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"Weird Al" Yankovic (1959)

Type :    

  Summary  

Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer-songwriter, music producer, accordionist, actor, comedian, writer, satirist, and parodist. Yankovic is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts. Since his first-aired comedy song in 1976, he had sold more than 12 million albums , recorded more than 150 parody and original songs, and has performed more than 1,000 live shows. His works have earned him three Grammy Awards among nine nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States. Yankovic's first top ten Billboard album and single ("White & Nerdy") were both released in 2006, nearly three decades into his career.

Yankovic's success comes in part from his effective use of music video to further parody popular culture, the song's original artist, and the original music videos themselves, scene-for-scene in some cases. He directed later videos himself and went on to direct for other artists including Ben Folds, Hanson, Black Crowes, and The Presidents of the United States of America. In addition to recording his albums, Yankovic wrote and starred in the film, UHF, and television show, The Weird Al Show. He has also made guest appearances on many television shows, in addition to starring in Al TV specials on MTV.

  Biography  

 early life
The only child of Nick Louis Yankovic (June 4, 1917 – April 9, 2004) and Mary Elizabeth (née Vivalda; February 7, 1923 – April 9, 2004), Alfred was born in Downey, California, and raised in the town of Lynwood. His father was born in Kansas City, Kansas of Yugoslavian descent, and began living in California after serving during World War II; he believed "the key to success" was "doing for a living whatever makes you happy" and often reminded his son of this philosophy. Nick Yankovic married Mary Elizabeth Vivalda in 1949. Mary, who was of Italian and English descent, and had come to California from Kentucky, gave birth to Alfred ten years later.

Al's first accordion lesson, which sparked his career in music, was on the day before his sixth birthday. A door-to-door salesman traveling through Lynwood offered the Yankovic parents a choice of accordion or guitar lessons at a local music school. Yankovic claims the reason his parents chose accordion over guitar was "They figured there should be at least one more accordion-playing Yankovic in the world", referring to Frankie Yankovic, to whom he is not related directly. Yankovic said that " parents chose the accordion because they were convinced it would revolutionize rock." He continued lessons at the school for three years before continuing to learn on his own. Yankovic's early accordion role models include Frankie Yankovic and Myron Floren .

In the 1970s, Yankovic was a big fan of Elton John and claims John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album "was partly how I learned to play rock 'n roll on the accordion." As for his influences in comedic and parody music, Yankovic lists artists including Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Spike Jones, Allan Sherman, Shel Silverstein and Frank Zappa "and all the other wonderfully sick and twisted artists that he was exposed to through the Dr. Demento Radio Show." Other sources of inspiration for his comedy come from Mad magazine, Monty Python, and the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker parody movies.

Yankovic began kindergarten a year earlier than most children, and he skipped the second grade. "My classmates seemed to think I was some kind of rocket scientist so I was labeled a nerd early on", he recalls. As his unusual schooling left him two years younger than most of his classmates, Yankovic was not interested in sports or social events at school. He was valedictorian of his senior class. Yankovic was active in his school's extracurricular programs, including the National Forensic League, a play based upon Rebel Without a Cause, the yearbook , and the Volcano Worshippers club, "which did absolutely nothing. We started the club just to get an extra picture of ourselves in the yearbook."

Yankovic attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he earned a degree in architecture.

 career
 Dr. Demento and early fame
Yankovic received his first exposure via southern California and syndicated comedy radio personality Dr. Demento's radio show, saying "If there hadn't been a Dr. Demento, I'd probably have a real job now." In 1976, Dr. Demento spoke at Yankovic's school where the then 16 year old Yankovic gave him a homemade tape of original and parody songs performed on the accordion in Yankovic's bedroom into a "cheesy little tape recorder". The tape's first song was "Belvedere Cruisin'", about his family's Plymouth Belvedere, was played on Demento's comedy radio show, launching Yankovic's career. Demento said "'Belvedere Cruising' might not have been the very best song I ever heard, but it had some clever lines I put the tape on the air immediately.". Yankovic also played at local coffeehouses, saying:


During Yankovic's sophomore year as an architecture student at Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, he became a disc jockey at the university's radio station, KCPR. Yankovic said he had been nicknamed Weird Al by fellow students and "took it on professionally" as his persona for the station. In 1978, he released his first recording , "Take Me Down", on the LP, Slo Grown, as a benefit for the Economic Opportunity Commission of San Luis Obispo County. The song mocked famous nearby landmarks such as the fountain toilets at the Madonna Inn.

In mid-1979, shortly before his senior year, "My Sharona" by The Knack was on the charts and Yankovic took his accordion into the restroom across the hall from the radio station and recorded a parody titled "My Bologna". He sent it to Dr. Demento, who played it to good response from listeners. Yankovic met The Knack after a show at his college and introduced himself as the author of "My Bologna". The Knack's lead singer, Doug Fieger, said he liked the song and suggested that Capitol Records vice president Rupert Perry release it as a single. "My Bologna" was released as a single with "School Cafeteria" as its B-side, and the label gave Yankovic a six-month recording contract. Yankovic, who was "only getting average grades" in his architecture degree, began to realize that he might make a career of comedic music.

On September 14, 1980, Yankovic was a guest on the Dr. Demento Show, where he was to record a new parody live. The song was called "Another One Rides the Bus", a parody of Queen's hit, "Another One Bites the Dust". While practicing the song outside the sound booth, he met Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, who told him he was a drummer and agreed to bang on Yankovic's accordion case to help Yankovic keep a steady beat during the song. They rehearsed the song just a few times before the show began. "Another One Rides the Bus" became so popular that Yankovic's first television appearance was a performance of the song on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder. On the show, Yankovic played his accordion, and again, Schwartz banged on the accordion case and provided comical sound effects.

