Stranded all alone in the gas station of love
June 18, 2020 9:19 PM   Subscribe

1985 was a ridiculously strong year for music releases. June 18, 1985 is when "Weird Al" Yankovic released his third album, Dare To Be Stupid. Side A: Like A Surgeon [video], Dare To Be Stupid [video], I Want A New Duck, One More Minute [video], Yoda posted by hippybear (46 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
And I left out a full album playlist that I meant to link. Sorry about that.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]

I was worried that this day would go by without the post, I had written one and was about to post it when I saw that happily hippybear had done it. Thanks! (My title would have been "Stick your head in the microwave and get yourself a tan.")

The album eventually went platinum and spawned six singles; the biggest at the time was Like A Surgeon (the title suggested by Madonna herself), although Kinks parody Yoda has since become a fan favourite and live staple in part thanks to the crowd-pleasing chant.

In my personal opinion. the real gem is the title track - a "style parody" of Devo which was released as a single on the Transformers animated movie soundtrack, and which Mark Mothersbaugh described as "the most beautiful thing I've ever heard [...] I hate him for it.".

Bonus links:
Dare To Be Stupid at 35: Weird Al's bet on his own brilliance
30 things you should know about Dare To Be Stupid

An excellent fan video for Yoda
Dare To Be Stupid live
I Want A New Duck live 1985

In conclusion, Weird Al Yankovic needs to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:34 PM on June 18 [28 favorites]

"Stick your head in the microwave and give yourself a tan" was my first choice until I heard the gas station of love line.
posted by hippybear at 9:39 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]

I was a teenager when I first heard this album in 1985. I am not anymore.

The phrase, “Settle down, raise a family, join the PTA,/ Buy some sensible shoes and a Chevrolet,” has come into mind at least every couple of weeks from that day to this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:50 PM on June 18 [10 favorites]

Also, thank you Homeboy Trouble. Great research and context, and an amazing addition to this post/thread!
posted by hippybear at 9:58 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

This was one of the very first cassettes I ever owned. I listened to it so many times (my poor parents...).
posted by Dip Flash at 10:02 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]

he played at the graduation of mo willems lunch doodles
posted by brujita at 10:13 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]

For me, it's "Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" (UHF soundtrack) that's always stuck in my head. I still want to see Poodle Dog Rock one day.

Also I'm gonna call out Wikipedia for being wrong about "Slime Creatures from Outer Space". That's a Thomas Dolby style parody. But hell if I'm gonna get involved in wiki war over it.
posted by cape at 10:21 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]

In my personal opinion. the real gem is the title track - a "style parody" of Devo ...

The song's lyrics strongly influenced more than one short story I wrote in elementary school in ways that I can only imagine were deeply perplexing unto unsettling for my teachers.

Hooked on Polkas

Weird Al shreds on accordion.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:25 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]

How to get down, baby! ...geddit?
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:27 PM on June 18

"Slime Creatures from Outer Space". That's a Thomas Dolby style parody.

I don't know...tough call ultimately, but it doesn't quite read like a Dolby tune to me...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:34 PM on June 18

Dolby's career has never been what his hits have portrayed it to be, and i have never associated Slime Creatures with Dolby at all. I feel like it's a pastiche of something specific, but I have never really been able to figure out exactly what. For 35 years, never figured it out.

It's definitely has not, as Wikipedia suggests, anything do to with actual 50s SF soundtracks.
posted by hippybear at 10:50 PM on June 18

It gives me a kind of Oingo Boingo vibe.

I forgot how much I used to love this album. Thanks.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:56 PM on June 18

FWIW, Nathan Rabin thinks Slime Creatures reminds of both early B-52s and Dolby's "Hyperactive."
posted by Chrysostom at 11:13 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Weird Al has a massive and masterful catalog of work. But Dare To Be Stupid is the best album he’s ever put out. Up until then he was known as a parody artist first and foremost. He had some original stuff, but parodies were his calling card. Dare To Be Stupid changed that. It had some parodies, some great ones. Those got him on the radio, particularly Like A Surgeon, but the originals on the album were absolutely amazing. Dare To Be Stupid out-Devo’d Devo. One More Minute was hilarious but they also completely nailed the style. Slime Creatures From Outer Space was ridiculous fun. This Is The Life was fantastic and also got in on Johnny Dangerously, one of my favorite comedies. The songs were great, and they were funny. Even more importantly, it started to show what he and his band (good lord he has an awesome band) were capable of creating and performing. 80s Top 40? On point. New Wave? They’re naturals at it. Classic rock? Perfect. Doo-wop? Nailed it. And on and on. I bought this album when it came out and I still love it.

Put him in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. And it’s long past time they gave him the Super Bowl halftime show, fer crying’ out loud!
posted by azpenguin at 11:38 PM on June 18 [14 favorites]

MoonOrb: "It gives me a kind of Oingo Boingo vibe."

