Weird Al Yankovic
Denver Post Archives JUL 16, 1985 Weird Al Yankovic dares to be stupid. Credit: The Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images)
Weird Al Yankovic is an American entertainer who wore many hats. He was a singer, songwriter, music video producer, film producer and author. His major claim to fame is his humorous and lighthearted song parodies of pop culture songs.
Yankovic got his big break on Dr. Demento’s comedy radio program.
Dr. Demento is a radio personality whose specialty is comedy and novelty-type songs. Fortunately, Yankovic had the opportunity to meet Dr. Demento at a high school assembly when he was just 16 years old. He was able to slip him a homemade recording of some song parodies as well as an original song he had written about his family’s car. That song was called, Belvedere Cruising. That very song was soon played for the first time on Dr. Demento’s syndicated radio show. He often credits his good fortune to the popular show. Yankovic has been quoted as saying, “If there hadn’t been a Dr. Demento, I’d probably have a real job now.”
Easy listening and folk music was groovy.
Following the good fortune of that exposure, Yankovic began performing in local coffee houses and other similar venues. Many of the other performers were also hoping to be discovered for their acoustic guitar talent and vocals, singing heartfelt ballads by current, popular artists. Most were performing easy listening, folk music, which was popular in the 70’s.
Yankovic, on the other hand, was a skilled accordionist from an early age.
That being the case, there were no soothing guitar solos or love songs for him! He proudly took the stage with his bulky accordion and made a spectacle of himself, singing and playing anything except what was expected. The crowds just didn’t know how to take him! During the age of groovy music, Yankovic was playing polka music and getting positive attention for it.
Since that chance meeting and following promotion of his song, Yankovic has enjoyed epic success. It may be for the wrong reasons; but success nonetheless! To date, Yankovic has sold tens of millions of albums and may even be considered the King of Parodies. Between albums sold and live performances, he has earned many nominations and awards.
The age of music videos didn’t hurt Yankovic’s success much. His song parodies stood on their own but when music videos made the scene, they just sealed the deal! Yankovic’s music videos skyrocketed him to epic success! His presence on YouTube was one of his biggest successes. The visuals that went along with his wacky parodies boosted his popularity.
Madonna was just one of the famous artists that enjoyed Yankovic’s song parodies and even embraced them.
Madonna was all for the parody of her song, Like a Virgin. She and Yankovic had a mutual friend and Madonna actually put in her “2 cents!”
Just Eat It, is the parody of Michael Jackson’s song, Just Beat It.
Surprisingly, Michael Jackson was a huge fan of Yankovic. He was very supportive of his song parodies and was onboard with the Yankovic’s song, Just Eat It. Not all artists have felt that way but most are actually flattered and consider it a rite of passage.
Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page was a Yankovic fan but actually refused his attempt to parody some of their songs.
As with many things in life, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. That being said, I think Weird Al Yankovic has done his best to keep us all amused.
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