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Trivia / "Weird Al" Yankovic

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  • Accidentally Correct Writing:
    • "Yoda," originally written in 1980, correctly predicted that Mark Hamill would play the role of Luke Skywalker until he's "old and gray." Al also wasn't too far off when claiming "they'll be making [Star Wars] movies 'til the end of time."
    • "The Saga Begins" doesn't outright mention that Qui-Gon Jinn died at the end of The Phantom Menace. Rather, he "Met up with Darth Maul and now he's toast", and the next line mentions that "he's a ghost". Qui-Gon is later revealed to be a Force ghost who assists Obi-Wan and Yoda. In a sense, Al was correct in predicting that Qui-Gon wasn't really dead.
  • 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.) When Al performed the song on The Merv Griffin Show, Griffin credited the song’s success with the revival happening at all (though that was likely exaggeration on his part, as the show had already been picked up for a full season; pilots had been produced going back to 1983). Yankovic was also invited to the wrap party at the end of the current run's first season, and the staff said he was a genuine thrill. Similarly, Greg Kihn, who wrote the song "Jeopardy" that Al parodied, has written about how much he enjoyed the parody—He even appeared at the end of the video!
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    • 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".
    • 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.
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    • 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.
    • The Presidents of the United States of America loved "Gump" so much that, to this day, when performing "Lump" live they still replace the song's final line with Al's "And that's all I have to say about that". They also later got Al to direct their video for "Mixed Up S.O.B."
    • Crash Test Dummies performed "Headline News" (a parody of their hit "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm") with Weird Al live at one point.
    • Pharrell Williams said it was "an honor" to be spoofed by Al for "Tacky."
    • Don McLean has said that he likes "The Saga Begins" and has had to stop himself from singing the spoof lyrics on stage.
    • Charles Nelson Reily's partner Patrick Hughes gave Al his blessing to do "CNR."
    • 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."
    • Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh has admitted that he was jealous of Al for writing "Dare to be Stupid" instead of Devo.
    • Lin-Manuel Miranda is a huge fan (and now friend) of Al, so naturally he was honored when he put out "The Hamilton Polka."
  • Ascended Fanon: The first few times he used the number 27 were total coincidences, then it became a fan in-joke, then finally Al officially made it an Arc Number in his work.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor: Al voiced Darkseid on some episodes of Teen Titans Go! and used the occasion for some serious Self-Deprecation (though Cyborg comes to his reputational defense).
    Cyborg: This dude totally sounds like someone. I know—Weird Al Yankovic! [All the other Teen Titans agree.]
    Darkseid: Aw, yes, the great singer of song parodies. If only I was half as evil! To earn a living making song writers look like fools! <<Evil Laugh>> Diabolical!
    Cyborg: I don’t know. I think it’s all in good fun.
    Darkseid: What’s fun abut undercutting musicians by subverting their words and compromising their artistic integrity?! Weird Al is a true monster!
    Cyborg: You take that back! He is a national treasure!
    Darkseid: A monster I say!
    Cyborg: That tears it! You’re going down, Darkseid!
  • Chart Displacement: Zig-zagged. "Dare to Be Stupid" never charted on its own (it was a double A-side with "The Touch" by Stan Bush), while other popular songs like "I Lost on Jeopardy" and "Fat" only reached the lower rungs of the charts. "King of Suede" got to #61, but didn't endure in the long run (it's his only Hot 100 entry not to have a page on The Other Wiki).
  • Contractual Obligation Project:
    • In the early 90s, Scotti Bros. Records forced Al to rush-release several compilations and a single because Alapalooza and Bad Hair Day would not be released before the end of their respective fiscal quarters in 1993 and 1996. First, they wanted to release Al Unplugged, but Al protested when he learned that they would just mix out the electric instruments and rerecord synthesized acoustic-sounding parts in their place. He begrudgingly agreed to The Food Album because he "hated it slightly less." Two years later, under the same circumstances, the label had to beg him to release The TV Album and then the single "Headline News," which wound up on two more compilations, Greatest Hits: Volume 2 and the Al In A Box boxed set, released that year because Bad Hair Day was almost finished, but wouldn't be released soon enough for a single.
    • "Dare to Be Stupid" had two such examples. The record label made the following 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".
  • Creator Backlash:
    • After some time, Al admitted he wasn't fond of "Achy Breaky Song", feeling that it was a bit mean-spirited.
    • As detailed below, he was not happy with his label rushing out The Food Album and The TV Album compilations just to make a quick buck.
    • While "Amish Paradise" remains a concert staple, Al admitted that, had he known that Coolio would initially disapprove of it, he never would have recorded it.
    • Al later regretted the line "'cause you write like a spastic" from "Word Crimes" and apologized for it on his Twitter account, saying he didn't realize the word was considered much more offensive in the UK than it was in the US.
