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"Weird Al" Yancovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic is the King of Musical Parody!
October 23, 1959.
The Los Angeles, California suburb of Lynwood.
Nick and Mary Yankovic are pleased to announce the birth of their darling son, Alfred Matthew Yankovic.
Although I am only imagining what the birth announcement may have said, I can't help but wonder if anything could have prepared little Alfred's parents for what was to come.
Although it would be many years before he became so famously known as "Weird Al" Yankovic, accordion lessons at the tender age of seven set the stage for his musical and comedic adventures, which continue to this day.
I would like to start at the beginning and highlight some of the best of "Weird Al" , and how has has transformed since the beginning of his career. What a chameleon he is, able to take on wildly different characters and musical styles at the drop of a hat.
Photo Credit: Frank Steele on Flickr, Creative Commons.
Weird Al's First "Music Video" - My Bologna - Weird Al's Parody of My Sharona
After graduating as valedictorian from his high school, Alfred was busy studying architecture at the California Polytechnic State University. It was at this school that he landed a spot hosting his own radio show. It was while he was hosting this show that he began going by the handle "Weird Al".
In 1979 he taped the parody, My Bologna. Taking advantage of the acoustics, he recoded this classic in the men's bathroom at the school.
Later popularized by Barry Hansen on his show "Dr. Demento", this recording became a springboard for "Weird Al's" decades of success.
Another One Rides the Bus - My Favorite From "Weird Al's" First Album!
This song, a parody of "Another One Bites the Dust", by Queen is my absolute favorite from his self-titled first album, "Weird Al" Yankovic, released in 1983. If you have ever ridden any public transit in your life, it's easy to relate to this fantastically funny song.
This video has been made by one of his fans to accompany the song. "Weird Al" encourages his fans to publish content based on his work; he even links to some of the best from his official website. Gotta love him!
"Weird Al" in 1984 - "Weird Al" Releases a Second Album Titled "In 3-D"
It's 1984...Michael Jackson's hits "Billy Jean" and "Beat It" play on the radio incessantly. Greg Kihn's new wave song "Jeopardy" is incredibly popular and "Weird Al" is busy releasing his own take on things in his second album, "In 3-D".
The album features eleven songs.
"Eat It", a parody of Michael Jacksons "Beat It" video and "I Lost on Jeopardy" are two of my favorites!
"Weird Al" Says Dare to Be Stupid - In 1985 "Weird Al" Releases Album #3
It's 1985. Legwarmers are hot! "Weird Al" has no shortage of material to parody. Here are my top picks from his third album, "Dare to Be Stupid".
"Like a Surgeon" is "Weird Al's" take on Madonna's video for the song "Like a Virgin".
The part towards the end of the video when "Weird Al" is doing the oh so seductive acrobatics across the gurneys is not to be missed!
"Yoda" is a parody of the song "Lola" by The Kinks.
"Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch" pokes fun of "Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun".
The live performance of "I Want a New Duck" is his version of "I Want a New Drug", by Huey Lewis and the News.
1986 - "Weird Al" Is Having a Polka Party - The 4th Album
Robert Palmer and his red-lipstick-clad blonde's are "Addicted to Love". Al is busy having a polka party...with Mr. Potato Head.
This video is from MTV's 1987 New Year's Eve celebration. (From way back in the day when MTV still played music)!
Living With a Hernia - "Weird Al's" Musical Parody of James Brown
This parody of James Brown's "Living in America" has me wondering...who really is "the hardest workin' man in show business"?
"I don't really look at myself as the kind of person who craves attention, but I've never been to therapy so there's probably a lot of stuff about myself that I don't know."
1988 - "Weird Al" Releases "Even Worse" - The 5th Album
Enjoying continued success "Weird Al" released his 5th album in 1988. Even more ridiculous than the last album, he titled it, appropriately, "Even Worse".
"I Think I'm a Clone Now" parodies Tiffany's 1987 cover of "I Think We're Alone Now", originally recorded by Tommy James & The Shondells in 1967.
This one is an outrageous parody of Michael Jackson's video for "Bad".
1989 - "Weird Al" Hits the Silver Screen with "UHF" - "UHF" on DVD
The film "UHF" was not the blockbuster that Orion Pictures had hoped it would be. It had a short run in during the summer of 1989, lasting less than a month in first-run theaters.
"UHF" may not have raked in a lot on the big screen, but it now enjoys cult classic status. If you were not one of the fortunate few to see UHF in theaters, here's your chance to see it now! UHF stars "Weird Al", David Bowie, Fran Drescher, Victoria Jackson from Saturday Night Live, and Michael Richards (from Seinfeld). You can't go wrong with a cast like that!
My Favorites from "UHF"
It's too bad there aren't always original videos available for these musical parodies by "Weird Al". Where originals are lacking, I have chosen the fan created videos that I feel pay the best tribute to the song. I'm glad that he supports his fans creating these. What a nice guy!
