13. Off the Deep End – 1992
With the grunge revolution in full swing, Al set to work on his first major reinvention, a skill which would be necessary if he was to continue mocking popular music for an extended period of time. This album is fun and well performed, though its a bit light in the hits department.
Of course, “Smells Like Nirvana,” is iconic, as Yankovic showed the ability to make light of even the most dark and serious base material, but aside from that, there’s little of note. “Polka Your Eyes,” out is certainly worth a listen if you’re a fan of Al’s Polka work, and “I Can’t Watch This,” may be his most underrated track of all time, but overall, its a goofy listen with few memorable tracks.
12. Alapalooza – 1993
Weird Al’s best selling album of all time, Alapalooza is his only release to be certified double platinum. The album itself is fun, if a bit light on hits. At this time, the radio was mostly dominated by the height of the grunge movement, which had filled his last project, and the new wave of gangster rap, which Al wouldn’t get a grasp on for a few more years. As such, the album is a bit of a transitional piece.
By way of important tracks, the opener, “Jurassic Park,” is definitely worth a listen, and was the most successful pre-album single. “Bedrock Anthem,” is promising, though it doesn’t quite deliver on its goals. “Achy Breaky Song,” is probably the highlight of the album, though the verses are a bit repetitive. The album is certainly worth a listen for hardcore fans, but for his best selling album of all time, its less that impressive.
11. Alpocalypse – 2011
After a six year absence, the longest of his career, Weird Al returned with his take on a popular music landscape which had changed quite a bit since his last release. Keeping that in mind, he did quite a job. His song choices are excellent, aside from the Doors parody, and hold up well now almost a decade later. My only complaint is the source of the comedy, where his early work finds genuine laughs, the records in the twilight of of his career finds its comedy through the novelty of what he does.
“Perform This Way,” is an excellent opener and “TMZ” is one of his best modern tracks. “Polka Face,” isn’t one of his best polka tracks, but simply must be admired for the effectiveness of the pun. “Party in the C.I.A,” is quite enjoyable, as is “Another Tattoo.” Even “Whatever You Like,” is worth a listen, though Rucka Rucka Ali’s parody of the same song is quite a bit better. Overall, its an album with a few fun tracks, but nothing living up to his early work.
10. “Weird Al” Yankovic – 1983
Like many revolutionary artists, Weird Al’s self-titled debut was a massive success. He had taken what was essentially a goofy party tricks and turned it into a gold certified album. Al’s vocal performance on this record is characteristically manic, and the song selection plays to his strengths well.
Tracks like “I Love Rocky Road,” and “My Bologna,” were instant hits, and should surely secure the kind of childish giggle which Al is going for, while the sheer thought and work that goes into “Another One Rides the Bus,” makes that track a sleeper hit. The album surely isn’t his best, many of the tracks being somewhat forgettable, but it was such a revolution in musical comedy that it finds itself kicking off the top ten of our list.
9. In 3-D – 1984
After the success of his debut, Al stepped everything up for this mid-80’s classic, securing his first platinum certification, as well as his first top twenty chart position. All of those accolades were well deserved as In 3-D improves upon its predecessor in almost every way.
Of course, the record begins with his seminole classic, “Eat it,” also touching on another classic, “The Brady Bunch,” within the opening moments. “I Lost On Jeopardy,” falls on this record as well, and we are introduced to his accordion skills on tracks like “Polkas on 45.” Al’s iconic voice is perfectly balanced between the grating and geeky, and the manic and hilarious. He’s so clearly having so much fun on this album, and its hard for listeners not to do the same.
8. Polka Party! – 1986
Opinions are divided among fans when it comes to this album, but I tend to fall on the side of a favorable assessment. This is the first glimpse we were given of just what a talented accordion player Yankovic is, and his pure parodies which still fill the bulk of the album are quite memorable as well, leaning hard into the absurdist elements inherent in his brand of humor.
The opener, “Living With a Hernia,” is absolute classic Weird Al, as he even whips out his best James Brown impression on the ad libs. “Addicted to Spuds,” is probably one of the more ridiculous tracks in his long career, and, of course, the title track established Weird Al immediately as by far the most successful and well known Polka musician in the country.
7. Mandatory Fun – 2014
With Mandatory Fun, particularly in its marketing, the nostalgia was cranked up to deafening levels. Because of this, the record debuted at number one, the first comedy album ever to do this. Song selection ran the gamut from Lorde and Pharrell Williams to mocking the styles of artists like The Pixies and Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
Overall, there’s no shortage of tracks to hit the spot for fans. “Tacky,” and “Handy,” are a couple of my favorites, and “Foil,” is certainly the highlight of the project. “Inactive,” and “Word Crimes,” are enjoyable, though not quite up to the quality we’ve come to expect from Yankovic. While Mandatory Fun doesn’t quite live up to the man’s earlier work, he sounds quite a bit better than most on the tail end of a 30+ year career.
