William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

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RetroReview: Dare to Be Stupid

3. Dare to Be Stupid
1984, Scotti Brothers

"Like a Surgeon"
parody of "Like a Virgin" by Madonna
+ Considering this song is originally sung by a woman, Al caricaturizes Madonna extremely well. There's a bit of the sultriness and sensuousness of the original, made ridiculous by the subject matter of an incompetent surgeon.
+ The subject matter is funny and clever in and of itself.
- Maybe "pull his insides out and see what he ate" is a little weak.
+ The framing of the song with the sound of the heart monitor is a nice touch.
+ Best "Weird Al" parody to date of a song by a woman? No doubt about it.

"Dare to Be Stupid"

This is probably Al's best-known example of "style parody". This particular song is meant to sound like Devo, though it's not a parody of any particular song of theirs.

You wouldn't mistake any of Al's style parodies for a song by the artist or band they're based on, but they do share certain similarities. Beyond that, Al brings his own gifts to the table. Well, for the
good style parodies, anyway. :-p

It's also interesting that Al has done style parodies of groups like Devo or They Might Be Giants (or, for that matter, a parody of The Presidents of the United States of America) - by any measure, these groups are farther from the mainstream than he is!

- If you want to hear a new Devo song, this won't be your fix, but...
+ It's rockin' in its own right.
+ The ideas themselves are amusing (even the clichés, because they're thematically linked and rhyme well).
+ The synth work on this song is superb.

"I Want a New Duck"
parody of "I Want a New Drug" by Huey Lewis and the News
+ This has to be one of the corniest songs in Al's catalogue, but it's corny in a way that'll make you snort and chuckle if you're in the right mood.
+ Needless to say, Al aces the Huey Lewis style.
+ How many artists do you know that can make a highly listenable three-minute song filled with duck puns?

"One More Minute"
+ The lyrics in this song are vivid, hilarious, and memorable.
+ You'll never think of Grand Central Station the same way again.
+ They also juxtapose well with the dour broken-heart style of the song.
+ This song exhibits the pain and bitterness of parting acrimoniously every bit as well as "You Oughta Know".

parody of "Lola" by The Kinks
+ Fans of Star Wars will have a lot to like here.
+ It's a listenable redux of Lola.
+ There are some good digs at the Star Wars movies.
- But if you're not a big Star Wars fan, it might be a bit of a drag. Not as much of a drag as the much-later "Ode to a Superhero", though, which probably requires that you still sleep in Spider-Man pyjamas.
KEEP (there's really no choice - this song has a life of its own, and Al closes every concert with it)

- - -

"George of the Jungle"
cover of "George of the Jungle" by Sheldon Allman and Stanley Worth
+ As far as I know, this is Al's only straight-up remake, unless you count "Bohemian Polka".
+ It's harmless, I suppose.
- Why? (Other than the record company saying he should do a straight-up remake.)
KEEP (it's only 1:05 and is worth at least a grin)

"Slime Creatures from Outer Space"
+ It's another mini-epic, with a reasonably compelling narrative.
+ It's not laugh-out-loud funny, but that's not the point. I think you're supposed to feel at least a bit of... terror? Or empathy for the people in the song, who no doubt would be terrified?
+ I have a weakness for these lesser-known, not-so-outrageous tracks. They lend a variation in tone that you don't see as much on Al's more recent albums.

"Girls Just Want to Have Lunch"
parody of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper
- The record company insisted that Al do a Cyndi Lauper parody. That's lamentable, but consider that he had discretion to pick from a very solid debut album - he could have done "Time After Time", or "All Through the Night", which are 'deeper' songs, though "Girls..." 'sticks' more to Lauper. Anyway, it makes you wonder what might have been, but Al was probably grumpy about this and rushed for time.
- 'Misogynistic' isn't just a word one should throw around. I won't call this song that. It's equally fair game to make fun of men or women (as opposed to making false claims or statements). But this song is making a generalizing joke that isn't funny and that doesn't have enough of a grain of 'truth' in it to be worth saying.
- Everything that "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" would do for liberation and equality - think about it: no song like "Guys Just Want to Have Fun" would have to actually be made, though The Arrogant Worms later did a good job ironically with "A Man Has Needs" - this song would take away again. He took an anthem of women's liberation and reduced it to a guy complaining about all the women he knows only wanting to stuff their faces on his dime. I call that missing the mark. If this parody were a golf shot, the ball would end up in the bunker - on another hole.
- Someone who can't think for themselves might well come away with the impression that all girls are obsessed with lunch, want the man to always pick up the tab, and that the singer is embittered after a lifetime of this. If the song were funny, it'd be processed as a joke, and all would be well. Unfortunately, the song is as painful as the anguish of the protagonist at running up huge dining bills, and the humour - not that this was a promising concept to begin with - is utterly lost.
- He doesn't even do a good job on Cyndi Lauper's voice! (And she has a voice!)
- Fart noises, really?
+ Sensibly, this song was not included on The Food Album.
- They made a "Food Album".
LEAVE (in fact, ERASE)

"This is the Life"
- There are some passable jokes about some things the outrageously rich might do...
- ... but most of them don't sound like anything any sane rich person would actually enjoy.
- Also, the 20s/30s style (I mean the 19-!) doesn't really do it for me. But maybe I haven't heard enough examples of really good music from that era.
- The contempt the protagonist has for the poor is palpable - but it's not funny so much as it is an outright turn-off.

"Cable TV"
+ The jokes about all the 'specialty' TV channels the guy is obsessed with are very funny.
+ The keyboard in this song is just jammin'! It's a great hook.
+ It's very funny - yes, the guy is pathetic for having his life revolve around his cable TV programming, but you don't feel like you're exploiting him when you laugh.

"Hooked on Polkas"
- Oh joy. Another polka medley.
+ It includes some songs that sound pretty good in it. I won't list them, as the surprise is half the fun.
- I object to the inclusion of "Relax". ("Relax, don't do it, when you want to go to it, relax, don't do it, when you want to come...") It's a fair song, and I have no issue with songs that are obviously about "shagging", as the Mark O'Toole from Frankie Goes to Hollywood puts it. But I do have a problem when the song shows up on an album that's otherwise 'safe' for family listening. Consider that the 12-year olds might be using the living room cassette deck (or, these days, the living room computer). Imagine showing your folks your vacation pictures and suddenly there's a slide of Goatse.cx (I'm linking to the description, not the actual photo!!). I'm pro-sex, and pro-talking-about-sex, but during our present long and painful cultural transition towards sex-positivity, we need to be made aware when it's around the corner.

Well, I guess that ends our streak of B-side keepers! But the good parts of "Hooked..." and the strong "Slime Creatures..." and "Cable TV" save the B side from oblivion. So we've got 3 more parodies, 4 more originals, plus 1 cover to add to the list, which now stands at 14 originals, 11 parodies, 1 polka, and 1 cover. So far we've got a double album out of Al's first three albums. Will this rate continue? Find out next time, as we Polka Party!

Second opinion:
allmusic - 3½ out of 5 stars

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