Alfred Matthew Yankovic (born October 23, 1959, in Lynwood, California), is a musical humourist with a career spanning over thirty years.Al got an accordion and lessons for his seventh birthday; according to him, his parents made the decision because "The world needed one more accordion-playing Yankovic" (the first being polka legend Frankie Yankovic; the two are not related). When he went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for an architecture degree, he worked for the school's radio station as a disc jockey, where he got the nickname "Weird Al".He sent three songs to the Dr Demento Show, "Belvedere Cruisin'", "Dr. D Superstar" (never aired), and "My Bologna", a parody of "My Sharona" by The Knack. The Knack's lead singer, Doug Fieger, heard "My Bologna", contacted Al, and got "My Bologna" released as a single. After a modest start, including a disastrous opening for Missing Persons, Weird Al released his first album on Scotti Bros. Records in 1983. Al hit it big with his second album, with "Eat It" (a song and music video parody of Michael Jackson's "Beat It") peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.In 1989, Weird Al starred in the film UHF, and he had a short-lived CBS "kids' show" in the 1990s, The Weird Al Show. He provided the voice of the Squid Hat on The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (as well as being the announcer in the fighting game based on the show). He has been involved with the Transformers franchise twice: his song "Dare To Be Stupid" was played in the 1986 movie, and he provided the voice of Wreck-Gar in Transformers Animated. He had a cameo (as himself) in the Scooby-Doo crossover episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, where he defeated the Joker with his accordion. He's also voiced the character Cheese Sandwich in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Pinkie Pride", because this article wouldn't be complete until we mentioned that.Usually releases a new album and goes on tour once every 3-4 years, thus John Garabedian of Open House Party has stated that "Every album is his comeback album, and then he goes away until the next one..."Unlike other parodic artists, Al and his band (who have been together since the 80s) from the second album on (the first album used accordion on every track in keeping with Al's trademark talent) have kept extremely close to the original melodies and instrumentation of the parodied song. The most extreme example is in "Trapped in the Drive-Thru", based off "Trapped in the Closet" by R. Kelly. To those not in the know, it sounds exactly like the original. Al is very sympathetic to geek communities and frequently gives them recognition in his songs.Responsible for the Weird Al Effect, where a parody remains popular long after the original, and his habit of using pop cultural metaphors (AKA "Pulling a Weird Al") led to his being the former trope namer for that.Since there are a lot of songs floating around LimeWire and other peer-to-peer networks falsely attributed to Al, The Not Al List was created to catalog these. A lot of these songs are raunchy, offensive, and the lead vocal vaguely sounds like Al, but since Al is the most-visible parody musician, his name gets attached to them, despite having subject matter and lyrics he would never touch. Even with the occasional subtext, he still aims to be (in his words) a "more or less family-friendly" performer.The best way to tell if a given parody song is his is to look for music videos of them on YouTube. Take your heart medication first. Wouldn't want to die laughing.Studio album discography:
Tropes associated with "Weird Al" Yankovic include:
419 Scam: In "Lame Claim To Fame", he claims that the email he got from the Nigerian prince certainly sounded legit.
Affectionate Parody: Most of his original works fall under Affectionate Parody. It helps that he always asks permission from the source artist to do a parody of one of his/her/their songs (even though legally he's not required to do so).
Michael Jackson gave Al permission to parody any of his work that he wanted for the rest of his life. The only condition was that Al not record a version of his "Black or White" parody (titled "Snack All Night") as he felt it would cheapen the message of the song. Al agreed and plays the song only at his live shows.
The only song for which he didn't have permission was "Amish Paradise", but there was nothing malicious about it; a miscommunication led Al to believe he actually did have permission, and by the time it was cleared up, it was too late. Coolio (the original artist), got over it and gave Al a hug. As Al put it, "I doubt I'll be invited to Coolio's birthday party, but at least I don't have to wear a bulletproof vest to the mall anymore."
With Lady Gaga, he announced that his 2011 album was delayed after he was given a flat "no" by her manager when he sent her a recording of "Perform This Way", a parody of "Born This Way" which was intended as the leadoff single. After several hours of Internet Backlash it was revealed that the manager never gave her the song to listen to out of the assumption she would hate it. This of course, turned out to be completely untrue and that upon actually hearing it Gaga said she loved it.
The only Weird Al parody that isn't affectionate is the early 1980s demo "It's Still Billy Joel to Me", which may be part of the reason it didn't appear on his debut album. (Billy did eventually give him permission to use "Piano Man", which became the Spider-Man-themed "Ode to a Superhero".)
Al has said that "Achey Breaky Song" is pretty harsh, apologized to Billy Ray Cyrus for it and donated the song royalties to the United Cerebral Palsy Association. That song actually bashes several artists, though Billy Ray Cyrus gets the worst of it. Al recalls being asked by Donny and Marie to play the song on their talk show. The looks on their faces made it clear that they hadn't heard the lyrics which include "You can torture me with Donny and Marie." As mentioned earlier, the singer preferred them, among other artists, to Billy Ray. (He would eventually parody one of Billy Ray's daughter's songs, giving the world "Party in the CIA".) Donny would later appear in Al's White and Nerdy
"You're Pitiful' a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" received Blunt's approval and was all ready to be included on "Straight Outta Lynwood". But at the last minute, Blunt's label, Atlantic Records, stepped in and said Al could not put the song in the album. So instead, he released it for free on the internet. And then performed it in concert, slowly peeling off layers of clothing (in parody of the original song's video), one article of which was a t-shirt saying "Atlantic sucks" (and later "Atlantic still sucks").
His White and Nerdy video has Al defacing their Wikipedia page with a big YOU SUCK on it. As of 2014, that page is still locked to prevent vandalism.
Animated Music Video: Several, including "Skipper Dan", "Another Tattoo", and "Party in the CIA". It's become quite popular lately for professional (and non-professional) animators including Bill Plympton and John Kricfalusi to create their own music videos for his songs.
