It's that time of year again...holiday shopping! In addition to your gift-giving holiday of choice, the end of the year is also usually marked by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation announcing the next year's class of inductees...not to mention PBS pledge drives and other fundraising endeavors. No, these aren't just a bunch of random thoughts put together.
Make the Rock Hall "Weird" has been chugging along since 2004, and earlier this year we released our first ever documentary, Yankoheit 27, now available on Amazon.com! Needless to say, running this campaign--especially to the extent of producing such high-profile promotional tools as a whole freakin' feature film--can be quite costly at times. There's the production of promotional copies of the DVD, press kit items, campaign packets that we send out to prospective celebrities to seek their assistance, etc...and on top of that there's a domain and web-hosting fees to pay for. That is where you come in.
This is the closest All Things Yankovic will ever come to a fund-raising drive. And we're not even really going to try to pull teeth or twist arms. All we ask is that as you do some of your holiday shopping online this year (such as for the products below), please be sure to order them through the links we provide. The small commission fees that we get from not only these links but the links found throughout the rest of the site makes a big difference in terms of keeping this site running and keeping the Rock Hall campaign going. It really is most appreciated.
And just because there's so much Al goodness we want to talk about this year, we now have two gift-giving sections! Check 'em out!
Rock Hall Gifts - Al Fan Gifts Rock Hall Gifts
Unfortunately, Al again didn't make the cut for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so we still need to convince the foundation's nominating committee that Al is worthy enough to be inducted for his role as rock and roll's premier satirist...and really, the best way to show that is through his body of work! The following is a guide offering suggestions for holiday gifts to give to the folks at the Rock Hall Foundation to help them better understand Al's role in music.
Remember, gifts to the foundation can be sent to:
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation
Attn: Joel Peresman
1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104
With each suggested item, there's also a short description, a rating system (see below), and a link to where it can be ordered (just click on the name). It couldn't be easier!
3 red bows = Excellent representation of Al's career in pop music
2 red bows = Enough to give someone a basic education of Al's career
1 red bow = Too specialized to give someone a fair overview of Al's career
Ready? Then here we go....
The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic
This two-disc collection features thirty-eight of Al's biggest hits and fan favorites, sixteen more tracks than contained on the two Greatest Hits compilations. The bulk of Al's career is covered, from his first charting single "Another One Rides The Bus" all the way to the monster hits and critically acclaimed gems from Straight Outta Lynwood. And of course, all the--well, "essential" songs are here from "Eat It" to "Smells Like Nirvana" to "Yoda" to "Amish Paradise" to "Dare To Be Stupid" and more. You get Al's stellar original songs, his parodies of everything from rock to rap, a couple of slightly rare mixes, and there's even a polka medley. If that's not enough, every song has been lovingly remastered, sounding better than they ever have before! This is the perfect Al starter set.
Now that the Permanent Record boxed set is physically out of print, there was definitely a need for an "essential Al" package featuring the songs one should know backwards and forwards before forming an opinion of him. And sadly, with each passing year and new release, the two Greatest Hits albums that we had recommended in the past were looking painfully outdated. But The Essential has nicely filled the void, taking literally the best of the best from the Hits releases, filling some of the '80s and '90s gaps, and finally including the key tracks from Bad Hair Day, Running With Scissors, Poodle Hat, and Straight Outta Lynwood. It should be noted, though, that a couple of albums--mainly the debut album and Polka Party!--get almost entirely overlooked (and of course this collection predated the release of 2011's Alpocalypse), but this set nevertheless is a wonderful sum-up of Al's first thirty years. And of course, the liner notes make the argument that we've been making all along...that Al is due for Rock Hall induction.
