Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

In 1986, “Weird Al” gave bored office workers a song to call their own

Polka Party (Screenshot: Amazon)

On October 21, 1986, “Weird Al” Yankovic suffered his first major flop with the release of Polka Party!, his unsuccessful fourth LP. The lead single, the James Brown parody “Living With A Hernia,“ failed to catch on despite an excellent video, and the album tanked. But Polka Party! did contain at least one cult classic: a Talking Heads pastiche called “Dog Eat Dog.” That track, never released as a single, made it into Yankovic’s Permanent Record box set in 1994 and was included in his live shows for years as well. In the liner notes for Permanent Record, he explained the song’s origins:

It’s inspired by Talking Heads and also by my days working in the traffic department at [radio network] Westwood One, my first and hopefully only desk job. At first I thought it was kinda cool that I had a phone and a desk and a little cubicle to call my own, but after a while I felt like my soul had been sucked out of me. The song is kind of a tongue-in-cheek look at office life.


Released years ahead of Office Space or any version of The Office, the song seems to have resonated with cubicle drones, thanks to its overexcited references to Liquid Paper, jelly doughnuts, private parking spaces, and other facts of corporate life. Some fans have even created their own homemade videos for it, like this one by Josh Buda, who filmed in a real office.

This version, on the other hand, syncs the song to clips from Office Space. No doubt the characters in this movie, especially stapler-loving Milton, could relate to the half-crazed lyrics.

Musically, though not a parody of any specific track, the song is highly reminiscent of “And She Was” and “Once In A Lifetime.” Appropriately, Yankovic used the song for a full-fledged Stop Making Sense parody in concert, donning a David Byrne-esque giant suit and having his band play the intro from “Girlfriend Is Better” at the beginning. Again, this was well before Documentary Now! did something similar with its Talking Heads spoof.

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