Weird Al Yankovic has written songs about bologna, a homicidal Santa Claus, rocky road ice cream and the Amish. He has churned out 12 albums of parody songs in 28 years—on June 21, the release of Alpocalypse will bring his album tally to 13—that politely mock everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Billy Ray Cyrus to Chamillionaire. Oh, and he plays a lot of polka.
If you spend a significant portion of your Internet time watching Lonely Island videos (or maybe that “Whole Foods Parking Lot” song that made the rounds last week) you have Weird Al to thank. Although he’s not the first person to spoof existing music (people were already doing that in the 18th century with satirical operas—yeah, that must have been hilarious) he did bring the comedy novelty song to mainstream audiences. In 1984, Weird Al’s Michael Jackson parody “Eat It” reached #12 on the Billboard 100 and “White & Nerdy,” off his 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood, came in at #9. He’s also responsible for the white man’s Jheri curls, but we’ll let that slide.
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Weird Al possesses a fantastic ability to impersonate other artists (come on, have you heard his ballad “You’re Pitiful?” It’s almost more James Blunt-y than the real James Blunt) but he’s actually at his best when he parodies a genre and not a specific musician. His 1985 doo-wop tune “One More Minute” is arguably one of the best break-up songs ever written—an opinion which we’ve found ourselves vehemently defending on more than one occasion (usually with friends, usually at a bar, usually after several beers, and usually no one agrees with us).
Weird Al’s new album, Alpocalypse, features musical send-ups of Taylor Swift, the White Stripes, Miley Cyrus and B.o.B. But the most talked about track is the Lady Gaga gag “Perform This Way.” In the music video, a CGI-enhanced Weird Al wears costumes only slightly more absurd than the ones donned by the real Gaga.
And is it just us, or does he look like Jane Krakowski?