Alapalooza

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Alapalooza
Front cover of the Alapalooza album. A skeletal tyrannosaurs with the head of "Weird Al" Yankovic is framed by a yellow circle with a shadowy jungle and a red border across the entire scene. The name of the artist and the album appear in white letters above a pure black background.
Studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic
Released October 5, 1993
Recorded November 1992 – August 1993
Genre Comedy, parody
Length 44:34
Label Rock 'n Roll Records
Scotti Brothers
Producer "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic chronology
The Food Album
(1993)
Alapalooza
(1993)
Permanent Record: Al in the Box
(1994)
Singles from Alapalooza
  1. "Jurassic Park"
    Released: July 1, 1993
  2. "Bedrock Anthem"
    Released: November 16, 1993
  3. "Achy Breaky Song"
    Released: December 7, 1993

Alapalooza is the eighth studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic, released in 1993. By the completion of his previous album, Off the Deep End, Yankovic had already written all of the original songs that he planned to use on his next release. This new album, which would eventually be titled Alapalooza in reference to the music festival Lollapalooza, consisted of seven original songs and five parodies. It produced three parody singles: "Jurassic Park", "Bedrock Anthem", and "Achy Breaky Song". "Jurassic Park" was a top five hit on the Canadian magazine The Record '​s single chart.

Among the album's original creations were "Talk Soup", a tune originally intended to replace the theme song of the television show of the same name, and "Harvey the Wonder Hamster", a oft-requested jingle from one of Yankovic's Al TV specials. A music video compilation, entitled Alapalooza: the Videos, was released the following year and contained four videos, only two of which were from its eponymous album. One of the videos, the one for "Jurassic Park", was animated entirely in the style of claymation and received a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video at the 37th Grammy Awards, losing to "Love Is Strong" from The Rolling Stones.

Alapalooza met with average to negative reception upon its release, with some critics commenting that the album seemed hurried and out of touch with contemporary music. The video offering received a similarly lukewarm response. Nonetheless the album was certified "gold" in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America by the end of the year, peaking at number 46 on the Billboard 200, and went "double platinum" in Canada.

Production[edit]

Background[edit]

Yankovic's 1992 album Off the Deep End, his best-selling album since 1984's "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D, had revived his career and displayed his "credibility as an evolving artist"[1] after the commercial failures of his 1986 work Polka Party! and his feature film UHF.[1] By the time production for Off the Deep End was nearing completion, Yankovic had already written all of the original songs that would be eventually included on Alapalooza. Fearing that his track "I Was Only Kidding" would be outdated by the time of his next album, he rearranged Off the Deep End to allow for the song to be released with the album, saving "Waffle King" for Alapalooza. Nevertheless, "Waffle King" was released as a B-side to Off the Deep End's "Smells Like Nirvana" single, "just in case there wasn't going to be a next album."[2] He recorded all of the album's original songs, except "Talk Soup" and "Harvey the Wonder Hamster", by the end of 1992 and, in July 1993, recorded all of Alapalooza '​s remaining tracks, aside from "Livin' In The Fridge".[3] Yankovic eventually decided to title his new album Alapalooza, a reference to the Lollapalooza music festival.[4] The Yankovic dinosaur in the album's booklet was designed by David Peters, who had worked previously with the singer on the "Dare to Be Stupid" video.[5]

Alapalooza was released on October 5, 1993 in the United States. Globally, some versions included a notice distinguishing it from the official Jurassic Park film soundtrack, as the two cover designs were similar.[6] The Japanese edition contained a bonus track of Yankovic singing "Jurassic Park" in Japanese.[5] A music video compilation for the album, entitled Alapalooza: the Videos, was released in February 1994 and contained four videos, only two of which (Jurassic Park and Bedrock Anthem) were from Alapalooza.[7]

Originals[edit]

Alapalooza contains seven original songs among its twelve tracks, although "Young, Dumb & Ugly" and "Frank's 2000" TV" were meant to be stylistic parodies of AC/DC and the early work of R.E.M., respectively. For the former, Yankovic wanted to parody the heavy metal music genre while at the same time avoiding a repetition of what had already been done by Spinal Tap. He ended up disliking the final product because he sang it "in a register that was really too high for [his] singing voice".[8] The latter was a song about consumerism and modern electronics that described the neighborhood's envy of the eponymous character's new television.[8]

The song "Talk Soup", which is about a man who desires to go on television to tell the world about his strange life, was originally commissioned as a new theme for the E! Entertainment Television show of the same name. Although the producers approved the lyrics and enjoyed the final result, they decided against using it.[9] "Waffle King", the track that had been intended for Off the Deep End, was written as "a song about a guy who becomes incredibly famous for doing something kinda stupid, and then starts taking himself way too seriously".[10] Yankovic included "Harvey the Wonder Hamster", a short tune from one of his Al TV appearances, after receiving numerous requests to include it on an album.[5]

Parodies[edit]

Alapalooza '​ lead single "Jurassic Park" is a parody of "MacArthur Park" by Jimmy Webb.

