Weird Al Yankovic is an act that should have been extinguished through lack of fuel many, many years ago. The acclaimed cult parodist has made himself one of the biggest sellers in the world of music through a simply unstoppable catchy array of parody tracks. Through a series of hilarious songs, usually poking fun at one or all of the music industry, Yankovic has become an icon.
The singer has never taken himself too seriously, as you might imagine, and has never really bent to conformity either. He’s an artist (yes, we said artist) who has not only refined his talent over the years but also been provided with more and more ludicrous content too. As the musical spheres open up all cultures to all different kinds of music, Yankovic has seamlessly infiltrated all of them and made them all look, well, just a bit silly. As a celebration of his talent, we’ve got ten of the funniest parodies the singer has ever devised.
There will be some familiar tunes in this collection. Weird Al has never shied away from picking the biggest songs from some of the music world’s brightest talents. In fact, largely, he’s only ever targeted those acts who are big enough to take the hit on the chin with a smile. So while we’re sure Eminem wasn’t exactly thrilled when his song was parodied, he likely accepted it with a wry smile.
It’s the defacto facial response for Weird Al — a regrettable grin. But while there is more than a double dose of buffoonery in this list, there is an often-overlooked intelligence too. Weird Al, doesn’t just go for the easy punch of the quickest rhyme, the song’s he creates are parodies but still laboured over with love and attention.
Below, we’re bringing you 10 of our favourites as a homage to the man himself.
Weird Al Yankovic’s funniest songs:
10. ‘Couch Potato’
Featuring on Yankovic’s 2003 album Poodle Hat, the song was a parody of Eminem’s chart-topping hit ‘Lose Yourself’ and is rightly thought of as a modern satirist classic. With a heap of early ’00s television references and a narrative that documents sofa-surfing of the highest order, Yankovic really laid a marker with this one.
In fact, during his description of the aforementioned shows, Yankovic displays some lyrical gymnastics that would please Marshall: “Shows for next fall, they’ve already been namin’/’CSI: Boise’ and ‘Touched By An Uncle’ both sound pretty lame ‘n’/So does ‘Everybody Tolerates Raymond’/And ‘King of Queens’ jumped the shark the first minute/I can’t believe Richard Simmons ain’t in it.”
9. ‘Like A Surgeon’
As a parody of Madonna’s huge hit ‘Like A Virgin’ Weird Al manages to pull off one of the most remarkable feats of his career making both surgery and Madonna funny. The singer was at the peak of her fame when Weird Al targeted her song and proved he was scared of nobody’s legacy.
Yankovic also goes one step further to imitate the singer and pushes his vocals so high up the range that it feels like they may burst with every note. The story of an untalented surgeon trying to make it in the world is, miraculously, a funny one to hear in this medium.
8. ‘It’s All About The Pentiums’
Though he may feel a distant memory to you now, when Puff Daddy was topping the charts in the late ’90s and early ’00s he was a behemoth of music and imposing figure. It was a figure that many wouldn’t have dared to cross. But for Weird Al, his parody of ‘All About The Benjamins’ — ‘All About The Pentiums’ — was just another day at the office.
Taken from his 1999 album Running with Scissors, the song acts as a precursor to one of his biggest rap parodies, which we will come to later. With lyrics such as: “Your database is a disaster/ You’re waxin’ your modem, tryin’ to make it go faster/ Hey fella, I bet you’re still livin’ in your parents’ cellar/ Downloadin’ pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar,” he shows real rap promise.
He’s got the attitude down too, “And postin’ “Me too!” like some brain-dead AOL-er/ I should do the world a favour and cap you like Old Yeller/ You’re just about as useless as jpegs to Hellen Keller”.
7. ‘Another One Rides The Bus’
If there’s such a thing as a ‘classic’ Weird Al song then it has to be this one. Taken from his adventurous self-titled debut LP from 1983, the parody of Queen’s song ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ was many people’s first introduction to the whimsical mind of Weird Al. While we try with all our might to avoid people who would describe themselves as such, there’s something fun about this song that is unavoidable.