Straight Outta Lynwood
It's Al's first top ten album, the 2006 masterpiece Straight Outta Lynwood! Al tackles rapper Chamillionaire with the "tremendous" (according to Rolling Stone) "Ridin'" parody "White & Nerdy," resulting in the biggest hit of his career. Chamillionaire himself even praised Al by saying, "He's spittin' just like Krayzie Bone on the second verse....It's actually very funny if you listen to what he's saying." Al also twists Green Day's satirical anti-Bush rocker "American Idiot" into the stereotype-filled and faux-patriotic "Canadian Idiot," mocks Usher's "Confessions Part II" with yet another sequel called "Confessions Part III," takes on American Idol for the first time with the Taylor Hicks parody "Do I Creep You Out," and compresses all nine hundred chapters of R. Kelly's "Trapped In The Closet" into the epic ten-minute "Trapped In The Drive-Thru" ("It's genius," also says Rolling Stone). For the originals, Al offers the charming Brian Wilson tribute "Pancreas," the rage-filled rocker "I'll Sue Ya," the theatrical "Virus Alert," the whimsically gruesome "Weasel Stomping Day," the upbeat "Close But No Cigar," and the hit charity-song satire "Don't Download This Song." And the "never-less-than-magnificent" (says Billboard) "Polkarama!" medley combines songs from everyone from Coldplay to Snoop Dogg. The DualDisc (or CD/DVD set outside of the United States) also features such extras as dozens of alternate mixes, a photo gallery, a behind-the-scenes documentary on the recording of the original songs, and six exclusive music videos! After nearly three decades, Al has once again triumphed with what his arguably his best studio album and his biggest single of all time, proving that he is very much relevant to modern pop music.
Twelve albums in, and Al gets his first top ten release in Billboard, beating any and all odds and defying critics who may have long ago wrote him off as a mere "novelty" artist. With each new album Al only gets more and more popular, and Straight Outta Lynwood was no exception, showing that Al is still hip to mainstream music's constantly evolving trends and newest stars. The album has been critically acclaimed by such publications as Rolling Stone and Billboard, and it produced such hits as "Don't Download This Song," "White & Nerdy," and "Canadian Idiot." On its own, however, the album is probably not the best single representation of Al's oeuvre, and may be a tad redundant now that half of the album's tracks are contained on The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic, so it might be a good idea to send it to the foundation only as a supplement to another Al item.
"Weird Al" Yankovic: The Ultimate Video Collection
As funny as Al's songs are, it would be foolish to ignore the fact that many people know of his work solely from his music videos. This DVD is filled to the brim with all twenty-four of Al's videos through 2003 (the number includes such "non-videos" as Al's opening title sequence to Spy Hard and the "Bob" clip from Al-TV), dating all the way back from 1983. Every video has been cleaned up and remastered, making them look and sound better than they ever have before. There are even on-screen lyrics and liner notes for each video. Bonus features include a photo gallery, clips from The Weird Al Show (specifically the theme sequence and the mini-videos for "Lousy Haircut," "Lasagna," and "Livin' In The Fridge"), Al and Bermuda's first television appearance (performing "Another One Rides The Bus"), and a special easter egg that very much fits in with the theme of the disc. This is the medium that made Al a star, and this disc definitely shows why.
By definition, the word "ultimate" means the absolutely final, end-all, be-all of something, and in this case, this may be the last "complete" collection of videos we'll see for quite some time (especially now that the Straight Outta Lynwood DualDisc and the Alpocalypse HD Blu-ray have filled the remaining gaps). The DVD not only showcases Al's music but also his video work, something that often gets ignored in discussions of his merits as an artist. If anyone needed to start learning about Al, his work, and why he should be inducted, this would be an excellent place to start.
It's Al's 1989 cinematic opus in which he plays George Newman, an oft-unemployed daydreamer who is recruited to manage his uncle's newly acquired, never-watched television station. With the help of a motley crew of employees and friends (particularly childlike janitor Stanley Spadowski, played to zany perfection by a pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards), George is soon able to turn U-62 into a ratings winner with such shows as Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse and Wheel of Fish. This is much to the chagrin of R.J. Fletcher (the incomparable Kevin McCarthy), owner of crosstown rival and network affiliate Channel 8. Can George prevent Fletcher's hostile takeover of the station, while at the same time win back the heart of his girlfriend Teri (Victoria Jackson)??? Parodies of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Gandhi, Conan the Barbarian, the Rambo movies, and Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" video highlight this silly comedy.
