When Michael Jackson granted Weird Al Yankovic permission to do “Fat” (a parody of “Bad”), Jackson allowed him to use the same set built for his own “Badder” video from the Moonwalker film. Yankovic said that Jackson’s support helped to gain approval from other artists he wanted to parody.
Alfred Matthew “Weird Al” Yankovic (/ˈjæŋkəvɪk/ YANG-kə-vik; born October 23, 1959) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, satirist, film producer, and author.
Since his first-aired comedy song in 1976, he has sold more than 12 million albums (as of 2007), recorded more than 150 parody and original songs, and performed more than 1,000 live shows. His works have earned him five Grammy Awards and a further eleven nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States.
Yankovic’s first top ten Billboard album (Straight Outta Lynwood) and single (“White & Nerdy”) were both released in 2006, nearly three decades into his career.
Yankovic’s success comes in part from his effective use of music video to further parody popular culture, the song’s original artist, and the original music videos themselves, scene-for-scene in some cases.
With the decline of music television and the onset of social media, Yankovic used YouTube and other video sites to publish his videos; this strategy proved integral, helping to boost sales of his later albums, including Mandatory Fun. Yankovic has stated that he may forgo traditional albums in favor of timely releases of singles and EPs following on this success.
In addition to recording his albums, Yankovic wrote and starred in the film UHF (1989) and the television series The Weird Al Show (1997).
He has also made guest appearances and performed voice acting roles on many television shows and video web content, in addition to starring in Al TV specials on MTV. He has also written two children’s books, When I Grow Up and My New Teacher and Me!.
In the 1970s, Yankovic was a big fan of Elton John and claims John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album “was partly how I learned to play rock ‘n roll on the accordion.” As for his influences in comedic and parody music, Yankovic lists artists including Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Spike Jones, Allan Sherman, Shel Silverstein and Frank Zappa “and all the other wonderfully sick and twisted artists that he was exposed to through the Dr. Demento Radio Show.” Other sources of inspiration for his comedy come from Mad magazine, Monty Python, and the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker parody movies.
Yankovic received his first exposure via Southern California and syndicated comedy radio personality Dr. Demento’s radio show, saying “If there hadn’t been a Dr. Demento, I’d probably have a real job now.” In 1976, Dr. Demento spoke at Yankovic’s school where the then-16-year-old Yankovic gave him a homemade tape of original and parody songs performed on the accordion in Yankovic’s bedroom into a “cheesy little tape recorder”.
The tape’s first song, “Belvedere Cruisin'” – about his family’s Plymouth Belvedere – was played on Demento’s comedy radio show, launching Yankovic’s career.
Yankovic said he had originally been nicknamed “Weird Al” by fellow students and “took it on professionally” as his persona for the station. In 1978, he released his first recording (as Alfred Yankovic), “Take Me Down”, on the LP, Slo Grown, as a benefit for the Economic Opportunity Commission of San Luis Obispo County.
The song mocked famous nearby landmarks such as Bubblegum Alley and the fountain toilets at the Madonna Inn. In mid-1979, shortly before his senior year, “My Sharona” by The Knack was on the charts and Yankovic took his accordion into the restroom across the hall from the radio station to take advantage of the echo chamber acoustics and recorded a parody titled “My Bologna”. He sent it to Dr. Demento, who played it to good response from listeners.
The Knack’s lead singer, Doug Fieger, said he liked the song and suggested that Capitol Records vice president Rupert Perry release it as a single. “My Bologna” was released as a single with “School Cafeteria” as its B-side, and the label gave Yankovic a six-month recording contract.
On September 14, 1980, Yankovic was a guest on the Dr. Demento Show, where he was to record a new parody live.
They rehearsed the song just a few times before the show began. “Another One Rides the Bus” became so popular that Yankovic’s first television appearance was a performance of the song on The Tomorrow Show (April 21, 1981) with Tom Snyder. On the show, Yankovic played his accordion, and again, Schwartz banged on the accordion case and provided comical sound effects.
Yankovic recorded “I Love Rocky Road”, (a parody of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” originally recorded by The Arrows) which was produced by Rick Derringer, in 1982.
The song was a hit on Top 40 radio, leading to Yankovic’s signing with Scotti Brothers Records.
Yankovic released his second album “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D in 1984.
