It may seem difficult to believe from this vantage point, but Adam Sandler was not always a pariah. Two decades ago, when the actor and comedian released the second of his five albums, the public actually seemed interested in what this goofy 29-year-old Brooklynite had to say. When What The Hell Happened To Me? appeared on store shelves on February 13, 1996, Sandler was pretty much at the peak of his public acceptability as a multimedia star. He’d gotten the boot from Saturday Night Live the previous year and would nurse a grudge against the show for decades, finally relenting in time for the show’s 40th anniversary. But his movie career was in full swing by then, with Billy Madison already in the rearview mirror and Happy Gilmore on the horizon. The music business was a little kinder to comedy albums back then, too, and What The Hell Happened To Me? went double platinum and even scraped Billboard‘s Top 20.
The album’s main reason for existence was to showcase Sandler’s popular “The Chanukah Song,” originally made famous on SNL. That was the obvious single, though Sandler managed to pad the album’s length to an incredible 75 minutes with (mostly half-assed) songs and skits, many of the latter featuring his not-especially-beloved “Excitable Southerner” character. Of the songs, however, one keeper is “Ode To My Car,” a Bob Marley-style reggae song about the frustrations of owning an old, cheap, unreliable automobile. The vulgar original recording of the song was far too profanity-laden for radio airplay, especially back in 1996, so FM stations were sent a heavily censored alternate version that skillfully substituted car honks and other vehicular noises for the cuss words. The result is a miniature masterpiece of sound effects, similar to Monty Python’s “I Bet You They Won’t Play This Song On The Radio.” Instead of blunting the song’s edge, the car honks actually made the song much funnier. The censored “Ode To My Car” did get some radio airplay in the mid-1990s and became a favorite on The Dr. Demento Show. And now, thanks to YouTube, it has been preserved for the ages.