“Weird Al” Yankovic is known throughout the world as music’s foremost cultural satirist. Famous for his timely parodies of hits throughout the decades, he is more than just a novelty act. With three Grammys, nine nominations, four gold records and six platinum, Yankovic’s latest release, “Alpocalypse,” debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard charts — his highest charting record ever.
“When you do song parodies, you try to do songs that are timely, topical and current,” says Yankovic backstage in Orlando. “If it isn’t the song, you want the topic to be timely, topical and current. That’s what I try to do. It’s an ephemeral argument to be of the moment and be very fresh.”
Known for his witty lyrical takes on some of music’s biggest hits, with hilarious videos to match, “Weird Al” continues to keep mainstream pop stars on their toes. For the most part, he gets their blessings — and later their compliments — for his comedic takes on their originals. And while getting permission to do his parodies isn’t legally necessary, he makes sure to get the OK of each artist he satirizes.
“The thing is, I always ask,” says Yankovic. “It’s very rare that they do turn me down, but when they do, it’s a simple no and there’s no explanation. It’s necessary, because I would feel really odd if I was doing it without their blessing. I know what I can get away with legally, but I want to sleep at night and I want to take the high road. If the artist really doesn’t want me to do a parody, I will back off.”
His most recent hit is “Perform This Way,” a parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” but he says that’s not all he has in common with Mama Monster.
“I’ve been told we have more costume changes than Lady Gaga at this point,” he says of his current tour.
Gaga is gaga for Al
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Over the years, Yanko-vic had misunderstandings with Coolio and was consistently turned down by Prince. He was most recently rejected by James Blunt. Yankovic also received some initial dissention from Lady Gaga’s camp.
But after posting a video of “Perform This Way,” Gaga approved its inclusion on Yankovic’s new release. “She told Rolling Stone that she loved it and thought it was an empowering song and a rite of passage,” says Yankovic, who donated all proceeds from the song and video to the Human Rights Campaign.