The first single “Eat It”, a parody of the Michael Jackson song “Beat It”, became popular, thanks in part to the music video, a shot-for-shot parody of Jackson’s “Beat It” music video, and what Yankovic described as his “uncanny resemblance” to Jackson.
In 1985, Yankovic co-wrote and starred in a mockumentary of his own life titled The Compleat Al (the title being a parody of the 1982 documentary The Compleat Beatles), which intertwined the facts of his life up to that point with fiction.
The movie also featured some clips from Yankovic’s trip to Japan and some clips from the Al TV specials.
In 1988 Yankovic was the narrator on the Wendy Carlos recording of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. The album also included a sequel to Camille Saint-Saëns’s composition The Carnival of the Animals titled “The Carnival of the Animals Part II”, with Yankovic providing humorous poems for each of the featured creatures in the style of Ogden Nash, who had written humorous poems for the original.
A factual biographical booklet of Yankovic’s life, written by Dr. Demento, was released with the 1994 box set compilation Permanent Record: Al in the Box. The Dr. Demento Society, which issues yearly Christmas re-releases of material from Dr. Demento’s Basement Tapes, often includes unreleased tracks from Yankovic’s vaults, such as “Pacman”, “It’s Still Billy Joel To Me” or the live version of “School Cafeteria”.
Yankovic reasoned, “If Madonna’s allowed to reinvent herself every 15 minutes, I figure I should be good for a change at least once every 20 years.” He parodied the reaction to this “new look” in a commercial for his nonexistent MTV Unplugged special.
The commercial featured Yankovic in the short-haired wig from the music video for Hanson’s “River”, claiming his new look was an attempt to “get back to the core of what I’m all about”, that being “the music”.
Yankovic has also started to explore digital distribution of his songs.
On October 7, 2008, Yankovic released to the iTunes Store “Whatever You Like”, a parody of the T.I. song of the same title, which Yankovic said he had come up with two weeks before.
In 2011, Yankovic completed his thirteenth studio album, titled Alpocalypse, which was released on June 21, 2011. The album contains the five songs from the previous Internet Leaks digital download release, a polka medley called “Polka Face”, a song called “TMZ” for which Bill Plympton created an animated music video, and five other new songs.
Yankovic had reported an interest in parodying Lady Gaga’s material, and on April 20 announced that he had written and recorded a parody of “Born This Way” titled “Perform This Way”, to be the lead single for his new album.
As he had previously done under similar circumstances (with his parody of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”, which was titled “You’re Pitiful”), Yankovic then released the song for free on the internet.
Yankovic has stated that all of his proceeds from the parody and its music video will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign, to support the human rights themes of the original song. Yankovic was also a judge for the 10th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers.
Yankovic stated in September 2013 that he was working on a new album, but gave no details. In 2014, he used social media websites to hint at a July 15 release of this new album, as noted by Rolling Stone. The album artwork and title, Mandatory Fun, were affirmed by his publisher. Yankovic said in an interview promoting the album that, with the end of his recording contract, it is likely his last traditional album, in the sense of recording and releasing that many songs at a time; he said he will likely switch to releasing singles and EPs over the Internet, a method which offers more immediate release opportunities as Yankovic considers his parodies in particular as something that can become dated by the time of release. Mandatory Fun was released to strong critical praise and was the No. 1 debut album on the Billboard charts the week of its release, buoyed by Yankovic’s approach for releasing eight music videos over eight continuous days that drew viral attention to the album as described below. It became Yankovic’s first No. 1 album in his career.
Additionally, the song “Word Crimes” (a parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”) reached No. 39 on the Top 100 singles for the same week; this is Yankovic’s fourth Top 40 single, and made him the third musical artist, after Michael Jackson and Madonna, to have a Top 40 single in each decade since the 1980s. Since Mandatory Fun, Yankovic has not released any additional albums.
give me a break from sobbing all the time.” Their deaths occurred following the release of Poodle Hat, which was Yankovic’s lowest-selling album in 20 years, but he considered continuing the show and tour therapeutic, saying “if I didn’t have anything to distract me, I probably would have spiraled into an even deeper depression.
