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Trivia / "Weird Al" Yankovic

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Trivia items from specific albums:

Trivia Items for Al's movies:

Other Examples:

  • Approval of God: These days, a parody from Al is considered a greater honor than a Grammy. Examples include:
    • The very first came when The Knack performed at Al's college, and once he introduced himself to frontman Doug Fieger, he revealed he loved "My Bologna" and told a Capitol Records executive that was nearby to get that song released as a single.
    • 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 — even appearing at the end of the video!
    • 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".
    • As 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 Parody Displacement being inverted on him — people in Asia thought that Al wrote the song first, and they really enjoyed his "parody" of "White & Nerdy". He also praised Al's rapping ability and was pleasantly surprised that he was able to pull it off.
    • 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.
    • When Al approached Dire Straits about doing a parody of "Money For Nothing", lead guitarist Mark Knopfler had one request — that he could play the guitar on it.
    • The Presidents of the United States of America loved "Gump" so much that when performing "Lump" live after its release, they replaced their original 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."
    • When Jimmy Webb was asked for permission to parody "Macarthur Park" as "Jurassic Park", he responded “Well, this oughta bury that song once and for all!”, and he showed his approval by sending Al a dinosaur mask for Christmas.
    • 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 Reilly'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."
    • Mark Mothersbaugh has admitted that he was jealous of Al for writing "Dare to be Stupid", saying it was the best Devo song he never wrote.
    • 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.
  • Bury Your Art: While Al hates most of his material recorded before his first album and hasn't re-released most of it out of personal shame, he has gone extra lengths to make sure his uncharacteristically blue song "Orgy on My Own" remains suppressed. It was deemed lost for decades and was almost treated as an urban legend until a version of the song was leaked online in 2012. It has since been exchanged hands many times, but the caveat was that the version of the song leaked was sung by co-writer Joe Earley and not Al himself. However, in 2018, a Weird Al podcast got hold of a version from a concert in which Al sang the entire song. They played around a third of the song on the podcast, but they will never share the full song without Al's blessing, which they have made clear will never happen.
  • 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. His three top 40 hits, "White and Nerdy", "Eat It", and "Smells Like Nirvana", are among his best-known songs. But "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 Permanent Record: Al in the Box box set, released that year because Bad Hair Day was almost finished, but wouldn't be released soon enough for a single.
  • Colbert Bump: Shortly before Running with Scissors was released, 90s kids got their first exposure to Al on Radio Disney with early material such as "Eat It", "I Love Rocky Road" and "I Want a New Duck" being played in heavy rotation. "Yoda" peaked at #2 on the Top 30 Countdown, kept out of the #1 spot by "My Heart Will Go On".
  • Creator Backlash:
    • 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.
    • "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.
  • 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 its 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 to date, 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".
  • Exiled from Continuity: 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.
  • 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).
  • 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. Al was denied permission to re-release it, since the Pokémon higher-ups didn’t want anyone other than them making money off Pokémon during its heightened popularity in the heyday of Pokémon GO.
    • 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. 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.note 
    • Peter & The Wolf / Carnival Of The Animals - Part II, a collaborative album he did with Wendy Carlos, was only physically printed once and has never been given a digital rerelease.
  • 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.
  • The Other Darrin: For Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, the parody biopic of Al's life, has switched around all of the central players from the original Funny Or Die trailer:
  • 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.
  • Rarely Performed Song:
    • In a 2015 interview, Al stated that he no longer performs "Jerry Springer" live due to its frequent use of terms now recognized as slurs. He also avoids performing the popular "Albuquerque", off the same album, because its 12-minute Epic Rocking length and extensive passages of comedic yelling and screaming put a strain on his vocal cords, saving it for special occasions (namely, when he is performing in Albuquerque, New Mexico), though he did bring it back into regular rotation for both Ridiculously Self Indulgent tours.
    • Due to the difficulty involved with replicating its Motor Mouth bridge, Al refuses to perform the fan-favorite song "Hardware Store" live.
    • Following the release of the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland, which detailed new child sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson, Al opted to remove "Eat It", "Fat", and "Snack All Night" from his setlists, as they were parodies of some of Jackson's biggest hits ("Beat It", "Bad", and "Black or White", respectively).
  • 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!" They would make future bit appearances in Al media during their lives, including a prominent as themselves role in the 1997 concert special "There's No Going Home", clips for The Compleat Al, and providing Al's introduction at the beginning of the 1999 "Weird Al" Yankovic - Live! video.
    • Averted with "Polka King" Frankie Yankovic, who was not related. However, they did perform together at least once.
  • Referenced by...: In one of the final scenes of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Joseph is revived from near-death via a blood transfusion from DIO's corpse and responds by pretending to be a resurrected DIO as a prank, which results in Jotaro nearly attacking him. To make sure that Joseph is indeed himself, Jotaro asks him who wrote "Eat It", knowing that his grandfather would be keenly aware of "pointless crap" like that. Joseph correctly responds "Al Yankovic." Al himself commented on the reference when the anime adaptation aired, posting a clip of it on Instagram and tagging it #PointlessCrap.
  • Screwed by the Network: "Another One Rides the Bus" seemed like it was on its way to becoming his first top 40 hit in 1981, but TK Records,note  the label that picked it up for national distribution, went bankrupt shortly after they released it and it fell off the charts.
  • Trope Namer:
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Paul McCartney, a fan of Al's work, vetoed Chicken Pot Pie (parody of "Live and Let Die") 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" (which bears a resemblance to "Let's Go Crazy") 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...
    • Similarly, Al met his drummer Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz in the studio for the Dr. Demento show (Schwartz was the Doctor's featured guest that evening). Al was preparing to debut "Another One Rides the Bus" on the show, asked Schwartz if he would help pound a beat on Al's accordion case, and history was made.
    • 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.
    • "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.
    • Ditto "I'll Repair for You (Theme From Home Improvement)", which has only been played on stage because the Friends producers denied a studio recording.
    • 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.
    • He approached Beck about doing a parody of "Loser", but Beck turned it down after being pressured by his agents not to say yes. Beck himself later went on to say he regret this decision, but at the very least would later allow Al to use "Loser" as part of "The Alternative Polka" medley.
    • "Buddy Holly" by Weezer was included on "The Alternative Polka" and was ready to be finalized - to the point that Al even mentioned them in the album's booklet - but at the very last minute, Weezer had a change of heart and asked for it to be removed. They made this up for him years later by letting him use "Beverly Hills" on the "Polkarama" medley and let him guest star on their music video for "Africa".
    • Al wasn't allowed to release his parody of "Numb" by U2 called "Green Eggs and Ham" on Bad Hair Day, though he was given permission to play it on his Al Music TV special and performed it live several times on that album's tour.
  • 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: 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♯."