 Band and fame
1981 brought Yankovic on tour for the first time as part of Dr. Demento's stage show. His stage act in a Phoenix, Arizona, nightclub caught the eye of manager Jay Levey, who was "blown away". Levey asked Yankovic if he had considered creating a full band and doing his music as a career. Yankovic admitted that he had, so Levey held auditions. Steve Jay became Yankovic's bass player, and Jay's friend Jim West played guitar. Schwartz continued on drums. Yankovic's first show with his new band was on March 31, 1982. Several days later, Yankovic and his band were the opening act for Missing Persons.

Yankovic recorded "I Love Rocky Road", (a parody of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" as recorded by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts) which was produced by Rick Derringer, in 1982. The song was a hit on Top 40 radio, leading to Yankovic's signing with Scotti Brothers Records. In 1983, Yankovic's first self-titled album was released on Scotti Bros. He released his second album "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D in 1984. The first single "Eat It", a parody of the Michael Jackson song "Beat It", became popular, thanks in part to the music video, a shot-for-shot parody of Jackson's "Beat It" music video, and what Yankovic described as his "uncanny resemblance" to Jackson. Peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 14, 1984, "Eat It" remained Yankovic's highest-charting single until "White & Nerdy" placed at number 9 in October 2006.

In 1985, Yankovic co-wrote and starred in a mockumentary of his own life entitled The Compleat Al, which intertwined the facts of his life up to that point with fiction. The movie also featured some clips from Yankovic's trip to Japan and some clips from the Al TV specials. The Compleat Al was co-directed by Jay Levey, who would direct UHF four years later. Also released around the same time as The Compleat Al was The Authorized Al, a biographical book based on the film. The book, resembling a scrapbook, included real and fictional humorous photographs and documents.

Yankovic and his band toured as the opening act for The Monkees in mid-1987 for their second reunion tour of North America. Yankovic claims to have enjoyed touring with The Monkees, despite the fact "the promoter gypped us out of a bunch of money."

Yankovic also appeared on the Wendy Carlos recording of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" as the narrator in 1988. The album also included a sequel of Camille Saint-Saëns's composition The Carnival of the Animals entitled the "Carnival of the Animals Part II", with Yankovic providing humorous poems for each of the featured creatures in the style of Ogden Nash, who had written humorous poems for the original. Rubén Valtierra joined the band on keyboards in 1991, allowing Yankovic to concentrate more on singing and increasing his use of the stage space during concerts.

A factual biographical booklet of Yankovic's life, written by Dr. Demento, was released with the 1994 box set compilation Permanent Record: Al in the Box. The Dr. Demento Society, which issues yearly Christmas re-releases of material from Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes, often includes unreleased tracks from Yankovic's vaults, such as "Pacman", "It's Still Billy Joel To Me" or the live version of "School Cafeteria".

 New look and career to present


On January 24, 1998, Yankovic had LASIK eye surgery to correct his extreme myopia. In the same period, he shaved off his moustache and grew out his hair, thus radically changing his signature look (he had previously shaved his mustache in 1983 for the video of "Ricky" to resemble Desi Arnaz and 1996 for the "Amish Paradise" video). Yankovic reasoned, "If Madonna's allowed to reinvent herself every 15 minutes, I figure I should be good for a change at least once every 20 years." He parodied the reaction to this "new look" in a commercial for his nonexistent MTV Unplugged special. The commercial featured Yankovic in the short-haired wig from the music video for Hanson's "River", claiming his new look was an attempt to "get back to the core of what I'm all about", that being "the music".

Three of his latest albums feature the longest songs Yankovic has ever released. The "Albuquerque" track from Running with Scissors is 11 minutes and 25 seconds; "Genius in France" from Poodle Hat runs for 8 minutes and 56 seconds; "Trapped in the Drive-Thru" from Straight Outta Lynwood is 10 minutes and 53 seconds long. Before 2007 (apart from a one-off performance of "Albuquerque" in Albuquerque, New Mexico), these "epic" songs were not performed live in their entirety due to their length and complexity.

Yankovic has also started to explore digital distribution of his songs. On October 7, 2008, Yankovic released to the iTunes Store "Whatever You Like", a parody of the T.I. song of the same title, which Yankovic said he had come up with two weeks before. Yankovic said that the benefit of digital distribution is that "I don't have to wait around while my songs get old and dated—I can get them out on the Internet almost immediately." In 2009, Yankovic released four more songs: "Craigslist" on June 16, "Skipper Dan" on July 14, "CNR" on August 4, and "Ringtone" on August 25. These five digitally released songs were packaged as a digital EP titled Internet Leaks, with "Whatever You Like" retroactively included in the set.

In 2011, Yankovic completed his thirteenth studio album. This album, titled Alpocalypse, is his first studio album since Straight Outta Lynwood, and was released on June 21, 2011. The album contains the five songs from the previous Internet Leaks digital download release, a polka medley called "Polka Face", a song called "TMZ" for which Bill Plympton created an animated music video, and five other new songs.

Yankovic had reported an interest in parodying Lady Gaga's material, and on April 20 announced that he had written and recorded a parody of "Born This Way" entitled "Perform This Way", to be the lead single for his new album. However, upon first submitting it to Lady Gaga's manager for approval , he was not given permission to release it commercially. As he had previously done under similar circumstances (with his parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful"), Yankovic then released the song for free on the internet. Soon afterwards, Gaga's manager admitted that he had denied the parody of his own accord without forwarding the song to his client, and upon seeing it online, Lady Gaga granted permission for the parody. Yankovic has stated that all of his proceeds from the parody and its music video will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign, to support the human rights themes of the original song.

