Earlier this week, Lady Gaga reportedly refused permission to "Weird Al" Yankovic to release a parody of her new single, "Born This Way," called "Perform This Way." Upset, but well-aware of his right, Yankovic released the song anyway. Turns out, Lady Gaga actually loves "Weird Al" and is placing the blame on someone in management. Whether it was a marketing ploy or not is debatable, but it did get us to thinking about Weird Al and some of his most successful parodies.5. "Smells Like Nirvana"
No matter how big of a Nirvana fan you are or were, it's hard not to enjoy Yankovic's take on Cobain's supposedly deep lyrics and songs. We, of course, love Nirvana, and so did Yankovic, which you can tell by how well he nails this song. It's not as much about how Yankovic feels about the band as it is about how the common, Top 40 listener did. We remember how baffled and confused people were when they first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit," how afraid the school systems were and how the talking heads on television couldn't understand why it was so popular -- Yankovic nails it as he deconstructs not just the Nirvana song, but the entire cult surrounding the Cobain personality.
3. "White & Nerdy"
In his later years, Yankovic became more talented in riffing on songs and parodying them into something completely new. Case in point, this Star Wars tribute to "American Pie." While it certainly does hold the nostalgic magic of "Fat" or "Eat It," it's a better parody then either of those songs because Yankovic takes not just the groove of the song, but the emotion, as well. He even nails Don McLean's vocal style remarkably well. Yankovic uses the post-modern tactics of meshing two opposite ideals and placing them in parallel to reflect our own society, as well as a fantasy world.
2. "Money For Nothing"
Honestly, this one gets the most points for the line, "MC Escher / that's my favorite MC." Of course, parodying "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire is a dangerous game, but the fact Yankovic ends up turning this song into a something personal is the real highlight. It's not exactly a great song, but it is probably the closest thing you'll get to a look at what Yankovic is actually like. That is to say, if Yankovic was to release a diary of himself, not his persona, we'd imagine it resembling this song.
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1. "Amish Paradise"
Considering 100 percent of "Weird Al's" success has hinged on MTV, this might seem like a weird song to parody, but his usage of bad '80s graphics is so pitch-perfect, it's hard not to love. Of course, it also manages to tackle the exact same fascination with television as the original by adapting the Beverly Hillbillies theme into it as well. While many will always view this as a joke song, the implications Yankovic is looking at here are worthy of closer inspection.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact "Gangster's Paradise" was such a weird global phenomena, but "Amish Paradise" will always hold a special place in our hearts, mainly because it managed to capture the original song and a curious culture as a parody, but it never seemed to be divisive. "Weird Al's" best work has always been a celebration of an original song as opposed to a riff on it, and this one does it all perfectly. He merely replaces one outside culture with another, and in the end, we're privy to a closer look at a misunderstood and often misrepresented subset of people through the use stereotypes. Like the greatest literature, Yankovic shows us what's wrong with our vision of the world by throwing it in our face.