the whole package.

alfred matthew yankovic is a chameleon, pure and simple, transforming himself from kurt cobain to chamillionaire to don mclean to the members of the backstreet boys. he’s able to change his vocal delivery to match the artist he’s parodying, and, in his music videos, he often uses the same set used in the original.

perhaps his biggest accomplishment is trapped in the drive-thru, an eleven-minute opus imitating robert sylvester (you can call him r) kelly’s trapped in the closet, but not for the reasons you may expect. in short, it completely changes the way we view r kelly’s career, and as we look to his own oeuvre for proof, we quickly realize that he is a satirist on an even larger scale than weird al. while one is content lampooning hit songs and playing polka music on an accordion, the other will not quit until he adds a little humor to everything. he even married a fifteen-year-old girl after she released an album titled age ain’t nothing but a number because he knew it would make us laugh.

if you’re still unconvinced of his enviable powers, i provide you with an example of one song written three ways. snake, which contains the line, like two gorillas in the jungle, making love, even though the video, a choreographed dance routine involving girls moving their bodies like the limbless reptiles they are, takes place entirely in the desert, finds r kelly waving a scimitar and drinking from a very ornate goblet during a sword fight. two years later, a reggae beat and jamaican location were added and the self-proclaimed american king urged girls to put their voodoo on him and slow wind. if you prefer your dance numbers with an asian flair, you’ll enjoy thoia thoing (the title is japanese!), where r kelly says that he doesn’t know about you, but he’d like to get with two, at home, buck naked wearing only sweat socks and house shoes.

his crowning achievement, if you don’t include his being removed from the aptly named unfinished business tour with jay-z, after either not showing up at all or performing uninspiredly when he did, but still winning a lawsuit because someone sprayed him with mace, is the aforementioned trapped in the closet. in the song, so far comprised of twenty-two chapters, r kelly weaves the story of a one-night stand that sets off a chain of events involving connected characters that makes scheherazade look like lil’ wayne. r kelly voices every person, including italian mobsters and a woman with a southern accent, and not only plays the main character (a guy named sylvester) and the narrator (r kelly with a cigar), but also a pimp, an elderly man, and a reverend.

in chapter four, a sex scene takes place that is difficult to believe even though i’ve seen it countless times. there are many such gems contained throughout.

and then i said, ‘baby, we must slow down, before i bust a vessel in my brain’
she said, ‘please, no, don’t stop!’
and i said, ‘i caught a cramp’
then she said, ‘please keep on goin’
i said, ‘my leg is about to crack!’
then she cries out, ‘oh my goodness, i’m about to climax!’
and i say, ‘cool, climax, just let go of my leg’
she says, ‘you’re the perfect lover’
i said, ‘i can’t go no further’

the chapters progress in such a way that with each one another loose end is created, which r kelly steadfastly refuses to ever resolve. in the final chapter released to date, all the characters participate in a series of phone calls surrounding a rumored package. in interviews, kelly insists that a lot of questions are answered in this episode. with his characteristic incomprehensible wit, when asked how long we must wait for the final installment, he replies, when the aliens say it’s over.

he asks the listener what’s r&b without the r? and we resoundingly answer that it’s just blues. the same thing is true if we remove the r from humor or satire or parody, it makes us, as a planet, much bluer. pay attention and soon you won’t be able to watch him dance, compare a girl to a football coach (the way you have me playing the field), or hear about a missed court date due to a burst appendix without smiling either.


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