Appropriated Appellation: While attending Polytechnic, some of his classmates referred to him as "Weird Al" because of his looks. He went on to use it as his DJ handle when he took over the night shift of the school's radio station.
Author Appeal: Most of his parodies are about TV, movies and food.
Awesome, but Impractical: Al doesn't perform the song "Hardware Store" because he isn't sure he could pull the coda off again, especially live.
Similarly, "Albuquerque" - he saves it for the encore, as it wrecks his throat and makes it difficult for him to sing anything else afterward.
Badass Boast: Al's rap parodies tend to be full of these, in keeping with the spirit of the artist being parodied. "It's All About the Pentiums" is a great example. "White and Nerdy" combines this with equal amounts of Self-Deprecation.
"Word Crimes" has "'Weird Al' Yankovic has a big dictionary."
In "CNR", Charles Nelson Reilly "made sweet, sweet love to a manatee."
Big Eater: Not Al himself, but some of his songs are about this (most obviously, "Fat", "My Bologna", and "Eat It") enough to compile an album in the early 90s. The trope is inverted with his song called "Grapefruit Diet".
In fact, Al became a Vegetarian in the 90s, severely lessening his chances of becoming a Big Eater in the future.
He's also said that watching himself eat while in the fat suit during the filming of "Fat" convinced him he never, ever wanted to be fat himself.
In "CNR", several lines say that Charles Nelson Reilly is this, and also an Extreme Omnivore.
"He ate his own weight in coal/and excreted diamonds every day." "He can eat more frozen waffles/than any other man I know." "I've seen the man unhinge his jaw/and swallow a Volkswagen whole."
"Pretty Fly for a Rabbi" uses Yiddish to make puns such as "The parents pay the mohel and he gets to keep the tip."
"Perform This Way" has « Excusez-moi, qui a pété? », which means "Excuse me, who farted?"
"Taco Grande", much like the song it parodies, is filled with Gratuitous Spanish. While Al's simple phrases are mostly things about foods he wants and paying for them, Cheech Marin's cameo in the bridge is a lengthy recommendation and description of a particularly hot dish and the side effects of eating it, ending by asking if the stupid customer can understand what he's saying.
Black Comedy: "Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung" which should not be funny but really is. In fact, lots of Al's songs fall into this. "I Remember Larry" recounts how the singer was bullied (sometimes quite viciously and dangerously) and how he killed the bully. "You Don't Love Me Anymore" is a ballad about all the ways his girlfriend has tried to kill him. "Christmas at Ground Zero" is about nuclear war, and "The Night Santa Went Crazy" details Santa Claus going on a killing spree at the North Pole. Sometimes it's just a line or two instead of a whole song; "Another One Rides The Bus" is about Al on a ridiculously overcrowded bus and he sings "I haven't been in a crowd like this/Since I went to seeThe Who!"
Bland-Name Product: Taco Belle, Starbux, Toysaurus and Homey Depot among others in the music video for "I'll Sue Ya".
Also pretty much every product shown in the "Whatever You Like" video, which is interesting, since many real-world products are named in the song.
Blatant Lies: "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long". The title/chorus might be just six words, but the filler's certainly not. A common fan debate is whether the song's title and lyrics are actually "(This Song Is Just) Six Words Long", which makes seven words.
Blind Without 'Em: His eyesight was extremely poor until he got Lasik surgery in 1997. By then, his glasses had become such an iconic part of his look that fans were disappointed.
Bowdlerise: When "The Saga Begins" was sent to Radio Disney in 1999, he wanted the song to entertain the kids who were Star Wars fans, but Radio Disney felt uncomfortable with the lyric in the second verse about Anakin Skywalker ("Now do you see him hitting on the Queen...?") and wanted to have the part of the second verse removed, since "to hit on" meant something sexual and age-inappropriate. Al, however, had another idea: rather than let them remove the part of that verse that has the lyric and ruin the song, he had to record the whole song from scratch as before, but this time rewriting the lyric in the second verse and changing it to "Now do you see him talking to the Queen...?" Surprisingly, Radio Disney approved of the idea.
Brain Bleach: "My Own Eyes" is all about this, talking about things the singer wishes he could unsee.
Brand Name Takeover: Arguably the reason so many non-Al songs are attributed to him. There are thousands of amateur parody artists out there (all you need is an idea and a recorder to make one), but Al is the big guy on the block - no other parody artist comes close to his success. His name has probably become so synonymous with song parodies that this trope kicked in. Al doesn't like it for the reasons explained in the lead.
In Al-TV 2K, during his interview with Michael Stripe he asks him to say something and he'll make a song using only that sentence, resulting in "Cell Phones". Later in that special, he sings the song to Snoop Dogg.
Butt Monkey: Ruben Valtierra is often put down by everyone else, probably due to the fact that he was originally added purely to handle keyboard duties on tour while Al (who usually does them on albums) handles other duties. Mostly just played for comedy, though it's notable that he wasn't credited or appeared at all on any albums before Alapalooza and didn't appear in the band group photo until Running With Scissors (where he appeared face-down, with scissors sticking out of his back).
His first non-concert appearance in Weird Al's works was the video for "Headline News", in which he portrayed Crash Test Dummies pianist Ellen Reid. A noble start.
Call Back: One of "Al'"s costumes in "Perform This Way" has a hat with a train on it; this hat was also seen in "White and Nerdy".
Al works his mentor, Dr. Demento, into many of his videos.
"I Lost On Jeopardy": The music video takes place on a reproduced version of the 1964-75 set and features both Art Fleming and Don Pardo reprising their roles plus cameo appearances by band members, family members, Demento, and even the guy who sang the song Yankovic was parodying (Greg Kihn).
Al has directed several of Ben Folds' videos, and appears as himself in his role as the director in the video for "Rocking The Suburbs". In return, Ben Folds played piano for "Why Does This Always Happen to Me?"
Al has played the tambourine with Hanson quite a few times.