  • Creator Breakdown: While Al himself has made fun of how tragedy-free his career has been, at least compared to most long-running music acts, he has admitted to a couple of failures that set him back, both of which played out rather similarly.
    • He took the failure of UHF somewhat personally. In the few years following it's release, he allegedly lost a lot of sleep wracking his mind over what he could have done better and "reediting the movie in [his] head," imagining how it might have worked better. His disillusionment continued into the production of his next album when both of his first two ideas for opening tracks were shot down by their original performersnote , leaving the album without an opening track until Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" took off, inspiring "Smells Like Nirvana" and saving the album from development hell.
    • Al also withdrew from the limelight after his tour to promote Poodle Hat after the one-two punch of the album's failure and his parents dying suddenly from CO poisoning while he was on tour, all while he was raising a newborn daughter. And like the last time, his attempts to get his career back on track were made even more frustrating when Atlantic Records revoked permission from James Blunt to let Al release his already-recorded parody of "You're Beautiful" (as "You're Pitiful"). Luckily, the song Al wrote to replace it, "White and Nerdy," would end up becoming his biggest hit ever and his career has survived ever since.
  • Doing It for the Art: The appropriately-named "Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour," his first tour to just be a straightforward concert with none of the props, costumes, videos or even song parodies that had been ubiquitous of his concerts since the mid 90s. Al decided he was finally at a point in his career where he was capable of deviating from his trademark theatrics without having to worry about it being career suicide.
  • 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 "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm." Likewise with "Truck Drivin' Song".
    • Al had exactly one take to smash a $1,000 Ovation guitar at the end of the "You Don't Love Me Anymore" music video. His anger at it being harder to break than he thought, and the Aside Glance he gives to the camera after he does so are authentic.
  • 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 was rather disappointed. 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.
    • "Yoda" was originally supposed to be released on his first album, but copyright issues with Lucasfilm led to it being delayed until the Dare To Be Stupid album — five years after the movie it was spoofing had been released.
  • Exiled from Continuity:
    • One year after the death of Princess Diana, Al said in an interview that he stopped performing "Buckingham Blues".
    • Al also stopped performing "Christmas at Ground Zero" out of respect for those who died in 9/11.
    • After the documentary Leaving Neverland brought Michael Jackson's controversial history of sexual abuse allegations back into the limelight, Al said that he would retire "Eat It" and "Fat" from his live set so as not to stir up more controversy.
  • 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.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Al's first wave of parodies were huge hits in Australia and New Zealand, even more so than in the U.S. "Eat It" was a #1 hit in Australia and went to #6 in New Zealand, and "Fat" and "Smells Like Nirvana" would both break New Zealand's top 5 ("Fat" at #3, "Smells Like Nirvana" at #4). Ironically, Al's only top-10 hit in the U.S., "White and Nerdy," didn't crack either of their major charts (save for Australia's digital charts). It did, however, get to #14 in Sweden.
    • Al's bizarre Japanese sketch show appearance in 1984 was apparently due to "Eat It" being a big hit in Japan, and many of Al's singles have been released there since (he even went so far as to record a phonetic Japanese version of "Jurassic Park"!).
  • He Also Did: Al has directed several music videos for other artists, including Ben Folds, Hanson, and Jeff Foxworthy.
  • Hitless Hit Album: Most of his albums qualify, with millions sold as opposed to having only four Top 40 hits. The most prominent example is Running With Scissors which is certified Platinum by the RIAA despite its singles not charting ("Pretty Fly for a Rabbi" peaked at #68 in Australia, however).
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  • 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. The former appears on the rarities collection Medium Rarities and the 15-album box set Squeeze Box, but the latter is still only available on its soundtrack album.
    • The Permanent Record: Al in the Box compilation, which doesn't seem to have any chance of seeing a re-release on account of the cover art's master prints being lost.
    • There are many songs that Al never got the rights to or were only played on the Dr. Demento Show, including his first recordings that he submitted. Too many to list but Al will sometimes play those songs live. Typically fans have to hunt down a fan recording of one of his live shows or an old Dr. Demento Tape.
  • Money, Dear Boy: His stated reason for recording "Eat It" and "Like a Surgeon". The former was his biggest chart hit 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.
    • In-song reason for making “(This Song’s Just) Six Words Long”, which may be a shot at the writers of the original, “Got My Mind Set on You.”
  • 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. Ironically, Joel not only loved the parody (being prone to Self-Deprecation), he performed it himself a couple times!
    • 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.
    • Al was understandably peeved when E! asked him to write a theme for Talk Soup only for the network to balk at using his song for the show.
  • Playing Against Type: He typically plays characters similar to his on stage/music video persona. However...
    • He plays a serious and creepy serial killer, the Dollmaker, in Batman vs. Robin.
    • His recurring guest shots in Teen Titans Go! most of the time? Freakin' Darkseid of all people!
    • Then there's the Sad Clown Captain Peanutbutter in Bojack Horseman.
