Day Thirty-Nine: "One of Those Days" from Polka Party!
Not all “Weird Al” Yankovic songs are created equal. Not every song is meant to be a timeless hit single that angrily demands to be part of Al’s set-list for perpetuity. Not every song can be an anthem or someone’s favorite song. Not everything can be “Dare To Be Stupid” or “One More Minute.” Nope, sometimes Al’s silly ditties were just that: disposable goofs meant to be enjoyed in the moment and then instantly forgotten.
“One Of Those Days” is one of those songs. To borrow Our Dumb Century’s mocking but not inaccurate description of Irving Berlin’s less enduring songs, it’s a clamorous ditty, an unabashed throwaway as thin, if amusing, musically as it is lyrically. Over bluesy guitar and rollicking piano, the song’s hapless singer recounts having possibly the worst day in the history of bad days. It’s a day so bad, in fact, that it ensures that no more days will follow for humanity, bad or good.
Things start off on a relatable enough note. The alarm clock is busted, so he’s late to work and he gets chewed out by the boss. Pretty standard-issue so far. He’s not just having a bad day, he’s having a quintessential bad day. This being a “Weird Al” Yankovic song, however, things quickly take a turn.
After losing one of his socks in the drier, he can’t find his wallet and, on a more alarming and urgent note, his hair is on fire. This misfortune is both more severe and more dramatic than all the low-level annoyances that preceded it, as getting your hair set on fire can really ruin your day. Heck, Michael Jackson spent part of 1984 with his hair on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial. I bet a day didn’t go by that he didn’t subsequently think to himself, “Man, I wish my hair hadn’t set fire while filming that Pepsi commercial. I did not enjoy that AT ALL.”
“One Of Those Days” operates on the principal of comic escalation. It starts off with the kind of hassles that constitute everyone’s idea of a bad day—work troubles, losing things, running late—and quickly ratchets up the danger and peril of these aggravations to surreal levels.
The song alternates between two distinct tracks. On one, the singer grouses about typical, life-sized aggravations. There’s nothing good on TV. He’s overdrawn on his checking account. He’s out of Cheeto’s. He cuts himself shaving. All that’s left to eat are tater tots, and unlike the person being sung about in “Addicted To Spuds”, it seems safe to assume that some tater tots would not, in this case, blow his mind.
On the other track, the headaches our luckless singer is crooning about are damn near biblical in nature. He’s followed by an angry swarm of locusts. The Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in his front lawn. A big steamroller is running over his mother, a misfortune otherwise reserved for unfortunate characters in old cartoons.
“One Of Those Days” ends with the ultimate aggravation for an American at the very end of the Cold War: nuclear armageddon. Yet the singer delivers the unfortunate news, “The world blows up and now everybody's dead!” with the same mild note of “Can ya even believe it?” annoyance he uses to relate more mundane misfortunes involving lost socks and wallets.
Even with an ending featuring nuclear armageddon and the death of life on earth as we know it, “One Of Those Days” still feels awfully flimsy. It’s not bad, necessarily, but, to use phrase we employed back at The A.V Club, it’s pretty inessential.
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