A Look at (and Listen to) Weird Al’s 14 Best Original Songs

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weird al yankovic

We take a look at 14 of the world’s premier parodist’s original songs in honor of his 59th birthday…because five plus nine equals…eh, never mind.

“Weird Al” Yankovic, who’s turning 59 this month, has been performing for over 40 years. He’s outlasted (in the cases of Coolio, Gerardo, and Billy Ray Cyrus) or outlived (in the cases of Michael Jackson and one half of Milli Vanilli) most of the performers he’s parodied. He’s won awards, his albums have gone gold and platinum, and he’s become part of the pop culture fabric of America.

However, a lot of people who’ve heard of Weird Al and have listened to his more mainstream parodies, like Amish Paradise, Eat It, or White and Nerdy, don’t know how many original songs he’s written. Of the dozen or so songs on each of Al’s albums, nearly half are originals, or style parodies, in which he writes his own words and music, but copies the style of a particular artist or type of artist.

The most amazing thing about Weird Al’s original songs is that they cover an amazing number of topics and an amazing number of genres, from country to heavy metal to rap. In honor of Al’s 59th birthday, I thought I’d run through, in my humble opinion, 14 of his greatest original songs, from fourteenth to first. While there are very few Al songs I wholly dislike, there are definitely some I like more than others. These 14 songs (with the album on which they appear in parenthesis) are certainly my favorites.


Good Old Days (Even Worse)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: James Taylor

Listen to it Here:

This song holds a special place in my heart because Even Worse was the first Weird Al album (on cassette tape, no less) I had ever heard. When the song kicks off, you might actually believe Al is writing a serious, folksy tune. It won’t take you long to realize that this song is somewhat disturbing, in a humorous way. Humorously disturbing original songs are certainly a specialty of Al’s, which leads me to the next song…


Happy Birthday (“Weird Al” Yankovic)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Tonio K.

Listen to it Here: 

Like Good Old Days, this song is an odd mashup of light and dark. The hook here is that Al takes a traditionally happy and upbeat time of a person’s life and writes a song that, while being upbeat and up-tempo, is really an incredible downer. The juxtaposition of fast-paced, upbeat music and incredibly depressing lyrics makes this song a must listen.

A friend of mine from work sends me a link to this song every year for my birthday…good feels!


Christmas at Ground Zero (Polka Party!)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Any generic, big production Christmas song

Listen to it Here: 

Wow, I’m starting to notice a pattern in Al’s original songs. Like Happy Birthday, this traditional-sounding Christmas ditty has lyrics describing a nuclear apocalypse. In this song, Al crosses the typical Christmas sounds of caroling and bell ringing and mixes it with lyrics about air raid sirens and radioactive mutations. Overall, this song is good, clean…if not a little demented…Christmas fun.


Bob (Poodle Hat)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Bob Dylan and/or palindromes

Listen to it Here:

Finally, a non-depressing Al original!  Written in the style of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, Bob is a song made up entirely of palindromes, words or phrases that are spelled the same backwards and forward (like Bob, or I man am regal; a German am I). Al does a great job sounding like Dylan, and this song is about as nonsensical as the latter’s songs often were. In addition to this being a great song, watch the video for Bob Dylan’s original song and then watch Al’s video for Bob…amazing.


Waffle King (Alapalooza)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Peter Gabriel

Listen to it Here:

If you’re a fan of indented pancakes, this song is for you!  This song, which sounds a lot like Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, is essentially about a guy who got rich by making really good waffles. What more is there to say?


When I Was Your Age (Off the Deep End)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Don Henley

Listen to it Here:

Do you have a parent or grandparent who tells you how easy you have it?  Do they tell you how they walked 10 minutes to school every day, in the snow, uphill both ways?  Well, if that’s the case, then this song is for you!  In it, Al takes on the role of a grumpy old timer who complains about working 22 hours a day for half a cent and getting bags of rocks for Christmas. I love this song because both the music and lyrics are insanely catchy. This song is over 26 years old and has aged exceptionally well.


I Remember Larry (Bad Hair Day)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Hilly Michaels

Listen to it Here:

Well, we’re back to the disturbing Al songs again. This song, like others Al’s written, sounds extremely upbeat, musically, but when you listen to the lyrics…oh boy. In this song, the narrator ruminates about his “frenemy,” the titular Larry, who was pretty much a psychopath. During the song, Al/the narrator recalls how Larry dumped toxic waste on his lawn and put glue in his toothpaste tube. About three quarters of the way through the song, however, it takes a sharp turn into extraordinarily dark territory, making me wonder if Al had anyone specific in mind when he wrote this song…(shiver).


Dog Eat Dog (Polka Party!)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Talking Heads

Listen to it Here:

Al writes another non-disturbing song here, this time about a typical day in the white-collar workplace. This song, which sounds almost exactly like Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime, is almost an anthem to anyone who works in a stereotypical cubicle maze workplace. This song is a real treat to listen to.


