For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a fan of Weird Al Yankovic. And if his nearly four decade-long career in the music business is any indication, I’m not alone. In fact, Weird Al has been so unexpectedly successful as a performer that he is only the third artist to ever achieve a Billboard Top 40 hit in every decade since the 1980’s. The only other two artists to do that? Madonna and Michael Jackson. Weird Al is really good at what he does, is what I’m trying to say.
Over the years, Weird Al has amassed a veritable goldmine of comedy with his songs, pretty much cementing himself as far more than just a one-trick pony novelty act. Here are just 8 of those tracks that really proves Weird Al was right to not bother with the serious and unfunny stuff, leaving that kind of business to Paris Hilton and Kevin Federline instead.
A Parody Of: “Bad,” by Michael Jackson.
The Weird: Weird Al made a name for himself by making quite a number of songs about food, and this is probably the best of that lot. Also, it’s pretty mind-blowing how he managed to pull off that special effect where he visually grows fatter in the frigging ‘80s.
The Genius: Doesn’t that subway set look exactly like the one in Jackson’s original video? That’s probably because it is exactly the same set, thanks to Michael Jackson actually lending the original set to Weird Al when he asked permission to do the parody and make the video.
7. “Polka Face”
A Parody Of: A whole lot of songs, done in the style of polka.
The Weird: Who in their right mind would call the accordion their favourite instrument and use it every chance they get?!?
The Genius: Weird Al, that’s who. He’s almost as known for polka versions of popular songs as he is for actual lyrical parodies of them.
6. “The Saga Begins”
A Parody Of: “American Pie,” by Don McLean
The Weird: This track pretty much narrates the entire storyline of Star Wars Episode I from Obi-Wan’s point of view. It was hilarious and ridiculously catchy.
The Genius: The song was well-received by both Don McLean and George Lucas. Don McLean has heard the song so many times that he accidentally sings Weird Al’s lyrics during concerts when he’s performing “American Pie.”
5. “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”
A Parody Of: The acoustic ballad genre.
The Weird: Remember “Sinaktan Mo ang Puso Ko” by Michael V? This song shares exactly the same vibe, channelling dark comedy as the lyrics escalate in absurdity with each line. Weird Al earnestly deadpans his way in what is probably the best original song in his entire discography.
The Genius: Despite not being based on a particular song, “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” captures the acoustic ballad so well that it took the internet for a good chunk of us to learn that the song was actually original.
4. “Another One Rides the Bus”
A Parody Of: “Another One Bites the Dust,” by Queen.
The Weird: Weird Al takes one of the most recognizable songs of all time and turns it into an ode to the hassles of public transportation. Who knew he could sing just as fast as Freddie Mercury? His rap tracks such as “White and Nerdy,” “Amish Paradise,” and “All About the Pentiums” definitely helped give him cred, too.
The Genius: The story goes that he recorded this song live on Dr. Demento’s show, and while rehearsing it, ran into drummer Jon “Bermuda Schwartz.” They then proceeded to re-rehearse the song, as Weird Al had to adjust to an impromptu partner on the fly. This live recording directly led to Weird Al’s first national TV guesting, as shown in the video above.
3. “Smells Like Nirvana”
A Parody Of: “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” by Nirvana.
The Weird: One of Weird Al’s few genuinely satirical songs, this one poked fun at how hard it was to understand Nirvana’s lyrics. Naturally, the late Kurt Cobain wore the parody as a badge of honor, although he was mildly worried the song might be about food.
The Genius: What could be more genius than being so well-known that you making fun of someone’s song was actually a sign that an artist has made it? Weird Al didn’t even have to ask permission from these artists, but offering the common courtesy that he did has earned him the kind of good will he enjoys in the music industry.
2. “Trapped In The Drive-Thru”
A Parody Of: “Trapped In The Closet,” by R Kelly.
The Weird: In this song, Weird Al sings about a couple spending a lazy night at home when they decide to go to the drive-thru for a snack. And he goes through every agonizing detail. I’m not even exaggerating. It’s just so weird until you realize…
The Genius: … that this was exactly what R Kelly’s original was doing in the first place. Spanning an entire 33 “chapters” and done over the course of seven years, this long-winded, almost self-indulgent saga was parodied so well by Weird Al that despite having a different theme altogether, the song’s banality and mundaness was pretty much a meta-commentary on R Kelly’s so-called opus. When you have R Kelly singing about everything from a one-night stand to a mobster boss, you know that it’s wide open to be turned into a joke, because it pretty much already is one.
A Parody Of: “Fancy,” by Iggy Azalea.
The Weird: Truth be told, I wanted to focus on “Foil” for this one, but it was recently used in a different 8List. Nonetheless, “Handy” really makes for a hilarious romp on the finer points of home improvement. Tim Allen could have used a cameo in this song.
The Genius: Weird Al’s latest album, “Mandatory Fun,” resulted in his first-ever Billboard #1 album in his entire career. It may have taken him almost 40 years to do it, but by jove, he’s done it!