    • And the Funny or Die video he did with Huey Lewis, with Lewis as a psychotic mass murderer and Al as his next victim, a debauched libertine.
    • His guest appearance on "Who's Gonna Stop Me" by Portugal. The Man, a serious Protest Song about the oppression of Native Americans - it makes some sense in context, as his scene in the music video uses imagery of a coyote, and the coyote is a Trickster God in some Native American Mythology.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Was a huge fan of The Simpsons and considered his two appearances on the show to be seminal moments in his career.
  • Quote Source:
  • 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!"
    • Al's Aunt Dot is the jumping cave woman in "Bedrock Anthem".
    • Averted with "Polka King" Frankie Yankovic, who is not related. However, they did perform together at least once.
  • 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.
    • When Al asked Patrick Hughes, life partner of the late Charles Nelson Reilly, permission to write "CNR," Hughes mentioned that Reilly didn't like how Alec Baldwin's impression of him on Saturday Night Live made him out to be a "sissy." Hughes was unaware that the concept was to depict Reilly as a Chuck Norris-esque Memetic Badass, and Al reassured him that he had nothing to worry about.
  • Referenced by...: In one of the final scenes of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Jotaro asks a recently-awakened Joseph what the name of Weird Al’s Beat It parody was in order to check if he was still Joseph
  • Saved from Development Hell: Al had problems with Off The Deep End due to rejections from Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney (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.
  • Technology Marches On:
    • "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 flatscreen monitor 40 inches widenote ) or just absurd by any era's standards (a hundred gigabytes of RAMnote )... the only line that's completely unsalvageable even with creative editing is... well, the title line. The Pentium brand was discontinued in 2006 before being retooled as a low-end budget processor, losing its top-of-the-line implications.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Trope Namer:
  • 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". Mellencamp declined to give Al permission to parody "Jack and Diane" because the song was being optioned for a film adaptation that was ultimately never produced. 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. The closest he got were the style parodies "Traffic Jam" and "Wanna B Ur Lover," the latter of which was performed as a tribute to Prince on his most recent tour (of course, he didn't outright say it, but the backdrop during the song was purple clouds, and Al wore a Prince-ly outfit). note  After Prince'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. As Al himself noted in one of his Reddit "Ask Me Anything" sessions, if he had gone with guitar, he probably wouldn't have the fame he has today; Dr. Demento was attracted by the novelty of a teenager playing accordion and would have probably not given his demo tape a second listen if he was playing acoustic guitar. Still, one can only imagine the possibilities...
    • 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 the finished product, it was never used as the show's theme.
    • Had Weezer not revoked permission at the last second, "The Alternative Polka" would have included a snippet of "Buddy Holly."
    • "Free Delivery", a parody of "My Heart Will Go On", was not cleared by the producers of Titanic (1997) so Al only performs it in concerts.
    • Al first approached Rhino Records with "My Bologna" in 1979, a logical move since they were an L.A. based label that specialized in novelty records at the time (before they changed their focus to reissues). Rhino was interested, and suggested that they release it with a cover that looked like a bologna package, with the record being a picture disc of a bologna slice. Amazingly, Rhino managed the feat of coming up with an idea that was too bizarre for Weird Al to go along with, and he said no. Capitol Records, the label of The Knack, ended up releasing it.
    • Eminem approved "Couch Potato" but revoked permission for Al to shoot a music video at the last minute. Al wound up hastily doing one for "Bob" instead.
    • Al pitched "Bad Date" when he needed something to replace "You're Pitiful" on Straight Outta Lynwood. Daniel Powter initially gave it a thumbs down, but he changed his mind the day before Al recorded "White and Nerdy". By that time, "the train had left the station" in Al's words.
  • Word of God: An AMA on Reddit confirmed many things about some of his songs, including which ones are parodies of what. For instance, "Midnight Star" and "You Don't Love Me Anymore" are among his few original songs that aren't style parodies.
  • Writer Revolt:
    • "Girls Just Want to 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 and one straight cover version 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 piercing, nasal singing — clearly sounds like no effort went into making it good.note  He met them half way with the cover by doing the George of the Jungle theme song, which is impossible not to have fun singing.
    • As mentioned above, "Christmas at Ground Zero" was his response to the label forcing him to write a Christmas single.
    • When his label decided to release the two compilation albums The Food Album and The TV Album for a quick buck, Al commissioned gruesome covers for both as a form of "passive-aggressive protest" so that "...every time I look at this album that I hate, I'll laugh and I won't hate it": for Food, an illustration of Al's skeleton having just been picked clean by a monster (drawn by famed Nickelodeon animator Mr. Lawrence) to illustrate how the label had "[bled] his catalogue dry", and for TV, a cartoon of Al sadistically blowing up a television set.
    "I don't mind putting out actual Greatest Hits albums every decade or so—I realize the value in that. I just have a problem when the record company tries to make a quick buck by putting out albums like Songs That Al Did in the Key of F♯."


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