By Jessica Wheeler, Music Columnist
With a career that has outlived many of the artists he’s parodied, Weird Al Yankovic has done it all. But despite his large fan base and many casual fans, he didn’t score a No. 1 album until the release of Mandatory Fun in 2014—proving that he’s only getting started. In honor of his concert at St. Pete’s Mahaffey Theater earlier this month, here’s a look at some of Al’s greatest hits.
- “Smells Like Nirvana” (parody of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana)
His 1992 parody captured the grunge phenomenon by commenting on the inscrutability of the song’s lyrics—a topic Kurt Cobain himself deemed funny. The parody video even utilized some of the same actors as the original Nirvana video.
- “White and Nerdy” (parody of “Ridin’” by Chamillionaire)
This song marked one of Al’s greatest Youtube successes, and successfully incorporated a cameo appearance by Donny Osmond.
- “Eat It” (parody of “Beat It” by Michael Jackson)
Perhaps Al’s first ubiquitous parody, this song established him as the top musical comedy act of the 1980s—and set a new standard for parody videos.
- “Tacky” (parody of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams)
The “Tacky” video kicked off a week of daily new videos from Al to promote his 2014 album Mandatory Fun. The video, featuring cameos from Jack Black, Kristen Schaal, and Aisha Tyler, among others, quickly reached one million views on Youtube.
- “Amish Paradise” (parody of “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio)
One of Al’s first forays into hip hop parody, “Amish Paradise” quickly became a classic, helped along by a music video full of sight gags.
- “Like a Surgeon” (parody of “Like a Virgin” by Madonna)
It was Madonna herself who wondered in an interview when Weird Al was going to record “Like a Surgeon.” Al took the idea and ran with it, creating another early classic in his repertoire.
- “Word Crimes” (parody of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams)
Only Al could take the controversial “Blurred Lines” and turn it into a grammar lesson—and one shared on Facebook by every Language Arts teacher in the country, no less.
Jessica Wheeler is the music columnist for Alive Tampa Bay.