He also got a humorous moment in Michael Jackson's music video for "Liberian Girl", which is a music video about a bunch of celebrities waiting to film a music video...
Blair Underwood: (Seeing Al's hairdo from behind, and assuming it's Michael) Mikey? Al: No, but I think Bubbles is here.
He was brought in to discuss Autotune on Know Your Meme.
Camera Abuse: Al breathes on the lens in the middle of "Eat It", accidentally punches it while fist-pumping in the segment spoofing Billy Idol in the "UHF" video, and licks it near the end of the video for "Smells like Nirvana."
Canada, Eh?: Parodied in "Canadian Idiot," which is a satire on American nationalism.
He's also quite fond of Canada, being one of the few artists that actually tours the country instead of just making "obligatory" stops in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
"Albuquerque", but a box of one dozen starving, crazed weasels will do that.
Classically Trained Extra: "Skipper Dan" is built on this trope. It's the tale of a former up-and-coming, critically-acclaimed Broadway actor... who is stuck giving shows on the "Jungle Cruise" at Disneyland.
Commissar Cap: One of the images for the Mandatory Fun album shows Al wearing a commissar cap.... while exposing his Goofy Print Underwear with his pants around his ankles.
Conspiracy Theorist: The entire second verse of "Foil" talks about The Illuminati finally being primed for world domination, black helicopters coming from across the border, the government's refusal to admit to faking the Moon landing. Just in case aliens get involved, he's got a Tinfoil Hat to protect him, and someday he'll prove there's one giant conspiracy.
Conspicuous CG: The video for "Perform This Way" features Weird Al's head pasted over a woman's body. The effect works for the most part, but it looks just slightly off...
Continuity Nod: "School Cafeteria," the B-side to Al's debut single "My Bologna," includes the lyrics "the cook still hasn't got the knack," a play on the band The Knack and their album Get The Knack which includes "My Sharona," making both sides contain an homage to the same band.
Cover Version: Al very rarely plays straight covers with the lyrics unchanged, but there are a few exceptions, most notably the theme song of George of the Jungle on his album Dare to Be Stupid. He also is known to play Elvis Costello's "Radio Radio" in concert when there are technical difficulties, and played an obscure New Wave song, "I Got Your Number (Written On the Back of My Hand)" by The Jags, during his college coffeehouse days.
Curse Cut Short: The last part of "Another Tattoo", at the very end, is the closest he ever comes to swearing in a song (as in, Seven Dirty Words levels of swearing). The line in question? "Ow! Motherf..."
Deconstruction: Not by him, but with his participation: the Behind The Music featuring Weird Al — who's never had any real career adversity (by music-industry standards) or scandal — deconstructed entertainment behind-the-scenes shows.
Weird Al: "And then... my fourth album only went Gold instead of Platinum! *sobs* I had to get the medium-sized Jacuzzi!!"
A Degree in Useless: The aspiring actor in "Skipper Dan" who ends up hating his life as "a tour guide on the Jungle Cruise ride."
"I shoulda listened when my grandfather said 'Why don't you major in business instead?'"
Digital Piracy Is Evil: Averted. Al doesn't have that many problems with people downloading his songs, and instead has many more problems with false attribution, the type that labels him as the author of such songs as "Wienie in a Bottle", "Elmo's Got a Gun", and others that he wouldn't be caught dead singing.
He parodied the phenomenon with "Don't Download This Song", which, ironically, was DRM-free when most online retailers were stuck with it and can be downloaded legally for free.
Al also has a habit of leaking one or more songs from his upcoming albums early, usually by posting it to YouTube or some other such site.
And now for some Irony. YouTube seems to have blocked one person's upload of his music videos in the U.S. due to copyright concerns from Sony...said person is Weird Al himself.
Al also mentions in the DVD Commentary for The Weird Al Show coming across a fansite that was distributing episodes of the show, saying that he was fine with it as long as they stopped after the official DVD release by Shout! Factory.
Al himself authorized his album Alpocalypse to be streamed over the internet a week before its release date.
Disney Acid Sequence: During the instrumental in the middle of the video for "Jurassic Park." This may be a parody of the music videos from the 60's (the era that "MacArthur Park," the song being parodied, was released).
Drunken Song: "Feel Like Throwin' Up," a parody of Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love" from an early food medley recorded in the same Cal Poly bathroom as "My Bologna."
Early-Installment Weirdness: On his first album, Al played accordion on every song, the parodies weren't as close in sound to the originals as they would later be, and only one of the non-parody songs is a style parody.
It's hard to bargle nawdle zouss??? With all these marbles in my mouth
And according to the insert for the CD, those are the actual lyrics.
Facial Dialogue: "Jackson Park Express" is about the narrator seeing a woman on a bus. The song is nine minutes long, but describes the "conversations" taking place between a man and a woman discussing the hypothetical process of forming a romantic relationship, engaging in sexual activity, breaking up, and moving on with their lives. All this is implied to all take place over the course of a few seconds.
Fan Flattering: Al and his band (though the band features more prominently; Al only plays accordion) recorded the song "Al's Band". The third to last stanza has:
Straight Outta Lynwood we hit top ten White And Nerdy went platinum too We really hope that someday we might do it again If we do we know that it’s all thanks to you All thank you's to you And you're welcome too Come and see us play when you can Then you can see for yourself what is Making all of this happen You're the reason why we play
Also "Gump", a parody of the Presidents of the United States of America's "Lump", which is about... Yeah, you guessed it.
First World Problems: The name of the song from his Mandatory Fun album, in which he rants about the most insignificant of such problems.
Flaming Emblem: Done in the "White and Nerdy" video which is a parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" where he's eventually standing on a blacktop in front a a flaming version of his logo. In Al's video, the flaming logo is of Pac-Man.
Foil: Prince is a regular target in Al's works, as he is the only artist who has consistently refused permission for any parodies of his songs, allegedly due to the Purple One having No Sense of Humornote Al once recieved a telegram from Prince's lawyers before the American Music Awards, demanding that he did not make eye contact with Prince. The antagonism is played for laughs by Al, and typically consists of throwaway song lyrics or quick jokes in interviews.