Main article: List of songs by “Weird Al” Yankovic
Unlike other parody artists such as Allan Sherman, Yankovic and his band strive to keep the backing music in his parodies the same as the original, transcribing the original song by ear and re-recording the song for the parody. In some cases, in requesting the original band to allow for his parody, the band will offer to help out with the recreation: Dire Straits members Mark Knopfler and Guy Fletcher perform on “Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*”, Yankovic’s parody of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”, while Imagine Dragons provided Yankovic with advice on how to recreate some of the electronic sounds they used for “Radioactive” in Yankovic’s parody “Inactive”. Yankovic’s career in novelty and comedy music has outlasted many of his “mainstream” parody targets, such as Toni Basil, MC Hammer, and Men Without Hats. Yankovic’s continued success (including the top 10 single “White & Nerdy” and album Straight Outta Lynwood in 2006) has enabled him to escape the one-hit wonder stigma often associated with novelty music.
Although many of Yankovic’s songs are parodies of contemporary radio hits, it is rare that the song’s primary topic lampoons the original artist as a person, or the song itself.
Most Yankovic songs consist of the original song’s music, with a separate, unrelated set of amusing lyrics.
Yankovic’s parodies are often satirical of popular culture, including television (see The TV Album), movies (“The Saga Begins”), and food (see The Food Album).
Yankovic considered that his first true satirical song was “Smells Like Nirvana”, which references unintelligible lyrics in Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Other satirical songs include “Achy Breaky Song”, which refers to the song “Achy Breaky Heart”, “(This Song’s Just) Six Words Long”, which refers to the repetitious lyrics in “Got My Mind Set on You”, and “Perform This Way”, set to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” that drew inspiration from Lady Gaga’s outlandish but confident attitude.
Yankovic is the sole writer for all his songs and, for “legal and personal reasons”, does not accept parody submissions or ideas from fans. There exists, however, one exception to this rule: Madonna was reportedly talking with a friend and happened to wonder aloud when Yankovic was going to turn her “Like a Virgin” into “Like a Surgeon”.
Most of Yankovic’s studio albums include a polka medley of about a dozen contemporary songs at the time of the album, with the choruses or memorable lines of various songs juxtaposed for humorous effect.
In Yankovic’s early career, before recording his first album, he had performed such polka medleys in live shows in California, though then using songs from lesser-known bands like Bad Brains and the Plasmatics.
He had been inspired to do so from Spike Jones, who had transitioned classical music into polka. Yankovic said that converting these songs to polka was “…the way God intended”. Yankovic did not include a medley on his first album, but considered this for his second, In 3-D, recognizing that it would only work if he used well-known songs.
The resulting “Polkas on 45”, which featured songs from Devo, Deep Purple, Berlin, and The Beatles, was popular, and the polka medley became a staple of all but one of Yankovic’s future albums. Yankovic said that “fans would be rioting in the streets, I think, if I didn’t do a polka medley.” More current polka medleys features songs that Yankovic had wanted to parody but proved difficult, such as Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”, which lacked sufficient lyrics to parody. The polkas are recorded in studio, including the sound effects which are performed live during recording, which Yankovic considered one of his favorite parts of recording.
Yankovic has recorded numerous original humorous songs, such as “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” and “One More Minute”. Many of these songs are style pastiches of specific bands with allusions to specific songs.
For example, “First World Problems” from Mandatory Fun is a style take on the Pixies, with the opening stanza reminiscent of the Pixies’ “Debaser”. Other style parodies includes those of Rage Against the Machine with “I’ll Sue Ya” (which features many aspects of the hit song “Killing in the Name”), Devo with “Dare to Be Stupid”, Talking Heads with “Dog Eat Dog”, Frank Zappa with “Genius in France”, Nine Inch Nails with “Germs”, and Queen with “Ringtone”. Some songs are pastiches of an overall genre of music, rather than a specific band (for example, country music with “Good Enough For Now”, charity records with “Don’t Download This Song”) and college fight songs with “Sports Song”.
Yankovic stated that he does not have any unreleased original songs, instead coming up and committing to the song ideas he arrives at for his albums and other releases.
Yankovic has contributed original songs to several films (“This Is the Life” from Johnny Dangerously; “Polkamon” from the movie Pokémon: The Movie 2000, and a parody of the James Bond title sequence in Spy Hard), in addition to his own film, UHF.
This also appears in numerous Al TV interviews as well as in several of his songs (“Albuquerque” and “Wanna B Ur Lovr” to name a few.) Yankovic also asks his celebrity guests if they could “shave his back for a nickel.” This also appears in the song “Albuquerque”.
Yankovic has also put two backmasking messages into his songs.
