ALBUM REVIEW: Insane Ian’s The Last Arcade
I am a big fan of comedy music. Weird Al would be one of my first favorite musicians of all time, but it wasn’t until Tom Lehrer that I started to really appreciate the potential of musical comedy. I hate to say it, but I have a bit of a bone to pick with modern comedy music, as there is often the jump on the easy punchline. Fortunately, that is not the case with Insane Ian’s latest release, The Last Arcade.
I usually don’t point out how much I enjoy the album art, as that’s not the reason for the review (okay… not ALL the time), but I laughed out loud when I first saw the album art that The great Luke Ski pumped out for Ian. With a few exceptions by Al, there’s very few parody album covers that are well done, but this spoof of My Chemical Romance definitely stands out for me.
Enough critique on the album! Let’s get into the music! If you listen to Nerdy Show, you’ll be familiar of a few of these tracks, including a personal favorite of mine – “DiG DuG.” Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK” has been done to death – be it with Star Wars, Star Trek, or any number of mashups. I was very critical when I first queued the track for listening as it would reflect the overall quality of The Last Arcade and it’s a track with a LOT of potential for parody. As many of you have heard ad noseum, I was blown away by what I heard, and personally have yet to stop rocking this track. This song is the very definition of a well-done parody: it captures the very essence of the original track in quality and musicality, the punchlines still keep you guessing until the end, and the joke itself has many levels. After “DiG DuG” I looked forward to the release, and was very pleased when I found out that, while a high point of the album, it wasn’t the only one.
One track in particular really caught my interest early in repeat listening: “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” the collaboration with comedy rock duo, Possible Oscar. The track is not only laden with a series of great punchlines befitting the Barenaked Ladies track it parodies, but, when contrasted with “DiG DuG” alone, shows an amazing amount of range in musical talent and comedy prowess in Insane Ian. One of the tracks that I walked away with as a personal favorite after a few listenings was “Autotune,” a parody of the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.” While I’m not usually a fan of tracks that seem to take a swipe at the song it’s parodying, “Autotune” manages it in the same way that Weird Al’s “Smells Like Nirvana” didn’t just parody Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but it parodied the musical trend at the time to sing incomprehensibly. In such a way, Ian pokes fun at the over-reliance on Auto-Tune in not just “Boom Boom Pow” but in pop music today. A surprise on this track is that not only was Ian amazing, but also his wife, “the Stacey”, who appears on a number of tracks. While parodies seem to stand out in this comedy album, there are also a few original tracks that also catch the eye, particularly “MvL,” which features Odd Austin as the eternal second fiddle, Luigi, and TV’s Kyle, with a jaw-dropping Wario.
Amongst these gems there are few tracks which still rub me the wrong way a little as being somewhat obvious of a joke or the music just falls short, but I also ask myself if the reason I don’t like them as much is because of that very comparison. It’s hard for the average parody or original.
Overall, this is a phenomenal album that shows that comedy music isn’t stale, but quite the opposite: it’s alive, it’s clever, and it’s in your face. The album even has a hilarious punchline thanks to a visit from The great Luke Ski. The last track is too amazing for me to give it away. The only way you’ll be able to truly appreciate it is to go and buy a copy today!