Hey now, settle down there. We are not rating these items based on their quality, otherwise the UHF DVD would easily be given "three bows." However, as something to send to the Rock Hall Foundation to showcase Al's role in rock music, one could do much better. Although UHF could be used to represent Al's work outside of music, or show how he's become something of a multimedia artist, it's best to stick with some of the other items on this page...or at the very least, stick UHF on top merely as an add-on.
"Weird Al" Yankovic Live! - The Alpocalypse Tour
(also on Blu-ray)
When people think of the phrase "rock concert," they may get images in their heads of moshing, animal mutilation, topless girls sitting on the shoulders of guys with hairy backs, singers throwing burning objects into the crowd, and displays promoting graphic violence and degradation of women. But after seeing this recording of Al performing live, those images may be replaced by Stormtroopers, Segways, attacking Santa Claus, and a giant peacock suit. This is an entire concert from the 2011-2012 Alpocalypse Tour (though a few songs are cut out of the main program and shuffled into the special features as "bonus songs"). Most of Al's bigger hits are performed, including "White & Nerdy" and the headline-making Lady Gaga parody "Perform This Way." There are even some Al originals in the setlist such as "CNR," "Skipper Dan," "Let Me Be Your Hog," and "Craigslist." The release also contains the music videos for "Perform This Way" and "Polka Face," not to mention a number of viral videos starring Al including many from his own YouTube channel. Al and the band have always put on a phenomenal show, so what's not to like...what's not to like?
It has been suggested in the past that members of the Rock Hall Foundation should be given tickets to a Weird Al concert to see his talent as a performer and musician in his own right. Well, since Al is not touring at the moment, this is the next best thing. We're shying away from giving the DVD the third red bow because although it does feature many of Al's biggest hits, concerts are not exactly the best way to introduce someone to an artist's work, as often live arrangements are streamlined or simplified and one ends up losing a fair amount of an individual song's unique "sound." Plus, this production is flawed in a number of ways, from the odd editing out of three live numbers (which was done so that the concert could fit into a two-hour television timeslot, even though it would only air in a further whittled-down one-hour format) to a very inconsistent sound mix. Even the much-hyped direction by Wayne Isham left a lot to be desired; the director relies on maybe four different kinds of shots at most throughout the entire concert, certain numbers had an unnecessary overuse of clips from their music videos mixed into the final edit (including the two songs whose videos were featured on the very same disc), performances such as "Craigslist" suffered greatly from illogical and uncomfortable camera angles, and the director's interest in his subject matter varied wildly depending on the song--when it was a number he was into he really let it show, and when it wasn't it was about as interesting as watching a cell phone video on YouTube. In all honesty, the 1999 "Weird Al" Yankovic Live! would serve as a better recommendation if not for the lack of such essential songs as "White & Nerdy," "Canadian Idiot," and "Perform This Way." The Alpocalypse Tour works better if paired alongside The Ultimate Video Collection.
This is it! The whos, hows, and whys of our campaign as we detail in full exactly why Weird Al should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The documentary features interviews with fans from all over the world as they discuss their love of Al and his artistry. Join fans of all ages as they passionately plead Al's case and diffuse any and all objections or arguments against the idea. The movie also chronicles the history of the Rock Hall itself, the backdoor deals that led to its creation, the strong public objections to its many practices, and its effects on the local Cleveland economy. It's equal parts exposé, spoof, and celebration of...well, all things Yankovic.