''You should never / Write words using numbers Unless you're seven / Or your name is Prince."
—Lyrics for "Word Crimes"
Food Songs Are Funny: Many examples. Enough to fill an entire compilation album (appropriately named "The Food Album") and then some. You could say that this trope is his bread and butter.
At the beginning of "Word Crimes", a dictionary's pages are turning through the A's. The definition of "Accordion" has a picture of Al next to it. On a shot of a piece of homework paper, the homeroom teacher is listed as "Mrs. Krabappel". On the graphic for the lyric "lost cause", which uses a promo graphic from LOST, the print next to the ABC logo reads "learn your [ABC]s, doofus" instead of the network slogan.
In the video for "White and Nerdy", the line "I'll ace any trivia quiz you bring on" begins with a closeup of a Trivial Pursuit card with amusing questions. "A&E: What's the deal with Lindsay Lohan? I mean, seriously?"
Genre Roulette: His band is good enough to play any type of music and Al himself can sing in a multitude of styles, able to pull off rock (both classic and modern), country, pop, reggae, boyband, soul, rap, folk and more vocals. There is a reason they have sometimes been referred to as "The world's greatest cover band".
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Although he's a mostly family-friendly singer, lyrics in several of Weird Al's songs go into grey territory. Notable examples include "You Don't Love Me Anymore", which talks about a woman having sex with an entire hockey team, and "Headline News" which mentions the Lorena Bobbitt incident.
In the music video of "Amish Paradise", watch the guy churning butter after the girl walks by.
The singer of "The Truck Drivin' Song" mentions wearing nipple rings and crotchless panties.
In "One More Minute", the narrator is in "the gas station of love", and he has to use the "self-service pumps".
His polka medley on Straight Outta Lynwood includes "Candy Shop" by 50Cent. Yeah...
"Word Crimes" has numerous examples. "Your participle's dangling" (with appropriate visual), "some cunning linguist", and the video ends with "'WEIRD AL' YANKOVIC HAS A BIG DICTIONARY".
"Jackson Park Express" has "I like your boobs" and "I want you inside me."
"Gump" features the line "His girlfriend Jenny was kind of a slut."
The video for "I Lost on Jeopardy" includes the answer, "This German baroness could suck the chrome off a fender."
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In spite of being more than somewhat risqué (see above), neither Al's parodies nor his polka medleys ever contain really explicit language, and will often Bowdlerise the original lyrics to remove them.
Let's not forget this part of "Close But No Cigar"
She was gorgeous, she was charming Yeah, she was perfect in every way Except she was always using the word 'infer' When she obviously meant 'imply' And I know some guys would put up with that kind of thing But frankly, I can't imagine why
The entirety of "Word Crimes" focuses specifically on this trope.
And for no reason now I'll sing in French Excusez-moi, Qui a pété? (Translation: Excuse me, who farted?)
Greatest Hits Album: The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic, Greatest Hits, Greatest Hits II, and Permanent Record, a four-disc box set of Weird Al's favorite tracks from "My Bologna" to his then-latest single, "Headline News" (which was only available on that box set and Greatest Hits II).
Hell of a Heaven: "Everything You Know Is Wrong" has someone violating Heaven's dress code, and getting stuck with the room next to the noisy ice machine for all eternity. (Suggesting that Heaven is a mid-priced hotel.)
Hitler Cam: Used in "One More Minute" at the end, where Al rips out 'his' (plastic) heart.
Hollywood Nerd: Al played this image up early in his career with the large glasses, white guy Afro, and cheesy mustache. Once he ditched these, around the time "Running with Scissors" came out (although a few videos before then didn't have them), it was suddenly discovered that Mr. Yankovic is actually very good-looking to go along with his geeky charm.
Iconic Outfit: Earlier in his career, there was a particular pair of horrendously ugly pants given to Al that he wore at every concert (which can be seen on his first album cover). He eventually ditched them. Later, he was known for his large collection of Hawaiian-print shirts and Vans sneakers. He still pulls these out, though not as frequently.
"You know, I'd never been on a real airplane before ... And the little kid in back of me kept throwin' up the whole time ... And, oh yeah, three of the airplane engines burned out / And we went into a tailspin and crashed into a hillside / And the plane exploded in a giant fireball / and everybody died"
In The Style Of: At least half of Al's non-parodies mimic the style of another significant musician, perhaps the most famous being "Dare To Be Stupid", his take on Devo. In addition, every album but the first and fifth contains a medley of then-recent hit songs performed as a polka.
"Dog Eat Dog" parodies Talking Heads, and even includes modified versions of lines from "Once in a Lifetime". Al even puts on a David Byrne-style giant suit when performing this song live.
"Trigger Happy" is a take on the style of of every Beach Boys song ever. Except for the ones he later homaged with "Pancreas".
"Bob" is a bunch of palindromes sung like Bob Dylan. The video even parodies "Subterranean Homesick Blues".
"Close But No Cigar" is an absolutely spot-on pastiche of the band CAKE's signature style, including blurty trumpet, ad-libs (yelled off-mic), and rampant Vibra-Slap abuse.
"You Make Me" is a parody in the style of Oingo Boingo, complete with various percussion, a prominent horn section, and distinct guitar solo, all sounding quite Boingo-esque.
In a lot of cases, his "style parodies" are a result of not getting permission to do a parody of an actual song by the band. For example, after Trent Reznor refused to let him do any Nine Inch Nails songs, Weird Al came out with "Germs," which clearly borrows from several NIN songs (especially "Terrible Lie" and "Mr. Self Destruct").
For similar reasons, he did the song "Traffic Jam" in the style of Prince, who has consistently refused to parody any of his songs.
"Wanna B Ur Lovr" is thought by many to be another Prince hit, but is styled more along the lines of BECK; Al claimed that the song is himself "trying to sound like Beck trying to sound like Prince."
