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I recently acquired Weird Al's newest CD, Poodle Hat. While I don't usually write about music here, I figured I'd offer my thoughts anyway.

1. The two best songs were, as usual, originals: "Hardware Store" (featuring a long 16th note quasi-rap about all the items he's going to buy) and "Bob," a Bob Dylan style parody made up of palindromes.

2. Some people think Al's done the "there's so much crap on TV" theme (represented here by "Couch Potato") to death. But I find it interesting how each TV song comes up-to-date, dealing with the TV shows that are popular at the time. So "Couch Potato" deals a lot with reality TV, a phenomenon that was unknown at the time of "Cable TV" (1985) or "I Can't Watch This" (1992). You could also compare how the shift from Alapalooza's (1993) "Talk Soup" to Running With Scissors's "Jerry Springer" (1999) reflects not only Jerry's dominance of the messed-up talk show genre, but also the shift in the type of guests -- from the individual wacko ("I'm just an anorexic codependant bingo addict / Stripper born without a chin") to the dysfunctional family ("Five days since the big surprise / When some loser's wife said that she's still dating twenty guys"). On the other hand, there are themes that Al can do to death, since there isn't as much cultural turnover. "Trash Day" from this album was thematically awfully similar to "Livin' in the Fridge" from Alapalooza and of course there's little in Running With Scissors's "Grapefruit Diet" that wasn't already done in "Fat" from Even Worse (1988).

3. I'm always impressed by how clean Al keeps his humor. He avoids the three topics most beloved by parodists of all ages: sex, drugs, and politics. This fact is quite apparent in "Wanna B Ur Lovr," which is largely made up of bad pick-up lines. Bad pick-up lines nearly always feature subtle (or explicit) sexual innuendoes, but Al largely avoids those without cramping the song.

4. The CD has some bonus computer stuff that's very disappointing. There are some old home movies from his childhood, with narration by adult Al. I've never found him to be that funny when he's not singing. There are also "bonus mixes" which ammount to karaoke versions of some songs, rather than self-sufficient remakes of the songs.


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