While Yankovic’s musical parodies generally do not include references to the songs or the artists of the original songs, Yankovic’s music videos will sometimes parody the original song’s music video in whole or in part. Most notably, the video for “Smells Like Nirvana” uses an extremely similar set to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, including using several of the same actors.
The video for “Dare to Be Stupid” is, as stated by Yankovic, a style parody in general of Devo videos.
Several videos have included appearances by notable celebrities in addition to Yankovic and his band.
While most videos that Yankovic creates are aired on music channels such as MTV and VH1, Yankovic worked with animation artists to create music videos for release with extended content albums.
For the 2010 Alpocalypse, Yankovic produced videos for every song; four of those were previously released for each of the songs on the EP Internet Leaks, with the videos for the remaining songs released via social media sites and included in the deluxe edition of Alpocalypse.
To help promote his 2014 album Mandatory Fun in social media circles, Yankovic produced eight music videos for the album releasing them over eight consecutive days with release of the album, believing it “would make an impact because people would be talking about the album all week long”. RCA Records opted not to fund production of any of these videos, and Yankovic turned to various social media portals including Funny or Die and CollegeHumor which he had worked with in the past; these sites helped to cover the production cost of the videos with Yankovic foregoing any ad video revenue.
This approach proved to be successful, as the total collection of videos had acquired more than 20 million views in the first week. This release strategy was considered by The Atlantic as a “web-enabled precision video delivery operation, and evidence of some serious digital distributional forethought” as it allows the videos to be seen by different sets of audiences for each site. The approach was considered to be essential to promoting Mandatory Fun to reach the No. 1 position on the Billboard charts on its debut week. Businessweek attributed the sales success of Mandatory Fun to the viral music video campaign. ABC World News elaborated that Yankovic’s success is in part due to the Internet’s interest in viral and humorous videos catching up with what Yankovic has been doing for his entire career. Yankovic himself was amazed with the response he got from the album and video releases, stating that “I’ve been doing the same thing for 30 years and all of a sudden I’m having the best week of my life” and that he “kind of stumbled on my formula for the future”.
Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., artists such as Yankovic do not need permission to record a parody. However, as a personal rule and as a means of maintaining good relationships, Yankovic has always sought permission from the original artist before commercially releasing a parody. Yankovic stated of these efforts: “I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.
I take pains not to burn bridges.” The communications are typically handled by his manager Jay Levey, but at times Yankovic has asked the artist directly, such as flying to Denver, Colorado, to attend an Iggy Azalea concert and speak to her personally about parodying her song “Fancy”. He claims that only about two to three percent of the artists he approaches for permission deny his requests.
Separately, Yankovic needs to negotiate for royalties to the original artists for including their songs within a polka medley, which is considered a cover in copyright law.
Many of those parodied by Yankovic have considered this as a rite of passage to show their band has made it in the music industry.
Michael Jackson was a big fan of Yankovic, and Yankovic claimed Jackson “had always been very supportive” of his work. Jackson twice allowed him to parody his songs (“Beat It” and “Bad” became “Eat It” and “Fat”, respectively).
When Jackson granted Yankovic permission to do “Fat”, Jackson allowed him to use the same set built for his own “Badder” video from the Moonwalker film. Yankovic said that Jackson’s support helped to gain approval from other artists he wanted to parody. Though Jackson allowed “Eat It” and “Fat”, he requested that Yankovic not record a parody of “Black or White”, titled “Snack All Night”, because he felt the message was too important.
This refusal, coming shortly after the commercial failure of Yankovic’s movie UHF in theaters, had initially set Yankovic back; he later recognized this as a critical time as, while searching for new parodies, he came across Nirvana, leading to a revitalization of his career with “Smells Like Nirvana”. Yankovic has performed a concert-only parody “Snack All Night” in some of his live shows. Yankovic was one of several celebrities who appeared in the 1989 music video for Jackson’s song “Liberian Girl”.
Dave Grohl of Nirvana said that the band felt they had “made it” after Yankovic recorded “Smells Like Nirvana”, a parody of the grunge band’s smash hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. On his Behind the Music special, Yankovic stated that when he called Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain to ask if he could parody the song, Cobain gave him permission, then paused and asked, “Um…
it’s not gonna be about food, is it?” Yankovic responded with, “No, it’ll be about how no one can understand your lyrics.” According to members of Nirvana interviewed for Behind the Music, when they saw the video of the song, they laughed hysterically.