Yankovic was also a judge for the 10th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.

 personal life
Yankovic married Suzanne Krajewski in 2001; their daughter, Nina, was born in 2003. They also have a pet cockatiel named Bo Veaner and dog named Bambu. They used to have a pet poodle, named Bela (pictured atop Yankovic's head on the cover of his album, Poodle Hat). Yankovic identifies as Christian and has stated that a couple from his church appeared on the cover of Poodle Hat.

Yankovic changed his diet to become a vegan in 1992, after a former girlfriend gave him the book Diet for a New America and he felt "it made a very compelling argument for a strict vegetarian diet." When asked how he can "rationalize" performing at events such as the Great American Rib Cook-Off when he is a vegan, he replied, "The same way I can rationalize playing at a college even though I’m not a student anymore."

In 2004, Yankovic's parents were found dead in their Fallbrook, California, home, apparently the victims of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from their fireplace that had been recently lit. The flue was closed, which trapped the carbon monoxide gas inside the house, suffocating them. Several hours after his wife notified him of his parents' death, Yankovic went on with his concert in Mankato, Minnesota, saying that "since my music had helped many of my fans through tough times, maybe it would work for me as well" and that it would "at least ... give me a break from sobbing all the time." Although Yankovic played the concert as planned, a scheduled meet and greet following the concert was canceled.

 music career
While Yankovic's song parodies (such as "Eat It") have resulted in success on the Billboard charts (see List of singles by "Weird Al" Yankovic), he recorded an equally large number of original humorous songs ("You Don't Love Me Anymore" and "One More Minute"). His work depends largely on the satirizing of popular culture, including television , movies ("The Saga Begins"), food , popular music ("Bohemian Polka", "Polkarama"), and sometimes issues in contemporary news ("Headline News"). Yankovic claims he has no intention of writing "serious" music. In his reasoning, "There's enough people that do unfunny music. I'll leave the serious stuff to Paris Hilton and Kevin Federline."

Although many of Yankovic's songs are parodies of contemporary radio hits, it is rare that the song's primary topic lampoons the original artist as a person, or the song itself. Most Yankovic songs consist of the original song's music, with a separate, unrelated set of amusing lyrics. Yankovic considered that his first true satirical song was "Smells Like Nirvana", which references unintelligible lyrics in Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Other satirical songs include "Achy Breaky Song", which refers to the song "Achy Breaky Heart", "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long", which refers to the repetitious lyrics in "Got My Mind Set on You", the unreleased "It's Still Billy Joel to Me", and Perform This Way", set to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way".

Yankovic's humor normally lies more in creating unexpected incongruity between an artist's image and the topic of the song, contrasting the style of the song with its content (such as the songs "Amish Paradise", "White & Nerdy", and "You're Pitiful"), or in pointing out trends or works which have become pop culture clichés (such as "eBay" and "Don't Download This Song").

Yankovic is the sole writer for all his songs and, for "legal and personal reasons", does not accept parody submissions or ideas from fans. There exists, however, one exception to this rule in the case of "Like a Surgeon". Madonna was reportedly talking with a friend and happened to wonder aloud when Yankovic was going to turn her "Like a Virgin" into "Like a Surgeon". Madonna's friend was a mutual friend of Yankovic's manager, Jay Levey, and eventually Yankovic himself heard the story from Levey.

Unlike other parody artists such as Allan Sherman, Yankovic strives to keep the backing music in his parodies the same as the original. While Sherman reproduced them orchestrally, Yankovic and his band essentially play the original song with new lyrics. Instead of using instrumental versions of the original songs, Yankovic and his band transcribe the original song by ear and re-record the song for Yankovic's parody version. Sometimes artists whose work Yankovic parodies perform on the recordings,i.e. Dire Straits members Mark Knopfler and Guy Fletcher perform on Yankovic's parody of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" and "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*".

Yankovic also includes a medley of various songs on most albums, each one reinterpreted as a polka, with the choruses or memorable lines of various songs juxtaposed for humorous effect. Yankovic has been known to say that converting these songs to polka was "...the way God intended". Because the polkas have become a staple of Yankovic's albums, he has said he tries to include one on each album because "fans would be rioting in the streets, I think, if I didn't do a polka medley."


Some of Yankovic's original songs are "style parodies" for which he chooses a band's entire body of work to honor/parody, rather than any single hit by that band. Such bands include Rage Against the Machine with "I'll Sue Ya" (which features many aspects of the hit song "Killing in the Name"), Devo with "Dare to Be Stupid", Talking Heads with "Dog Eat Dog", Frank Zappa with "Genius in France", Nine Inch Nails with "Germs", and Queen with "Ringtone". Others are style parodies in the style of a genre of music, rather than a specific band (for example, country music with "Good Enough For Now" and charity records with "Don't Download This Song").

Yankovic has contributed original songs to several films ("This Is the Life" from Johnny Dangerously; "Polkamon" from the movie Pokémon: The Movie 2000, and a parody of the James Bond title sequence in Spy Hard), in addition to his own film, UHF. Other songs of his have appeared in films or television series as well, such as "Dare to Be Stupid" in The Transformers: The Movie.

