Friday, January 20, 2012

Yakko Tickles the Ivories ...and the Funny Bones

First of all, my apologies for not updating my blog as often as I used to. Real life kept me busy. well as surfin' the web, playin' video games, watchin' TV, etc. Now, for the first post of the new year:

Following up on my previous post on "Animaniacs", I want to highlight my favorite trait of my second ever cartoon crush, Yakko Warner. (Image found on a Google search.) As those of you who've seen the show know, he's named "Yakko" because he's able to talk a lot without missing a beat (thanks to his voice actor, Rob Paulsen). But what I like best about him is that he's able to sing and sing well. ("Yakko's World" is positive poof pf that. Rob still performs that song live.) Yakko's also a talented musician as seen in various "Animaniacs" episodes. He can play just about every musical instrument in the northern hemisphere. (At least, as far as we've seen.) But there is one instrument I always think of to associate with Yakko: The piano!
(Screenshot by me.) He has been seen playing the piano to accompany his brother, Wakko, during "The Great Wakkorotti" segments and his sister, Dot, while she's singing to Beethoven in "Roll Over, Beethoven" (the "Animaniacs" cartoon, not the Beatles song). However, of all the times I've seen Yakko at the piano during "Animaniacs" run (it was 99 episodes long, by the way), I've never seen him singing as he plays the piano. Yakko is a talented singer and musician and the piano is one of the few musical instruments to allow the player to play and sing at the same time. Because of this, I've had to imagine Yakko singing while playing piano whenever listen to certain songs on my iPod such as Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" or Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity". (Yes, I want to hear Yakko sing this, it suits him, being an "Animaniac" and all.)

There were times he came close to singing while playing the piano. The first instance was by the end of "Piano Rag" when he and his siblings were playing the piano and singing... well, Yakko was at the piano singing a verse, but Wakko and Dot seemed to be doing all the piano playing, both singing a respective verse while playing. Dang. What a wasted opportunity for Yakko.

The second time he almost sang while playing the piano, almost being the key word here, was in "Hercule Yakko". Here, Yakko was a detective called Hercule Yakko (in case you didn't know by the cartoon's title), trying to figure out who stole Marita Hippo's diamond. (Marita and her husband, Flabio, a.k.a. the Hip Hippos, were among the cast of "Animaniacs".) He asks Flabio and Marita if they had any enemies to which they said no. Yakko then asks if they had any creditors and they said no to this, too. Then, as part of the gag, Yakko, dressed as a lounge singer (Wayne Newton, I assume) and at the piano, asks if they had any requests. At first, he seems to be playing the piano, but when he picks up takes the microphone and sings "Down Upon The Nile River" (a parody of "Swany River"), the hand he does have free (since he's holding the mic with one hand) doesn't touch the piano keys (as seen in the screenshot, captured by me), although piano music is heard as he sings, so, it counts as the cartoon's musical score.

(Screenshot by me.) The last time Yakko's officially seen playing the piano was in the last episode of "Animaniacs", in the cartoon "The Scoring Session". The whole "Animaniacs" cast is the studio's orchestra to score a cartoon while being conducted by guest conductor, a rhino named Neivel Nosenest. (Tee hee, "Nosenest".) During the session, Wakko bangs on a gong which makes Neivel scold him. Neivel proceeds to tell Wakko that the score says "piano" since piano means "soft". So, Neivel says to play piano and this prompts Yakko to play the piano as part of the joke (since the instrument is commonly called a piano which is short for pianoforte). It would've been cool to see Yakko sing while playing the piano (preferably Irving Berlin's "I Love A Piano"), but just seeing him play instrumental jazz on the piano works well. The cartoon used to be on Youtube, but now, we'll just have to wait 'til the WB releases episodes 76-99 on DVD as "Animaniacs Volume 4".

Rob Paulsen mentioned in episode 20 of his podcast that he doesn't play a musical instrument himself (so much for seeing him accompanying himself on the piano while singing "Yakko's World" among other songs), but it doesn't hinder Yakko's musical abilities any. Still, since "Animaniacs" is no longer on the air (and with no new episodes), it's a shame we'll never get to see Yakko singing while playing the piano, but it does open up that possibility since he does both so well. But at least I still can imagine Yakko singing while playing the piano. Here's a list of songs I'd like to see Yakko sing while playing piano (in no particular order):

I Love A Piano (written by Irving Berlin)
A Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On (as performed by Jerry Lee Lewis)
Great Balls Of Fire (another Jerry Lee Lewis standard)
That's Just The Way It Is (as performed by Bruce Hornsby and the Range)
Virtual Insanity (as performed by Jamirroquai for the reason listed above)
Crocodile Rock (as performed by Elton John)
I'm Still Standing (another Elton John favorite of mine)
As Time Goes By (from the movie "Casablanca", made by the same studio that produced "Animaniacs")
Piano Man (written and performed by Billy Joel; you knew this song had to come up sometime)

Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?
(Screenshot not captured by me, but found through a Google image search.)

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