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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Christian D'Andrea

Ranking all 14 Weird Al Yankovic albums on the 40th anniversary of his debut

“Weird Al” Yankovic’s first proper album — a 12-song eponymous LP — turned 40 years old this week. While the tracks within may not be as relevant as they were back then, the artist remains a part of the cultural landscape.

Sure, Yankovic hasn’t released a full studio album since 2014, but he remains a pop culture staple. He’s been a persistent presence on YouTube, uploading old clips, custom made content and new songs with regularity. His incredibly, 100 percent accurate and true-to-life biopic Weird came out last November and was, despite being released exclusively on Roku, a filmmaking triumph.

In honor of his absurd longevity, I’m going to pay tribute to the parodist who has defined several generations by distilling his life’s work into a 14-point list and subjectively ranking each entry.

For this ranking’s purposes, I’m only counting full length albums composed of original material — no compilations like Greatest Hits or the Food Album qualify since all their songs were first released elsewhere. The end result is a breakdown of more than a dozen releases that range from good to great, each of which would look suitable on my record shelf (sadly, the majority of my Weird Al discography exists in cassette tape form).

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. And if you’re looking for a breakdown of his top 20 parody songs, well, we’ve got you covered there as well.

UHF - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff

Year: 1989

Notable songs: Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies, UHF, The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota

UHF is a great movie and this album is loaded with classic moments from it — like the full Spatula City ad, for starters. But the music side of things is relatively light and aside from the spot-on Dire Straits riff (with guitar from Mark Knopfler!) and there’s nothing else on here you’d prop up for a “best of” compilation.


Year: 1993

Notable songs: Jurassic Park, Bedrock Anthem, Traffic Jam

I wore this tape out raking leaves as a nine-year old. But while it holds a special place in my heart, it doesn’t quite hold up to the rest of the Weird Aural Universe (WAU). Part of the problem is that the songs parodied here — MacArthur Park, Achy Breaky Heart, Peter Gabriel’s whole … thing — are underwhelming. Bedrock Anthem, wonderfully stupid as it is, still rocks.

Polka Party!

Year: 1986

Notable songs: Addicted to Spuds, Living with a Hernia, Christmas at Ground Zero

Yankovic’s least successful album — he once lamented he thought the album sent him “on [his] way to obscurity” — is also his first where an original song is the best thing on the listing. Granted, some of that’s thanks to a lackluster supporting cast, but Christmas at Ground Zero is the fun, bleak holiday classic that never was. Give me that over hearing Mariah Carey once an hour throughout December every year.

"Weird Al" Yankovic

Year: 1983

Notable songs: Another One Rides the Bus, My Bologna, I Love Rocky Road

Yankovic’s debut is a little rough and absolutely sounds like 1983, but he didn’t shy away from telling the world exactly who he was. The accordion and food references are front and center, and while everything is technically sound it still seems juuuuust a little bit off. The originals are fine, but don’t hit the heights of later classics. Regardless, this is the strong foundation from which Yankovic built an empire.

I’m not being overdramatic. *You’re* being under-dramatic.


Year: 2011

Notable songs: Perform This Way, Whatever You Like, Craigslist

A commercial success with rave reviews (at least for a parody album), Alpocalypse is a good album that doesn’t hit my tastes just right. Perform This Way and Whatever You Like are both great. The style parodies — the White Stripes! Weezer! … Hanson? — are spot on. I get it if you want to throw it in the top five, but I merely like this lineup rather than love it.

Even Worse

Year: 1988

Notable songs: Fat, I Think I’m a Clone Now, (This Song’s Just) Six Words Long

Even Worse course corrected for Polka Party!’s commercial failure and gave us picture perfect parodies of both an iconic Michael Jackson album cover and Michael Jackson song. It’s a very good album whose spot in the rankings got dinged for Lasagna, which feels like a parody of a Weird Al song — exaggerated vocals, food-based lyrics and general annoyingness cranked all the way up. If someone wanted to make an argument against Weird Al, Lasagna is where they’d start.

