Who is Weird Al Yankovic? To Find Out, We Must Go To Spatula City…

Well, here you are – Spatula City.  

That’s all fine and good, but “Who is Weird Al?” you ask.

Alfred Matthew Yankovic, known as “Weird Al” Yankovic, was born on October 23 , 1959, in Downey, California, and is a popular American satirist. 

Al is also notably a singer, musician, songwriter, actor, accordionist, and American television producer.

Weird Al is best known for his parodies of contemporary popular songs. Ethnically, in case you were wondering, he is of Yugoslav origin by his father’s side (Nick), and English and Italian by his mother’s side (Mary).

als-parents-died-together-in-2004-after-a-tragic-accident

Here’s a clip to get you readily acquainted with Mr. Weird Al, by way of one of his biggest songs – Amish Paradise, a parody of Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise”, which itself was a sampling of Stevie Wonder’s groundbreaking track, “Pastime Paradise”.

Biography

At six, Al took some accordion lessons. It was then his saga towards extreme “weirdness” had begun.  Although he intended to become an architect first and foremost, it was during his studies towards that end that his friends advised him to become a musician.  So what could he say?  He said, of course, “Sure, why not?”

Al then threw his architectural schematics into the breeze, and began pursuing this new dream of his, but there was a twist – he would become a satirist, which is obviously not the most commonplace goal of most aspiring rock stars.

weird al live

Be that as it may, he made himself known by parodying Beat It by Michael Jackson and transforming it into Eat It. He did this to another Michael Jackson song – Bad – turning it into “Fat”.  For some reason, there was a little bit of a food obsession going on with Al and his parodies.

Here is Eat It, the song that launched Weird Al into the weirdo-sphere!

As his career skyrocketed, and the years and albums rolled by, Weird Al has gone on to sell over 12 million albums, recording more than 150 songs (parodies and originals both) and has performed in concert 1000’s of times.

He has been nominated nine times at the Grammy Awards and has won three, as well as four gold and five platinum 4 records.  Jeez!

Did you know – “Weird” means “strange”, and also “weird” in French? His nickname “Weird Al” can be translated as “Al [Alfred] the twisted”. Now you know.

Yankovic played in his own film and TV series, directed clips for himself and other artists, including – suspiciously – the mmmBopper’s themselves, Hanson.

He has also made appearances in The Simpsons, Robot Chicken, Transformers, Rock 30 (S6E14), and How I Met Your Mother.

In 2011, Al is again the subject of controversy when he wanted to parody Lady Gaga in one of his songs. The agent of the Italian-American singer refuses but Lady Gaga herself, being an unconditional fan of the humorist, decides to authorize the parody even as she released a new album at the time.

Here’s Perform This Way, a parody of Born This Way.

Songs and Covers

  • My Bologna (after My Sharona from The Knack );
  • Another One Rides the Bus and Bohemian Polka (from Another One Bites the Dust , and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen );
  • Smells Like Nirvana (from Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana );
  • Like a Surgeon (after Like a Virgin of Madonna );
  • Eat It (1984) and Fat (1988), according to Beat It and Bad of Michael Jackson . Both were Grammy Award winners intheir respective release years;
  • Pretty Fly For A Rabbi after Pretty Fly For a White Guy from The Offspring 1998; she herself parodies in her clip the rappers bling bling.
  • I Want A New Duck by Huey Lewis and the News after I Want a New Drug from 1983 where he does not hesitate to introduce sound effects of ducks.
  • Living With a Hernia (from Living in America by James Brown );
  • Gump (after Lump of The Presidents of the United States of America ), parody of the film Forrest Gump  ;
  • Yoda (after Lola de The Kinks ), description of the meeting with Yoda by Luke Skywalker .
  • Amish Paradise (after Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio );
  • The Saga Begins (from American Pie of Don McLean ), summarizing The Phantom Menace .
  • White & Nerdy (after Ridin ‘Dirty de Chamillionaire );
  • You’re Pitiful , a parody of the song You’re Beautiful by British director James Blunt , whom Weird Al advises, during a show, to listen to the song on his website;
  • Canadian Idiot (after American Idiot of Green Day );
  • He also is the author of Do not Download This Song , first single from her 12 th  studio album, parodying including We Are the World  ;
  • I Love Rocky Road (after I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll );
  • Bedrock Anthem (from Give It Away and Under the Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers );
  • Pie Pot Chicken ( from Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die, which refused to have the song burned on CD because of its vegetarian habits) Weird Al Yankovic performs it on occasion;
  • Headline News (from Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm from Crash Test Dummies );
  • A Complicated Song (from Complicated by Avril Lavigne );
  • Ode to a Superhero (after Piano Man by Billy Joel ), summing up the first Spider-Man  ;
  • Beverly Hillbillies (after Money for Nothing of the Dire Straits );
  • Bob, song composed entirely of palindromes (from Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan );
  • Jerry Springer (after One Week from Barenaked Ladies );
  • Lasagna (after La bamba );
  • Perform This Way (from Born This Way by Lady Gaga );
  • The Great Mighty Poo , a boss song from Conker’s Bad Fur Day on Nintendo 64 , in cooperation with Robert Beanland and under the pseudonym Ed Horowitz;
  • Party in the CIA ( from Miley Cyrus’ Party in the USA ).
  • Word Crimes (after Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke ).