Yankovic's first single from Alapalooza was "Jurassic Park", a parody of the Jimmy Webb song "MacArthur Park" that was first performed by Richard Harris in 1968.[11] After hearing "Lola" by The Kinks on the radio and recalling how much he had enjoyed his previous pairing of a contemporary film with a classic song (1985's "Yoda"), Yankovic came up with the idea for a tune based around the recently released Jurassic Park film. He received permission from Webb, Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton, and director Steven Spielberg to produce the track. For the music video Yankovic collaborated with animators Mark Osborne and Scott Nordlund to produce a claymation feature that parodied scenes from the movie;[5] the song itself was a comedic retelling of the film's plot interspersed with the gripes about his visit to the park.[12] The music video was directed by Osborne and Nordlund, while Yankovic came up with the original concept and ideas for some of the shots; Osborne said that the directors "came up with about half the ideas in collaboration" with Yankovic.[13]

Having always wanted to write a tribute to The Flintstones, Yankovic next focused his energy on creating a song that he hoped would be current with the impending release of The Flintstones live action film in 1994. In order to collect sound bites and animation and "re-familiarize" himself with the characters, Yankovic watched over 100 episodes of the original show. A parody of both Red Hot Chili Peppers's "Under the Bridge" and "Give It Away", the resulting song was a comedic tribute to the program. It ended up becoming the second single released from Alapalooza.[5] Yankovic directed the video for the single, which featured scenes of band members playing the song in Bedrock dressed as characters from the show.[7] In the third and final single, "Achy Breaky Song", a parody of Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart", Yankovic lists things he would rather experience than having to listen to the original track. The parody received radio play on country music stations in the United States.[5] The proceeds from the track were donated to United Cerebral Palsy, as both Cyrus and Yankovic felt that the song was "a little bit [...] mean-spirited".[14]

"Livin' in the Fridge", a parody of Aerosmith's "Livin' on the Edge" that discusses leftovers that have grown sentient in the refrigerator, was the last song to be recorded for the album. With a deadline looming, Yankovic sent requests to several artists to do parodies of their songs and went with Aerosmith because they replied first.[5] It was recorded a month after the rest of the tracks had been finalized and less than two months prior to the album's release.[3] The album includes a polka medley, a staple of Yankovic's albums,[15] called "Bohemian Polka". Unlike previous medleys, which had featured portions of multiple songs,[15] "Bohemian Polka" contains only one tune, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", and is a rearrangement of the entire song as a polka.[12]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[16]
Entertainment Weekly C[7]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[17]
The Buffalo News 3/5 stars[18]

Critical response to Alapalooza ranged from average to negative. In The Rolling Stone Album Guide Alapalooza earned 2.5 stars out of 5, which ranked it somewhere between "mediocre" and "good".[17] Anthony Violanti of The Buffalo News gave the album three stars out of five, claiming that "[o]nce again, Weird Al gets the last laugh on rock 'n' roll".[18] Barry Weber of Allmusic, on the other hand, criticized the album for failing to engage contemporary musical trends and said it "sounds sloppy and mostly like a compilation of old B-sides".[16] Christopher Thelen of The Daily Vault agreed, calling the album "rushed" and "an incredible disappointment",[19] and said it was one of the lows of Yankovic's career. Thelen's limited praise is directed at only two songs on the album: "Livin' In The Fridge" and "Achy Breaky Song", both of which he claimed "have [their] moments".[19] In reference to the album's polka tune, Mark Jenkins of The Washington Post wrote that it "doesn't sound all that different" from the original.[12]

Entertainment Weekly felt that overall Alapalooza: the Videos was "amusing", but referred to the claymation video for the "Jurassic Park" as "clever but toothless". The magazine gave the collection an overall grade of "C" and argued that Yankovic's parodies did not satirize the original material, but instead transposed new elements on top of them.[7] The video for "Jurassic Park" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video at the 37th Grammy Awards,[20] but lost to the video for "Love Is Strong" by The Rolling Stones.[21] Nonetheless, it received attention in animation festivals worldwide for its use of claymation effects.[5]

Commercial performance[edit]