One of Yankovic's recurring jokes involves the number 27. It is mentioned in the lyrics of several songs, and seen on the covers for Running With Scissors, Poodle Hat and Straight Outta Lynwood. He had originally just pulled the number 27 as a random figure to use in filling out lyrics, but as his fans started to notice the reuse of the number after the first few times, he began to purposely drop references to 27 within his lyrics, videos, and album covers. He explains that "It's just a number I started using that people started attaching a lot of importance to." Other recurring jokes revolve around the names Bob (the Al TV interviews often mention the name, and a song called "Bob" is featured on Poodle Hat), Frank (e.g. "Frank's 2000" TV"), and the surname "Finkelstein" (e.g. the music video for "I Lost on Jeopardy", or Fran Drescher's character, Pamela Finkelstein, in UHF). Also, a hamster called Harvey the Wonder Hamster is a recurring character in The Weird Al Show and the Al TV specials, as well as the subject of an original song on Alapalooza. Other recurring jokes include Yankovic borrowing, or being owed, $5. In a number of Al TV interviews, he often asks if he can borrow $5, being turned down every time. This motif also occurs in "Why Does This Always Happen to Me?", in which his deceased friend owes him $5. Another recurring joke is his attraction to female nostrils or nostrils in general. This also appears in numerous Al TV interviews as well as in several of his songs ("Albuquerque" and "Wanna B Ur Lovr" to name a few.) Yankovic also asks his celebrity guests if they could "shave his back for a nickel." This also appears in the song "Albuquerque". Yankovic has also put two backmasking messages into his songs. The first, in "Nature Trail to Hell", said "Satan Eats Cheez Whiz"; the second, in "I Remember Larry", said "Wow, you must have an awful lot of free time on your hands."

Yankovic's career in novelty and comedy music has outlasted many of his "mainstream" parody targets, such as Toni Basil, MC Hammer, and Men Without Hats. Yankovic's continued success (including the top 10 single "White & Nerdy" and album Straight Outta Lynwood in 2006) has enabled him to escape the one-hit wonder stigma often associated with novelty music.

 Music videos
While Yankovic's musical parodies generally do not include references to the songs or the artists of the original songs, Yankovic's music videos will sometimes parody the original song's music video in whole or in part. Most notably, the video for "Smells Like Nirvana" uses an extremely similar set to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", including using several of the same actors. This video contended with "Smells like Teen Spirit" at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Male Video. Other videos that draw directly from those of the original song include "Eat It", "Fat", "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*", "Bedrock Anthem", "Headline News", "It's All about the Pentiums", "Amish Paradise", "Like a Surgeon", and "White & Nerdy". The video for "Dare to Be Stupid" is, as stated by Yankovic, a style parody in general of Devo videos.

Several videos have included appearances by notable celebrities in addition to Yankovic and his band. Dr. Demento appeared in several of Yankovic's earlier videos, such as "I Love Rocky Road" and "Ricky". Actor Dick Van Patten is featured in both "Smells Like Nirvana" and "Bedrock Anthem"; Drew Carey, Emo Philips and Phil LaMarr appeared in "It's All About the Pentiums"; Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Donny Osmond, Judy Tenuta and Seth Green appeared in "White & Nerdy"; and Ruth Buzzi and Pat Boone appeared in "Gump". The video for "I Lost on Jeopardy" includes an appearance by Greg Kihn, the artist whose song, "Jeopardy", was being parodied, along with Don Pardo and Art Fleming, Jeopardy's original announcer and host, as themselves. Florence Henderson played Yankovic's Amish wife in "Amish Paradise".

While most videos that Yankovic creates are aired on music channels such as MTV and VH1, Yankovic worked with animation artists to create music videos for release with extended content albums. The DualDisc version of Straight Outta Lynwood features six videos set to songs from the release, including videos created by Bill Plympton and John Kricfalusi; one video, "Weasel Stomping Day" was created by the producers of the show Robot Chicken, and aired as a segment of that program. As of fall 2010, Yankovic is again collaborating with Bill Plympton to create a video for a new song ("TMZ") which will appear on his upcoming album.

 Reactions from original artists
Under the "fair use" provision of U.S. copyright law, affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, one does not need permission to record a parody. However, as a personal rule, and as a means of maintaining good relationships within the music community, Yankovic has always requested permission from the original artist before recording his parodies. He claims that only about two to three percent of the artists he approaches for parody permission deny his requests. Also, according to Stanford Libraries, fair use is unlikely to justify a parody song that parodies more than a few lines of song lyrics from an existing song.

Positive
Michael Jackson was a big fan of Yankovic, and Yankovic claimed Jackson "had always been very supportive" of his work. Jackson twice allowed him to parody his songs ("Beat It" and "Bad" became "Eat It" and "Fat", respectively). When Jackson
granted Yankovic permission to do "Fat", Jackson allowed him to use the same set built for his own "Badder" video from the Moonwalker video. Though Jackson allowed "Eat It" and "Fat", he requested that Yankovic not record a parody of "Black or White", entitled "Snack All Night", because he felt the message was too important. This refusal, coming shortly after the commercial failure of Yankovic's movie UHF in theaters, had initially set Yankovic back; he later recognized this as a critical time, as in searching for new parodies, he came across Nirvana and leading to a revitalization of his career with "Smells Like Nirvana". Yankovic has performed a concert-only parody "Snack All Night" in some of his live shows. Yankovic had a cameo appearance, along with many other celebrities, in Jackson's music video for "Liberian Girl".


Dave Grohl of Nirvana said that the band felt they had "made it" after Yankovic recorded "Smells Like Nirvana", a parody of the grunge band's smash hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit". On his Behind the Music special, Yankovic stated that when he called Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain to ask if he could parody the song, Cobain gave him permission, then paused and asked, "Um... it's not gonna be about food, is it?" Yankovic responded with, "No, it'll be about how no one can understand your lyrics." According to members of Nirvana interviewed for Behind the Music, when they saw the video of the song, they laughed hysterically. Additionally, Cobain described Yankovic as "a musical genius".

