Oct 07 2010

6 Reasons “Weird Al” Yankovic is Still Relevant

Published by at 11:00 am under Lists

For those in the audience that need statistics to quantify success, take a peek at the resume of Alfred Matthew “Weird Al” Yankovic. Since his first-aired comedy song in 1976, he has sold more than 12 million albums- more than any other comedy act in history. His work has earned him three Grammy Awards (nine nominations), four gold records, and six platinum records. Not bad for parody songs that rarely receive mainstream airplay.

Al isn’t finished. He said so himself just the other day on Twitter.

The album will probably be a success. He will sell out concerts and play to legions of loyal fans. Much of it is because Al knows exactly what made him successful and doesn’t stray too much from the formula.

Here are six reasons Weird Al is just hitting his stride after thirty years in the business.

He is the best at his genre


If Weird Al is the most successful parody songwriter off all time, who would be considered second? No idea. That is how far Al has distanced himself from the pack. There are comics that do funny songs or bands that will occasionally do a comical tune but their isn’t another act that can do exactly what Al does.

He changes with the times


Many performers and artists, once they find a gimmick that works, they stick with it until they die (or their career does). Think Gallagher or Carrot Top. Sure, Al was known for his curly afro, mustache and signature nerd glasses but as the times changed, so did Al. Lasik surgery, a razor to his upper lip and a new style hair. Same Al, newer look.

He puts on a great live performance


Yankovic describes his live concert performances as “a rock and comedy multimedia extravaganza”with an audience that “ranges from toddlers to geriatrics.” Very few musicians know how to perform. They understand how to play music, but they don’t get that people want to see a show. Al puts on a show. While his music is light and often hysterical, it would still come off pretty boring if Al just sat on stage with an accordion and did little to entertain the crowd. Weird Al’s show is filled with costume changes, set changes and feels more like a Broadway musical than a concert performance.

He stays relevant


Al parodies every genre of music, every performer and anything that is mainstream. He doesn’t target one specific type of music and usually parodies topics of the day using current hits. Even when he does sample classics from a musical generation gone by, the lyrics are comprised of present day news and pop culture. A good example is The Saga Begins, which sampled Don McLean’s American Pie but discussed the Star Wars Trilogy from the point of view of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He also embraces social media, boasting almost 2 million followers on Twitter.

He parodies culture, not people


Very few Weird Al songs make fun of specific people. They do poke fun at types of people (“White & Nerdy” and “Canadian Idiot” come to mind) but all of the jokes are light-hearted and good-natured ribbing. Mostly, Al jokes about people just like himself.

He has a loyal following


Weird Al fans are a quiet but massive group. They buy every album. Go to every show they can. They pass on his music to their kin and it breeds a whole new set of Al fans. It’s difficult to build that type of loyalty as a musician. Part of the appeal is that he keeps it clean so his audience is kids as well as adults. A perfect example of that loyalty is the The Weird Al Star Fund, a campaign started by Yankovic’s fans to get him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.





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11 responses so far

  • MattWeiler

    I have to admit that I love listening to Weird Al’s songs…
    It’s my guilty pleasure :)

  • EJ

    Been a fan almost his beginnings

  • Ugo Strange

    Weird Al is STILL the man !

  • http://www.sparkycomics.com Cam W

    I do love Weird Al. He is a comedic genius.

  • Ben

    The picture for “He Changes With the Times” is shocking. Weird to think he’s actually a fairly good-looking dude.

  • Steve

    Agreed with Ben about the pic. He’s gotta be in his 50’s by now, yet in that pic he looks half his age. Oh, and as a kid I wore out the Dr. Demento tape that had “Eat It” on it.

  • Carmen

    Does anyone else think he kind of resembles Russel Brand at times?

  • AngryMan

    Weird Al made a song about Canadian’s being idiots? Or something like that? Sorry, never heard it. I do love the song “Ode to a Superhero” though.

  • chelsea

    i’ve listened to weird al since i was like 6 years old (so about 20 years). i wouldn’t call myself a super fan as i don’t watch all his videos or buy his albums right away, but i have seen him in concert once a couple years ago.

  • KierzoSBC

    Used to listen to Wierd Al when I was younger…he’s one of those artists who are better when you’ve only heard a little bit of their stuff…i.e. the more you listen, the more incredibly boring he gets.

    Personally I think this article is complete nonsense…

    1.He’s the best at his genre…which is? The only competition he has are the school kids that re-wrote jingle bells to Batman smells!!

    2.He changes with the times? No he doesnt, he’s looked exactly the same for 30 years but because he now has a new haircut that makes him “current”?…wise up.

    3.He puts on a great live performance. Well i’ll give you that but then so do GWAR and i’ve not seen a single mention of them on here yet.

    4.He parodies culture not people. Hmm, that’s one of those statements that kind of sounds like it should be right but you’re not really sure. The fact of the matter is, he paodies songs…not people or culture or wardrobes or anything else. He takes a song that someone else has written and just puts different lyrics to it.

    5.He has a loyal following. Again, similar to GWAR who are just as “current” and just as “successful” as he is. i.e…not very.

    I’ll tell what in my opinion keeps him going. The fact that every single year there is a new batch of teenagers ready to sit around for twenty minutes and giggle at a few songs before getting bored and doing something else. That’s it.

    His only saving grace for me was the parody he did of Bohemian Rahpsody were instead of writing new lyrics over the top of the song, he changed the song entirely but kept the lyrics the same…pure genius. If all his other songs were as clever he’d be a lot more appealing.

  • esrdtfyghjk

    To KierzoSBC, you didn’t actually contradict any of the points in the article, you just explained your faulty opinions for why you don’t want him to be popular, successful or worthy of an article here. And he does parody of cultures as well, did you not notice that, while the songs he parodies stays the same, the lyrics is usually about something entirely different? He parodies the music in the music, and the cultures in the lyrics.

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