Category: Music

The Grammar Girl on Weird Al’s “Word Crimes” Video

I wasn’t surprised to discover today that the venerable Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. the “Grammar Girl,” beat me to the presses by a few days with her take on “Weird Al” Yankovich’s linguistic prescriptivism. “The bottom line is that I don’t believe in word crimes,” she writes, “and I don’t believe in encouraging people to think about language that way.” Co-signed.

At the very least, Fogarty’s critique of Weird Al’s “call to feel superior” should give pause to those of us who teach reading and writing, and more generally to those of us who love language not as an ideal form, but as a dynamic, imperfect, human practice.

Hey, Weird Al: Congratulations on Not Having a Language Disorder!

Oh boy. It’s no fun to be The Guy Who Takes Umbrage at a Novelty Song. So let me start by saying that, all things considered, I couldn’t be happier about “Weird Al” Yankovic’s recent viral resurgence. “Tacky,” his upgrade of Pharrell’s cloying “Happy,” is blue-chip parody pop: lively, goofy, subtly acerbic. (Subtext: you know what’s really tacky? Songs like “Happy.”)

But among my language-wonk friends–i.e., most of my friends–one song has risen to the top of this week’s Weird Al heap. “Word Crimes,” a spoof of “Blurred Lines” that decries common language abuses, has been shared on my Facebook feed, Tweeted at me, praised all over the Internet, and forwarded to me by elderly family members. “You’re an English teacher! You’ll love this!” And I almost did love it. Whoops.


My Top 15 Songs of 2013

When I need a break from thinking about things like the neoliberal annihilation of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, I often slap on a pair of headphones and start streaming or downloading new music THROUGH COMPLETELY LEGAL CHANNELS, I ASSURE YOU.

Ahem. So here are some songs I thought were worthwhile in 2013.

Four not released as singles and/or not readily available on the web:

  • Autre Ne Veut, “A Lie”
  • CHVRCHES, “We Sink”
  • Kanye West, “Blood on the Leaves” (Yes, the narcissistic appropriation of “Strange Fruit” pisses me off, too. But there’s no denying the force of this track.)
  • Yo La Tengo, “Well You Better”

One that I forgot about until just before publishing: Foxygen, “No Destruction.”

And my top 15: