"Weird Al" Yankovic, ALPOCALYPSE (deluxe)

We may have missed the Rapture a few weeks ago, but not Alpocalypse from "Weird Al" Yankovic. This album -- a collection of parodies, original comedy, and the standard polka compilation of populas hits -- shows why Mr. Yankovic has been going strong in musical comedy for over 30 years now.

Alpocalypse is split very evenly between mock-ups of big songs and "Weird Al" originals. The current hit "Perform This Way" is the only one that actually addresses its inspiration, as Yankovic pokes fun at Lady Gaga's public excesses. The other songs keep the melody of the original but take it in a different direction: a Miley Cyrus tune becomes about secret agents, Taylor Swift's romance turns into the stalking of TMZ, etc. They're all very nicely done. And Yankovic demonstrates that whether it's Lady Gaga, Flor Rida, Justin Bieber, or Lady Antebellum, top 40 music can be transformed very easily into a polka.

Of course, being known for parody can make originals less known, which is a shame because Yankovic does some pretty good original material, as featured here. There's a heavy-metal ode to Charles Nelson Reilly, the pathetic fate of an actor ("Skipper Dan"), an ill-fated love song, and the album's closer, the simple-yet eloquent plea "Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me." Most of this is pretty funny stuff as well.

The deluxe edition of Alpocalypse has something that should be required for the die-hard "Weird Al" fan: a dvd with music videos for the album! This has animated features for every song but the polka melody and "Perform This Way." (The latter is an odd omission, as it's the video getting airplay on VH-1, at those rare times they actually play music.) "Weird Al" has always done a good job adapting visuals for his music, and this one is no exception, from a Bill Plympton 'toon to the online flow of words begging to "Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me." The music works very well on its own, but the videos are a great addition to the album.

Not every song is perfect, and five of them were previously available online as Yankovic's Internet Leaks e.p., and the parodies are only as timeless as their subjects -- but Alpocalypse is pretty funny. And so are the videos, so my recommendation is to go deluxe.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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