MTV has just announced the launch of MTV Classic, a new nostalgia network entirely devoted to ‘90s programming like Daria and TRL reruns. And that’s fly, all that and a bag of chips, crunk, and phat (or whatever else kids used to say in the ‘90s). However, those slackers at Viacom really ought to consider creating a binge-watch-worthy 24-hour AL TV channel, featuring all of the best moments from “Weird Al” Yankovic’s famous station takeovers in the ‘80s and ‘90s – back when the corkscrew-haired, accordion-wielding, celebrity-skewering comic genius was granted full access to the MTV interview faults and an editing bay, and hilarity of course ensued. (Side note: If Viacom wanted to air Al’s misunderstood cinematic classic UHF, which just celebrated its 27th birthday, that’d be hella cool, too.)
Anyway, case in point: Yankovic’s 1999 AL TV “interview” with R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, seen above, which spawned the should’ve-been-a-hit power ballad “We All Have Cell Phones.” Back in ’99, cell phones were a relatively new phenomenon; none of those phones were very “smart”; and they all came in the sort of brick-like or clamshell forms that are nowadays only spotted in Grandma’s handbag or Adele’s “Hello” video.
But Al was onto something. He has always been a visionary. And let’s get real, as Stipe or Yankovic would put it: That’s why Al’s career has outlasted many of the artists whose music he has parodied.
So, seventeen years after its AL TV debut, “We All Have Cell Phones” is now a theme song for the plugged-in generation and a highlight of Yankovic’s current Mandatory World Tour, as evidenced by his performance of the song — with a full orchestra, conducted by Thomas Wilkins — this past weekend at Los Angeles’s legendary Hollywood Bowl. Could there be a more Weird and wonderful, totally meta concert moment than an audience of 17,000 or so fans holding their illuminated cell phones aloft during this anthemic encore? If you don’t think so, then you’re truly daring to be stupid.