A song parody is a a specific form of parody that involves taking an existing song, keeping the beat and background the same, then rewriting the lyrics (or possibly adding lyrics to a song that originally had none). Sometimes the new lyrics are similar to the original, sometimes they bear little resemblance. The United States Supreme Court case Campbell
v. Acuff-Rose Music
established song parodies as Fair Use
, even when used for profit. Thus, one does not technically need to get permission from the original artist to make a parody, though some (such as "Weird Al" Yankovic
) make it a point to get permission for any parodies.
In a non-audio medium such as a comic, making a song parody can be a good way to let readers know how a song is supposed to actually sound
, by giving them a beat and tune to keep in mind as they read the lyrics.
Often times, song parodies are sung To the Tune of...
the piece they're spoofing, but this isn't a requirement; oftentimes a Suspiciously Similar Song
substitute is used instead.
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland parodies numerous poems, as well as a few songs:
- The Hatter's "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat" is, very transparently, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star".
- "The Lobster Quadrille" is a spoof of Mary Howitt's poem "The Spider and the Fly", which Lewis Carroll knew in song form. Carroll liked the melody of the song a lot, and specifically asked the composer of a stage version of Alice to use the old melody rather than trying to write a new one.
- Victorian readers would have caught immediately that the Mock Turtle's Torch Song "Beautiful Soup" can be sung to the tune of a pop megahit of the day, "Beautiful Star".
- MAD sometimes does this, with a Note From Ed mentioning the tune to which the lyrics are set.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic has based his career on this trope.
- Bob Rivers is particularly well known for his parodies of Christmas Songs.
- Many filk songs are parodies of other songs.
- Liam Lynch's album Fake Songs: There's the "Fake Björk Song", the "Fake David Bowie Song", etc.
- Cledus T. Judd is also a career parodist, focusing mainly on Country Music.
- Before him, the country music parody field was dominated by Pinkard and Bowden, who also wrote several (serious) country songs for other artists.
- Sheb Wooley (of "Purple People Eater" and Wilhelm Scream fame) recorded several albums of parodies of then-current country hits in the 1960s and '70s as Ben Colder.
- Going back even earlier, Homer and Jethro made a name for themselves doing these from the 1940s to the '60s.
- Christian band Apologetix performs Christian parodies of popular songs.
- Comedy-themed barbershop quartets often have entire repertoires that consist of parodies of popular barbershop songs.
- Allan Sherman is an older example of building a career on parodies.
- Anthony and Those Other Guys Thormas Time is a Jingle Bells Parody.
- Self primarily do non-comedic originals, but the outtake compilation Feels Like Breakin' Shit included a pair of parody songs: "Titanic" is a Titanic (1997)-themed parody of The Pixies' "Gigantic" (which also includes a bit of Weezer's "The World Has Turned And left Me Here"), while "Moronic" is a parody of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" that's a Take That! to the original artist.
- "Puppet Dude" by Foetus is an odd case of a stealth song parody: If you read the lyrics, they're clearly meant to fit the meter and rhyme scheme of "Rocket Man", but the song itself sounds absolutely nothing like it. It's possible JG Thirlwell wanted to do a straight "Rocket Man" parody but couldn't for legal reasons, so rather than making it a Suspiciously Similar Song he just set the lyrics to entirely different-sounding music.
- Garfunkel and Oates parodied their own "I Would Never (Have Sex With You)" as "I Would Never (Dissect An Ewe)", while pretending to be an amateur tribute act called Simon And Hall.
- Early in his career, Chicago radio personality Steve Dahl did parody songs ("Do Ya Think I'm Disco", "Ayatollah", "Another Kid In the Crawl") with his band Teenage Radiation.
- Cee Lo Green parodied his own song, turning "F**k You" (an song insulting an apparent Gold Digger) into "Thank You" (a song praising firefighters).
- Da Yoopers' catalog includes a few, such as their Signature Song "Rusty Chevrolet" (a parody of "Jingle Bells").
- Brazilian musician Falcão reworked Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2", putting lyrics based on a children's song about throwing sticks at cats. He only sings it live, as the band denied its publishing - something Falcão comments with "I won't allow them to record my songs either!"
- Right Said Fred did a Smurf-related parody of their own song "I'm Too Sexy" called "I'm Too Smurfy" for The Smurfs 2 soundtrack album.
- French comedic rapper Fatal Bazooka (Michaël Youn) and singer Pascal Obispo parodied the French hit song Confessions nocturnes ("nocturnal confessions") by Diam's and Vitaa. The original song was about a woman suspecting her boyfriend to cheat on her and seeking the help of her best friend ; the parody, Mauvaise foi nocturne ("nocturnal dishonesty") is about a man seeking the help of his best friend after her girlfriend caught him cheating on her. The music video is also a Shot-for-Shot Remake of the original.
- New York morning show hosts Scott and Todd on 95.5 PLJ are known for these. Many of them are about making fun of New Jersey, such as "Jersey Girl" (a parody of "Barbie Girl").
- In the mid-to-late 1990s, a Minnesota DJ named Gino Ruberto made several song parodies that he would play at his station, KEEY-FM. One of said parodies, "Any Gal of Mine" (a parody of "Any Man of Mine" by Shania Twain) got played on After Midnite with Blair Garner a few times, causing it to chart as high as #56 on Hot Country Songs without any sort of label promotion. (It was credited to "Gino the New Guy".)
- Many of the songs on Animaniacs were parodies of already existing songs. The episode "H.M.S. Yakko" was made chiefly of parodies of Gilbert and Sullivan songs. Another notable one was "Dot the Macadamia Nut", a parody of "Macarena".