You Make Me is his Boingo song.
posted by team lowkey at 11:44 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]

"Dare To Be Stupid" and "One More Minute" are two of my favorite Weird Al songs—this is a stellar album. Pretty sure the day I got it, I had homework or something to do and instead I spent the time listening to it on repeat.

Also I can hear "Lola,' but I can only sing the lyrics to "Yoda" when pressed. "The long-term contract I had to sign/ Said I'll be making these movies 'til the end of time..." has some serious prediction chops for a throwaway line in a parody song.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:31 AM on June 19 [14 favorites]

I still remember the first time I saw the video for 'Dare To Be Stupid': at the start I was 'oh it's the funny parody guy doing Devo this time' and at the end I was 'WAIT I THINK THIS IS MY NEW FAVOURITE SONG'
posted by mikelynch at 12:47 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]

From the Vanyaland article:
it also introduced fans to the first batch of “Weird Al” originals and style parodies that have really stood the test of time, including “One More Minute”, and of course, the Devo-inspired title track.
Nature Trail To Hell would like a word please.
posted by Sauce Trough at 12:55 AM on June 19 [8 favorites]

I mean seriously Nature Trail To Hell is a banger.

The keyboard line! the way the chorus explodes and then peaks with the bananas IN-3D hook, the wolf samples in the intro, the backup singers, the opera solo, the scream solo, the evil laughter, the brief guitar solo before the final choruses, then the song's over, then they bring it back, and Al is screaming over everything and the song is peaking AGAIN, then the half time section, then the piano chord that snaps the song over.

just masterful.

yeah, Dare To Be Stupid is pretty good too.
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:02 AM on June 19 [6 favorites]

Midnight Star too.

Damn, In-3D is a strong record.
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:14 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I remember "I Want A New Duck" from a really bizarre 1980s Disney television special called "Down And Out With Donald Duck" where Stan Freburg and others mashed up a bunch of old animation clips to create a spoof 60 Minutes episode (or a very prescient Behind the Music spoof) which examined Donald Duck's fall from grace and eventual redemption though a bunch of loosely linked segments. It's been uploaded to YouTube and is mildly interesting as an example of the "53% new footage"-era of animation.

I always assumed the song was written specifically for the special given Freburg, but it seems the special didn't air until 1987.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:10 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]

I saw him when he toured this album. It was my first "real" concert. It's still in my top five shows of all time. The energy was incredible! Thanks hippybear!
posted by Dhertiiboi at 4:27 AM on June 19

Recent awesome profile from the NY Times: The Weirdly Enduring Appeal of Weird Al Yankovic
posted by nevercalm at 4:44 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Weird Al was my first concert of any kind.

He was also my daughter's, when we saw the Strings Attached show last summer.
posted by stevis23 at 5:04 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]

It's really, really hard to rank most of Al's albums, but this one is consistently my number one.

I am 50 years old. To this day, I remember how hard I laughed when the "quack, quack, quack quack quack" line came on in "I Want a New Duck." I had a friend over, who had brought the cassette (god bless you Tracey!!!!). I was lying on my bed, my stomach heaving so hard that it hurt. I couldn't get up. Tears and snot were getting messy on my pillow. I couldn't breathe or talk. I have only laughed a few times that hard since then. I miss that so much.

"Yoda" is one of many songs that has not only outlasted the original, but where the words must be sung over the original as well. "Lola" came on the loudspeaker in a store a while back (when we could go into stores), and I was singing away, with my classic-rock fanatic friend shaking her head.

"The long-term contract I had to sign, / said I'll be making these movies 'till the end of time..." HMMMM

omg don't get me started on the brilliance of the Yoda chant
posted by Melismata at 5:55 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]

Weird Al has brought me much joy over the years. I can sing "The Saga Begins" on command. "Tacky" and "Like a Surgeon" are masterpieces IMO. (You can disagree with me on "Tacky". It just happens to tickle me more than some of his other songs, maybe because Jack Black was in the music video for it.)

However, the one song that frustrates me is "Word Crimes" from Mandatory Fun. On first listen I loved it because I (unfortunately) really liked Blurred Lines before I realized what the song was actually about. But after about a week on repeat, I started to feel like Word Crimes is actually kind of mean-spirited and a little pretentious, which to me is out of character for Al given how dedicated he is to doing family friendly stuff. It also feels dismissive of anyone with learning disabilities (I think one of the lyrics even includes "spastic" which was just... Off on lot of levels for me.) I can't listen to it anymore without cringing, and that makes me really sad.

