Novelty records spoofing trends have always been part of the pop-music canon -- Sesame Street Disco, anyone? -- but only "Weird Al" Yankovic exposes the absurdity inherent in the Top 40 while at the same time sharing the large-scale success of those artists he parodies. Perhaps Yankovic's fame is due to the fact that his subversion, while often dead-on, is rarely done in malice.
From his nasally accordion rave-up "My Bologna" and the '80s icons-skewering "Eat It" and "Like a Surgeon," to the grunge satire of "Smells Like Nirvana" and chutzpah-laden "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi," he cuts to the root of cultural trends with a quick wit and even faster musical mimeograph. In fact, many overlook how talented Yankovic is as a songwriter in his own right, penning original tunes like "One More Minute," a choicely bitter breakup song. His latest album, the Grammy-winning Poodle Hat, touches on eBay, Backstreet Boys, and Avril Lavigne, along with his usual impeccably wrought polka -- this time the "Angry White Boy Polka," which strips down nü-metal lunkheads Papa Roach, Disturbed, and Limp Bizkit to their whiny, infantile cores.
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