"Weird Al" Yankovic single-handedly put the word 'parody' back into conversation. Ask today's music fans about parodies, and most of them will probably mention the Hawaiian shirt-wearing, accordion-playing protege of Dr. Demento. Since 1976, Al has been crafting hilarious takes on the biggest hits and equally fantastic original compositions that have turned him into a cult favorite in the business. Almost 40 years later, this trailblazing parodist is still unparalleled when it comes to comedy music.
It's hard to know where to start with Al, as so many of his songs have become parts of pop culture or taken on lives of their own. There were the early parodies about food, like "My Bologna" (a takeoff of The Knack's "My Sharona"), "I Love Rocky Road" (Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll"), and his wildly successful version of "Beat It" by Michael Jackson, entitled "Eat It." He later turned Madonna's "Like A Virgin" into "Like A Surgeon," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" into "Nirvana," and famously upset Coolio with his version of "Gangsta's Paradise" entitled "Amish Paradise." More recently, you know him for "White & Nerdy" and the ode to Disneyland Jungle Cruise employees, "Skipper Dan." As music changes, Al has risen to every challenge, to the point where it's near impossible to hear the original song correctly after you've listened to his parody of it.
Al writes more than just takes on other artists' music, however; he also creates his own comedic songs that are just as appealing. One of his most under appreciated tracks is "Frank's 2000" TV." There's also the nearly 12-minute epic tale called "Albuquerque", which he understandably almost never plays live.
What he does at his live performances is really put on a show. He doesn't just perform the songs; he shows hilarious videos and he and his band members often dress up in costumes (such as Jedi outfits for their "Star Wars" themed parody "The Saga Begins"). Al's concerts are akin to a huge, two-hour party to which everyone in the venue is invited and guaranteed to have a blast.
Al cemented his place in music history when Eric Appel at Funny or Die put together a faux trailer for a biopic based on Al's life, appropriately titled Weird. When multiple Emmy winner Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad" fame is playing you, you know you've done something right with your life. Al has also joined "Mystery Science Theater 3000" star Michael J. Nelson in riffing "Jurassic Park," appeared on "The Simpsons," and had his own Saturday morning kids' show. It all adds up to awesome.
Whether he's parodying the latest hit or coming up with a genius idea of his own, Al knows how to make people laugh and also knows the craftsmanship that goes into great music. Lots of people can write funny songs, but no one can create tracks that are so spot-on and so enduring as "Weird Al" Yankovic. Be sure to see Al the next time he plays in your area - you'll thank us later.