Mark Knopfler approved Yankovic's parody of the Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing" for use in the film UHF on the provision that Knopfler himself be allowed to play lead guitar on the parody which was later titled "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*". Yankovic commented on the legal complications of the parody in the DVD audio commentary for UHF, explaining "We had to name that song 'Money for Nothing 'slash' Beverly Hillbillies 'asterisk' because the lawyers told us that had to be the name. Those wacky lawyers! What ya gonna do?" The Permanent Record: Al in the Box booklet referred to the song's "compound fracture of a title." When a fan asked about the song's title, Yankovic shared his feelings on the title, replying "That incredibly stupid name is what the lawyers insisted that the parody be listed as. I'm not sure why, and I've obviously never been very happy about it."

The Presidents of the United States of America were so pleased with "Gump", Yankovic's parody of their song "Lump", that they ended the song with his last line instead of their own ("And that's all I have to say about that") on the live recording of "Lump" featured on the compilation album Pure Frosting. In 2008, Yankovic directed the music video for their song "Mixed Up S.O.B." The song "The Saga Begins" (a parody of Don McLean's "American Pie") accurately states the entire plot of The Phantom Menace, despite being written before the film's release. Yankovic got the plot details from rumor websites. He was slightly unsure about Anakin proposing to Amidala, so he attended a US$500 screening to confirm, and ended up making only very minor alterations to the lyrics.

McLean was reportedly pleased with the parody, and told Yankovic that the parody's lyrics sometimes enter his mind during live performances. His parody not only replicates the music from the original Don McLean song, but it replicates the multi-layered rhyming structure in the verses and chorus. Additionally, George Lucas loved the song and a Lucasfilm representative told Yankovic, "You should have seen the smile on his face."

Chamillionaire was also very pleased, even putting Yankovic's parody "White & Nerdy" (a parody of "Ridin'") on his official MySpace page before it was on Yankovic's own page. Chamillionaire stated in an interview, "He's actually rapping pretty good on it, it's crazy I didn't know he could rap like that. It's really an honor when he does that. Weird Al is not gonna do a parody of your song if you're not doing it big." In September 2007, Chamillionaire credited "White & Nerdy" for his recent Grammy win, stating "That parody was the reason I won the Grammy, because it made the record so big it was undeniable. It was so big overseas that people were telling me they had heard my version of Weird Al's song."

Yankovic was briefly denied permission to parody Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" for his song "Perform This Way" for release on his next album, but through his release of the song on YouTube and subsequent spread via Twitter, Lady Gaga and her staff asserted that her manager had made the decision without her input, and Gaga herself gave Yankovic permission to proceed with the parody's release.

Gaga was considered "a huge Weird Al fan", and she stated that the parody was a "rite of passage" for her musical career and considered the song "very empowering".

Negative
One of Yankovic's most controversial parodies was 1996's "Amish Paradise", based on "Gangsta's Paradise" by hip-hop artist Coolio, which, in turn, was based on "Pastime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder. Reportedly, Coolio's label gave Yankovic the impression that Coolio had granted permission to record the parody, but Coolio maintains that he never did. While Coolio claimed he was upset, legal action never materialized, and Coolio accepted royalty payments for the song. After this controversy, Yankovic has always made sure to speak directly with the artist of every song he parodied. At the XM Satellite Radio booth at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show Yankovic and Coolio made peace. On his website, Yankovic wrote of this event, "I don’t remember what we said to each other exactly, but it was all very friendly. I doubt I’ll be invited to Coolio’s next birthday party, but at least I can stop wearing that bulletproof vest to the mall."

In 2003, Yankovic was denied permission to make a video for "Couch Potato", his parody of Eminem's "Lose Yourself":

For the Poodle Hat Al TV special, Yankovic raised the question of artistic expression in a fake interview with Eminem. As Yankovic has always done for his Al TV specials, he edited the footage of a previous Eminem interview and inserted himself asking questions for comic effect.

Refused parodies
On numerous occasions, Prince has refused Yankovic permission to record parodies of his songs. Yankovic has stated in interviews that he has "approached him every few years see if he's lightened up." Yankovic related one story where, prior to the American Music Awards where he and Prince were assigned to sit in the same row, he got a telegram from Prince's lawyers, demanding he not make eye contact with the artist.

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page is a self-proclaimed Yankovic fan, but when Yankovic wished to create a polka medley of Led Zeppelin songs, Page refused. Yankovic was, however, allowed the very rare opportunity to re-record a sample of "Black Dog" for a segment of "Trapped in the Drive-Thru".

Paul McCartney, also a Yankovic fan, refused Yankovic permission to record a parody of Wings' "Live and Let Die", entitled "Chicken Pot Pie", because McCartney is a vegetarian and found the parody to be in bad taste.

In 2006, Yankovic gained James Blunt's permission to record a parody of "You're Beautiful". However, after Yankovic had recorded "You're Pitiful", Blunt's label, Atlantic Records, rescinded this permission, despite Blunt's personal approval of the song. The parody was pulled from Yankovic's Straight Outta Lynwood due to his label's unwillingness to "go to war" with Atlantic. Yankovic released the song as a free download on his MySpace profile, as well as his official website, and plays it in concert, since it was not Blunt himself objecting to the parody.