Mark Knopfler approved Yankovic’s parody of the Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing” for use in the film UHF on the provision that Knopfler himself be allowed to play lead guitar on the parody which was later titled “Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*”. Yankovic commented on the legal complications of the parody in the DVD audio commentary for UHF, explaining “We had to name that song ‘Money for Nothing ‘slash’ Beverly Hillbillies ‘asterisk’ because the lawyers told us that had to be the name.
What ya gonna do?” The Permanent Record: Al in the Box booklet referred to the song’s “compound fracture of a title.” When a fan asked about the song’s title, Yankovic shared his feelings on the title, replying “That incredibly stupid name is what the lawyers insisted that the parody be listed as.
The Presidents of the United States of America were so pleased with “Gump”, Yankovic’s parody of their song “Lump”, that they ended the song with his last line instead of their own (“And that’s all I have to say about that”) on the live recording of “Lump” featured on the compilation album Pure Frosting.
In 2008, Yankovic directed the music video for their song “Mixed Up S.O.B.”
Don McLean was reportedly pleased with “The Saga Begins”, a parody of “American Pie”, and told Yankovic that the parody’s lyrics sometimes enter his mind during live performances. His parody not only replicates the music from the original Don McLean song, but it replicates the multi-layered rhyming structure in the verses and chorus.
[…] Weird Al is not gonna do a parody of your song if you’re not doing it big.” In September 2007, Chamillionaire credited “White & Nerdy” for his recent Grammy win, stating “That parody was the reason I won the Grammy, because it made the record so big it was undeniable.
In 2011, Yankovic was initially denied permission to parody Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” for his song “Perform This Way” for release on a new album, but through his release of the song on YouTube and subsequent spread via Twitter, Lady Gaga and her staff asserted that her manager had made the decision without her input, and Gaga herself gave Yankovic permission to proceed with the parody’s release. Gaga considered herself “a huge Weird Al fan”, and she stated that the parody was a “rite of passage” for her musical career and considered the song “very empowering”.
Yankovic states that his style parodies have also been met with positive remarks by the original artist.
After this controversy, Yankovic has always made sure to speak directly with the artist of every song he parodied.
I doubt I’ll be invited to Coolio’s next birthday party, but at least I can stop wearing that bulletproof vest to the mall.” In an interview in 2014, Coolio extended his apology for refusing his permission, stating that at the time “I was being cocky and shit and being stupid and I was wrong and I should’ve embraced that shit and went with it”, and that he considered Yankovic’s parody “actually funny as shit”.
In 2000, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea told Behind the Music that he was unimpressed and disappointed by Yankovic’s 1993 song “Bedrock Anthem”, which parodied two of the band’s songs.
For the Poodle Hat Al TV special, Yankovic raised the question of artistic expression in a fake interview with Eminem.
As Yankovic has always done for his Al TV specials, he edited the footage of a previous Eminem interview and inserted himself asking questions for comic effect.
On numerous occasions, Prince refused Yankovic permission to record parodies of his songs.
Yankovic had stated in interviews prior to Prince’s death in 2016 that he had “approached him every few years [to] see if he’s lightened up.” Yankovic related one story where, before the American Music Awards where he and Prince were assigned to sit in the same row, he got a telegram from Prince’s management company, demanding he not make eye contact with the artist. Among parodies that Yankovic had ideas for included one based on “Let’s Go Crazy” about The Beverly Hillbillies, “1999” as an infomercial with a call-in number ending in −1999, and parodies of “Kiss” and “When Doves Cry”. Despite these refusals, Yankovic was able to gain permission to parody the “When Doves Cry” video as part of his music video for the song “UHF”.
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page is a self-proclaimed Yankovic fan, but when Yankovic wished to create a polka medley of Led Zeppelin songs, Page refused. Yankovic was, however, allowed the opportunity to re-record a sample of “Black Dog” for a segment of “Trapped in the Drive-Thru”.
Paul McCartney, also a Yankovic fan, refused Yankovic permission to record a parody of Wings’ “Live and Let Die”, titled “Chicken Pot Pie”, because, according to Yankovic, McCartney is “a strict vegetarian and he didn’t want a parody that condoned the consumption of animal flesh”. Though McCartney suggested possibly changing the parody to “Tofu Pot Pie”, Yankovic found this wouldn’t fit around the chorus of the parody, based on making the sound of a chicken throughout it.
While never recorded for an album, Yankovic did play parts of “Chicken Pot Pie” as part of a larger medley in several tours during the 1990s.
