If you head over to YouTube and type in “parody”, you’ll probably be bombarded with a plethora of humorous reinterpretations of popular songs, from “Wrecking Ball” to “Somebody That I Used to Know”, and many more. Yup, the internet is practically saturated with parody songs. But did you know that way before the internet, one particular musician was basing his entire career on parodies and polka covers of popular songs? That musician would be Mr. “Weird Al” Yankovic.
American musician and parodist’s career kicked off in 1979 with his take on The Knack’s My Sharona, flipping it around into My Bologna, which was followed by the Queen parody Another One Rides the Bus and many more, parodying everything from rock to rap hits, reinterpreting pop songs into polkas with his trusty accordion and even penning some kooky originals of his own.
Weird Al makes it a personal rule to get the blessings of the artist he’s parodying, many of whom have been delighted and by his takes on their songs and have considered it a rite of passage in the music industry, while others have not been so thrilled with Weird Al’s goofy musical twists of their material…
Get ready for some hearty chuckles as we will be taking a look at 5 of Weird Al’s most hilarious parodies.
Like A Surgeon
First up is Weird Al’s parody of Madonna’s Like A Virgin, reinterpreted as Like A Surgeon, a song about an incompetent doctor who just can’t get the hang of the whole “don’t kill your patients” thing. The music video even parodies certain elements of the original video: of course a lion can randomly roam around in the hospital this guy operates in, have you seen the tools he uses?
While in Micheal Jackson’s Bad, the King of Pop sings about why you shouldn’t mess with him because of how much of a badass he is, in Fat… some fatass really wants to let you know the extent of his girth. It was the music video for the song that won Weird Al the Grammy for Best Concept Video in 1988, and it was well-deserved indeed, as the music video is almost a scene-for-scene recreation of the original and features so many little gags, like the excessive straps on Weird Al’s suit and the sound effects coupled up with the dancer’s movements (and Weird Al’s awareness of them at one point).
White and Nerdy
Before The Big Bang Theory came along to make nerdiness the new cool, Weird Al had already put a whole new spin on Chamillionaire’s track Ridin’ Dirty turning your basic braggadocious gangsta rap number into an in-your-face ode to nerdy awesomeness: White and Nerdy. Though the song does poke fun at the geek stereotype, it equally celebrates certain aspects of nerdiness and comes off as a genuine respectable anthem to be embraced. The video even does a good job of parodying particular scenes from the original, like replacing Chamillionaire’s logo with a big ol’ Pacman!
The song this parodies may not be a timeless classic, but you’re probably at least vaguely familiar with the tune. Barenaked Ladies’ only 90s hit One Week , which has an original subject of… uh… look, I don’t give a fuck, ok? It really doesn’t matter, because Weird Al injected it with a double dose of awesome sauce and gave us… Jerry Springer. For those of you who have been/ still are hooked on the spectacular insanity that is The Jerry Springer Show, this song should really speak to you from the heart. Unfortunately, it never got the music video treatment, but boy if it did, it would have been something… “That goat doesn’t love you!”
Smells Like Nirvana
This is it people: the big one. With the blessings and approval of Kurt Cobain himself, Weird Al transformed Nirvana’s Smells Like Team Spirit into Smells Like Nirvana, a song poking fun at the band themselves and particularly the issue of how hard it was to make out their lyrics, as many critics were noting at the time of the single’s release. This is more than just giving new lyrics to a familiar instrumental. There’s mumbling, there’s gargling, there’s a tuba, there’s kazoos. And the video, which is a parody of the original music video is bonkers, with so many little hidden gags and crazy stuff going on all over the place. Surely one of Weird Al’s finest.