The Internet should have made Weird Al Yankovic irrelevant years ago. In fact, it has done the opposite. … The video for Lynwood‘s lead single, White & Nerdy, for example, had almost nothing to do with Chamillionaire’s original Ridin’. But it did something even better: Offer a critique of white suburbanites who co-opt hip-hop culture while simultaneously becoming a nerd anthem. (This group, coincidentally, makes up a sizable portion of Weird Al’s fanbase.) The video for White & Nerdy became so popular that it propelled the song to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Also on that album was Don’t Download This Song, about music piracy and the Recording Industry Association of America’s copyright infringement cases. Weird Al offered it up for free on his website a year before Radiohead would test its pay-what-you-want model with In Rainbows. Straight Outta Lynwood went on to sell 563,000 albums, according to Nielsen Soundscan, making it Yankovic’s best-selling album of the past two decades.
Unexpected Internet success is one of my favorite kinds of success! And who can begrudge the 54-year-old Weird Al? He’s one of a handful of people in the entertainment world spotlight who doesn’t care if he’s cool or if you know he works hard. Also, he just seems like a nice guy:
AP: Unlike other parodies, you’ve never gone the mean-spirited route.
Yankovic: I’m a fan like everybody else. When I do my parodies it’s not meant to mock these people. It’s not meant to belittle them or make them look bad. It’s an homage. … I don’t think you need to be hurtful to be funny.
Is your favorite the Billfold-friendly “Mission Statement,” satirizing corporate speak? Here’s one ranking of his new parody songs. Here’s another. Agree / disagree? Or do you not get the appeal altogether?
Image via ROFLRazzi