Well, of course, we're biased, and we can't recommend this documentary enough. But that was the whole point of this movie in the first place, to serve as a one-stop, all-in-one, eggs-in-one-basket lecture about why Al deserves his place in the Rock Hall. All of the basic pro-Al talking points are covered, as are some new arguments rarely discussed before. This documentary is our campaign's declaration of intent and invitation to one and all to join us and help the cause.
The "Weird Al" Yankovic Anthology
Here it is, for the first time ever, a collection of Al sheet music! Now anyone can play or sing such Al original classics as "Since You've Been Gone," "You Don't Love Me Anymore," "One More Minute," "Harvey The Wonder Hamster," "Good Old Days," "Frank's 2000" TV," "Christmas At Ground Zero," and Al's epic "The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota!" There's even sheet music for such parodies as "Eat It," "Smells Like Nirvana," "Jurassic Park," "Headline News," and of course "Yoda."
Well, perhaps someone at the Rock Hall Foundation would want to examine how Al writes music, but frankly we can't figure out exactly who or why. The biggest benefit to sending this to the foundation would be to help dispel the notion that Al doesn't write anything on his own, as the majority of the songbook is composed of original songs...plus the mini-biography lifted from the now-unavailable Permanent Record booklet might come in handy. Again, one would be better off including this with another Al item.
Weird Al: The Book
Written by AV Club critic Nathan Rabin, this heavy coffee table book offers the first serious appraisial of Al's work in print. Briskly paced, the text covers all the basics from the start of Al's career to the headline-making ordeal that was the "Gaga Saga." Al himself also contributes via humorous captions to the many, many awesome photos found throughout.
For years we've been pining for a truly outstanding Weird Al book to use as a career primer to send to the Rock Hall folks, and this is perhaps the closest we will ever get. The writing tends to lean toward hyperbole at times and certain lesser events--such as Al appearing once on Japanese television--are curiously given more attention than, say, actual career-related events such as the spats with Coolio and Lady Gaga's management. Still, it's an engaging read. Everyone interested in not only Al's life and work but also the last thirty years of pop/rock's evolution should have this on their shelf.
Al Fan Gifts
"What do you give a (blank) that has everything?" It's perhaps one of the most clichéd questions to ask during the holiday season, but it's nevertheless valid. How exactly does one surprise that Al fan in their life, the one who supposedly has it all? The so-called completists out there??
We present a selection of items that, though are still readily available at normal retail prices, might have just slipped in under the radar. With each suggested item, there's also a short description, a rating system, and a link to where it can be ordered (just click on the name).
Ready? Then here we go....
The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic 3.0
Seriously, have you seen this thing in a retail store yet?? This three-disc collection was released over the summer of 2010 as a part of Sony Legacy's "limited edition" Essential 3.0 series, which was set up to better offer their Essential CDs to "big box" retailers; particularly Target, which had a section set up just for them. Unfortunately, timing was not on Sony's side, as just as this new reissue came out did Target temporarily do away with their 3.0 display, making this perhaps one of the hardest to find regular commercial Al releases!
The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic gets upgraded with a third disc, bumping up the number of tracks from thirty-eight to forty-four. The collection offers not only all the songs from the original two-disc set but also adds such missing-in-action recordings as "Ricky," "Midnight Star," "Living With A Hernia," "Good Old Days," "Wanna B Ur Lovr," and "Genius In France"...all remastered, and all sounding better than they ever had before.
We must add a caveat to our rating. Essential 3.0 is a fantastic hits collection, as it leaves practically no stone unturned this time. BUT, if the Al fan you're shopping for already owns the original Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic from 2009, then they are going to see this collection as highly redundant. A number of fans were disappointed that the bonus third disc did not include any rarities or live tracks, as is sometimes the case on other 3.0 titles, but alas, Sony Legacy is limited to whatever is available from the artist's label (and they aren't going to license material from an outside source in most cases), and Volcano simply doesn't have access to any rare material that hasn't already been made available elsewhere.