6. Poodle Hat – 2003
Yet another classic album, though one of his less popular releases, Poodle Hat sees Al following popular culture deeper into the rabbit hole of rap music. While he would do this better on later projects, this album gives us a hint of what he was beginning to work with. If there’s any complaint to be had here, its that the album is so engrossed in pop culture of the day that its quite dated today.
Tracks like “Couch Potato,” and “Trash Day,” are fantastic examples of what Yankovic can do with rap music, while “Angry White Boy Polka” may be my favorite of his Polka work. “A Complicated Song,” is one my favorite Weird Al tracks of all time, and “Why Does This Always Happen to Me,” is one of his best originals. The best of this style was still to come, but this is quite the record all the same.
5. Running with Scissors – 1999
One of Al’s most underrated projects, Running with Scissors is packed to the brim with deep cuts for hardcore fans. His lyricism is at a career high during this period, and this album definitely benefits from that. His vocal performance is a bit more relaxed than previous efforts, and if the lack of famous hits can be ignored, Running with Scissors is a fun listen.
Doubtless, the highlight of the album is “The Saga Begins,” which may be the most impressive lyrical effort of Al’s career. “Jerry Springer,” is a fun track as well, and “Albuquerque,” is classic Weird Absurdism and geek humor. “Grapefruit Diet,” is likely the best deep cut on the record, and “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi,” is irresistibly goofy. This may not be the casual fan’s cup of tea, but for truer fans, Running with Scissors is a favorite.
4. Dare to Be Stupid – 1985
For many die-hard Weird Al fans, this is the one. This album, the third in his discography, set a standard that few comedy albums ever would match. His second platinum effort, Dare to Be Stupid contains several of the hits which Al is known for to this day. The infamous accordion makes precious few appearances here, but his performance more than makes up for this.
“Like a Surgeon,” was the only charting single from this project, but plenty of others became fan favorites. Tracks like “Yoda,” and “George of the Jungle,” are still remembered fondly to this day, and the title track, one of Al’s first and most successful original tracks, is one of the best tracks on the whole record. Of course, one can’t discuss Dare to Be Stupid without remembering “I Want a New Duck,” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch.”
3. Bad Hair Day – 1996
Following the massive success of Alapalooza, Yankovic released one of his best records to date, including one of his most infamous album covers. This is his first foray into the rap world, and while it’s not quite as impressive as some of his later work would be, it does work quite well. The polka track on this album is quite fun as well.
Tracks like “Gump,” and “Phony Calls,” are somewhat under appreciated entries into the Weird Al cannon, and “The Night Santa Went Crazy,” has always been a personal favorite of mine. “Alternative Polka,” is one of his better polka tracks, and, of course, “Amish Paradise,” is one of the best and most iconic Weird Al tracks of all time.
2. Straight Outta Lynwood – 2006
If you’re a younger fan, like myself, this was likely your introduction to Weird Al as this was the last of his albums not to be billed as a “comeback.” Twenty-three years after his debut, Weird Al is perfectly capable of mocking popular culture with the same geeky fire that brought him success in the first place. Straight Outta Lynwood finds Al taking on brand new styles, including rap and heavy metal, but somehow pulling them off with ease.
Nearly every song here is a hit. “Canadian Idiot,” and “I’ll Sue Ya,” are good examples of Al’s ability to parody heavier bands while he finds himself rapping on tracks like “Confessions Pt. III,” “Trapped in the Drive-Thru,” and his biggest hit and only platinum single to date, “White and Nerdy.” Still more, “Pancreas,” and “Don’t Download This Song,” find Al in much more familiar territory, and he even busts out the accordion on “Polkarama!” Straight Outta Lynwood is certainly a comedy record for the ages, and has a perfectly valid case for being considered Yankovic’s best album.
1. Even Worse – 1988
There are so many respectable choices when deciding the best Weird Al album of all time, and nearly all of them are valid answers, but for me, this one takes the cake. Everything, from the album cover to the song choices, is able to celebrate Al’s monumental success while mocking the absurdity of such a goofy gimmick being so popular. Al turns in what I consider his best full album performance and though Even Worse does lack the Polka work which is synonymous with Yankovic, it more than makes up for it with an array of hits, parodies and originals included.
The opener, “Fat,” may be Al’s best track, and “I Think I’m a Clone Now,” isn’t far behind. “Lasagna,” is an absolute classic, especially considering the difficulty of parodying a song in a foreign language, and “Melanie,” is Al’s best original without a doubt. The album goes out with a bang as well with “Alimony,” and “Velvet Elvis,” landing in the latter half. There are plenty of fantastic records in Yankovic’s legendary discography, but for my money, none of them can replace Even Worse.