Weird: The Al Yankovic Story director Eric Appel names his top tunes by everyone’s favorite accordion-playing pop parodist.
The Daniel Radcliffe-starring, mostly fictional rock biopic Weird: The Al Yankovic Story offers an entertainingly nightmarish recounting of the pop parodist’s life and career. For director and longtime Weird Al fan Eric Appel, writing the script with Yankovic was a dream come true.
“We spent a long time figuring out the outline for the movie,” says Appel, whose comedy also stars Evan Rachel Wood, Rainn Wilson, and Jack Black. “I would go to his house, he would come over to my office, we’d sit down for two- or three-hour sessions and just kind of brainstorm ideas. We both have a very similar work ethic, but I think our brains work very differently. Al has a much more meticulous, mathematical brain. I come from like a very loosey-goosey improv world where it’s like, ‘Let the ideas pour out! Throw them all up against the wall and see what sticks!’ But our two disciplines worked really well together. It was just an incredibly easy, joyful experience writing this script with him.”
Weird Al Yankovic
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic
| Credit: Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns
But which three Weird Al songs gives the filmmaker the most joy? Appel makes his selections below.
“Eat It” (1984)
Yankovic’s breakthrough 1984 hit was a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and reached #12 on the Billboard chart.
ERIC APPEL: “Eat It” is the one that got me into Weird Al. I was four years old when “Eat It” came out, and we were a big MTV household, and I loved Michael Jackson and Madonna as a toddler, basically. I remember my Mom showing me the “Eat It” video, because I knew the “Beat It” video. My mom turned me on to a lot of comedy: SNL and Monty Python and Weird Al. So that’s my distinct memory. It’s just an absolute classic that my kids still listen to.
This lengthy song describes, in considerable detail, the protagonist’s trip to the title city. “I just thought, okay, I’m gonna write a song that’s just going to annoy people for 12 minutes,” Yankovic told AV Club writer Nathan Rabin in 2011. One person not irritated by the track? Eric Appel.
APPEL: “Albuquerque” is an incredible song, just the incredible journey that it takes you on. It’s long, it’s hilarious, and definitely a favorite.
“The White Stuff” (1992)
This tribute to a certain addictive substance appeared on Yankovic’s 1992 album Off the Deep End.
APPEL: I was about 12 when Off the Deep End came out. That was the first album that I bought that was like, this is my Weird Al album. My all-time favorite is a song called “The White Stuff,” which is a New Kids on the Black parody about the cream inside Oreo cookies. I love all the food-based parodies but this one especially is so narrowly focused on the most specific of foods, the cream inside a cookie.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is now available to watch on the Roku Channel. Watch the film’s trailer below.