Kiss Me Kill Me” and it works very well, both as a great soundalike (Al’s vocal tricks get better with each album) and the way he plays with the original (the drill solo is great) are really clever.  “Calling in Sick” is a kind of Nirvana parody, although I don’t hear it as well as other band parodies.  It’s certainly a grunge song and, as such it works.  But it was “The Alternative Polka” that proved to be my favorite of his medleys so far.  “Loser,” “Sex Type Thing” “All I Wanna Do” “Closer” (hearing him do Nine Inch Nails is hilarious–especially this song!), “Bang Bang Blame” (so much R.E.M. lately), “You Oughta Know,” “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” (Weezer’s song was supposed to be included here but they asked it to be removed and he did at the last minute–see the video below).  “I’ll Stick Around,” “Black Hole Sun” and “Basket Case”–a great mix of songs that I loved at the time and still do, this song is like reliving the mid 90s.

“Since You’ve Been Gone” is a fun a capella band version of a funny break up song.  He gets better and better at this kind of lyric (“a red hot cactus up my nose” is particularly wonderful).  “Gump” is a very funny parody of “Lump” by Presidents of the United States of America.  Evidently they liked his parody so much they used some of his lyrics in the final verse when they played it live.

“Sick of You” has a fun bass line (reminiscent of Elvis Costello) and a great chorus.  And “Syndicated, Inc.” is a very funny parody of that overplayed Soul Asylum song “Misery.”  It’s a very funny song about syndicated TV shows.  “I Remember Larry” is a pretty funny original about a prankster, although it’s the weakest song on the album.  “Phony Calls” is a parody of TLC’s “Waterfalls” and it’s pretty funny (especially hearing Al do TLC vocals).  The parody works pretty well, and it’s certainly helped by the sample of Bart and Moe on the Simpsons.  “The Night Santa Went Crazy” is a pretty funny twisted take on Santa.

This album is definitely one of his best.  Just about every song is a winner.  And it’s his best-selling album too.

[READ: February 22, 2013] Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers

Clark was pretty excited when this book came out.  He had just finished up book #7 or 8 when the book was published.  And so it didn’t take too long for him to get caught up with the series.  I was also pretty lucky to have just finished book nine so this “last” book (although not really) was very well timed.

When we left off in Book Nine, Tippy Tinkletrousers had inadvertently destroyed the earth and the giant zombie George and Harold were stomping through the town.  And, shockingly, they had just crushed Tippy in his robo-pants.   But as this book opens, Pilkey gives us the truth about zombies.  They are really slow.  So slow that Tippy was able to get out of the way of the giant foot (and do lots of other things) and put a giant ketchup packet under the foot so it got squished instead of him.

The rest of the book is simply chock full of time travel, overlapping people and all kinds of paradoxes.  I have to wonder if Clark got it, but he just read it again and he did seem to have decent understanding of what happened. (more…)

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tippy SOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-UHF Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1989).

UHFsingleHot on the success of Even Worse, Al was given the green light to make a movie.  It was called UHF and it tested very well with audiences.  But then it tanked at the box office (well, it made back the money but little more).  Although it has since gained a huge following as a cult movie.  It is very weird indeed (and Kramer is in it!) but it’s also very quotable and quite funny.  The soundtrack has a few songs and skits from the movie as well as a few extra songs that were not in the movie.  And, despite it’s rather middling status as a soundtrack, it features a couple of Al’s best songs.

“Beverly Hillbillies” is a surprisingly effective pastiche of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” and the theme from the “Beverly Hillbillies.”  The fact that Al originally wanted to use a prince song (but was not given permission) shows just how creative he can be to twist it around in a totally different way.  Mark Knopfler plays guitar.  Another sci-fi original is “Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet Near Mars.”  It kind of updates “Slime Creatures from Outer Space” which also wasn’t that good.  “Isle Thing” is a parody of Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” which is about Gilligan’s Island, but from the POV of someone who hasn’t watched the show and whose girlfriend is hooked on it.  It’s surprisingly funny   It’s interesting that Tone Loc sampled Van Halen, but I believe Al’s band plays the whole thing.

The Medley returns on this album (sorely missed on Even Worse).  Strangely, “The Hot Rocks Polka” is a medley of Rolling Stones songs.  The theme song “UHF” is a good theme song.  It’s funny but more importantly it explains the movie nicely.

