He who is bored of Weird Al is tired of life, as the great philosopher Homer Simpson once stated. After a steady stream of tours and cameos on television since the release of 2014‘s Mandatory Fun, “Weird Al” Yankovic will soon be a familiar face to viewers throughout the nation.
The trailer for The Weird Al Yankovic Story, Yankovic’s first film since the 1989 cult masterpiece UHF, premiered on Monday. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, who is no stranger to weirdness thanks to films like Swiss Army Man, the new film is an honest-to-goodness biography of the comedic icon.
Weird Al’s life doesn’t have too many blemishes, as was seen in his own Behind the Music episode. For their satirical take on music biopics like “Respect,” “Rocketman,” and “Elvis,” Yankovic and co-writer Eric Appel had to invent some.
The movie’s Yankovic is a boozy, passionate lover who had a rocky romance with Madonna, in contrast to the sober real-life Yankovic.
Now that Weird Al is focusing his comedic lens on the film industry, The Release Dates has prepared a list of his top five song parodies.
Weird Al’s Best Song Parodies
1. “White and Nerdy.”
Weird Al Yankovic’s talent as a rapper is often overlooked. One of his most famous songs, if not the most popular, is “White and Nerdy,” which showcases his poetic skill. Yankovic’s nerd cred is all over the track, a parody of Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty,” with references to the Star Trek debate between Captain Kirk and Captain Picard, the long-forgotten programming language Pascal, and one of the enormous titans of nerd culture (aside from Yankovic himself): Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
2. “Word Crimes.”
Weird Al Yankovic places a high value on words; otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to craft lyrics that are both witty and entirely in tune with the meter of an existing song. Yankovic exploits the opportunity presented by Robin Thicke‘s divisive smash “Blurred Lines” to teach listeners the whole of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style in three minutes and forty-five seconds.
Although, “Word Crimes” sparked controversy, much like the original song. The disparaging usage of the term “spastic” offended several audience members. Weird Al Yankovic tweeted on the uproar, writing, “You would be correct in assuming that I was unaware that the term “spastic” is considered a derogatory epithet by some. I sincerely apologize.”
If you thought I didn’t know that “spastic” is considered a highly offensive slur by some people… you’re right, I didn’t. Deeply sorry.
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 20, 2014
It’s no secret that “Yoda” is one of Yankovic’s earliest and most well-known parodies. His early rendition, recorded in 1980 (and included on the bonus disc Medium Rarities of the Squeeze Box set), predates the release of his proper first album by three years. It was also a staple on Dr. Demento’s “Funny Five” countdown, where it was played regularly.
The song languished for five years until it was included on Yankovic’s third album, Dare to Be Stupid. The problem was that he couldn’t gain permission from the publishers of the original song; even though George Lucas provided his OK, they refused to let him use “Lola” by the Kinks.
Fortunately for Yankovic, he ran across Ray Davies, lead singer and composer for The Kinks and the song “Lola,” who graciously permitted him even though his publishers had never approached him for his approval.
Since then, Yankovic has said he tries to contact the composer personally whenever feasible (though this isn’t always possible). A short conflict erupted over the parody “Amish Paradise,” which was a spoof of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise,” even though Coolio had given his management the go-light but not himself.
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) August 28, 2022
And much as with “Yoda,” when he requested Lady Gaga’s management to record “Perform This Way” to the tune of “Born This Way,” they first said no. However, they swiftly changed their minds once Gaga revealed no one had asked her.
4. “Peter and the Wolf.”
Weird Al’s “Peter and the Wolf” is a strange addition to his catalog. Peter and the Wolf/Carnival of the Animals, Pt. From which it was taken, II is not widely regarded as one of his “genuine” albums and is conspicuously absent from the career-spanning box set Squeeze Box.
Peter and the Wolf is Yankovic’s solo venture into classical music, and it features the legendary Wendy Carlos on synthesizer. The album’s first side is devoted entirely to “Peter,” a funny parody of Sergei Prokofiev’s original narrative and music.
The flip side uses “Carnival of the Creatures” by Camille Saint-Sans as inspiration for new material; Yankovic writes Ogden Nash-like poetry on animals that Saint-Sans didn’t include in his original work, such as the aardvark, poodle, and amoeba. Carlos composed a distinctive musical accompaniment for each verse.
5. “King of Suede.”
Even though “King of Suede,” a parody of the Police’s “King of Pain,” peaked at No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1984 and didn’t have a video, it demonstrates Yankovic’s talent for character research. King of Suede is about a guy who owns a clothes business in a strip mall and does OK.
Weird Al Yankovic’s revised lyrics have a tragic undertone because of the song’s original melody: the King of Suede laments that he “never made it through the second grade” and instead spends his life running a low-priced leather business despite “difficult competition” and “underpaid workforce.”
Despite his title, “King of Suede,” he barely makes ends meet.
Honorable Mention: “The Hamilton Polka”
Yankovic has included a polka medley on almost every album, even though it isn’t one of his typical parodies. Except for his self-titled first album, Peter and the Wolf, Even Worse (1988), and Alapalooza (1992), which included a polka-style copy of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” all of his subsequent albums were covers.
This one-off song by Weird Al Yankovic was initially published as one of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamildrops,” It manages to fit almost the whole musical into its allotted five minutes. The medley is hilarious, but the “Washington on Your Side” segment is particularly impressive due to Yankovic’s delivery and Miranda’s wacky lyrics.