Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weird Al's Word Crimes spoof, an AP Tweet, and punctuation matters

Weird Al Yankovic is a novelty musician whose stellar career has spanned three decades. As one narrator of his work said, Weird Al is "fully committed to novelty music." Many of the artists he's spoofed have gone by the wayside but Weird Al is still singing away. He is a genius.

First, he has made a long, successful career in music. His songs not only are spoofs, but the lyrics capture the attitude of the spoofed song and also the musician who sings them. His videos are knife-edge sharp and dead on. Best of all, he's funny.

You might wonder, who IS Weird Al, has he done anything? Anything at all? The UK Telegraph sums up his career:
Over a 38-year career, he’s recorded more than 150 parody songs, released 14 studio albums, played over 1000 live shows (to audiences who "range from toddlers to geriatrics”) and shifted 13 million albums. He’s directed videos for other artists, including Hanson, Ben Folds and Black Crowes. He’s written and starred in his own cult film, had his own CBS sitcom, and appeared in all three Naked Gun films, 30 Rock and The Simpsons.  
The UK Telegraph again, reported yesterday that "Weird Al Yankovic is more popular than ever. Is it time to take him seriously?" I put it to you that his genius for lyrics, the deft touch of his satire (never mean, always funny, a tough thing to do) and his spot-on videos for thirty years would indicate,, YES.

My personal favorites of his spoof songs are Amish Paradise, a spoof of Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise, Addicted to Spuds, a spoof of Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love, and Eat It, a spoof of Michael Jackson's Beat It.

His more recent spoofs are funny too, especially the spoof of Pharrell Williams' Happy called "Tacky." And this one:

"Word Crimes", a spoof of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. (I don't recommend watching the original song in video.).

OK, this song had me literally sputtering and snorting milk. OK, not literally with the milk, but literally snorting and sputtering, and linguists will get it about the literally. Also in the song an homage to 'few or less', 'irony is not coincidence', and 'its v. it's'. Grammarians UNITE! Here is our anthem!

I've been an editor, a copy editor, a journalist, a researcher, a grant writer, and a creative writer. Words and punctuation matter. They are my life!

People would jokingly say to me, or not jokingly say, 'stop being he grammar police, it's not a crime!' Well maybe not a law-breaking crime, but sometimes inattention to punctuation is a heart-breaking crime. Like today.

The Associated Press tweeted the progress of the Malaysian plane crash victim bodies back to the Netherlands. At one point, the AP's tweet caused alarm. They wrote:

A comma! A comma! My kingdom for a comma! What the AP meant to write, of course, is "Breaking, Dutch Military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash, lands in Eindhoven."

Enjoy Word Crimes. It is hilarious.

PS look for the deliberately inserted split infinitive ;)


Grace to You said...

I saw this new Weird Al video last week and loved it!! I agree - he is a musical and lyrical genius.

You might enjoy this wordsmithing video too:

Cece P. said...

You are a grammarian after my own heart! Great post!

Anonymous said...

Have you watched his spoof interviews, really funny!

Anonymous said...

"Amish Paradise" is very funny.

However, I think this grammar song is even better. It had me in stitches. Syntax you're always mangling... that's priceless.

Thanks for the laugh!


Anonymous said...

Oh yes - your split infinitive challenge in Weird Al's song:

"Try your best to not drool."

I had to listen to it several times to catch it, both the lyrics and video were faster than I am able to think today.

Per wikipedia:

"Writers should learn to not split infinitives."


Elizabeth Prata said...

did you notice at the very beginning, when the dictionary is flipping, and the page that has the word accordion on it, the picture is of Weird Al playing an accordion

Grace to You said...

Man, Elizabeth, you have incredible eyesight! How did you ever catch that?! Even stopping the video on that shot I still couldn't make it out without a magnifying glass. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree, Elizabeth you have a very good and accurate eye. I had to freeze each frame until I found what you saw. For both the accordion and the split infinitive.


Elizabeth Prata said...

here is a sweet article about WOrd Crimes' kinetic animator Jarrett Heather who did the animations for the video. He's a guy who works in the Food and Agriculture Department, and had done one other musical kinetic animation for Jonathan Coulton, Shop Vac, a ballad about depressingly living in the suburbs. He also happens to be a HUGE Weird Al fan, so when he got the A good article.

Grace to You said...

Thanks for the link to the Jarrett Heather article! I watched the Shop Vac video - I agree with you that the song is kind of depressing but the video was really, really great.

On a side note, Shop Vac reminds me a little of the theme song from the movie That Thing You Do, only not as happy. :)