"If That Isn't Love" is mostly a style parody of his close friends, the boys of Hanson, but there's definitely a few jabs at Justin Bieber in there too.
"Mr. Popeil" is a style parody of The B-52s, with Al's female backing vocalistsnote (one of whom, Lisa Popeil, is the daughter of the "Mr. Popeil" the song's named after) doing a perfect imitation of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson and Al himself doing the Fred Schneider part.
In a slightly less musical example, Carnival of the Animals, Part Two (the B-side to Peter and the Wolf) includes recited poetry in the style of Ogden Nash.
"Velvet Elvis"=The Police (particularly "Driven to Tears")
"Ringtone"=Queen (with the intro nearly matching that of "Don't Stop Me Now")
"Craigslist"=The Doors (more specifically, main verse="20th Century Fox/Soul Kitchen", chorus="The Changeling", and spoken-word interlude="The End". Ray Manzarek, the Doors' keyboardist, plays keys on that track).
Limited Wardrobe: Al has almost always been seen wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt, black trousers, and brightly-patterned Vans shoes since the 1980s. Until Al had his vision corrected with LASIK eye surgery in the 1990s, his distinctive large wire-rimmed eyeglasses were also part of his trademark look.
Lobotomy: in the song "I Can't Watch This," he proposes that getting one will improve the appeal of HBO, the Playboy Network, Showtime, and MTV.
Long Runners: He's been around for quite a while. As one [adult swim]Eye Catch observed, if you went back to 1984 and told people that Weird Al was still relevant in 2006 while Michael Jackson had flamed out, they likely wouldn't believe you.
And after 30 years in the business, and in an musical landscape where sites like YouTube have made comedy music commonplace, Weird Al's savvy marketing ploy for Mandatory Fun (debuting each song on a different website) combined with a brilliant batch of music scored him and his bandmates their first-ever #1 album.
Long Runner Line Up: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, Jim West, and Steve Jay have been with him for almost as long. This is an unusual example in that these three are almost totally overshadowed by Weird Al himself.
Love Martyr: "You Don't Love Me Anymore" takes this trope to extremes.
"Good Old Days", a James Taylor-esque folk ballad about childhood. However, this particular childhood involved torturing rats with hacksaws, burning down a corner store and brutally beating the shop owner, and taking a girl from highschool to a dance, and shaving her bald and abandoning her in the desert.
A perfect example is on the album "Straight Outta Lynwood," after his Rage Against the Machine parody "I'll Sue Ya." After an angry song like that one, there's an abrupt guitar chord, which is directly followed by a one-second pause going into "Polkarama," which has the Dance Craze "Chicken Dance" as an intro. Of course, THAT goes into a polka cover of "Let's Get it Started" by The Black-Eyed Peas.
A similar example is on the album "Running With Scissors", where the Nine Inch Nails style parody "Germs" is followed by an intensely happy polka (the first track in the medley being the Spice Girls, for crying out loud). Mood Whiplash at its finest, folks.
In "Your Horoscope for Today" the prediction for Sagittarius begins like this:
All your friends are laughing behind your back. (beat) Kill them.
"Foil" starts out as a typical Lorde parody about food before suddenly taking a left turn into Conspiracy Theorist territory. The video emphasizes this, with a television director played by Patton Oswalt who reacts negatively to the new topic. He's in on the conspiracy.
Moon Landing Hoax: Al is convinced that the government staged it in "Foil". In the video, there's footage of the landing being interrupted by stagehands clacking the marker and moving a boom mic out of the camera shot.
Morally Ambiguous Ducktorate: Given the content of the song "I Want A New Duck," one presumes a duck of less-than-ideal behavior was already being dealt with.
Motor Mouth: The middle of "Hardware Store". He speaks at a rate of 242 words per minute, or all of the below in 30 seconds and in one breath.
They've got Allen wrenches, gerbil feeders, toilet seats, electric heaters Trash compactors, juice extractors, shower rods and water meters Walkie-talkies, copper wires, safety goggles, radial tires BB pellets, rubber mallets, fans and dehumidifiers Picture hangers, paper cutters, waffle irons, window shutters Paint removers, window louvers, masking tape and plastic gutters Kitchen faucets, folding tables, weather stripping, jumper cables Hooks and tackle, grout and spackle, power foggers, spoons and ladles Pesticides for fumigation, high-performance lubrication Metal roofing, waterproofing, multi-purpose insulation Air compressors, brass connectors, wrecking chisels, smoke detectors Tire gauges, hamster cages, thermostats and bug deflectors Trailer hitch demagnetizers, automatic circumcisers Tennis rackets, angle brackets, Duracells and Energizers Soffit panels, circuit breakers, vacuum cleaners, coffee makers Calculators, generators, matching salt and pepper shakers...
Let it be known that the aforementioned listing is the main reason Al won't do the song on tour. He apparently doesn't think he can do it again.
Also in the middle of "Your Horoscope for Today," also all in one breath:
Now you may find it inconceivable or at the very least a bit unlikely that the relative position of the planets and the stars could have a special deep significance or meaning that exclusively applies to only you, but let me give you my assurance that these forecasts and predictions are all based on solid, scientific, documented evidence, so you would have to be some kind of moron not to realize that every single one of them is absolutely true. Where was I?
Mockumentary: Two, actually. There's the rare "The Compleat Al," made to help promote the Dare To Be Stupid album, and the Disney Channel combination Mockumentary / Rockumentary "There's No Going Home", which was included as an Easter Egg on the Running With Scissors album.
There's also the 1985 book The Authorized Al, released as a companion piece to The Compleat Al.
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually matches the song or style he's parodying, sometimes skewing a point lower, so generally from 1 (e.g. "You Don't Love Me Anymore") to 5-6 (e.g. "I'll Sue Ya", "Germs"). "Bite Me" is the exception - it meets the criteria for a 10.