 Live performances

Yankovic often describes his live concert performances as "a rock and comedy multimedia extravaganza" with an audience that "ranges from toddlers to geriatrics." Apart from Yankovic and his band performing his classic and contemporary hits, staples of Yankovic's live performances include a medley of parodies, many costume changes between songs, and a video screen on which various clips are played during the costume changes. A concert from Yankovic's 1999 tour for the Running with Scissors album ("Touring with Scissors") was released on VHS in 1999 and on DVD in 2000. Titled "Weird Al" Yankovic Live!, the concert was recorded at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California, on October 2, 1999. For legal reasons, video clips (apart from those for Yankovic's own music videos) could not be shown for the home release, and unreleased parodies were removed from the parody medley for the performance.

2003 saw Yankovic on tour overseas for the first time. Before 2003, Yankovic and his band had toured only the United States and parts of Canada. Following the success of Poodle Hat in Australia, Yankovic performed eleven shows in Australia's major capital cities and regional areas in October of that year. Yankovic returned to Australia and toured New Zealand for the first time in 2007 to support the Straight Outta Lynwood album. On September 8, 2007, Yankovic performed his 1,000th live show at Idaho Falls, Idaho.

He performed his first ever European mini-tour, including an appearance at the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in Minehead, England in December 2010. Yankovic was picked to perform by the Canadian band Godspeed You Black Emperor who curated the festival's lineup. Yankovic played three other dates in the UK around his festival appearance before performing a single date in the Netherlands.

 other work
 UHF

In 1989, Yankovic starred in a full-length feature film, co-written by himself and manager Jay Levey, and filmed in Tulsa, Oklahoma called UHF. A satire of the television and film industries, also starring Michael Richards, Fran Drescher, and Victoria Jackson, it brought floundering studio Orion their highest test scores since the movie RoboCop. However, it was unsuccessful in theaters.

The film has since become a cult classic, with out-of-print copies of the VHS version selling for up to $100 on eBay until the release of the DVD in 2002. Yankovic occasionally shows clips from the film at his concerts (to which MGM, the film's current owner, initially objected in the form of a cease and desist letter). In an apparent attempt to make it more accessible to overseas audiences, where the term UHF is used less frequently to describe TV broadcasts, the film was titled The Vidiot From UHF in Australia and parts of Europe.

UHF shows the creation of Yankovic's signature food—the Twinkie Wiener Sandwich. The snack consists of an overturned Twinkie split open as a makeshift bun, a hot dog, and Easy Cheese put together and dipped in milk before eating. Yankovic has stated that he has switched to using tofu hot dogs since becoming a vegetarian, but still enjoys the occasional Twinkie Wiener Sandwich.

 Notable television appearances
Yankovic had a TV series called The Weird Al Show, which aired from September 1997 to December 1997 on CBS. Though the show appeared to be geared at children, the humor was really more for his adult fans (as such, it is often compared to Pee-wee's Playhouse). The entire series was released on DVD by Shout! Factory on August 15, 2006.

Yankovic has hosted Al TV on MTV and Al Music on MuchMusic many times, generally coinciding with the release of each new album. For Poodle Hat, Al TV appeared on VH1 for the first time. A recurring segment of Al TV involves Yankovic manipulating interviews for comic effect. He inserts himself into a previously conducted interview with a musician, and then manipulates his questions, resulting in bizarre and comic responses from the celebrity.

VH1 produced a Behind the Music episode on Yankovic. His two commercial failures (his film UHF and his 1986 album Polka Party!) were presented as having a larger impact on the direction of his career than they really had. Also, Coolio's later disapproval of "Amish Paradise" was played up as a large feud. Much was also made over his apparent lack of a love life, though he got married shortly after the program aired.

Yankovic has done voice-overs for a number of animated series. He appeared in a 2003 episode of The Simpsons, singing "The Ballad of Homer & Marge" (a parody of John Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane") with his band. The episode, "Three Gays of the Condo", in which Marge hires Yankovic to sing the aforementioned song to Homer in an attempt to reconcile their marriage, later won an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Animated Program ". Yankovic also had a cameo in a 2008 episode, entitled "That '90s Show", during which he records a parody of Homer's grunge hit "Shave Me" entitled "Brain Freeze" (Homer's song, "Shave Me", was itself a parody of Nirvana's "Rape Me") making Yankovic one of only a handful of celebrities to appear twice on the show playing themselves. He has had one notable appearance in the animated Adult Swim show Robot Chicken voicing a kid who becomes a giant robot. The episode also featured Al's music video, "Weasel Stomping Day". Yankovic is the voice for Squid Hat on the Cartoon Network show, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. He is also the announcer of the cartoon's eponymous video game adaptation. Yankovic had a guest appearance voicing Wreck-Gar, a waste collection vehicle Transformer in the Transformers: Animated cartoon series; previously, Yankovic's "Dare to Be Stupid" song was featured in the 1986 animated film The Transformers: The Movie, during the sequence in which the Wreck-Gar character was first introduced; as such, the song is referenced in the episode. He also plays local TV talent show host Uncle Muscles on several episodes of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job along with other appearances on the show. Weird Al has also supplied the voice of one-shot character 'Petroleum Joe' on The Brak Show. He also voiced himself on a Back at the Barnyard episode, and he appeared as a ringmaster who helps the regular characters of Yo Gabba Gabba organize a circus in a 2007 episode of the children's show.

An exhaustive list of television shows on which Yankovic has appeared is available on his official website.

