“Weird Al” Yankovic knows a good song when he hears one — four decades’ worth of spot-on parodies can attest to that. But the singer-accordionist, who’s gearing up for a summer tour in support of 2014’s hit Mandatory Fun LP, also has an ear for the offbeat, as this playlist demonstrates. “I want to stress that these are not bad songs,” Yankovic told Rolling Stone of his selections. “I personally really like all of them. All I’m saying is, this is a sampling of tunes that most people wouldn’t particularly appreciate hearing through their bedroom wall at two o’clock in the morning.”
Styx, “Plexiglass Toilet”
I think most critics at Rolling Stone would probably agree that the creative pinnacle of Styx’s body of work would have to be the unlisted track on their third album, The Serpent is Rising, known as “Plexiglass Toilet.” It’s a jaunty little calypso number told from the perspective of a caring mother who admonishers her son not to sit down on a Plexiglass toilet, and also that he should “wipe his butt clean with the paper, to make it nice for everyone.” Certainly sound, solid advice, and a catchy tune to boot. But I imagine if need be this song could be used as a nonviolent way to torture political prisoners, sort of the audio equivalent of waterboarding.
I don’t think that Styx are particularly proud of this one. It’s a deep cut. I don’t think they do that very much in concert these days, but it was big on the Dr. Demento Show back in the day. I certainly enjoy it more than some of their hits.
Parry Gripp, “Up Butt Coconut”
This is a 30-second song by Parry Gripp from Nerf Herder. He creates short and insanely catchy jingles and Internet memes, and he’s a master at producing earworms. “Up Butt Coconut,” is particularly subversive. If you listen to the song on repeat long enough, you actually start to think that it might be a good idea to stick a coconut up your butt, or maybe that’s just me. I don’t know.”
The Five Blobs, “The Blob”
This is probably the most obscure one on the list. When I was nine years old, I loved The Blob, the original 1950s movie with Steve McQueen. A local TV station in L.A. played it every night for a week, and I watched it every single time. And for me, the best part was always the theme song by the Five Blobs, which played over the opening credits. “Beware of the blob/It creeps, it leaps, and glides and slides across the floor.” I found out much later that the song was written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David. Not Hal David, mind you, but Mack, his brother. One of the very first Burt Bacharach hits, actually. It’s a really catchy tune, and it has a great, memorable, iconic sax solo, but if you listen to it for 10 hours on a continuous loop, there’s a good chance it’ll drive you clinically insane.
John Hartford, “Boogie”
John Hartford, you might remember, was an extremely well-respected folk, country and bluegrass artist. He was a regular on the Smothers Brothers variety show back in the 1960s, and he also composed the huge Glen Campbell hit “Gentle on My Mind.” But for me, John Hartford will always be remembered as the guy who recorded “Boogie.” It’s an aggressively weird solo a cappella track on which he repeatedly grunts and growls about exactly how and where he’d like to “boogie woogie woogie with you.” It’s equal parts funny and disturbing, and I would think the ideal thing to use to break your lease when played at high volumes.
Wild Man Fischer, “Merry-Go-Round”
Larry “Wild Man” Fischer was a certified bipolar, acute schizophrenic street musician who was discovered by Frank Zappa in the late 1960s. Zappa produced his first album, which is called An Evening With Wild Man Fischer. The album’s long been out of print, and from what I’ve been told, the Zappa estate has chosen to never re-release it. I guess you could say “Merry Go Round” was the “hit” from that album. Over loopy percussion, Larry yelps — I’m gonna say, an infinite number of times — that we should join him as he goes up and down on a merry-go-round. It’s a really joyous song. It’s primal, and certainly impassioned, but I imagine that if you had to listen to it on repeat for an entire weekend you might need to be institutionalized yourself.