I hopped up and said, "I don't know, do you want to get something delivered?" And she's like, "Why would I want to eat liver? I don't even like liver." I'm like, "No, I said 'delivered'." She's like, "I heard you say liver." I'm like, "I should know what I said." She's like, "Whatever... I just don't want any liver."
Mouthful of Pi: In White and Nerdy the title character claims to know Pi to a thousand places.
Mouth Screen: "Dare To Be Stupid" and "Bedrock Anthem" featured Al's mouth, even scenes of him performing in Chin Face.
Nice Guy: Although fair-use law regarding parody mean Al doesn't need anyone's permission, he makes sure that he does have permission from an artist in order to poke fun. This has worked out for him in several ways, with the originals artists often contributing resources to the final project to thank him for his politeness.
Nose Nuggets: "Gotta Boogie". ("Gotta boogie on my finger and I can't shake it off!")
"Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: In the booklet that came with Permanent Record, Al notes that the song "Midnight Star" (about ridiculous tabloid headlines) contained mostly real headlines from various tabloids. He specifically noted that he held onto one about The Incredible Frog Boy from the Weekly World News for years.
Once an Album: Almost every albumnote "Weird Al Yankovic" and "Even Worse" are the odd ones out here contains one polka medley of songs popular at the time note The exceptions being "The Hot Rocks Polka", which is a medley of Rolling Stones' songs from a wider span of time, and "Bohemian Polka" is a double-speed full cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody", and one song in any style ripping on TV shows popular at the time. There's also always at least one song about food.
Since 1999, every album has included bonus video content that can be viewed on a computer (if not also a DVD player), though Alpocalypse had it as an extra DVD packaged with the CD.
Oh, I accidentally shot Daddy last night in the den
I mistook him in the dark for a drug-crazed Nazi again
Now why'd you have to get so mad?
It's just a lousy flesh wound, Dad
You know I'm trigger happy, trigger happy every day
Parody Assistance: Sometimes Al gets more than just permission to parody an artist's songs. Michael Jackson donated the subway set used for "Badder" (the kid version of "Bad" filmed for Moonwalker) to Yankovic for his parody "Fat", Ray Manzarek of The Doors played keyboards and bass on "Craigslist", and Mark Knopfler would only allow Al to parody "Money for Nothing" if he was permitted to do the guitar work himself.
Ben Folds played piano on "Why Does This Always Happen To Me"... which is a parody of Ben Folds songs. "Genius in France", a style parody of Frank Zappa features Frank's son Dweezil on guitar.
Though more of a stretch, singer and voice coach Lisa Popeil has done female backup vocals for Al since 1983. The first song to feature her? "Mr. Popeil", a song that makes fun of her father's products and brother's infomercials in the style of The B-52s.
James Brown arranged for Al to record the music video for "Living With a Hernia" using the backdrop where he performed the original "Living in America" song in Rocky IV.
On Al's 2011 album Alpocalypse, he did a style parody of Hanson called "If That Isn't Love." Al and the Hanson brothers are friends, and Taylor Hanson plays keyboards on the song.
The "Smells Like Nirvana" video actually had some of the actors from the original "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video including the janitor.
Imagine Dragons assisted with the creation of "Inactive", a parody of their own song "Radioactive", to help reproduce as authentic a sound of the original as possible.
Precision F-Strike: In "Jerry Springer"; appropriately, Yankovic himself doesn't use the word, but guest vocalist Tress MacNeille does during a portion of the song parodying a typical episode of the show:
Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Briefly worn after he got Lasik. He still uses glasses with fake lenses whenever he performs "Fat" to help the fat mask stay on better.
Quirky Curls: One of the few male examples. Despite rumors to the contrary, it is not a perm; he's naturally just that curly (although he has teased it up on occasion to achieve something close to a Funny Afro).
Rant Inducing Slight: "First World Problems" contains a long list of utterly trivial annoyances that induce mouth-foaming rage in Al.
Reality Warper: The titular computer virus from the song "Virus Alert".
Reckless Gun Usage: The singer in "Trigger Happy" accidentally shoots both his father and his cat.
Refrain from Assuming: Usually his parodies turn the original title phrase into something wacky and indicative of the parody's subject matter. If he can't manage that, this trope usually ensues.
Replacement Goldfish: Part of the numerous minor confessions in "Confessions Part 3" listed killing his girlfriend's goldfish and replacing it.
Reports Of My Retirement Were Greatly Exaggerated: When it was reported that Mandatory Fun (His contract with Volcano expires after its release) would likely be his last album, many people took it to mean that he was done making music. In reality it meant that he plans on releasing music in an untraditional manner and not the traditional album.
Retconning the Wiki: The music video for "White And Nerdy", in which he replaces the entire text for Atlantic Record's wiki page with huge type reading YOU SUCK!!!!! This was a personal Take That from Al for slights the company had done him in the past. His fans thought it was so funny, they started doing it for real, resulting in That Other Wiki having to lock the Atlantic Records page.
Ripped from the Headlines: "Headline News" has three verses describing the American kid who got caned in Singapore, the Nancy Kerrigan incident, and Lorena Bobbitt.
And new verses (from the 2007 tour) about Paris Hilton's DUI and Britney Spears's going commando and head shave.
"Midnight Star" contains several headlines from actual supermarket tabloids including one about "The Incredible Frog-Boy!"
Rockers Smash Guitars: At the end of the "Smells like Nirvana" video, Al smashes his guitar, the audience smashes plates on a guy's head, and then Al pushes a plunge-detonator to demolish a building. He also used to smash his accordion at the end of his polka medleys in concert when they ended with The Who's "My Generation".
Self-Backing Vocalist: A large amount of the time. Notable exceptions include female vocals, lines low enough to be sung by Steve Jay, and several songs such as "Trigger Happy" and "Don't Download This Song".
"Since You've Been Gone" is a bunch of Weird Als singing a cappella (except for the bass line, which is Steve Jay).