When Yankovic dropped the song may people expected him to be a one-hit-wonder — if that. But decades later and Yankovic is still bopping through his repertoire of big hitters. With lyrics like: “There’s a suitcase poking me in the ribs/ There’s an elbow in my ear/ There’s a smelly old bum standing next to me/ Hasn’t showered in a year” it’s no surprise.
6. ‘Bedrock Anthem’
There haven’t been many times that Yankovic has turned his attentions form a song to the act itself but he did so with ‘Bedrock Anthem’ from his 1993 album Alapalooza as he targeted Red Hot Chili Peppers and parodied their songs ‘Under The Bridge’ and ‘Give It Away’.
A parody is one thing but to intertwine RHCP with The Flintstones is the work of a madman genius. “Got a car, gonna push it with my feet now,” he sings, “Gonna take my family out to eat now/ Jumbo ribs at the drive-in can’t be beat now/ Made from brontosaurus, baby, not a moo-cow.”
5. ‘Pretty Fly For a Rabbi’
It is almost impossible to read the above title without implementing the tune from The Offspring’s pop-punk juggernaut ‘Pretty Fly For A White Guy’ and that, in itself, is the genius work of Weird Al Yankovic. Nobody is saying his songs are the most evocative or emotional but we’ll be damned if they aren’t catchy.
Taken from his 1999 album Running With Scissors Yankovic upped the ante on this already somewhat comical track. Religious riffs are always fun and Weird Al doesn’t back away from this one singing: “When he’s doing a Bar Mitzvah, now that you shouldn’t miss/ He’ll always shlep on down for a wedding or a briss/ They say he’s got a lot of chutzpah, he’s really quite hhhhhip/ The parents pay the moyl and he gets to keep the tip!”
4. ‘Eat It’
Quite possibly one of the defining anthems of the decade, Michale Jackson’s song ‘Beat It’ not only featured a video with a choreographed dance knife fight but Eddie Van Halen on guitar. However, somehow, Weird Al’s parody, ‘Eat It’ is even better. Troubling artist aside, this parody is both irreverent and intelligent.
The song helped to form Weird Al’s long-running fanbase and made him a big name in the eighties. “Your table manners are some cryin’ shame,” sings the comic, “You’re playin’ with your food, this ain’t some kind of game/ Now, if you starve to death, you’ll just have yourself to blame/ So eat it, just eat it.”
3. ‘Smells Like Nirvana’
Quite possibly Weird Al’s most intelligent song of the bunch is a reworking of the grunge anthem ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ from Nirvana. In 1991, the band had arrived on the world stage with their seminal album Nevermind which, as well as meaning the band were now playing the biggest stages in the world, also meant that they were rich pickings for Weird Al.
Cleverly, rather than using an obvious grunge angle with Nirvana, Weird Al instead focused on Cobain’s enunciation. An unusual angle but one he uses to devastating effect, reducing what is quite possibly one of the most important songs of the 20th century to a bout of mumbles and grumbles.
2. ‘Living With a Hernia’
We must apologise immediately. If you’ve not heard this song before then clicking the play button below will insert this song into your brain for eternity. If you have heard the song before then even the mere utterance of the title will send you into a PTSD recurring nightmare.
That’s not to say that the song is bad, just that it is so accurately delivered with such impressive self-importance that is preventing it from burrowing into your brain is frivolous work. Not many people could parody James Brown and somehow get away with it but Weird Al did and it might well be the best song you’ll hear this week. Taken from 1986’s Polka Party!, this is Yankovic at his peak.
1. ‘White & Nerdy’
We hinted at it before that Weird Al’s command of lyrics is right up there with some of the best rappers in the business. Like all good hip-hop artists, he also has a great hold of the almighty hook too. On this parody of Chamillionaire’s song ‘Ridin”, Weird Al kicks up the white boy rap to a new level and finishes what he started on ‘All About the Pentiums’.