He’s been making music for a little over 30 years. He’s had multiple hits and has made songs using a variety of genres, including rock, metal, pop and even rap. He’s won multiple Grammys for his songs and music videos. He’s also starred in movies, wrote a children’s book and even had his own television show.
Yes, “Weird Al” Yankovic has an extremely successful career in the music industry. So, let me pay tribute to the icon.
I can remember the first Weird Al song I ever heard. I wasn’t a big Michael Jackson fan when I was a kid but I did like his music. And the guy was huge during the my youth so you couldn’t escape his songs. While with my parents at a record store, my father purchased a cassette tape (yes, I know what they are) featuring a weird white guy with an afro and big glasses. I had no idea how this tape would change my life.
On the way home, my father played the tape over the car’s radio and he told me to listen to the first song. It was Beat It but… no. It wasn’t Beat It. The guy singing didn’t sound like Michael Jackson. And was he talking about a tuna casserole? Yes, the very first song I heard from Weird Al was Eat It. And I loved it. And I still love it today.
I guess the thing that drew me was the total absurdity of the song. I mean, why make Michael Jackson’s song into something about eating? But it worked out well and it was funny! One thing I like about Eat It and a lot of his song is how timeless they are. A song as old as Eat It is still as funny as it was then even some 30 years since it was first released! Weird Al’s parody’s are never dirty so even a kid or a kid-at-heart will be able to enjoy them.
You would think all of the musical world would be angry at him for essentially “bastardizing” their work. But, no, it’s usually the opposite: they welcome the idea of Weird Al parodying them! In fact, it’s become sort of like a badge of honor and a sign that you’ve made it big if Weird Al chooses to parody one of your hits! Kurt Cobain of Nirvana actually thought “Smells Like Nirvana” making fun of the fact it was almost impossible to understand the lyrics of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was hilarious!
It may seem that his main bread and butter is making parodies of the popular songs at the time. But Weird Al does a lot more than just “ripping off” tunes and melodies. No, the guy has some real musical talent! I guess you need to have a great ear if you can sing and play different genres like grunge (Smells Like Nirvana), punk rock (Canadian Idiot), rap (White and Nerdy), pop (Fat) and polka. Yes, especially polka.
Speaking of polka, while his parody songs have definitely made Weird Al popular, I think his polka medleys are highly underappreciated for several reasons. For one, it takes a lot of skill to smash up different song styles, change them into polka and still make them recognizable. Second, it’s great he’s still actually playing something as weird as polka music these days! And third, it’s a great way to actually get to listen to different songs! I did discover a few ditties I didn’t know about because of these medley mashups. I would’ve never have heard of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly if I didn’t hear it on “Polkas on 45” medley!
He’s also dabbled in movies and TV as well, although his ventures into those fields haven’t been a success. He’s actually had his own kiddie show called, what else?, The Weird Al Show. He’s also voiced characters in the Simpsons (as himself) and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. He’s even written a couple of successful children’s books called When I Grow Up and My New Teacher and Me!
He’s also starred in a full length film called UHF (AKA The Vidiot from UHF), which has become a cult classic now. I actually recommend watching this film because, while some of the jokes may be extremely outdated (what the heck is UHF television), the humor is unmistakably Weird Al. If you’re a fan of Weird Al, you owe it to yourself to watch this movie! Seeing the fake trailer for Ghandi II still cracks me up everytime!
But the best thing Weird Al has ever done is just make people laugh. In a world where people have become extremely cynical and serious, it’s nice to see a man who still is a child at heart and look at the world in a positive way. That, in my opinion, is why Weird Al’s career has outlived even some of the artists he’s parodied. Song styles may change. But humor is eternal.
I hope his career will last another 30 more years so that countless kids can feel the same wonderment and joy like I did when I first Weird Al song. Thanks for being such a great guy, Weird Al!
What’s your favorite parody song? Heck, what’s your favorite Weird Al song? Let me know what it is in the comments section below.