Self-Deprecation: Al has admitted (re: "Skipper Dan") that he feels a certain sympathy with actual Disney Jungle Cruise tour guides, as his own live shows can get repetitive for him. This makes the following line a bit of a Take That Me:
The name of one of his albums: Weird Al Yankovic Even Worse.
Self-Parody: Not Al himself, but his music video for "Mission Statement", which combines every meaningless business platitude under the sun into a Crosby, Stills & Nash pastiche, features whiteboard art from TruScribe, a company famous for laboriously illustrating similar lectures and advertisements on behalf of economic firms and the like.
Serious Business: Going through the drive-thru is very serious and don't you dare forget the onions.
"Alpocalypse" has a song called "CNR" which contains a shout-out to Jim Croce.
"Amish Paradise" also includes the line "But I ain't never punched a tourist even if he deserved it", a reference to the movie Witness, in which Harrison Ford is a police detective placed undercover in an Amish community to protect a murder witness and punches out a tourist who steals his hat.
There is even a Shout-Outto Al out there. Chamillionaire's remix of "Ridin'" called "Ridin' Overseas" mentions "White And Nerdy". (1:59 in the linked video)
A year later, after "White And Nerdy",
On the grind, still tryin', still flyin' birdies.
Running With Scissors has two shout-outs to Monty Python. "The Truck Drivin' Song" is one to "The Lumberjack Song" (both are about a man in a masculine occupation who likes to dress in ladies' clothing) and "Albuquerque" has a donut shop that has no donuts (referencing the "Cheese Shop" sketch). Monty Python and the Holy Grail also gets a mention in "White and Nerdy," and is also referenced in "Trigger Happy" with the line "it was just a lousy flesh wound."
As mentioned above, Shaped Like Itself line in "Albuquerque" is a reference to the Cheech and Chong song, "Basketball Jones."
The gargling-while-singing and exaggerated gulping on "Smells Like Nirvana" are an homage to Spike Jones, to whom Al is something of a Spiritual Successor.
"Perform This Way" has a shout-out to Madonna's "Express Yourself", due to the perception of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" being a Suspiciously Similar Song. The video even has a Madonna lookalike dressed in the style of her Blonde Ambition concert tour costume.
At one point, the video for "Word Crimes" shows some doodles including Pac-Man and Trogdor.
There's also visual references to Doge and the "Use your brains, morans!" picture.
"Trigger Happy" and "Pancreas", his Beach Boys homages; the former song has elements of "Fun, Fun, Fun", "Catch A Wave", "No-Go Showboat", "Surfin USA", and "Little Deuce Coupe" in it; the latter has elements of "Our Prayer", "Do You Like Worms", "God Only Knows", "I Know There's An Answer", "Wind Chimes", "Heroes and Villains", and "Good Vibrations", all in one song.
In live performances of "Skipper Dan", Al even uses the two-fingered style of pointing at things required of actual Disneyland cast members.
I know a guy who knows a guy Who knows a guy who knows a guy Who knows a guy who knows Kevin Bacon.
Small Reference Pools: In addition to the part about parody musicians, there are a number of people to this day (as evidenced by the comments left on videos on YouTube) that don't realize that about half of Al's output has been original songs, due to his biggest hits all being parodies.
Spoofed with Their Own Words: Weird Al usually thinks up silly imagery to put into his song parodies, but in "Perform this Way," most of the lyrics mention things Lady Gaga has actually done, like being born out of an egg on stage.
Stalker with a Crush: "Melanie". Complete with peeping into her bathroom with a telescope and being willing to jump out a 16 story window for her love. Even being dead cannot stop him.
There's a portion of "Jurassic Park" that involves a lot of screaming, mainly stock screams.
During the "Perform This Way" video, after the line, "I'll poke your eye out with a dress like this." S/he hits a backup dancer with the spiky dress and, well... "AAUGH!"
Subliminal Seduction: Parodied (of course) in the backmasked phrases in the songs "Nature Trail to Hell" and "I Remember Larry (Respectively: "Satan eats Cheez Whiz!" and "Wow, you must have an awful lot of free time on your hands.")
The video for "Foil" intercuts the line "Be aware" with single frame shots of Al covered in blood.
"One More Minute" was written to get over an ex, and he rips her picture in the video.
He does a lengthy one against Atlantic Records over his James Blunt parody "You're Pitiful," which eventually led to Wikipedia being forced to lock Atlantic's entry due to excessive vandalism. (Which was caused by Al pretending to deface that entry in his video for "White and Nerdy".)
There's also the unreleased "It's Still Billy Joel to Me" (parody of "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"), which is no more than one long attack on Billy Joel.
Al generally tries to avoid blatantly making fun an artist who has given him permission to parody their work, but sometimes he does his fair share of good-natured ribbing, example include the above mentioned "It's Still Billy Joel to Me," "Smells Like Nirvana," and "Perform This Way."
"Brady Bunch" and "Achy Breaky Song" are thematically similar, in that Al would rather do literally anything than watch/listen to the aforementioned subjects (The Brady Bunch and "Achy Breaky Heart", respectively). In the case of the latter, Al chose to donate the single's grosses to a charity of Billy Ray Cyrus' choice after deciding the song was on the harsh side.
"My Baby's In Love With Eddie Vedder" is more sarcastic than harsh, and Al even apologizes in the liner notes.
"I'll Sue Ya" is about Al's string of frivolous lawsuits. "I sued Delta Airlines, 'cause they sold me a ticket to New Jersey. I went there, and it SUCKED!"
When he comes to Ben Affleck, there's silence in the spot where normally he gives the reason for the lawsuit. Finally he just asks "do I even need a reason?"
Al rags on Pauly Shore every once in a while.
Apparently, even if you're "the prettiest girl on the planet", he'll break up with you if you own a DVD of Joe Dirt.
Usually, his Al TV fake interviews with music celebrities are Affectionate Parodies with just some light ribbing. His Kevin Federline interview, however, is just nine minutes of Al completely ripping into his music, his personal life, and him in general.
