"Weird Al" Yankovic

Alpocalypse Now… and Then Page 6

> > Jul 2011

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Alpocalypse Now… and Then Page 6
By Vish KhannaYankovic originally plans to parody Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" for UHF's centrepiece, but Prince becomes famous for always refusing to grant permission for any "Weird Al" song parodies, only permitting his likeness to be depicted in videos. "I haven't approached Prince in the last 15 years or so, so his personality might've changed," Yankovic says. "But back when he was turning me down, we'd never get a reason out of him, it was always just 'No." So, I don't know his thought process or what kinda problem he had with it. It was frustrating and, as a result, I've taken a number of cheap shots at him over the years because he's the de facto scapegoat—the one guy who hasn't had enough of a sense of humour to let me take a shot at him. But that's his prerogative."

For the "UHF" music video, Yankovic does a remarkable array of impressions of the Beatles, Billy Idol, George Michael, INXS, Randy Newman, Robert Palmer, David Byrne, Guns N' Roses, Peter Gabriel, ZZ Top, and yes, Prince among others. Scotti Bros. changes their distribution from CBS to BMG and every "Weird Al" album is released on CD. Yankovic begins to work on a new album in June 1990, going without Derringer as producer for the first time and overseeing the sessions himself. Unfortunately, there's nothing on the top 40 that compels him to craft an impactful parody; Yankovic opts to hold off on releasing a new album until a big song inspires him. He does complete a project in the interim that speaks to his sense of TV history: Babalu Music is a collection of Ricky Ricardo's musical numbers for the I Love Lucy show, compiled by Al and released on both audio and video. The title track of both versions is a montage of original Lucy music and dialogue, produced and arranged by Yankovic with a new rhythm track for dance clubs and video channels. He writes his next batch of originals and then records parodies of New Kids on the Block and MC Hammer.

1991 to 1995
In November, 1991 Michael Jackson releases his new album Dangerous, and Yankovic approaches him about releasing "Snack All Night," a parody of Jackson's hit, "Black or White." Though a fan, Jackson worries that a parody would compromise his song's message about racial equality and denies permission, suggesting Yankovic select another song from his album to riff on instead. When Guns N' Roses' version of the Wings song "Live and Let Die" becomes a hit, Yankovic seeks out Paul McCartney, another self-professed "Weird Al fan," for permission to release a parody called "Chicken Pot Pie." A strict vegetarian, McCartney too feels the parody might diminish his personal principles. Though disappointed, Yankovic appreciates the explanations, especially compared to the responses he receives from artists like Prince, which seem more ego-driven.

"There have been a couple of songs that have been too personal or have a special message, and I understand that. But if somebody just blanket turns you down all the time, that's a more deep-seeded reason where, obviously this person just doesn't want to be made fun of. But at the same time, I'm not a mind reader."

Nirvana explodes behind their surprising chart-topping album, Nevermind, which kick starts an alternative music revolution, ripe for Yankovic's picking. Inspired by the general discussion about how unintelligible Kurt Cobain's lyrics and singing are, Yankovic composes a parody of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" called "Smells Like Nirvana." When he hears that Nirvana are appearing on Saturday Night Live, he asks cast member/UHF co-star Victoria Jackson to snag Cobain for a chat on the phone. Cobain knows Yankovic's work and permits the parody. "Is it going to be a song about food?" Cobain asks, to which Yankovic explains that no, he's working on a song about how no one can understand what he's singing about. "Oh, that's a funny idea, go ahead," Cobain says.

