Trivia / "Weird Al" Yankovic

  • Weird Al has directed several music videos for other artists, including Ben Folds, Hanson, and Jeff Foxworthy.
  • Approval of God: These days, a parody from Al is considered a greater honor than a Grammy. Examples include:
    • The creators and writers of Jeopardy! apparently love "I Lost on Jeopardy", as they've referenced it many times. (The song references the Art Fleming version from the 1960s and 1970s, of which the Alex Trebek version — which debuted 14 weeks after "I Lost on Jeopardy" — is a revival.) Similarly, Greg Kihn, who wrote the song "Jeopardy" that Al parodied, has written about how much he enjoyed the parody.
    • Michael Jackson was a big fan and enjoyed the parodies of his work. He even lent the set for his "Badder" music video (the kid version of "Bad" seen in Moonwalker) for Al to use for his parody "Fat".
    • Chamillionaire told the Houston Chronicle: "It's one thing to go platinum. Where do you go from there? Then Weird Al calls." He would later end up with The Weird Al Effect being inverted on him— People in Asia thought that Al wrote the song first, and they really enjoyed his "parody" of "White & Nerdy".
    • Averted with Red Hot Chili Peppers ("disapproval of god?"). While they did give Al permission to do "Bedrock Anthem," and are fans of Al's work, RHCP bassist Flea later stated that the band members weren't impressed with the parody.
    • Lady Gaga stated that being parodied by Weird Al is a rite of passage for any singer.
    • Imagine Dragons drummer Daniel Platzman says that since he and his bandmates love Weird Al's music, they felt "honored" to hear that he parodied "Radioactive" as, "Inactive". They even directly helped with the production of the song to reproduce the sound of the original as much as possible.
    • Kurt Cobain once claimed that he hadn't felt as though he'd "made it" until "Smells Like Nirvana." When he and the other members of Nirvana saw the video for "Smells Like Nirvana," they literally rolled on the floor laughing.
    • Subverted with Coolio, who originally hated "Amish Paradise" because it made light of the gangland drama he was attempting to bring awareness to, and because he had never given his approval for it. He would later claim that he overreacted and that he finds the song hilarious. The royalty checks didn't hurt.
    • Acknowledged In-Universe on an episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series, where Sabrina's band has a hit single with the song "What's Your Favorite Flavor" and among their successes is a Weird Al parody called "Electric Shaver."
  • Compact Disc: Dare To Be Stupid was the first comedy album to be released on CD.
  • Creator Backlash: After some time, Al admitted he wasn't fond of "Achy Breaky Song", feeling that it was a bit mean-spirited.
  • Development Hell: A minor example with Off The Deep End: Al had the problems with Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney detailed below (though they were very respectful about it) and after his hiatus at the time wanted to come back strong with a parody of a major hit. Cue Smells Like Teen Spirit becoming huge and thus Smells Like Nirvana was born and the album got on the release track.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Al recorded his vocals for "Headline News" as early in the morning as he could the day of so that his voice would be naturally low enough to emulate Brad Roberts' Badass Baritone on "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm."
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Essentially the cause of Coolio's beef with Weird Al. Al usually got permission directly from celebrities for his parodies (even though he does not legally have to) but occasionally relied on the studio heads to do that for him. His producer got permission from Coolio's producer but not Coolio. After that incident, Al goes directly to the artist for permission.
    • Used in the more traditional sense with the song "You're Pitiful" which was supposed to be a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful". James said yes, but the higher-ups said no, and the song was only released on Al's website for free.
    • Happened with his parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." Al thought Gaga had not given him permission to put his parody on his new record, when what actually happened was her manager hadn't given Gaga the song to listen to in the first place, just assuming she would hate it. Once Gaga finally heard the song, she loved it.
      • Not to mention the hoops that Gaga's manager made Al jump through. Normally, Al doesn't even write a parody until he's gotten permission, but Gaga's manager insisted that she needed to hear it first, so he wrote the lyrics and sent them. Her manager's reply? That she needed to actually HEAR the song. Al, obviously thought it was weird since it was just going to be his lyrics with her music, but, as he wanted to use the song regardless of whatever hoops he had to jump, he went ahead and recorded it. When he got the rejection, he wasn't happy. As it turns out, however, Gaga's manager had never even sent her the lyrics, let alone the song itself, so she actually had no idea that the song existed, let alone was rejected.
    • "Dare to Be Stupid" was hit with this. The record label made two demands: one, a Cyndi Lauper parody and two, a cover. For the former, he came up with the deliberately forced and obnoxious "Girls Just Want To Have Lunch," but met them halfway for the latter by covering the theme to George of the Jungle, a song that is entirely impossible not to enjoy singing.
