It's hard to remember sometimes that "Weird Al" Yankovic has been honing his craft for more than 30 years now, bringing us masterful parodies of pop music for so long that he's outlived many of his onetime subjects. He has a new album called Mandatory Fun and is in the midst of releasing eight music videos in eight days on YouTube.
Photo by Jason Wolter
Since we're in the middle of another Weird Al year, it seems appropriate to look back on his massive back catalog and remember some of the best parodies that may not have stuck in the public's consciousness in the way "Eat It" or "Amish Paradise" did.
10. "Another One Rides the Bus" (Queen) One of Al's first big hits was this quaint Queen parody. Even though it's not as accomplished as his later works, it's pretty interesting to see how his act has evolved over the years from these early days.
9. "Theme from Rocky XIII (The Rye or the Kaiser)" (Survivor) One of the biggest films around when Al released 1984's "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D was Rocky III. Of course, we all remember Survivor's epic theme song for the film, "Eye of the Tiger," but few remember Al's parody. He was way ahead of the curve, not only in mocking the film's excessive sequels, but also predicting that Rocky would one day own a restaurant (as seen in Rocky Balboa years after the release of the song).
8. "Yoda" (The Kinks) One of the most famous "Weird Al" parodies is "The Saga Begins," but this parody of the Kinks' "Lola" shows wasn't the first time he had written a song about Star Wars.
7. "Dog Eat Dog" (The Talking Heads) One of Al's greatest assets is his ability to parody a style, rather than purely adapting a certain song. This brilliant take on the Talking Heads works because it's an Al original in their style, yet it's so dead-on that it's hard to believe it's not David Byrne.
6. "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long" (George Harrison) My undying love for George Harrison's version of "Got My Mind Set on You" might have a lot to do with why I love this parody, but it's another forgotten classic from one of Al's bigger records, 1988's Even Worse.
5. "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies" (Dire Straits) UHF is an unfortunately extremely underrated film, and this excellent Dire Straits parody, which even features guitarist Mark Knopfler, comes midway through the film in one of the oddest dream sequences in movie history.
List continues on the next page.
4. "Airline Amy" (Nick Lowe) In 1992, a Nick Lowe parody wasn't exactly timely, but this one was buried at the back side of Al's massive Off the Deep End. It's another style parody, and it's one of the most fun tracks on the record.
3. "Talk Soup" (Peter Gabriel) One of Al's greatest songs was a total accident. This one started off when E! asked him to write a theme song for their show Talk Soup. When they rejected it, it ended up on one of his most overlooked records, Alapalooza. Yet it is a brilliant style parody of Peter Gabriel's '80s work, and one of Al's best original tracks.
2. "Livin' in the Fridge" (Aerosmith) Another great one off of Alapalooza, this Aerosmith parody was not only dead-on, but was one of Al's funniest "food songs" in a long, long time at that point.
1. "Germs" (Nine Inch Nails) I could see Trent Reznor as a Howard Hughes-esque psychotic germophobe, at least during his strung-out '90s period, so this dead on parody of "Closer" is pretty accurate even lyrically. It's crazy to me that people didn't pick up on this one more, but it may have just been a hair too late in 1999 on Running with Scissors.
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