Do You Adore or Despise "UHF"?
I love the film, my hubby thinks it's boring. I'm curious about what you think.
Does "UHF" Deserve to be Called a Cult Classic?
In 1992 "Weird Al" Goes "Off the Deep End"
Nirvana was all the rage on the alternative music scene. MC Hammer was flapping around stage in his obnoxious parachute pants. On his 6th album, "Weird Al" really rocked!
"Can't Watch This" pokes some serious fun of MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This".
This "Weird Al" video, "Smells Like Nirvana", parodies Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". It features several of the actors from Nirvana's video.
Oh, the appeal of indecipherable lyrics....
"You Don't Love Me Anymore" is an original song written and performed by "Weird Al". This video for the song parodies the video for "More Than Words", by Extreme.
I shudder to think how many mix-tapes I made in high school that included "More Than Words". It's cheesy, although I didn't realize it then...but I still love to sing it on Singstar!
"At this point I've got a bit of a track record. So people realize that when 'Weird Al' wants to go parody, it's not meant to make them look bad... it's meant to be a tribute."
-"Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" in 1993 - The Alapalooza Album
1993 marked the third year of the Lollapalooza music festival, and "Weird Al" was releasing his seventh album, "Alapalooza". The two videos which follow are my top picks from this album.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen is the first song I play when I come across a jukebox. I can't resist "Weird Al's" polka-style parody of this song. It is just too ridiculous!
I love this. A parody of The Flintstones which is a parody of The Honeymooners, done "Red Hot Chili Peppers" style. Genius!
A "Bad Hair Day" - 1996..."Weird Al" keeps it coming!
Although it is not legally required, "Weird Al" had always prided himself in obtaining permission from artists before recording parodies of their songs.
The song "Amish Paradise" on "Weird Al's" 8th album, "Bad Hair Day", marks the first misunderstanding between "Weird Al" and any of the musicians who's work he parodies. Coolio was upset at his recording of "Amish Paradise", stating that the song was "too serious" to be covered. The scene where "Weird Al" checks his sundial watch in this video is a highlight. I actually bought one of those!
In my opinion, nothing is too serious to re-work in a comedic light, including Coolio's re-working of Stevie Wonders "Pastime Paradise".
Coolio and "Weird Al" have reportedly gotten over their differences.
In George Carlin's tradition, "Weird Al" manages to make fun of anybody and everybody.
The video for "Gump" is a parody of "Lump" by The Presidents of the United States of America, and also of the character, Forrest from the movie "Forrest Gump". Run Forrest....run!!!!
In 1998 "Weird Al" had LASIK eye surgery, no longer requiring him to wear his "signature" glasses.
"I'm still a geek on the inside, that's the important thing."
- "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" in 1999 - "Running With Scissors"
To be honest, this is my least favored of "Weird Al's" albums, however there is one video that I am fond of. In "All About the Pentiums", "Weird Al" takes on Puff Daddy's song, "It's All About the Benjamins".
Anyone who is a fan of the movie "Office Space" is certain to appreciate the humor in this musical parody.
2003..."Weird Al's" 10th Album Is Released - "Poodle Hat"
The album "Poodle Hat" features some of my favorite "Weird Al" songs.
The song "Couch Potato" turns Eminem's tune "Lose Yourself" into a comedic commentary on our television addicted nation.
"Poodle Hat" also includes the funny tune "Ebay", parodying "I Want it That Way", by The Backstreet Boys. This fan-made video is one of the best out there. I am, by the way, the proud owner of the same Smurf tray highlighted in this video. Oh, what nostalgia can do to people!
A couple more favorites of mine from the "Poodle Hat" album...
"Trash Day" is a parody of Nelly's hit "Hot in Herre".
Unfortunately there is not a video for this song, but it is worth a listen. Keep in mind the title of the song, or the humor of the lyrics won't make any sense whatsoever.
In this original song "Weird Al" parodies the style of Bo Diddley.
"Weird Al" releases his most successful album to date.
"Straight Outta Lynwood" has sold more than 3 million copies.
"Straight Outta Lynwood"
Reaching number 9 on Billboard's top 100 chart, the song "White and Nerdy" was a smash hit from "Weird Al's" eleventh album. It parodies the song "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire.
This is by far my favorite release to date, Al really out-did himself on this album. Check out these videos! The inclusion of the Segway in the White and Nerdy video is perfect.
This song, done in the style of Sparks, hits the nail on the head when it comes down to the viral nature of all the virus alerts computer users have to deal with!
I'm not sure which is more ridiculous... R. Kelly's "hip-hopera", "Trapped in the Closet" or "Weird Al's" epic parody of it.
This style of this original tune by "Weird Al" emulates some of the familiar gospel-style songs of our time.
In the style of the band Rage Against the Machine, this song is a commentary on frivolous lawsuits.