In 2003, Yankovic was denied permission to make a video for “Couch Potato”, his parody of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”.
However, after Yankovic had recorded “You’re Pitiful”, Blunt’s label, Atlantic Records, rescinded this permission, despite Blunt’s personal approval of the song. The parody was pulled from Yankovic’s Straight Outta Lynwood because of his label’s unwillingness to “go to war” with Atlantic.
Yankovic released the song as a free download on his MySpace profile, as well as his official website, and plays it in concert, since it was not Blunt himself objecting to the parody. Yankovic referenced the incident in his video for “White & Nerdy” when he depicts himself vandalizing Atlantic Records’ Wikipedia article.
Yankovic was considering a complete polka medley with only U2 songs, but was denied the rights by the band. Similarly, he had included Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” in a polka medley, but had to pull it when the band refused rights for it.
Yankovic often describes his live concert performances as “a rock and comedy multimedia extravaganza” with an audience that “ranges from toddlers to geriatrics.” Apart from Yankovic and his band performing his classic and contemporary hits, staples of Yankovic’s live performances include a medley of parodies, many costume changes between songs, and a video screen on which various clips are played during the costume changes. A concert from Yankovic’s 1999 tour, “Touring with Scissors”, for the Running with Scissors album was released on VHS in 1999 and on DVD in 2000. Titled “Weird Al” Yankovic Live!, the concert was recorded at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California, on October 2, 1999. For legal reasons, video clips (apart from those for Yankovic’s own music videos) could not be shown for the home release, and unreleased parodies were removed from the parody medley for the performance.
In 2003, Yankovic toured overseas for the first time.
Before 2003, Yankovic and his band had toured only the United States and parts of Canada. Following the success of Poodle Hat in Australia, Yankovic performed eleven shows in Australia’s major capital cities and regional areas in October of that year. Yankovic returned to Australia and toured New Zealand for the first time in 2007 to support the Straight Outta Lynwood album.
Yankovic has invited members of the 501st Legion on stage during performances of his Star Wars-themed songs “Yoda” and “The Saga Begins”, recruiting members of local garrisons (club chapters) while on tour.
A second concert film, “Weird Al” Yankovic Live!: The Alpocalypse Tour, aired on Comedy Central on October 1, 2011, and was released on Blu-ray and DVD three days later.
Following the release of Mandatory Fun, Yankovic toured across the United States, Canada, and selected overseas venues in the “Mandatory World Tour” from 2015 through 2016, principally featuring songs from this album.
Comedian Emo Philips was the opening act. A further staple of this tour was Yankovic’s cover performance of a different famous song at each venue.
which Yankovic stated was something he and his band enjoyed doing. In October 2018, Yankovic announced his 2019 “Strings Attached Tour”, where he will perform every show backed by an orchestra, while returning to his usual setlists of his popular parodies and original songs, with costumes and other props as he had previously used.
A satire of the television and film industries, also starring Michael Richards, Fran Drescher, and Victoria Jackson, it brought floundering studio Orion their highest test scores since the movie RoboCop. However, it was unsuccessful in theaters due to both poor critical reception and competition from other summer blockbusters at the time such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lethal Weapon 2, Batman and Licence to Kill. The failure of the film left Yankovic in a three-year slump, which was later broken by his inspiration to compose “Smells Like Nirvana”.
In his early career, Yankovic hosted the specials Al TV on MTV and Al Music on MuchMusic many times, generally coinciding with the release of each new album.
These shows typically included some of Yankovic’s videos to date and previews of songs on the upcoming A recurring segment of Al TV involves Yankovic manipulating interviews for comic effect.
The Weird Al Show was a live action skit-based children’s show hosted by Yankovic, airing from September to December 1997 on CBS, which featured several actors and bands as guests along with Yankovic and other actors.
VH1 produced a Behind the Music episode on Yankovic.
Yankovic performed at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards singing a comedic medley of songs based on the themes of several Emmy-nominated shows such as Mad Men and Game of Thrones.
The episode, “Three Gays of the Condo”, in which Marge hires Yankovic to sing the aforementioned song to Homer in an attempt to reconcile their marriage, later won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)”.
Yankovic also had a cameo in a 2008 episode, titled “That ’90s Show”, during which he records a parody of Homer’s grunge hit “Shave Me” titled “Brain Freeze” (Homer’s song, “Shave Me”, was itself a parody of Nirvana’s “Rape Me”) making Yankovic one of only a handful of celebrities to appear twice on the show playing themselves.