Amish Paradise Adult T-Shirt
For the first time ever, one can now buy fully licensed, retail-quality Weird Al clothing! These aren't leftover tour shirts, these aren't fan-produced, these aren't things hastily thrown together on Cafepress...these are real, authentic, made-available-to-stores adult t-shirts.
Produced by the same company that now handles Al's tour merchandise, three designs are available: an "Amish Paradise" shirt (shown), a "Smells Like Nirvana" shirt, and a "Saga Begins" shirt. Each shirt utilizes an image from the song's corresponding video.
These clothes are only just slowly starting to be picked up by retail outlets, so the holiday season is the perfect time to surprise your fan with an item that they probably didn't even know existed!
Hey, who doesn't love clothing with their favorite artist on it, right? People love to wear their fandom on their sleeve...or, um, chest...or collar. Perhaps the biggest, albeit minor, drawback to this line of shirts is that subtlety seems to be a foreign concept to whoever designed them, slapping a large picture of Al's face on the front as opposed to coming up with something that could be better integrated into one's wardrobe. Also, the shirts only go up to size XL, which isn't exactly a good sign since the company's tour products run a bit on the snugger side anyway. But still, that's all nitpicking. These shirts are still fun and visually striking and would be a fine purchase for a not-too-picky Al fan.
RiffTrax Live!: Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza!
(also on Blu-ray)
In his return to the Rifftrax series since guest-starring on the best-selling MP3 for Jurassic Park, Al joins not only Mike Nelson but also Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett in this live-via-satellite program that was beamed to movie theaters across the country. The main "riffers" mock a series of Christmas short films, vintage toy commercials, and the classic 1948 Max Fleischer theatrical cartoon Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, among others. Al joins the three to comment on Three Magic Words, a bizarre 1950s musical short produced by the pork industry to stress meat quality. Al, Mike, Kevin, and Bill are pictured off to the side as the short plays out, allowing the audience to see the riffers' reactions to some of the short's crazier moments (something that one is usually unable to see in a Rifftrax download). It's perhaps the closest we're ever going to get to Al actually being on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Al didn't write any of his riffs, nor was he all that used to the MST3K-esque performing style, so he's usually seen on the DVD reading off a script without really watching the projected short or interacting with his fellow riffers. He nevertheless holds his own with the riffing veterans, and clearly an attempt was made to give Al some of the more musical jokes (including singing goofy lyrics to the short's central title song). Be warned: Al is clearly billed as a guest star and is not featured in the majority of the included films, but the time that Al is given on stage is a must-see. This is an essential addition to any serious Al fan's collection.
Transformers: Animated Wreck-Gar Action Figure
That's right, you're looking at a Weird Al action figure. Well, sort of.
This is actually Wreck-Gar, a character from the Transformers universe of toys, cartoons, etc. In the wake of Michael Bay's horrible big-budget Transformers feature film, a brand new animated series was produced for Cartoon Network. The team behind the new show clearly had a love and appreciation for the history behind the franchise, and in the second season they brought Al in to voice their re-imagined Wreck-Gar, the transforming garbage truck Junkbot. History buffs would get a kick out of the subtext behind this bit of casting, as "Dare To Be Stupid" had played on the soundtrack of the 1986 animated Transformers: The Movie during the scene on the Junkbots' planet. Wreck-Gar's first appearance on this new show would even have a not-too-subtle nod to Al's song.
As if casting Al as Wreck-Gar wasn't cool enough, the show's design team even incorporated Al's likeness into Wreck-Gar's streamlined new look, giving the Junkbot Al's gentle smirk and even the mustache and goatee he wears between albums. Yeah, that's right, they made Wreck-Gar look like "Casual Al!"
The animated likeness is captured perfectly in this sturdy, fun-filled Hasbro toy. And because he's a Transformer, he can appear in his Autobot form or as...well, a garbage truck. Wreck-Gar would quickly become one of the most sought-after figures in the animated toy line.
