Weird Al Yankovic may be a funnyman, but his success is no joke. In fact, with more than 12 million records sold, three Grammy Awards, and a career that spans five decades (that’s right, he started professionally in 1979), Weird Al has had a career most artists could only dream of.
Weird Al writes plenty of original songs, but he’s best known for his parodies. The best Weird Al Yankovic parodies span nearly his entire career from the early ’80s to the late ’00s.
Here are the 10 best Weird Al Yankovic parodies.
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #10: Like a Surgeon, 1985
Madonna actually suggested this parody of “Like a Virgin” herself, and when word got back to Yankovic, he agreed it was a good idea to write a song about “cutting for the very first time.” The music video was even funnier than the song, featuring Yankovic writhing around on the floor in pure Madonna-style.
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #9: I Think I’m a Clone Now, 1988
This song sounded like science-fiction at the time, but the advances in cloning technology in the past decade have made it completely relevant. Set to the tune of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” Al sang about cloning himself: “Look at the way we go out walking close together / I guess you could say I’m really beside myself.”
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #8: Yoda, 1985
Based on the Kinks’ “Lola,” “Yoda” has become one of the signature songs of Weird Al’s live show. The track featuring creative lyrics about Star Wars took several years to see the light of day due to a miscommunication about whether the Kinks had given approval for the parody.
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #7: Confessions Part III, 2006
Yankovic’s best parody in nearly a decade, this was a knock-off of Usher’s R&B hits “Confessions” Parts I & II. In Al’s version, he made ridiculous, silly confessions like, “I killed your goldfish accidentally / Just replaced it with another one,” “There’ve been times when I peed in your sink,” “FYI, it was not a cold sore,” and “By the way your diamond ring is cubic zirconium.” With its precisely layered background vocals, “Confessions Part III” was a near-perfect replication of the original.
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #6: (This Song’s Just) Six Words Long, 1988
A left-field send-up of George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set on You,” this underappreciated track was brilliant in its simplicity. The lyrics were about Al’s writer’s block: “Couldn’t think of any lyrics / No I never wrote the lyrics / So I’ll just sing any old lyrics / That come to mind, child.” The song came from Even Worse, an album that also produced the clever Billy Idol parody “Alimony” (a parody of “Mony Mony”).
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #5: Fat, 1988
Poking fun at Michael Jackson still wasn’t old by 1988, so Al turned “Bad” into “Fat.” The first line of the song served notice this would be another hilarious song: “Your butt is wide / Well mine is too / Just watch your mouth / Or I’ll sit on you.” “Fat” won a Grammy for Best Music Video.
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #4: It’s All About the Pentiums, 1999
In terms of perfectly imitating the original, this song might be the most well-done parody of Al’s career. Mocking Puff Daddy’s rock remix of “It’s All About the Benjamins,” Yankovic sang about computers in an arrogant manner that imitated the style of many rappers. Best line: “Play me online? Well you know that I’ll beat you / If I ever meet you I’ll control-alt-delete you!”
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #3: Amish Paradise, 1996
A truly successful parody requires the original song to be serious and heavy-handed, and Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” fit the bill perfectly. Al’s version mimicked Coolio’s mannerisms for maximum comic effect: “Jebediah feeds the chickens and Jacob plows, fool!” The song earned Yankovic more airplay than any song since “Eat It.” Coolio was upset at the parody at first but he and Al later made peace.
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #2: Eat It, 1984
“Eat It” put Weird Al on the map to many mainstream music listeners. Michael Jackson was the biggest superstar in the world and gave Al permission to parody “Beat It.” Kids everywhere related to lyrics like, “Well don’t you know that other kids are starving in Japan so eat it!” The song reached #12 and won Yankovic his first Grammy Award.
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies #1: Smells Like Nirvana, 1992
Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is the song of a generation, a track universally acknowledged as one of the 20 most influential songs in music history. That made it perfect fodder for a Weird Al parody. He went all-out on this one, adding a kazoo solo and barnyard animal noises to lyrics about Nirvana’s unintelligible lyrics. All three members of Nirvana loved Al’s song, providing perhaps the ultimate compliment.
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies: Honorable Mention
White & Nerdy
Living with a Hernia
Best Weird Al Yankovic Parodies: Sources