And more recently, there has been Foil.

The song Polka Power alone accounts for no less than 14 covers of songs, including Wannabe of Spice Girls , Tubthumping by Chumbawamba or Ray of Light of Madonna.

Here’s a live version that should impress you.

We find many in songs as polkas that pop up here for your listening pleasure, like Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly, Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix, Every Breath You Take by The Police, Should I Stay or Should I Go by the Clash, and My Generation by The Who.  

When it comes to turning songs into polkas, Al has done them all it seems.

Appearances and cameos

Weird Al appears in an episode of The Simpsons where he writes a song to help Marge recover Homer. He appears again in the episode aired for the first time on January 27, 2008, That 90’s Show , where he makes a parody of a success of the band Sadgasm (with Homer as leader) calling Shave Me, which is itself a parody of the song Rape Me, by the grunge group Nirvana.

He also appears in an episode of season 1 of Parker Lewis never loses where he sings As Time Goes By.

He also made an appearance in the clip Liberian Girl by Michael Jackson.

In episode 7 of How I Met Your Mother’s Season 7 we see him opening a letter from Ted suggesting that he parody Madonna’s song Like a Virgin.

He appears in episode 14 of season 6 of 30 Rock .

In The Big Bang Theory series, Amy finds a Weird Al CD in Howard’s car.

He appears in episode 12 of season 4 of My Little Pony: Friends is magic (doubling the pony Cheese Sandwich).

He also played the role of Isaac Newton in the battle against Bill Nye in the hit YouTube series Epic Rap Battles of History 5.

He appears in episode 4 of the Wet Hot American Summer series as a hypnotist.

Since 1 st August 2017, he is one of the characters available in the game The Simpsons: Springfield 6.


Other songs

Weird Al Yankovic is also the ultimate eBay expert with his Ebay Parody Song, creating a parody of I Want It That Way of the Backstreet Boys, in which he humorously criticizes the madness of bulk shopping on the famous auction site.

He plays one of the nineteen versions of Daisy Bell (Harry Dacre , 1892) on the concept album released on May 13, 2014, The Gay Nineties.

On February 30, 2018 he released a medley of the Hamilton musical polka version entitled “The Hamilton Polka” as part of the Hamildrops (new works in the continuity of the musical).

Discography

  • Studio albums
  • 1983 – “Weird Al” Yankovic
  • 1984 – “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D
  • 1985 – Dare to Be Stupid
  • 1986 – Polka Party!
  • 1988 – Even Worse
  • 1989 – UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff
  • 1992 – Off the Deep End
  • 1993 – Alapalooza
  • 1996 – Bad Hair Day
  • 1999 – Running With Scissors
  • 2003 – Poodle Hat
  • 2006 – Straight Outta Lynwood
  • 2011 – Alpocalypse
  • 2014 – Mandatory Fun

Movies

Weird Al Yankovic appears in the film Agent Zero, with Leslie Nielsen , where he plays the song of the credits ( Spy Hard ) on a background inspired by James Bond.

We also see him as an actor in the UHF movie , whose script he wrote, interspersed with nods to Tex Avery . In the Weird Al tradition, this film includes a pastiche of Money for nothing by Dire Straits : Beverly Hillbillies.

He made a small appearance in the movie “A Hero in the Patrol” (1997) where he performed some of his songs during a show.

He also made an appearance in Halloween 2 at the time of the Samuel Loomis interview, in “Is there a cop to save the queen?” as he comes out of a plane warmly welcomed by his fans, and in “Is there a cop to save Hollywood?” at the Oscars ceremony.

Bonus Vids:

Weird Al – Behind The Music

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