Released in October 1993, Alapalooza was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on December 23, 1993, representing sales of at least 500,000 units. The video compilation, released on February 1, 1994, went gold in the United States on August 14, 1995, representing sales of at least 50,000 units.[22] In Canada the album went gold on November 16, 1993, platinum on January 31, 1994, and double platinum on February 12, 1998, representing sales of 50,000, 100,000, and 200,000 units respectively.[23] The album peaked at number 46 on the United States' Billboard 200 chart on October 30, 1993, but produced no charting singles.[24]

Track listing[edit]

The following is adapted from the album liner notes.[25]

No. Title Writer(s) Parody of Length
1. "Jurassic Park"   Jimmy Webb, "Weird Al" Yankovic "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris 3:55
2. "Young, Dumb & Ugly"   Yankovic Style parody of AC/DC[8] 4:24
3. "Bedrock Anthem"   Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante, Flea, Chad Smith, Yankovic "Under the Bridge" and "Give It Away" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers 3:43
4. "Frank's 2000" TV"   Yankovic Style parody of R.E.M.'s early work[8] 4:07
5. "Achy Breaky Song"   Don Von Tress, Yankovic "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus 3:23
6. "Traffic Jam"   Yankovic Original 4:01
7. "Talk Soup"   Yankovic Original 4:25
8. "Livin' in the Fridge"   Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Mark Hudson, Yankovic "Livin' on the Edge" by Aerosmith 3:55
9. "She Never Told Me She Was a Mime"   Yankovic Original 4:54
10. "Harvey the Wonder Hamster"   Yankovic Original 0:21
11. "Waffle King"   Yankovic Style parody of Peter Gabriel[26] 4:25
12. "Bohemian Polka"   Freddie Mercury Polka version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen 3:39

Credits and personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Song Peak positions
CAN
Record

[27]
1994 "Jurassic Park" 5

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Weber, Barry. "Off the Deep End – Weird Al Yankovic : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ Yankovic, Al (April 1996). "Midnight Star 'Ask Al' Q&As for March/April, 1996". Ask Al Archive. weirdal.com. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Yankovic, Al (2012). "Recording Dates". weirdal.com. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ Khanna, Vish. "'Weird Al' Yankovic Alpocalypse Now… and Then". Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Hansen, Barret (1994). Permanent Record: Al in the Box (liner). "Weird Al" Yankovic. California, United States: Scotti Brothers Records. 
  6. ^ "Canada Alapalooza CD". Allthingsyank.com. June 14, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d Kenny, Glenn (March 18, 1994). "Alapalooza Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d Rabin, Nathan. "Set List: 'Weird Al' Yankovic". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  9. ^ Yankovic, Al (September 1995). "Midnight Star 'Ask Al' Q&As for September, 1995". Ask Al Archive. weirdal.com. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  10. ^ Yankovic, Al (February 1997). "Midnight Star 'Ask Al' Q&As for January/February, 1997". Ask Al Archive. weirdal.com. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  11. ^ Boucher, Geoff (June 10, 2007). "The SoCal Songbook: 'MacArthur Park,' Jimmy Webb, 1968". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Jenkins, Mark (October 24, 1993). "POP RECORDINGS;Pearl Jam's Second: More R.E.M. Than Grunge". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2012.   – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  13. ^ Biodrowski, Steve (November 28, 1999). "MORE: A Little Film on a Big, Big Screen". Mania. Retrieved June 26, 2012. 
  14. ^ Yankovic, Al (May 1999). "'Ask Al' Q&As for May, 1999". Ask Al Archive. weirdal.com. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Berman, Judy (June 15, 2011). "A Brief History of Weird Al’s Polka Medleys". Music. Flavorwire. Retrieved June 26, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Weber, Barry. "Alapalooza – Weird Al Yankovic: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 893. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  18. ^ a b Violanti, Anthony (October 8, 1993). "Big Time Moving Into the Mainstream, Mr. Big Shows Its Tender Side". The Buffalo News. Retrieved June 14, 2012.   – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  19. ^ a b Thelen, Christopher (September 27, 2002). "Alapalooza". Daily Vault. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  20. ^ "The 37th Grammy Nominations". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). January 6, 1995. p. 16. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  21. ^ "1994 Best Music Video, Short Form". Past Winners Search. National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. 1995. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum – Search Results: 'Weird Al' Yankovic". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b "Gold Platinum Database". Music Canada. 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b "Weird Al Yankovic – Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  25. ^ a b c d Alapalooza (liner). "Weird Al" Yankovic. Scotti Brothers Records. 1993. 
  26. ^ McCall, Tris (May 17, 2011). "Song of the Day: 'Dare to Be Stupid,' 'Weird Al' Yankovic". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard 106 (8). February 19, 1994. Retrieved April 28, 2013.