Friday, June 7, 2024

Archive Review: "Weird Al" Yankovic's Running With Scissors (2000)

"Weird Al" Yankovic's Running With Scissors
Rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest court jester, “Weird Al” Yankovic follows a pretty successful formula with every album. Toss on a couple of decent song parodies of recent chart toppers, mix in a handful of tongue-in-cheek originals, and complete with a polka-flavored “Stars on 45” styled medley of popular songs. Sure, it’s rote by now, but the key to Yankovic’s genius is in his dead-on, bull’s-eye pop culture parodies that often skewer the ridiculous cult of personality with which we grace musicians, actors, and athletes. Running With Scissors follows Al’s formula to a “T” and although, like most of Yankovic’s albums, there is quite a bit of thrown away material, there are also several very smart and entertaining cuts here as well. The album opening “The Saga Begins” tackles the Star Wars phenomena with a hilarious retelling of The Phantom Menace tale set to the music and rhythm of Don McLean’s classic “American Pie.” Especially clever is the chorus, “Oh my my, this Anakin guy/may be Vader someday later/now he’s just a small fry/he left his home and kissed his mommy good-bye/saying ‘soon I’m gonna be a Jedi’.” The humor here is sly as a fox and sharp as a paper cut.

Other parodies include “Pretty Fly For A Rabbi,” a Yiddish send-up of the Offspring’s “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” and the ultra-cool “It’s All About the Pentiums,” taking on Puff Daddy’s “It’s All About the Benjamins” with heavy metal, high-tech aplomb. “Jerry Springer,” a wordy rendering of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” is an engaging look at the addictive nature of tabloid television while originals like the wickedly cruel “Your Horoscope For Today” and the surrealistic story-song “Albuquerque” are hip, funny musical comedies. “Weird Al” is a true treasure, and like I’ve said before, we may take him for granted now but one day we’ll miss him when he’s gone. Nobody else has done more to deflate the egos and absurdity in pop culture, and Running With Scissors is another essential part of Yankovic’s legacy. (Volcano Entertainment)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™ zine, 2000

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