Poodle Hat

Year: 2003

Notable songs: Bob, eBay, Couch Potato

Ranking Poodle Hat was one of my toughest decisions. There’s plenty that’s good but not great in here, and eBay may have been one of Yankovic’s biggest hits but it ultimately doesn’t do much for me. But Couch Potato is great, the Angry White Boy Polka might be the best medley in the WAU and Bob is … well, let’s just appreciate the effort and care it took to craft an entire song out of palindromes. Wow.

Straight Outta Lynwood

Year: 2006

Notable songs: White & Nerdy, Canadian Idiot, Trapped in the Drive-Thru

White & Nerdy alone would be enough to push this into the top 10, but there’s substance behind it. Canadian Idiot may rely on entirely too many stereotypes from our neighbors up north, but that’s a well that never runs dry. Trapped in the Drive-Thru captures the sheer ridiculousness of disgraced criminal R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet series.

There’s also, uh, a Taylor Hicks parody. So … seventh place.

Running with Scissors

Year: 1999

Notable songs: The Saga Begins, It’s All About the Pentiums, Albuquerque

The Saga Begins nailed the entire Phantom Menace plot and wrapped it in a purposeful, over-long American Pie parody from internet spoilers alone. It’s All About the Pentiums married Yankovic’s roots in nerdism with his surprising rap flow (see above). And Albuquerque was meant to prod and annoy fans and became one of his most beloved deep(ish) cuts. From No. 6 on down, every album is a stud.

Off the Deep End

Year: 1992

Notable songs: Smells Like Nirvana, The White Stuff, You Don’t Love Me Anymore

Michael Jackson didn’t want a parody of Black or White, so Yankovic reached out to Nirvana, assured Kurt Cobain he wasn’t going to write about food, then absolutely crushed it with Smells Like Nirvana. This proved Weird Al was ready for the grunge era and whatever followed.

This was a declaration that the WAU could escape the 80s and that versatility was just as important as wit and accordion skill in its orbit. The White Stuff and Taco Grande were proof he wasn’t leaving his roots behind. And You Don’t Love Me Anymore is a ballad that has persisted the throes of time because it provides what other ballads cannot; slapstick violence.

Bad Hair Day

Year: 1996

Notable songs: Amish Paradise, Gump, The Night Santa Went Crazy

Iconic parodies? Bad Hair Day’s got them in spades, whether that’s Amish Paradise, Gump or the vastly underrated Phony Calls. Banger polka medley? Let me introduce you to the Nine Inch Nails section of the Alternative Polka. There are even two different standout originals on this one — Everything You Know is Wrong and The Night Santa Went Crazy. It’s not a perfect album, but the high points here are absolutely *flying*.

"Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D

Year: 1984

Notable songs: Eat It, I Lost on Jeopardy, King of Suede

This was the moment Yankovic arrived and the WAU cemented its place in the zeitgeist. We got everything from food to fabric on this one, starting with “Eat It” (perfect) and covering acts from The Police to The Greg Kihn Band to the B-52s (who already felt like a parody unto themselves, in a good way, but whatever). It also proved there was more to the WAU than simply accordions and suggested the vastness of Yankovic’s empire to come.

Mandatory Fun

Year: 2014

Notable songs: Word Crimes, Tacky, Foil

Eight days, eight music videos. That’s how Yankovic unveiled his most recent album and it. [Expletive]. Ruled.

The videos, always a strength, showcased just how many comedy stars were champing at the bit to work with Weird Al. The songs themselves pushed the WAU into new genres and thoroughly crushed it. He made a Robin Thicke song great by making it about grammar (and also removing Robin Thicke). He wrote a perfect nerdy college fight song. He wrote an entire song about aluminum foil! Just legend behavior.

Dare to Be Stupid

Year: 1985

Notable songs: Like a Surgeon, Yoda, Dare to Be Stupid

There’s nearly a 30 year span between Yankovic’s two best albums. That is obscene. The man is an absolute workhorse. Dare to be Stupid was a brilliant exercise in being dumb. We got everything from the AMA to Star Wars to, of course, food jokes that come a mile a minute. A perfect 80s polka medley closes out the album, but the highlight may be the title track — a Devo song so perfect it shook actual Devo to the core.

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