"TMZ" manages to be a Take That to both the website and the bad celebrity behavior that ends up on it.
One of the negative effects listed in "Virus Alert" is that it will "make your TV record Gigli".
There's a brief, easily missable one towards Alanis Morissette in "Word Crimes," specifically her song "Ironic." Just pay attention to the animation on screen when Al is talking about what irony is and isn't.
He was also more than happy to break the rhyming scheme just to take a shot at Prince, mentioned in the Foil entry above.
"It's All About the Pentiums" almost squeaks by, because so many of the specs Al boasts about are either still a long way from becoming the norm (a hundred gigabytes of RAM) or just absurd by any era's standards (a flatscreen monitor 40 inches widenote 3 feet 4 inches, or just over a meter)... the only line that's completely unsalvageable even with creative editing is... well, the title line. The Pentium brand was discontinued in the mid-2000s.
Similarly, "When I Was Your Age" references fax machines and "Nintendo" (aka video games) as fancy new technology he didn't have growing up. To a lesser extent, water beds have fallen well out of popularity.
On Bad Hair Day, Al has a song called "Phony Calls", about the old pastime of prank phone calls - a practice which has been practically killed for the amateur by caller ID and star-69.
On "White and Nerdy", Al says "My MySpace Page is totally pimped out. Got people begging for my top eight spaces". Back in 2006 when the song was released, MySpace was the top social networking site. However, it was eventually superseded by Facebook- which engages in no such ranking- and now MySpace is much more of a niche site that has nowhere near as many users.
Teen Genius: Al was one growing up, not only graduating high school at the age of sixteen, but was also valedictorian.
The Show Must Go On: Al went ahead with a concert just hours after learning his parents had passed away in their home from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, explaining later that performing would take his mind off the tragedy, at least for a little while. However, he did cancel the meet-and-greet and autograph sessions afterwards, to give him some time alone.
Tinfoil Hat: The second verse of "Foil" focuses around fashioning an aluminum foil hat to protect himself against thought control rays and psychotronic scanning.
Toilet Humor: Many songs, especially in early albums, have gratuitous fart or belching noises added. In some cases this is done to provide an alternate interpretation for the lyrics.
"Every twenty-seventh customer will get a ball peen hammer free!"
Uncanny Valley:invoked Weird Al's Perform This Way, as his face is digitally subbed over a female dancer. The effect is seriously creepy in a hilarious sort of way, which is certainly intentional, considering who he's parodying.
Uncommon Time: "Genius in France" shifts time signatures and rhythms incessantly, naturally enough since it's a style parody of Frank Zappa (and quite an impressive one at that).
Al parodies (or style parodies) artists from all across the musical spectrum, giving equal due to whoever is popular at the time. As a result, his albums end up becoming rather tidy time capsules for the sounds that were popular at the time of their release. Add in the many pop culture references from the era and it completes the portrait.
In 3-D, Dare to Be Stupid and Polka Party from 1984/85/86 are composed mostly of New Wave, over-the-top electropop and bar rock.
Even Worse and UHF: Official Motion Picture Soundtrack and Some Other Stuff from 1988/89 are comprised of arena-oriented dance pop, hair metal, hip hop and teen pop.
Bad Hair Day from 1996 is comprised of hip hop, alternative rock, grunge, college rock and R&B.
Running With Scissors from 1999 is comprised of hip hop, bubblegum pop, adult contemporary, alternative rock and country, with a parody of "Zoot Suit Riot" by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies symbolizing the era's neo-swing revival and "Your Horoscope For Today" representing the rise of third-wave ska.
Poodle Hat and Straight Outta Lynwood from 2003 and 2006 are comprised of hip-hop, ringtone rap, punk rock, emo rock and R&B, with some ribbing of popular American Idol launched acts thrown in.
2011's Alpocalypse is composed of hip hop, dance pop and bubblegum teen pop. In addition, the album's title is in reference to the 2011 and 2012 doomsday predictions.
All of his parodies hark back to some (possibly forgotten) hit or the era it came from. "Headline News", however, is not only a parody but recounts a few of the big news stories of the early 1990's. The song never appeared on a regular studio album possible because of how quickly Al knew it would feel dated. To wit:
In the uncensored version of "The Night Santa Went Crazy" (in which Santa is killed in the shootout), no mention is made of Vixen and Donner's fates.
When I Was Your Age: The subject of the song of the same name, full of ridiculous claims such as working twenty hours a day in a coal mine, or walking naked to school through a blizzard.
Wiki Vandal: He pretends to replace the entire Atlantic Records Wikipedia entry with the phrase "YOU SUCK!" in 72-point letters during the video of "White And Nerdy."
As mentioned above, the real Wikipedia entry for Atlantic Records had to be locked because of legions of ticked-off Al fans doing the same thing.
Word Salad Lyrics: If an artist is known for obscure lyrics, you can bet Al will have something to say about it in his parody. Notably, "Bob" parodies Bob Dylan's style by having Fun With Palindromes, and "Smells Like Nirvana" is all about how the singer doesn't even know what the words are but that's OK since it's a Nirvana song.
Yes Virginia: Now Santa's Doing Time. In a Federal prison, for his infamous crime.
Or... Yes, Virginia: Now Santa Claus Is Dead. Some guy from the SWAT team blew a hole through his head.
You Don't Look Like You: Al looks almost nothing like the above image nowadays, thanks to laser eye surgery and an image change. Some early videos ("Ricky", "UHF") foreshadowed his modern appearance.
Al himself has relayed a story of a television appearance he had soon after the surgery and shaving off his moustache (The Drew Carey Show, season 4 episode 4, "Drew Between the Rock and a Hard Place"). The people at the TV studio wanted him in his "classic" look, and got him prop eyeglasses and a fake moustache. Al described the experience as surreal, "like I was wearing a Weird Al Halloween costume". See it here.
Averted, however, with an appearance on How I Met Your Mother — the segment Al appears in takes place in 1985, and he looks almost exactly like he did in those days.