 Directing career
"Weird Al" Yankovic has directed many of his own music videos; he has directed all of his music videos from 1993’s "Bedrock Anthem" to 2006’s "White & Nerdy". He also directed the end sequence of 1986’s "Christmas at Ground Zero" from his Polka Party! album and the title sequence to Spy Hard, for which he sang the title song. Yankovic wrote, directed and starred in the short 3-D movie attraction "Al's Brain: A 3-D Journey Through The Human Brain", which premiered at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, California in 2009. The $2.5 million project sponsored by the Orange County Fair, including a brief cameo by Sir Paul McCartney that Yankovic directed during McCartney's tour at the 2009 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Fair CEO Steve Beazley, who supported the project, considers the project a success and is considering leasing the exhibit to other fairs; the second appearance of the exhibit will be at the Puyallup Fair in Washington.

In addition to his own, he has directed several videos for Hanson (the Titanic sequences in "River"), The Black Crowes ("Only a Fool"), Ben Folds ("Rockin' the Suburbs"), Jeff Foxworthy ("Redneck Stomp" and "Party All Night"), Blues Explosion ("Wail"), and The Presidents of the United States of America ("Mixed Up S.O.B"). He has cameo appearances in his videos for Blues Explosion, Hanson , and Ben Folds (as the producer fixing Folds' "shitty tracks").

Cartoon Network feature film
On January 25, 2010, Yankovic announced that he signed a production deal with Warner Bros. and is set to write and direct a live-action feature film. Although Yankovic previously wrote the script for UHF, this was to be the first movie Yankovic directed. Little is currently known about the movie. However, Yankovic did state that he would not be starring in the movie, as Cartoon Network wanted a younger protagonist. During an interview on the Comedy Death-Ray Radio, Yankovic revealed that though Cartoon Network "loved" his script, the network decided that they were no longer intending to produce feature films. Yankovic stated that he would instead shop the script around to other potential studios.

 Writing
Yankovic wrote When I Grow Up (ISBN 978-0-06-192691-4), a children's book released on February 1, 2011 and published by HarperCollins. The book features 8-year-old Billy presenting to his class the wide variety of imaginative career possibilities that he is considering. Yankovic stated that the idea for the book was based on his own "circuitous" career path. The book allows Yankovic to apply the humorous writing style found in his music in another medium, allowing him to use puns and rhymes. Yankovic worked with Harper Collins' editor Anne Hoppe—the first time that Yankovic has had an editor—and found her help as a positive experience. The book is illustrated by Wes Hargis, who, according to Yankovic, has a "a childlike quality and a very fun quality and a very imaginative quality" that matched well with Yankovic's writing. The book reached the #4 position on The New York Times Best Seller list for Children's Picture Books for the week of February 20, 2011.

 Other media
In 2008, Weird Al joined Michael J. Nelson as a guest on the RiffTrax treatment of Jurassic Park.

On November 10, 2009, Weird Al was a guest "internet scientist" on Rocketboom's "Know Your Meme" video series, in the installment on the topic of Autotune, hosted by Jamie Wilkinson.


Eric Appel produced a Funny or Die movie trailer for "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story", a fictional biographical film that parodies other films based on musicians; Yankovic is seen hiding his "weirdness" from his parents , making it big using song parodies with the help of Dr. Demento , falling in and out of love with Madonna , and fading into alcoholism and being arrested, where his father finally admits he is "weird" as well. Yankovic himself plays a music producer in the short.

Weird Al joined the band Hanson in their music video for "Thinking Bout Somethin" in which he plays the tambourine.

Yankovic contributes backing vocals for the song "Time" on Ben Folds' album Songs for Silverman.

Yankovic also appeared in the recent Halloween II as himself on a news channel.

Yankovic was also one of many celebrities who took part in the NOH8 Campaign against Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California.

Yankovic was approached by a beer company to endorse their product. Yankovic had turned it down because he believed that "a lot of my fans were young and impressionable." Yankovic later posted on his Twitter account that he never regretted the decision.

In 2011, Yankovic guest starred as the character "Banana Man" in an episode of Adventure Time.