The disc also includes snippets from the movie Gandhi II promo.  “Let Me Be Your Hog” is a 17 second clip from a show in the movie.  There’s also the awesome commercial for Spatula City.  And “Fun Zone” is a 2 minute instrumental that is the theme to Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse.

“She Drives Like Crazy” is a parody of Fine Young Cannibals (the fact that Al can hit Roland Gift’s notes is quite impressive) although the song is merely okay.  “Generic Blues” is just that–an over the top version of any blues song you’ve heard.  Those few low points are more than made up for by these closing high points.  “Spam” is a great parody of R.E.M’s “Stand.”  It works as both parody and as its own lyrical theme.  “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” is the first of Al’s epic songs (this one clocks in at almost 7 minutes).  It’s a story song told in the spirit of Harry Chapin’s  30,000 Pounds of Bananas.”  It’s one of my favorite early Al songs.  It’s fun and silly but it never loses focus.  And the thought of the family loving the biggest ball of twine is just too funny.  And who knew there were so many things that rhymed with Minnesota?

But the tanking of UHF meant that Al had to regroup.  And as he waited for the next Michael Jackson song to parody, a little thing called grunge happened.

[READ: February 22, 2013] Captain Underpants and the Terrifying reTurn of Tippy Tinkletrousers

Pilkey had been away from writing for several years with family emergencies.  So it has been six years since the previous Captain Underpants book–that’s a long time for most readers who may now feel too old for the books, although no doubt many new readers to the series (like me!) have sprung up in the meantime.

So, what does Pilkey do for his return?  He produces a 300 page epic!  One that brings back a bad guys from past books (as was promised in the last book), one that features a lot of mind bending time travel and, ultimately, one which focuses mostly on George and Harold as kindergarteners (five years before the usual present in his books).  And it is an amazing book, one that really shows how creative the boys are and one which deals with bullying–a subject that has never really been present in these books (except from the teachers).  Pilkey really created a great book (the other books were great too, but they were more slight.  This one is packed with goodness).  And I have to assume he aimed the books for slightly older audiences.

The book opens with the usual history of Captain Underpants by George and Harold, although given the six year absence, this one recaps everything that has gone before.  It also explains how in the last book, George and Harold were getting in trouble because of their evil twins from another dimension when Professor Poopypants (now named Tippy Tinkletrousers) showed up in his mechanical pants shooting ice rays at everyone.

Then Pilkey breaks the story and the animation style to introduce the banana cream pie paradox (in a very formal computer generated style of picture which really sets it apart).  In a nutshell–a man makes a banana cream pie.  He goes back in time and the tree that he got the bananas from is killed–so how can he have made the pie?  (His version is much funnier).  But the point is, be really really REALLY careful when you time travel. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SHARON VAN ETTEN-“She Drives Me Crazy” (2011).

Sharon Van Etten (man, she is everyhwere!) went to the AV Club studios and did a cover of The Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy.”

The first time I heard the Fine Young Cannibals song was on MTV.   There was pretty loud guitar and then Roland Gift walked up to the screen and sing in a prposterous falsetto.  And I laughed really hard because I thought it was some kind of joke.  Over the years I’ve grown to really like the song.  I also really like Sharon Van Etten, who sounds nothing like Roland Gift.

This cover demolishes the oirginal.  Van Etten makes it her own–slowing it down outrageously.  She makes it twangy and more creepy sounding.  And obviouly, she removes those big crashing guitars and sharp angles of the original. There’s some backing vocalists (and a full band) so the song had breadth.  And it is fairly recognizable once you can follow the lyrics (it’s much slower, so it takes a good 45 seconds before you fully recognize the song.  But it is so very different. 

I enjoy the original more, bit this is a cool interpretation.

[READ: July 20, 2011] “Where I Learned to Read”

I don’t know who Scibona is.  As such, I’m wasn’t sure how interested I was in his past.  I mean, did I really need to care about him in this piece (by that token, should I really care about any of  the authors in the Starting Out series?). 

Anyhow, it’s an interesting introduction to the author.  This story talks of how Scibona deliberately tried to fail out of school.  He was happily making $3.85/hr at KFC and new he could get transferred anywhere in the country to another KFC.  It would be an easy way to travel.  So who cared about school.  Who cared about reading?

Well, he did, actually. As long as it wasn’t assigned, he very happily read everything he could get his hands on. But then senior year, a girl showed him a brochure for St. John’s College which offered a Great Books program.  It was just reading. Reaing great books.  Not books about Aristitle, but by Aristitle.  And it was in New Mexico.  He was hooked. (more…)

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