He appeared in the animated Adult Swim show Robot Chicken, which provided him with a music video for the song “Weasel Stomping Day”. Yankovic is the voice for Squid Hat on the Cartoon Network show, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
Yankovic had a guest appearance voicing Wreck-Gar, a waste collection vehicle Transformer in the Transformers: Animated cartoon series; previously, Yankovic’s “Dare to Be Stupid” song was featured in the 1986 animated film The Transformers: The Movie, during the sequence in which the Wreck-Gar character was first introduced; as such, the song is referenced in the episode.
In 2011, Al appeared as himself in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!” In 2012, Al was extensively featured in the sixth season episode of 30 Rock called “Kidnapped by Danger”, where Jenna tries to come up with a “Weird Al-proof” song, as well as appearing on two episodes of The Aquabats!
In 2014, he appeared in the fourth season My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode “Pinkie Pride” as Cheese Sandwich, a rival party planner to Pinkie Pie. In 2016, Al appeared in 2 episodes of BoJack Horseman as Mr. Peanutbutter’s brother, Captain Peanutbutter, and was hired to voice the lead role in the 2016 Disney XD series Milo Murphy’s Law. Yankovic guest voiced as Papa Kotassium in a 2016 episode of Cartoon Network’s animated series, Mighty Magiswords, which was created by fellow Weird Al-fan, musician and accordionist, Kyle Carrozza. Carrozza not only sent an FAQ to Weird Al when he was in college in 1999, but was also a contributor to a Weird Al-tribute album called Twenty Six-and-a-Half and got a picture taken with him with the autographed album.
Eric Appel produced a Funny or Die movie trailer for Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, a fictional biographical film that parodies other films based on musicians; Yankovic (played by Aaron Paul) is seen hiding his “weirdness” from his parents (Gary Cole and Mary Steenburgen), making it big using song parodies with the help of Dr. Demento (Patton Oswalt), falling in and out of love with Madonna (Olivia Wilde), and fading into alcoholism and being arrested, at which point his father finally admits he is “weird” as well.
Yankovic himself plays a music producer in the short. Yankovic later appeared in another Funny or Die short alongside Huey Lewis which parodied the ax murder scene in the movie American Psycho, in which Christian Bale’s character Patrick Bateman discusses the nature of Lewis’s musical work before killing his victim.
For The Nerdist Podcast, Weird Al began hosting a new comedic celebrity interview web series, Face to Face with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, on April 3, 2012.
“Weird Al” Yankovic has directed many of his own music videos; he has directed all of his music videos from 1993’s “Bedrock Anthem” to 2006’s “White & Nerdy”.
Yankovic wrote, directed and starred in the short 3-D movie attraction “Al’s Brain: A 3-D Journey Through The Human Brain”, a $2.5 million project which was sponsored by and premiered at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, California, in 2009. The project included a brief cameo by Sir Paul McCartney, which Yankovic directed during McCartney’s appearance at the 2009 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Fair CEO Steve Beazley, who supported the project, considered the project a success and explored leasing the exhibit to other fairs; the second appearance of the exhibit was at the 2009 Puyallup Fair in Washington.
to write and direct a live-action feature film for Cartoon Network. Although Yankovic previously wrote the script for UHF, this was to be the first movie Yankovic directed. Yankovic stated that he would not be starring in the movie, as Cartoon Network wanted a younger protagonist.
Yankovic stated that the idea for the book was based on his own “circuitous” career path. The book allows Yankovic to apply the humorous writing style found in his music in another medium, allowing him to use puns and rhymes. Yankovic worked with Harper Collins’ editor Anne Hoppe—the first time that Yankovic has had an editor—and found her help to be a positive experience. The book is illustrated by Wes Hargis, who, according to Yankovic, has “a childlike quality and a very fun quality and a very imaginative quality” that matched well with Yankovic’s writing. The book reached the No. 4 position on The New York Times Best Seller list for Children’s Picture Books for the week of February 20, 2011.
Yankovic contributes backing vocals for the song “Time” on Ben Folds’ album Songs for Silverman.
In 2009, Yankovic was a special guest on an episode of G4’s Web Soup where he came as Mark Gormley at first.
In 2011, Yankovic guest starred as the character “Banana Man” in an episode of Adventure Time.
