He’s definitely weird! Over a career spanning more than 4 decades, Alfred Mathew a.k.a. ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic has parodied some of the biggest artists who have been genre defining themselves. Let’s focus on this polka-loving comedian’s spoofs of existing songs, and list out top 10 parodies by Weird Al Yankovic. Let the accordion music begin!
10 “Perform This Way” (2011)
Parody of: Lady Gaga – “Born This Way”
There are some artists you know Weird Al is gonna take on. Lady Gaga is one of them, so Al turned Gaga’s gay-rights anthem into a spoof about her crazy costumes, similarities to other divas, and – did we mention crazy costumes? To get Mother Monster’s all-clear, Yankovic donated the proceeds from this song to charity. He then created a Grammy-nominated, creepily uncanny-valley video you gotta see to disbelieve.
9 “It’s All About the Pentiums” (1999)
Parody of: Puff Daddy – “It’s All About the Benjamins”
Once again taking aim at an of-the-moment song, Weird Al targets Puff Daddy – and really all rappers – with this ultra-nerdy jam. Dropping online lingo, tech jargon and pop culture references in perfect rhyme, Yankovic channels the bravado and cockiness of rap songs to talk about computer culture. With special guest appearance by fellow celebrity nerd Drew Carey, it’s a perfect parody of Puffy and his pals.
#8 “Another One Rides the Bus” (1981)
Parody of: Queen – “Another One Bites the Dust”
Though “My Bologna” was officially Yankovic’s debut single, it’s this frenetic Queen parody that landed him his first TV appearance and record deal. Complete with his signature accordion and sound effects, the track craftily lists a bunch of clever observations about bus riding, and the unique people you meet while doing it. No one before or since has committed so fully to novelty music.
#7 “The Saga Begins” (1999)
Parody of: Don McLean – “American Pie”
Weird Al knows his target audience loves them some “Star Wars.” After 1985’s “Yoda,” he took it upon himself to tell the story of “The Phantom Menace,” to the tune of “American Pie.” Even without his trademark ‘stache, Al captured the magic by compulsively researching internet spoilers and attending an expensive pre-screening to ensure his lyrics were accurate. Obi-Wan would agree: the Force is strong with this one.
#6 “Like a Surgeon” (1985)
Parody of: Madonna – “Like a Virgin”
Our buddy Al is a one-man show, and he prefers to invent all his parody ideas on his own. But this is one time when he got the idea from someone else: Madonna herself actually planted the seed for this early Weird Al spoof. Parodying the Queen of Pop’s first number-one single, Yankovic’s track is a running stream of doctor and hospital-related puns, with a hilarious video to match.
#5 “Amish Paradise” (1996)
Parody of: Coolio feat. L.V. – “Gangsta’s Paradise”
Believe it or not, this track was controversial – but not for the reason you’re thinking, since we’re assuming few Amish people actually heard it: Coolio claimed he never okayed the parody, and said Yankovic ruined his song. Though he and Al are Coolio now, we can’t take the rapper’s side here: we mean, “Amish Paradise” has Mrs. Brady, “Gilligan’s Island” jokes, and enough Amish references to churn butter. How do you beat that?
#4 “White & Nerdy” (2006)
Parody of: Chamillionaire feat. Krayzie Bone – “Ridin’”
Almost thirty years after his career began, Yankovic proved he was as on top of his game as ever: not only was “White & Nerdy” Al’s first top-10 hit, his rapid-fire rhymes also earned him props from the rapper himself. As for geeks everywhere, they had a collective nerdgasm over his references to Dungeons & Dragons, Star Trek and nerd culture in general. Dance it out, Donny Osmond!
#3 “Fat” (1988)
Parody of: Michael Jackson – “Bad”
This is Weird Al’s second successful parody of Michael Jackson and obesity. With an extra helping of chins and crotch grabs, Al sings about the joys of being, well, fat. Of course the song itself is clever; but it’s the Grammy-winning video that’s truly the pièce de résistance: not only is it a perfect recreation of MJ’s vid, it’s also got fat backup dancers, fat suits and gardening equipment.
#2 “Smells Like Nirvana” (1992)
Parody of: Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
If you were a ‘90s kid, you loved Nirvana’s song and its Weird Al parody equally. Yankovic lampoons the Seattle garage band and their unintelligible lyrics with pitch-perfect precision, unmistakably recreating the tune and its accompanying video – he even used the same set and extras to get the job done. Plus, thanks to its wacky sound effects, cows and kazoos, “Smells Like Nirvana” ensured Al’s career saw a revival.
#1 “Eat It” (1984)
Parody of: Michael Jackson – “Beat It”
Winning a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording, this was Weird Al’s first mega-hit, his first Michael Jackson spoof and the song that earned him a place near the mainstream. A perfect storm of things combined to make “Eat It” a monster success; but the shot-for-shot recreation of the King of Pop’s video, silly props, ridiculous rhymes and trademark Weird Al food references are too funny to be ignored.