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  Band members   

  Albums 

  Tracks  

Name Duration Released
Perform This Way 02:54 21/06/2011
Another Tattoo 02:49 21/06/2011
Ringtone 03:24 21/06/2011
Party in the CIA 02:56 21/06/2011
Craigslist 04:53 21/06/2011
Polka Face 04:47 21/06/2011
Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me 05:42 21/06/2011
Skipper Dan 04:01 21/06/2011
Whatever You Like 03:41 21/06/2011
TMZ 03:40 21/06/2011
If That Isn't Love 03:48 21/06/2011
CNR 03:21 21/06/2011
The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota 06:50 27/10/2009
Melanie 03:58 27/10/2009
Don't Download This Song 03:54 12/09/2006
Confessions Part III 03:52 2006
White & Nerdy 02:50 2006
Couch Potato 04:19 25/10/2005
Pac Man 02:29 25/10/2005
It's Still Billy Joel To Me 02:36 25/10/2005
Bob 05:02 25/10/2005
I Want It That Way 03:36 20/05/2003
Amish Paradise 03:20 25/01/2000
Grapefruit Diet 03:30 25/01/2000
Phony Calls 03:22 25/01/2000
Gump 02:10 25/01/2000
Jerry Springer 02:46 25/01/2000
Cavity Search 04:19 25/01/2000
Pretty Fly for a Rabbi 03:02 25/01/2000
Polka Power! 04:21 25/01/2000
The Saga Begins 05:27 25/01/2000
It's All About the Pentiums 03:34 25/01/2000
The Alternative Polka 00:00 12/03/1996
Everything You Know Is Wrong 03:46 12/03/1996
The Night Santa Went Crazy 03:59 12/03/1996
Callin' in Sick 03:40 1996
Since You've Been Gone 01:22 1996
Spy Hard 02:49 1996
Cable TV 03:38 07/11/1995
Here's Johnny 03:25 07/11/1995
Talk Soup 04:25 07/11/1995
TV' 04:07 07/11/1995
Mr. Popeil 04:40 27/09/1994
Young, Dumb & Ugly 04:24 05/10/1993
MacArthur Park 00:00 05/10/1993
Jurassic Park 03:55 05/10/1993
Frank's 2000 04:07 05/10/1993
Under the Bridge 00:00 05/10/1993
Bedrock Anthem 03:43 05/10/1993
Weird Al 00:00 05/10/1993
Girls Just Want to Have Lunch 02:48 22/06/1993
Spam 03:01 22/06/1993
liner 00:00 14/04/1992
Do Me! 00:00 14/04/1992
askalJune 00:00 14/04/1992
The Plumbing Song 04:08 14/04/1992
Unbelievable 00:00 14/04/1992
I Was Only Kidding 03:31 14/04/1992
askalMarch/April 00:00 14/04/1992
Polka Your Eyes Out 03:50 14/04/1992
Losing My Religion 00:00 14/04/1992
Ice Ice Baby 00:00 14/04/1992
Airline Amy 03:50 14/04/1992
I Can't Watch This 03:31 14/04/1992
Pump Up the Jam 00:00 14/04/1992
Dr. Feelgood 00:00 14/04/1992
Rico Suave 00:00 14/04/1992
askalMarch 00:00 14/04/1992
Clarinet Polka 00:00 14/04/1992
I Touch Myself 00:00 14/04/1992
Taco Grande 03:44 14/04/1992
Trigger Happy 03:46 14/04/1992
Love Shack 00:00 14/04/1992
Miss You Much 00:00 14/04/1992
When I Was Your Age 04:35 14/04/1992
Bite Me 00:06 14/04/1992
Smells Like Teen Spirit 00:00 14/04/1992
Tom's Diner 00:00 14/04/1992
Cherry Pie 00:00 14/04/1992
You Got It 00:00 14/04/1992
You Don't Love Me Anymore 04:00 14/04/1992
Smells Like Nirvana 03:42 14/04/1992
Cradle of Love 00:00 14/04/1992
Enter Sandman 00:00 14/04/1992
The White Stuff 02:43 14/04/1992
Baby Don't Forget My Number 00:00 14/04/1992
The Hot Rocks Polka 00:00 18/07/1989
Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet near Mars 03:28 07/1989
Isle Thing 03:38 1989
Generic Blues 04:35 1989
Peter and the Wolf 31:51 04/10/1988
Fat 03:37 12/04/1988
You Make Me 03:06 12/04/1988
Got My Mind Set on You 00:00 12/04/1988
(This Song's Just) Six Words Long 03:37 12/04/1988
Stuck in a Closet with Vanna White 04:58 12/04/1988
Bad 00:00 12/04/1988
I Think I'm a Clone Now 03:17 1988
Velvet Elvis 04:27 1988
One of Those Days 03:15 11/1986
Don't Wear Those Shoes 03:35 10/1986
The Touch 03:54 1986
I Want a New Duck 03:04 18/06/1985
Ask Al 00:00 18/06/1985
devo 00:00 18/06/1985
Dare to Be Stupid 03:25 18/06/1985
Like a Virgin 00:00 18/06/1985
Lola 00:00 18/06/1985
Like a Surgeon 03:32 18/06/1985
Yoda 03:58 18/06/1985
DVD 00:00 18/06/1985
One More Minute 04:04 18/06/1985
Slime Creatures from Outer Space 04:23 1985
Buckingham Blues 03:11 01/06/1984
The Check's in the Mail 03:12 01/06/1984
I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead 03:37 01/06/1984
Nature Trail to Hell 05:55 01/06/1984
Stop Draggin' My Car Around 03:14 01/05/1984
Ricky 02:35 01/05/1984
My Bologna 02:01 01/05/1984
King of Suede 04:12 01/05/1984
I Love Rocky Road 02:35 01/05/1984
Theme from Rocky XIII 03:36 01/05/1984
I Lost on Jeopardy 03:28 28/02/1984
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida 00:00 28/02/1984
Ear Booker Polka 00:00 28/02/1984
praitb 00:00 28/02/1984
L.A. Woman 00:00 28/02/1984
My Generation 00:00 28/02/1984
Buy Me a Condo 03:45 28/02/1984
Hey Jude 00:00 28/02/1984
Jumpin' Jack Flash 00:00 28/02/1984
The Safety Dance 00:00 28/02/1984
Sex (I'm A...) 00:00 28/02/1984
Should I Stay or Should I Go 00:00 28/02/1984
The Brady Bunch 02:41 28/02/1984
Smoke on the Water 00:00 28/02/1984
Every Breath You Take 00:00 28/02/1984
Midnight Star 04:35 28/02/1984
Jocko Homo 00:00 28/02/1984
Bubbles in the Wine 00:00 28/02/1984
Eat It 03:21 28/02/1984
Polkas on 45 04:23 28/02/1984
Hot Blooded 00:00 28/02/1984
Jeopardy 00:00 28/02/1984
Burning Down the House 00:00 28/02/1984
That Boy Could Dance 03:32 28/02/1984
Gotta Boogie 02:21 1981
Happy Birthday 02:36 1981
Another One Rides the Bus 02:36 1981
Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung 01:55 1981
UHF 03:49
Achy Breaky Song 03:23
Headline News 03:46
Christmas at Ground Zero 03:07
This Is the Life 02:59
Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies* 03:08
Dog Eat Dog 03:42
Living in America 00:00
Living with a Hernia 03:20
Lasagna 02:45
Addicted to Spuds 03:46

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Weird Al Yankovic", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.