From 2014 until 2017, Yankovic appeared as a celebrity contestant in eight episodes of the game show Celebrity Name Game.
In the official video for Weezer’s cover of “Africa” published in September 2018, which itself is parody of Weezer’s video for “Undone – The Sweater Song”, Yankovic stands in for Rivers Cuomo as vocalist and lead guitar.
Much to the disdain of Yankovic, these misattributed files include songs that are racist, sexually explicit, or otherwise offensive.
A young listener who had heard several of these offensive tracks by way of a file sharing service confronted Yankovic online, threatening a boycott because of his supposedly explicit lyrics. Quite a few of the songs, such as “Star Wars Cantina” by Mark Jonathan Davis (not, in a double misattribution, his lounge-singer character Richard Cheese), “Star Wars Gangsta Rap”, “Yoda Smokes Weed”, “Chewbacca”, “The Devil Went To Jamaica”, “The Twelve Pains of Christmas” by Bob Rivers and several more have a Star Wars motif. Some songs misattributed to him are not songs, but spoken skits, such as “Sesame Street on crack”, which is also widely misattributed to Adam Sandler.
A list of songs frequently misattributed to Yankovic can be found at The Not Al Page and a list of all commercially released songs recorded by Yankovic can be found on his website.
The Weird Al Star Fund was a campaign started by Yankovic’s fans to get him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Their mission was to “solicit, collect, and raise the necessary money, and to compile the information needed for the application to nominate “Weird Al” Yankovic for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Fans worldwide have sent donations to raise the US$40,000 needed for a nomination.
In addition to the preferred method of cash donations, many methods were used to raise money for the cause, such as a live benefit show held April 11, 2006, and selling merchandise on the official website and eBay, including T-shirts, calendars, and cookbooks. On May 26, 2006, the campaign hit the then-$15,000 target, just five days before the May 31 deadline to submit the necessary paperwork. However, Yankovic was not included on the list of inductees for 2007. On February 9, 2007, the Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce raised the price to sponsor a new star to $25,000. Yankovic’s application was resubmitted for consideration in 2007, but he was not included among 2008’s inductees. In December 2010, the price was raised again to $30,000. and in 2017 the price was raised to $40,000. The campaign raised the new target each time and applications continued to be submitted yearly, until The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced in June 2017 that Yankovic would receive a star on the Walk of Fame as one of the 2018 inductees.
Similar to the Weird Al Star Fund, a second fan-driven campaign called “Make the Rock Hall ‘Weird'” has tried to enshrine him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, for which he has been eligible since 2004. Previous attempts to raise awareness for the campaign and support Yankovic’s nomination included a petition drive from 2006 to 2007, which raised over 9000 signatures; an art competition in 2005; additionally, a documentary film about the campaign is currently being developed. In addition to these efforts, an ongoing campaign is underway in which supporters of Yankovic’s nomination are requested to send “sincere, thoughtful” letters to the Rock Hall Foundation’s headquarters in New York. The Hall has not considered Yankovic for nomination since the campaign started in 2004. A 2009 Rolling Stone poll named Weird Al as the top artist that should be nominated for the Hall of Fame, followed by Rush (who were inducted in 2013) and The Moody Blues in the top ten.”
A smaller ongoing effort has been made by fans to have Yankovic perform at the halftime show of a Super Bowl game. This inspired Yankovic to write the fight song parody “Sports Song” for Mandatory Fun to help round out his repertoire. Subsequent to the success of Mandatory Fun, another fan-driven campaign pushed for Yankovic to headline the then-upcoming Super Bowl XLIX at the highlight of the artist’s career, which was noticed by many media outlets, including CNN and Wired, though the decision for this selection would reside within the management of the NFL (who instead chose Katy Perry for that position).
“Weird Al” Yankovic – vocals, accordion, keyboards, background vocals
Main articles: “Weird Al” Yankovic discography and List of songs recorded by “Weird Al” Yankovic
“Weird Al” Yankovic (1983)
“Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D (1984)
Main article: “Weird Al” Yankovic videography
“”Weird Al” Yankovic & the Lonely Island”
“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”
“American Psycho with Huey Lewis and Weird Al Yankovic”
“Weird Al” Yankovic portal
“Weird Al” Yankovic on IMDb
“‘Weird Al’ Yankovic — Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?” Diffuser, July 30, 2014.
“Weird Al” Yankovic discography at MusicBrainz
“Weird Al” Yankovic at Curlie