Weird Al Yankovic could have aspired to be a regular musician – writing his own stuff, aiming to hit the big time.
But, he didn’t. He did something different. Thankfully!
Since the mid-1980s Yankovic has been churning our witty parodies of current music hits. Not just that, he’s delivering exceptional performances, pitch perfect renditions of these chart topping songs.
His versions of these songs are so successful that sometimes, you may find yourself accidentally singing his lyrics instead of the original ones. I do this with Call Me Maybe with the Geordie version (This is not a Weird Al parody).
In fact, Don McLean has reported told Yankovic that while on stage, rather than his own lyrics for his classic hit American Pie, he began remembering the Weird Al lyrics for that song’s parody, The Saga Begins. It just shows that humour and parody work to embed in our memories. This is why there should be more songs about to Tensor Calculus. I digress.
From the parody of Michael Jackson’s Bad (Fat), Madonna’s Like a Virgin (Like a Surgeon), through to Lady Gaga’s Born this way (Perform this way) Yankovic just keeps churning out his parody hits.
And, his latest is no exception.
For the first single from his latest album, he’s taken Pharrell William’s Happy and turned it into Tacky. It features an array of celebrity comedic talent as part of the parody of the original music clip. Jack Black, who is always awesome does some disturbing tweaking. Kristen Schaal, who you may remember as the somewhat obsessed fan from Flight of the Conchords, wears a very tacky shirt while dancing in an elevator.
But, it is Yankovic who is the real talent here. Listen to his lyrics. He taps into very recent pop culture events and internet memes in this song. Selfies at funerals, the loathing of comic sans, Instagrams of meals – it all gets a mention.
This is why Yankovic succeeds.
He understands his customers, his audience. He also has the ability to tap into their every day world and, time and time again, manages it to serve it back up to us in a way that both mocks and amuses. He really gets popular culture in a way few others do.
To quote Homer Simpson, ‘It’s funny because it’s true.”
Weird Al is a marketing, comedy and musical genius.
Weird Al Yankovic – Tacky