Off the Deep End is released in April, 1992 and its cover mimics Nevermind. The "Smells Like Nirvana" video uses the same set as the original, the same janitor, some of the same cheerleaders and many of the same extras. It also features cameos by Dick Van Patten, Michael Richards, and various farm animals. MTV places it in high rotation and Rolling Stone goes on to rank it #68 on their list of the 100 best videos of all time. Spy magazine selects it as "Video of the Year," and at the MTV Video Awards, Al is nominated for Best Male Performance alongside Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen. The video propels Off The Deep End up to #17 on Billboard. Cobain is quoted as saying that he didn't think his band had "made it" until they were parodied by Yankovic. Off the Deep End goes platinum and earns Yankovic another Grammy nomination. The Off the Deep End tour is elaborate with costume changes and Yankovic smashes a cheap guitar (so provided on his rider) at the end of every show.
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I think that "Dare to be Stupid" is a highly underrated album and easily belongs on the list of essential Weird Al records.
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When I saw Weird Al perform at the Del Mar Fair earlier this month, I met Tad Dowd after the show (and before Jay Levey came to escort him backstage to the aftershow). Al is really good about staying in touch with people who were important to him when he was starting out.
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I love being a Nameless Poseur. You might want to consider editing "Don MacLean" to "Don McLean." Just a suggestion.
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I agree about Dare to Be Stupid. It was a close one there for a while but I wanted to pick Even Worse and then felt weird choosing two outta three records from the 80s. Wanted to spread it out a bit. Plus EW, OtDE, and SoL are all amazing. I stand by my Essential picks.
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What a thrill to find such a great and detailed piece
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Excellent article. Well researched and informative.
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Even Worse came out before UHF. If anything, it was a return after the lackluster sales of Polka Party (unfortunate, because that one is even more underrated than Dare to be Stupid, Dog Eat Dog is one of his best).
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Well you could have picked the 2009 Compilation "The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic you know.. :D
I'd pick that, Alpocalypse and Poodle Hat as my Essentials
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Great article. As noted above, the author misspelled "McLean", but also misspelled "Popeil" by adding an "m". Anyway, loved the article! Al's pal and former producer Rick Derringer (who also played the lead guitar for the studio recording of "Eat It") is now touring with Ringo's All Starr band. Pretty impressive. I wanna add that some years back, VH-1 had people vote for their favorite video moment. Jim West blowing up in the "Eat It" video was one of the choices. I, of course voted for that. Never found out the results, but I thought it was a great moment in video history. Thanks for sharing this article.
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without Weird Al, the world would suck a little harder....
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Al receives his first music lesson on October 22, 1967, the day before his seventh birthday.

59-67 = 8 years !!!!
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i appreciate the effort that went into compiling all the info that went into this piece, but i have to say that the writing itself made me wince.

i'm also surprised that this website doesn't offer any indications as to how long their articles actually are.
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Who edited this article??! While this is very thorough and well-researched, there are spelling mistakes and several run-on sentences. It goes in order until the last page. After mentioning Al's 2011 work, it jumps to mentions of 1988 and 1992.
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One fairly major project that seems to be left out is "Al's Brain." Otherwise a great piece.
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Al's Brain! Good point!
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Like many others out there, "Weird Al" got me through a lot of bad times, and has indeed, made my world so much better. I couldn't imagine life being brilliant, without him around.
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Wait, you seriously want us to tell you how long each article is in advance?!
Wow, someone's really been spoiled by "This Song's Just Six Words Long."
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uh...the references to 1988 and 1992 appear to be the author's top three picks, after the proper article had concluded. Kinda like a sidebar.
Well done, Vish. Excellent piece.
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My parents drove by my elementary school during recess when I was in 4th grade just to show me that they had just purchased "IN-3D" on vinyl for me, which had just come out. I was beyond excited.
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Don't forget that he appeared in an episode of Johnny Bravo!
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He who is tired of Weird Al, is tired of life.
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Ugh, please learn how to use tense before becoming a journalist. Thanks.
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This is awesome :) all the details I ever wanted to know about Al's journey to success, without having to pick up a book. :)
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Hey Nameless Poseur, how should I be using tense?
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Nameless Poseur........ stop being a cynic and just appreciate the article for what it is will you
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Well, let me say, 2 boys in the 80's~~ saw vidioes from Wierd Al and they were hooked. What does a Mother know?? HMM Accordian?? Yeah, my Dad thrust one on me!Hey, Cindy here play this. He was a car salesman. HMMMMM?? must have been his tip??WELL!! I impressed myself, aS i PLAYED!(caps lock)Okay, reply because we want( or I do) to see you on the sunshine coast of Gibsons! BC!
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Saw Al in concert in Birmingham, England. It was his first show on his first European Tour ever. It was amazing! As a kid growing up in Kansas City in the 80's, I'd always wanted to hear Weird Al first hand. I was happy I did, and my son got to experience it too. The lady at the ticket booth never took my tickets so I still have them as a keepsake.
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Nameless Poseur or one of you, your Al messing about!
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qeer
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i love chicken and weird al
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i was here
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Article Published In Jul 11 Issue