In an era where every cult classic movie and rock star has been getting their own highly detailed action figure, it seems a bit strange that there hasn't been a Weird Al figure at all...not normal Al, not UHF-related, nothing! So the Wreck-Gar figure is a bit historic in that it's the first time an Al character has been turned into a three-dimensional toy. But at the same time, toys aren't exactly everyone's bag...and, despite the fact that it clearly looks like Al, this still might be just a bit too out of the box, even for a die-hard fan. Tread lightly, but if your Al fan fancies toys and figures at all, this is a must buy!
Kevin Pollak's Chat Show: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Al sits down for an episode of comedian Kevin Pollak's acclaimed online talk show...um, Kevin Pollak's Chat Show. In perhaps one of the most in-depth single interviews with Al that has ever been taped, Kevin follows Al's life and career by reading along with the Permanent Record liner notes. Al goes over familiar ground, offers some new revelations about his deal with Capitol and the untold stories behind some of his other hits, and even engages in Kevin's mandatory rule for guests: offer their best (or worst) Larry King impersonation. The episode runs for a whopping 125 minutes (that's over two hours, folks!) and has been made available through Amazon's burn-on-demand service.
Al gets interviewed all the time, especially for web sites and podcasts, but it's incredibly rare for such a chat to be archived and released on a commercial-quality DVD. In fact, this marks the very first straight Weird Al interview to be released on home video, and it's almost more than enough. Kevin provides a great, relaxed platform for Al to elaborate on issues that he normally only had enough time to give a ten-second soundbyte for. This is perfect for fans who like to learn more about the behind-the-scenes goings-on, collectors looking for more biographical items, or just anyone wanting to watch something entertaining where Al isn't necessarily "on." You have to buy this for the Al fan in your life!
Al Fest 2009: The DVD
On August 1, 2009, fans flocked to Costa Mesa, California for a day-long Weird Al convention...Al Fest 2009. This two-disc DVD set documents the convention almost entirely in full. Everything is covered from the trivia contest to the talent show entries to live performances to footage of every one of the special celebrity guests. Some notable highlights include portions of Bermuda's presentation; Rubén's entire set with his Valtierra Latin Orchestra (including a showstopping rendition of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature"); Dr. Demento moderating the UHF twentieth anniversary panel featuring Victoria Jackson, David Bowe, Gedde Watanabe, and Jay Levey; Jim getting his "Kimo" on with a slack-key guitar performance, which includes not only Jim's cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" but also him being joined by Bermuda for an unplugged rendition of none other than "Buy Me a Condo!" And maybe, just maybe, a certain Grammy-winning comedic rock star might make a surprise video cameo or two during the DVD.
The DVD is only available through the Al Fest web site, where one can order it via Paypal. It's very reasonably priced at $20 (a great price for two discs!). Shipping in the United States is just another three bucks...if you live outside of the country, please contact the folks through the web site first to arrange shipping. And if you live in California, you need to also add 8.75 percent sales tax ($1.75). But it is most certainly worth it!
Well, again, we're biased--partly because Yankoheit 27 was shot in large part at the convention--but this is an essential item for every kind of Al fan out there. Unofficial, independently produced fan conventions are incredibly hard to put on, both in cost and logistics, and they are rarely captured with any degree of watchability, which makes this thoroughly entertaining look at that sweltering day in Costa Mesa all the more extra-special. It will make every fan not only wish they were there but also crave for the next convention and plan their next concert-chasing trip.
Of course, it would be almost insulting to not mention two specific web sites, each chock full of Weird Al merchandise....
Weirdal.com Merchandise section
Featuring shirts, hats, trading cards, backpacks, and other items direct from the recent 2010 summer tour!
Weird Al Star Fund Merchandise
Exclusive clothing and accessories themed around the campaign to get Al a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! All profits go right into the campaign fund, so help support the cause!
And of course, you can also get campaign materials at our own
Make the Rock Hall "Weird" Shop
and our new Team Yankovic shop
Go back to the main Rock Hall page!