    • One album later, they wanted a Christmas song. The result, naturally, was "Christmas At Ground Zero".
    • "Headline News" came about when his label insisted that he release one more song before the end of the fiscal year, despite him already having near-completed Bad Hair Day, his most recent album. The entire reason the Al In A Box boxed set was released was for the sake of releasing that one song (it would later show up on his Greatest Hits: Volume 2 album).
  • Genre Adultery: Due to his earlier songs being well-known about eating or related to it, when Al asked for permission to parody Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Kurt Cobain had this question:
    Kurt Cobain: It's not going to be about food, is it?
    Al: No, it's going to be about how no one understands your lyrics.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: While many of Weird Al's songs are still widely available, two are hard to find to own, outside of YouTube music videos - "Spy Hard", the theme to the movie of the same name and Polkamon, from the soundtrack to Pokémon 2000.
  • Money, Dear Boy: His stated reason for recording "Eat It" and "Like a Surgeon". The latter was his biggest chart-topper until "White and Nerdy."
    • His indifference towards "Like a Surgeon" was discussed on How I Met Your Mother, which had one of the main characters write the song in a fan-letter rather than actually making it himself.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: His stage and Al TV persona is that of an arrogant smart aleck (if not a Know-Nothing Know-It-All) who ribs pop culture and insists that everyone treat him like a genius. In person, he's a gentle soul who adores his fans, is generally nice to other celebrities and, most importantly, is still really funny!
  • Name's the Same: In his Fat music video, one thug recalls that he hasn't seen the main character at Burger World lately; in UHF, "Burger World" is the name of the restaurant Al's character initially works at. Burger World is also the name of the fast food restaurant that Beavis and Butthead work at.
  • Old Shame:
    • "It's Still Billy Joel to Me", a home demo recorded in the early 1980s. Al later admitted it was poor taste and has since apologized to Billy for the song.
    • A couple of other early coffeehouse recordings, "Orgy On My Own" and "If I Could Make Love to a Bottle", some of which contain content so explicit that many contemporary listeners naturally assumed they were among the many fakes when they surfaced.
  • One of Us: Does this even need to be here?
    • The White And Nerdy music video alone proves this as only a real nerd would have known some of these things. Knowing about The Star Wars Holiday Special and why you would need to bootleg it is some serious nerd cred.
    • His bandmates, too. "Bermuda" Schwartz, for example, helped maintain Al's original web page and participated in Al's Usenet fan group.
    • "Pancreas" includes a near-perfect recitation of Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation (it drops a "squared").
    • And then there's "All About the Pentiums", which came out earlier and is labeled as one of the earliest nerdcore songs ever.
    • He's a Brony, and even had a guest role on the show.
      • Which would be Hilarious in Hindsight for those who heard "Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me", in which one of the lyrics implies that he doesn't care about unicorns. Doubly funny when you consider that he actually tweeted a fanmade music video that joins Friendship is Magic and Polkarama - thereby making HIM the one "forwarding unicorns".
    • He also did a polka song about Pokémon, for the soundtrack to the second movie. "EEEEVERYBODY POLKAMON!"
    • He's done voices for Transformers media as well, and Dare to Be Stupid was used in Transformers: The Movie.
    • He's a huge fan of animation and uses any opportunity to numerous different kinds in his work.
    • He has watched the anime adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, posting to his Instagram a segment from the last episode of Stardust Crusaders where one of his songs his mentioned.
    • While he usually shies away from name-dropping specific music acts that he likes, he's a professed lover of Alternative Rock and Indie Rock.
  • Playing Against Type: He typically plays characters similar to his on stage/music video persona. However...
  • Promoted Fanboy: Was a huge fan of The Simpsons and considered his two appearances on the show to be seminal moments in his career.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Nick and Mary Yankovic, Al's real-life parents, are seen in the video for "I Lost on Jeopardy!" at the point where announcer Don Pardo tells Al he's "brought shame and disgrace on [his] family name for generations to come!" Averted with the little girl who tosses Al's portrait into the trash, however — she's implied to be his sister, but Al's an only child.
    • Al's Aunt Dot is the jumping cave woman in "Bedrock Anthem".
  • Reality Subtext: Al wrote "One More Minute" to get over an ex who dumped him. He even rips up her picture in the music video.
  • Throw It In:
    • In the video for "You Don't Love Me Anymore," bassist Steve Jay chipped one of his teeth biting into a piece of ham (watch carefully — he noticeably winces as he does so). Since it fit with everything else, it was kept.
