Song of the Day: “Albuquerque” by “Weird Al” Yankovic

Please excuse me if some of this week’s reviews are short. I was so mentally exhausted after listening to these 10+ minute songs that I could only write a few curt sentences about most of them.

Weird Al’s opus is an eleven-minute comedy routine detailing the absurd pitfalls in an unfortunate narrator’s life. “Albuquerque” was the perfect song for sixth-grade me, with the perfect balance of quotable sillines (“where the towels are oh-so-fluffy”) and genuine punchlines (the entire riff about the disastrous flight is genius).

A decade and a half later, I am still fond of the track, with some reservations. Calling this a “song” is generous: While other Weird Al classics blend songsmanship with satire (e.g. “Your Horoscope for Today”), “Albuquerque” is all yuks. Most of the song is spoken word.

My second hesitation is that the song descends into nihilism and violence a few too many times. I prefer the absurdities and anti-punchlines to the detailed descriptions of dismemberment, etc.

Lastly, I hoped my more-mature ears would detect some pathos or coming-of-age angst underneath the gags. That was foolish, though — this is “Weird Al,” not Judd Apatow. What you hear is what you get. (Even if what you hear is a story about a kid hating sauerkraut.)

Click here for the full list

Click here for the full list

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day: “Albuquerque” by “Weird Al” Yankovic

  1. Calling this a “song” is generous makes it sound like the spoken-word-ness is a bad thing, but I always thought it was creatively done and enhanced the song. Al has a sense of rhythm and meter, going beyond mere comedic pacing, that could be analyzed similarly to a rapper’s flow. And while many raps feature a backbeat that loops the same way every time through a song, and many spoken word poets maintain no constant beat at all, Al sets up a more difficult challenge for himself by keeping the background music going at a constant tempo the whole time but also interjecting accents, bursts of melody, and other big hits that all line up with musical phrases — which means that he has to arrive at key lines of monologue in time and on time to make the whole thing sound the way it does.

    • This is a good point, and you’re right that I undervalued his voice performance in my recap. He’s really dynamic. I listened again today and tried to think about the different ways he uses his voice, and his control of different intensities and tones of narration is really marvelous. Expert level.

      In general, this recap comes across as more critical than I really meant it to. I didn’t talk enough about what I like about it. This is some good shit.

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