Weird Al Yankovic is best known as a singer of parodies. His most recent album, 2014’s Mandatory Fun, included parodies of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” Lourde’s “Royals,” and Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” among others. Only about half of each Weird Al album consists of direct parodies like these, though. The rest of each album is made up of original songs, many of which fall into a category Al calls “style parodies” in which he writes his own song in the style of a particular band. My favorite song off of Mandatory Fun, “First World Problems,” which is done in the style of The Pixies, is one of these.
For my Pick (well Picks really) this week, I wanted to go back into Weird Al’s career and recommend style parodies from a few of his earlier albums. The first is from his 1986 record, Polka Party! The song, “Dog Eat Dog,” is about life working in the offices of a large corporation performed in the style of Talking Heads. Weird Al even does a riff on the “This is not my beautiful house/This is not my beautiful wife” section of Talking Heads’ “Once In a Lifetime.”
Next we’ll move up ten years to 1996’s Bad Hair Day. “Everything You Know Is Wrong” is a dead-on style parody of They Might Be Giants about a man going through some very odd events. It absolutely sounds like a song they could have written and performed.
Finally, we will jump ahead another decade to 2006’s Straight Outta Lynwood. “White & Nerdy” is the song from this album that people tend to remember, but it also contains “Close But No Cigar,” a song about a man who is way too picky concerning his girlfriends. The song is an excellent style parody of Cake and also one of the few to get a music video. In this case, the video is a cartoon animated by John Kricfalusi, best known for creating The Ren & Stimpy Show.
- Alan Decker
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