Has anyone else had the same experience with "Word Crimes"?
posted by Kitchen Witch at 6:14 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Not familiar with the song, just read the lyrics, sounds like Al is making fun of grammar pedants.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:22 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Fantastic post, as always. I first saw Weird Al in 1987(?) when he opened up for The Monkees at Six Flags Great Adventure. I knew him a bit from MTV, but wasn’t particularly hooked until after seeing him perform—he is just amazing live!

Anyway, I’m slightly obsessed with Slime Creatures, thanks to this post! Interestingly, the thing about it being influenced by 50s sci-fi comes from Al himself, though the quote doesn’t explicitly say the whole song is meant to be a 50s parody, just that the theremin was meant to invoke cheesy movies.

I, too, hear shades of Oingo Boingo in the song, even if it’s not an explicit style parody.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 6:46 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

There aren't a lot of song lyrics that I can consciously say I lived my life by. That's not what they're for. But this:

You can be a Coffee Achiever
You can sit around the house and watch Leave It to Beaver
The future's up to you
So whatcha gonna do?

-- this is pretty close to it. I can truly say that I have dared to be stupid.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:54 AM on June 19 [7 favorites]

This was the first record album I bought for myself, having sold enough magazines for a 3rd grade school fundraiser to pick a record from a small catalog. Best purchase ever.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:07 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

I also saw Weird Al open for the Monkees on the 1987 tour. While the Monkees were great, Weird Al was clearly the main attraction. Among other things, he did an extended version of "One More Minute" in which he went down into the audience and sang directly to individual people. He's a consummate showman.

My favorite Weird Al album will always be "Even Worse", because of gems such as "Stuck in a Closet with Vanna White," "You Make Me," and "Velvet Elvis" (and even cringey-in-retrospect songs like "Melanie" and "Good Old Days"). But "Dare to Be Stupid" is a close second.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:21 AM on June 19

Nearly every time I see one of these posts, a song from that album almost immediately gets stuck in my head. This time, it's "I Want a New Duck".

Weird Al has a massive and masterful catalog of work. But Dare To Be Stupid is the best album he’s ever put out.

Agreed. Just about every track on the album is somewhere between great and fantastic. Thanks to MTV, "This Is the Life" was my intro to Weird Al's originals, and though it's not my favorite (that'd be the James Taylor parody "Good Old Days" from Even Worse), I'm still fond of it. "Hooked on Polkas" is one of his best polka medleys, too.
posted by May Kasahara at 8:34 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


posted by Greg_Ace at 8:43 AM on June 19 [18 favorites]

How can people mention I Want a New Duck without mentioning Huey Lewis' review?
posted by inthe80s at 9:07 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]

Kitchen Wich: Has anyone else had the same experience with "Word Crimes"?

Other than the word you mentioned, that I also didn't realize (at the time) was a slur, my experience with listening to it many times matches Halloween Jack's. I get the impression Al is poking at the Internet grammar trolls. I think you can also take it as a "blunt" grammar lesson but it sounds to me like the myriad "corrections" I've received and read on the tubes-full-of-cats over the years. That you used "mean-spirited and pretentious" is probably right, at least for the pretentious part, because that's how the people come across.
posted by fireoyster at 9:47 AM on June 19

Weird Al is a huge talent and also apparently a mensch. The first song I ever arranged for my a cappella group was a Weird Al song (not from this album, but the still awesome , "Since You've Been Gone," released 11 years later). This album, though. Such joy.
posted by blurker at 12:21 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

I was alone in my Weird Al fandom back in those days. It was just me and my cassette tapes, and man did I love this one. Nice to know I'm not the only one who sings the lyrics of Yoda when the Kinks come on.

"I know Darth Vader's really got you annoyed, but remember if you kill him that you'll be unemployed."
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:55 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

God - just thinking about this era makes me feel chills.


I don't know how many times I listened to this album (basically everything up to Off the Deep End was an obsession with my dorky little outcast brain). Me n my friends drawing Sugar Smacks frog with a knife through his head or the Golden Crisp Bear with his eyes popped out of his skull, all while listening to Weird Al.

I moved on to heavier things like Guns n Roses n drawing skulls with Heroin needles in them (look, a 14 year old edgelord doesn't think of logic).

Anyways. I love Weird Al and always will. And yeah - Yoda over Lola...
posted by symbioid at 4:54 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Who ya gonna call? Slime Creatures!!!
posted by AbnerRavenwood at 6:30 PM on June 19

Yoda over Lola

Is that some sort of erotic slashfic? Not judging, just wondering...
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:33 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

I propose that hippybear put the 1985 posts on hiatus and instead switch to a Weird Al-focused regimen for the time being
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:39 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]

There is no reason why I cannot run two tracks simultaneously!
posted by hippybear at 8:01 PM on June 19 [6 favorites]

That would make for an odd gait, depending on how far apart the tracks are.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:14 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

An unexpected thing has happened.
posted by hippybear at 9:49 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]

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