One More Minute (Dare to be Stupid)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Elvis and/or The Platters

Listen to it Here:

This is one of Al’s many “love songs.”  From this song and others he’s written like it, I’m assuming he uses music to soften the blow of breakups and/or bad relationships. In this little ditty, the obviously heartbroken Al sings about all of the things (like cleaning Grand Central Station with his tongue) he’d rather do than spend 60 more seconds with his former love. While this song sounds dated, it’s still one of Al’s most popular, simply because the lyrics still hold true today…I mean, really, who doesn’t have someone in their life that they’d jump into a swimming pool of razor blades to avoid?


The Night Santa Went Crazy (Bad Hair Day)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Soul Asylum and Christmastime murder sprees

Listen to it Here:

This is Al’s second Christmas tune, and (in my unpopular opinion) his better one. In this song, St. Nick finally gets sick of making and delivering toys, snaps, and starts killing everything site with a pretty incredible arsenal of weapons. From flamethrowers to Lugers, `ol Santa pretty much goes berserk. Unlike Christmas at Ground Zero, this doesn’t sound like a traditional Christmas song; however, the music is ridiculously catchy…and shows off how truly talented Al’s band is. We’re getting into the upper echelon Al originals, and this is definitely one of my favorites.


Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota (UHF)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Harry Chapin and/or Gordon Lightfoot

Listen to it Here:

If you’re not a Weird Al fan, you probably don’t know about Al’s “long form” songs.  They’re usually the last song on the album and they’re over five minutes.  Most Al diehards will tell you that Albuquerque is Al’s best long-form song.  I, however, beg to differ.  I’ve never been a big fan of Albuquerque.  It’s really just a nonsensical mishmash that gives Al an excuse to string a bunch of goofy scenarios together.  Biggest Ball of Twine, however, tells a clear story…a story about a family patriarch who loads his family in the car, along with potato skins, pickled wieners, and diet chocolate soda, and takes them to the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota (which is a real place, by the way).  This song is great because the music makes you bob your head and the lyrics are basically written like a Vacation movie.  Yeah, some of the lyrics are dated (I don’t even know if kids would know what an Instamatic camera is anymore.), but the song is just fun and far more upbeat than a typical Al original.  I really enjoy this song, and I don’t typically love Al’s longer songs.  While most others will disagree, this is certainly the best of the bunch.


Frank’s 2000” TV (Alapalooza)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: R.E.M.

Listen to it Here:

This is probably one of the most underrated Al song’s I’ve heard.  There’s nothing particularly noteworthy or memorable about it; it’s just a song I really like.  It’s not a traditional “humorously dark” song, like Al traditionally writes; it’s simply a song about a guy named Frank who has a really big television set.  It sounds like something straight out of the R.E.M. catalog, and is, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, one of my favorite Al songs.


Skipper Dan (Alpocalypse)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Weezer

Listen to it Here:

This wouldn’t be the top three of Al originals if we didn’t have an “upbeat but depressing” song in the running.  Again, this is a supremely underrated song, telling the tale of a talented actor whose career pinnacle is narrating the Jungle Cruise ride at one of the Disney parks.  I think I like this song because it’s more clever than people give it credit for.  If you’re just listening to the music and not paying attention to the lyrics, you really wouldn’t get how depressing the song is.  This song is a true testament to how Weird Al can make the most morose, depressing, or morbid songs upbeat and borderline funny.  From interviews I’ve read and people I’ve talked to, a lot of people credit Al for getting them out of some tough times and dark places.  His ability to juxtapose (I hate that I’ve used that word twice in this article) humor and surprisingly negative themes, which is quite apparent in this song, make him a genius in my eyes (and the eyes of most of his fans).


Dare to Be Stupid (Dare to Be Stupid)

You’ll Like This Song If You Like: Devo

Listen to it Here:

It’s impossible to put any other song at the top of a list of Weird Al originals.  In my opinion, this song was Weird Al’s anthem until it was knocked off of its perch by White and Nerdy.  While Eat It and Fat were the two songs that put Al on the map, I think if I were going to play a song that defined Al during the 80s, in my mind, Dare to be Stupid would be it.  Sure, it’s a pretty nonsensical song, but that’s basically the point.  In the song, Al simply strings together stupid things people do and say.  The beauty of the song is that it’s basically telling us that it’s okay to do and say dumb things every now and then.  I’m sure it’s no mere coincidence that some people say that Weird Al’s music is stupid…and in this song, Al’s saying that it’s okay to be stupid sometimes.  I have to be serious eight or more hours a day; I don’t mind daring to be stupid from time to time.  That’s why this is my favorite of Al’s original songs.


In Conclusion

Hopefully, if you’re not a fan of Weird Al and you’ve made it this far, you’ve heard a couple songs that you’ve enjoyed.  If you are a fan, I’m sure there were choices you disagreed with…and that’s okay!  One thing I’ve learned in the 30-plus years I’ve been a Weird Al fan, is that no matter which songs we like or don’t like, we all love the goofy (and sometimes bizarre, dark, and even morbid) sense of humor that Al injects into all of his songs.  Just like Al says, sometimes we all need to, “dare to be stupid!”

Happy 59th birthday, Al!  Here’s hoping that you’re still making us laugh at 159!