Day Forty-Nine: "You Make Me" from Even Worse and not from the XXX: The Return of Xander Cage soundtrack

As I have shared here before, when I worked at The Dissolve we were struck that a Forgotbusters piece I wrote about the somewhat popular but seemingly little-loved Vin Diesel XXXtreme James Bond knock-off XXX somehow still ranked as one of the most popular articles on the site months, even years after it was published to a middling to sub-middling response. 

Why was this piece so consistently popular? Then we realized it had nothing to do with the content of the piece, just the name of the movie: XXX. That’s XXX as in the poorly received late-period Kiss cash-in single, “Let’s Put the XXX in S-E-X-X-X, That’s Technically Different From Our Earlier Single With A Similar Title.”

So in the first month of this website’s life I decided to write about XXX: The Return of Xander Cage in a way that would hopefully both get me that sweet, sweet porno bump we got at the Dissolve for my XXX Forgotbusters piece while also commenting irreverently on the nature of that porno boost for the sake of full transparency. 

 Not Al

Not Al

The XXX Lukewarm Takes got an appropriately sleepy response reflecting tepid public interest in the ego-fueled vanity projects of Vin Diesel. But then something predictably weird started to happen. Even though seemingly nobody was talking about my XXX: The Return of Xander Cage article, and it wasn’t being commented upon or shared on social media, or talked up on podcasts, the article kept popping up in lists of the most-read pieces on the site. 

Months after its publication, the XXX: The Return of Xander Cage Lukewarm Takes entry continues to stay in the top ten most-read pieces on the site on any given day, and sometimes even cracks the top five. I’m talking now. Like, today and tomorrow and five months from now. Hell, on some days, more people accidentally find my glib dismissal of XXX: The Return of Xander Cage while searching for things to look at while masturbating than intentionally find entries in the Weird Accordion to Al that I work incredibly hard on (no pun intended). 

Because I don’t want to tell tales out of school, or provide a glimpse inside the sausage factory, or reveal a magician’s tricks, or confess to the murder of a series of student nurses in Canada in the late 1980s, but these pieces have not been well-read at all. That’s not surprising, necessarily, when we’re dealing with a song like “Toothless People” but even the hit songs and beloved fan favorites have failed to find even a modest audience, and that’s a bit of a bummer, because I work very hard on these and there are still about 140 more entries left to go. 

 Also not Al

Also not Al

Honestly, I wish more people read the Weird Accordion to Al and fewer people read the Lukewarm Takes on XXX: The Return of Xander Cage. Heck, I’d be happy if people stopped reading XXX: The Return of Xander Cage altogether and discovered the Weird Accordion to Al and went on a big binge with the dozens of lovingly crafted earlier entries already available.

To that end, I decided I’d rope XXX: The Return of Xander Cage into my quest to get web searchers to discover the Weird Accordion to Al while once against stressing that this column, and this website does not prominently feature pornography of all stripes. I’d furthermore like to state that if you’re looking for celebrity sex tapes, mind-blowing orgy movies, you’re not going to find them here, nor are you going to find anything involving Donald Trump, The Harlem Shake, the Kardashians, Justin Bieber, Channing Tatum nude or Star Wars, Star Trek and Disney’s Cars. 

You’re not going to find any of those things here, so don’t even look. Heck, here at the Weird Accordion to Al we keep things strictly SFW and PG writing about things like the Oingo Boingo pastiche “You Make Me” from Even Worse. 

Al is a creature of New Wave to the extent that when he pays tribute to acts like the B-52s, The Talking Heads, Tonio K or Oingo Boingo he wasn’t lampooning pop stars so much as we was paying loving homage to his peers. This is particularly true of an Al pastiche like “Happy Birthday”, where the underlying joke as well as the style of humor and sound are suspiciously close to the inspiration (in this case Tonio K’s “The Funky Western Civilization”), if not borderline identical. 

 Still not Al 

Still not Al 

Like its snottier, more ragged sibling punk, New Wave attracted big, larger-than-life characters whose colorful personas informed the music and the art that they created. That’s the case with Danny Elfman, who, like Al, was creating crazy miniature movies for the ears long before he became involved in the film business. 

As with so much of Elfman’s work with Oingo Boingo, “You Make Me” sounds like it was created in a stop-motion animation cartoon factory using some manner of crazy, Dr. Seuss-meets-Rube Goldberg contraption involving an assembly line and a cartoon mallet. 

 This is Al, no, wait, still not Al 

This is Al, no, wait, still not Al 

The song is one of Al’s regular exercises in randomness and absurdity. It finds humor in comfortingly familiar places, whether in pop culture detritus (The Gong Show, The Care Bears Movie and “phone home”, E.T’s catchphrase, are all referenced), in the interplay of the banal and fantastic (the singer expresses a humdrum desire to “eat pork” immediately after announcing a slightly more exciting intention to “break the laws of time and space”) and words and ideas Al has always, and will always, find funny either separately, or in tandem, like Slurpees, the Limbo, styrofoam, the Eiffel Tower, trailer parks, shorts, weasels and bagels. 

The song is a quintessential album cut, a featherweight, clamorous ditty best understood as one great pop culture eccentric’s tribute to another. When he made Even Worse, movies loomed large in Al’s very near future as both a screenwriter and leading man. Films loomed even larger for Elfman, who was well on his way to becoming better known and more successful as a composer (most famously and auspiciously for the films of Tim Burton) than as a rock star and New Wave theatrical weirdo. 

It’s worth noting, however, if only for the sake of search-engine clicks, that neither Al nor Elfman worked on XXX, nor did they work on XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage. Neither works extensively in the field of hardcore pornography and if a Donald Trump/Jennifer Lawrence sex tape were to be leaked, they would have no connection to that either. 

No, they’re just two talented men doing excellent work in their chosen fields, and, honestly, it would be beautiful if that was enough to attract people to columns obsessively chronicling their life’s work but, sadly, that just does not seem to be the case. 

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