    • The picture falling off the wall at the beginning of the video for "Eat It" wasn't intended but fit the mood well enough that they used that take.
    • The very off-key note that concludes "Albuquerque," as well as the chuckle that follows, was this.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • 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.
      • "Weird Al" Yankovic from 1983 is a case of Early Installment Weirdness but it still qualifies. The album is composed of power pop, bubblegum, heartland rock and early New Wave, also mentioning discotheques and 8-tracks which were fading at the time of its release.
      • 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 composed of arena-oriented dance pop, hair metal, hip hop and teen pop.
      • Off the Deep End and Alapaoolza from 1992/93 are composed of heavy metal, hip hop, dance pop, jangle pop with single Nirvana and New Kids on the Block parodies symbolizing both the rise of grunge and 80's teen pop acts taking their dying gasp.
      • Bad Hair Day from 1996 is composed of hip hop, alternative rock, grunge, college rock and R&B.
      • Running With Scissors from 1999 is composed 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 composed 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:
    • "Biggest Ball of Twine In Minnesota" could easily stand in for any time period for the whole song... until the single line "In our '53 Desoto". That car was aged but reasonable in the 1980's, but now you wonder why he'd be driving that ancient museum piece.
      • Similarly, the car that keeps getting impounded in "Stop Dragging My Car Around" is a '64 Plymouth. This was obviously Rule of Funny in 1983 but it applies now since they don't make Plymouths anymore.
    • "I Lost on Jeopardy" parodied the original 1964-1974 Art Fleming version of the show, a mere three months before the current, Alex Trebek-hosted version began.
    • The song "Tacky", with its references to Instagram, Yelp, selfies, the YOLO (You Only Live Once) motto, and twerking, could almost be seen as "Early 2010s Pop Culture: The Song"
    • The whole conflict for half of the song Drive-Thru is because the fast food place doesn't take credit cards, which for a time was true. Pretty much every fast food chain in the US accepts them these days.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Paul McCartney, a fan of Al's work, vetoed Chicken Pot Pie since it was about eating meat, as McCartney is a vegetarian.
      • Similarly, Al wanted to do a parody of "Free as a Bird" as "Gee, I'm a Nerd", but it was turned down by Yoko Ono. He performed it live a few times, however.
    • While "Buckingham Blues" sounds like a typical blues song, the opening lines and insistent references to the prince and princess as Chuck and Diane make it clear that it was originally conceived as a parody of John Cougar Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane". Al later used a parody of that song in his Simpsons cameo.
    • "Snack All Night" (Black or White, rejected because Michael Jackson felt it undermined the anti-racism sentiment of the original). The song has been played a few times live, but never made it onto an album.
    • He repeatedly approached Prince asking for permission to do a parody of his work, which was always refused. After the singer's death and having never budged from this position, Al announced that he would respect those wishes and never do anything based on his songs.
    • Al got accordion lessons for his seventh birthday. However, he could've gone with guitar lessons instead. Imagine that...
    • Bassist Steve Jay almost got a chance to audition for Frank Zappa, but didn't quite make it. So then he answered a newspaper ad from some guy named Al...
    • Al considered doing a "Let it Go" parody ("Make it So") for Mandatory Fun, before finding out there was a fanmade "Make it So" already online. Unable to come up with any other idea he liked as much, Al scrapped the "Let it Go" parody altogether.
    • Al was originally recruited to help write the songs for a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of Airplane!, but backed out after a chance encounter with Jerry Zucker, who told him that nobody had approached him for the rights and that it sounded like a terrible idea.
    • During their disastrous "CN Real" era, Cartoon Network commissioned Al to direct a couple of live-action TV movies for them, but he was let go after CN Real flopped.
    • Al had written down lyrics to incomplete songs about three different subjects: constipation, incest and decapitation. Unsure of which one to finish, he made each into a verse of "A Complicated Song".
    • E! approached Al to write a theme song for Talk Soup which he did for his Alapalooza album. Though E! liked Al's "Talk Soup" song, the finished product was never used as the show's theme.
  • Writer Revolt:
    • "Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch", widely considered his worst song by a wide margin, and deliberately so. The execs in charge of his third album Dare to Be Stupid literally forced him to include a parody of a Cyndi Lauper song, any cover, or they wouldn't release it. So Al just shoddily composed, recorded and released a parody of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" that — judging from the lyrics and even Al's singing — clearly sounds like no effort went into making it good.
    • Averted with the cover of "George Of The Jungle," however. It's very difficult to not have fun while singing that song.

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