Top 10 Celeb Reactions to Weird Al Songs
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
If there's one thing this musical comedian does consistently, it's elicit strong reactions from the artists he parodies. For this list, we're going over the most shocking, surprising, ridiculous, and entertaining reactions celebrities had to their music parodied by Weird Al Yankovic. Our countdown includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eminem, Lady Gaga, and more!
Top 10 Celeb Reactions to Weird Al Songs
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrity Reactions to Weird Al Songs!
For this list, we’re going over the most shocking, surprising, ridiculous, and entertaining reactions celebrities had to their music parodied by Weird Al Yankovic.
Which of these caught you off guard? Let us know in the comments.
For as big as she was back in the 80’s, one would expect a pop star such as Madonna to develop some kind of ego and take their music way too seriously. Madonna is not like most pop stars. In fact, she actually had a hand in the making of Weird Al’s “Like a Virgin” parody, “Like a Surgeon”. Turns out Madonna was actually friends with Yankovic’s agent and had mentioned the likelihood of Al parodying “Like a Virgin”. The agent passed the word along to Yankovic, and the rest is history.
As we’ll see a couple times in this list, not every music artist has been receptive to Weird Al’s parodies. For a time, Coolio was the most infamous case. Perhaps the rapper’s most famous song was “Gangsta’s Paradise”, but his paradise was shattered after Yankovic put out “Amish Paradise”. Coolio took offense to the parody, claiming that Al was “desecrating the song”. In the face of this criticism, Yankovic still paid Coolio royalties and even sent a direct letter of apology. It wasn’t until 2006 when the two made amends, and in 2014, Coolio admitted that his outrage was “stupid”. Coolio later expressed resentment over how he handled the situation, saying “real people should be able to admit when they’re wrong and I was wrong, bro.”
#8: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda has certainly made a name for himself in entertainment, having written music for Disney’s “Encanto” as well as the Broadway phenomenon, “Hamilton”. But which song would be the one for Yankovic to parody? Well, why not the whole thing? “The Hamilton Polka” covers almost the entire musical, and Miranda heard it for himself. Miranda’s wife filmed a YouTube video of Miranda listening to the whole polka medley and laughing hysterically. Yeah, we were just as amazed at the song as Miranda was.
Whereas Coolio wasn’t cool with “Amish Paradise” (pun intended), Chammilionaire sang a different tune (also pun intended) when “White & Nerdy” released in 2006, just a few months after “Ridin’s” debut. Since Yankovic’s parody, Chamillionaire has shown nothing but gratitude for the song. According to Yankovic, Chamillionaire approached him at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards, after “Ridin’” won for Best Rap Song, and personally thanked him. The rapper has even gone so far as to praise Weird Al for his outstanding rapping abilities and has attributed “Ridin’s” success to “White & Nerdy”.
It’s strange to see one rap artist be disdainful and another praising. It’s even stranger to see one land on both sides. While Eminem did approve of Weird Al’s “Lose Yourself” parody (titled “Couch Potato”), he wasn’t so keen about the idea of a music video. Yankovic already had a plan for the music video until Eminem refused to allow it, claiming it would damage his reputation. He also refused to allow the song to get a commercial release. Sometime later, Yankovic would put out a mock interview on “AL TV” where he openly criticized Eminem. The rapper has since retconned his concerns, calling both the parody and mock interview “funny”.
#5: Kurt Cobain
Before the world lost Kurt Cobain, the frontman of Nirvana did get a chance to listen to “Smells Like Nirvana”, Weird Al’s parody of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. In the parody, Yankovic sings about not remembering any of the words to the song and fills in some bits with nonsensical words and sounds. We could understand why someone might misconstrue the song as an insult, but not Cobain. According to him, he and his bandmates saw “Smells Like Nirvana” as a sign - a sign that they had made it as music artists.
#4: Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s discovery of her parody was a rather bizarre one, and one that probably resulted in someone getting a stern talking to. While “Perform This Way”, a parody of Gaga’s “Born This Way”, was being made, Yankovic was denied permission to parody the song by Gaga’s management team, the team stating Gaga herself refused. However, after the song gained a ton of traction, Gaga came out and clarified that she had no idea the parody even existed and that management had denied the parody behind her back. Gaga further stated that she was a fan of Yankovic, loved the parody, and openly granted permission for the song to launch on his then-upcoming album, “Alpocalypse”.
#3: Don McLean
McLean’s “American Pie” is a rather heavy song to listen to despite its somewhat upbeat tones. It’s not easy recounting the Day the Music Died, especially if you’re someone who had lived when it happened. So, for someone to come in and “Star Wars” it up like Yankovic did with “The Saga Begins”, you would expect someone to be angry. On the contrary, McLean has publicly stated his love for the parody and even has confessed to nearly singing Yankovic’s song instead of his own by complete accident during his live shows.
#2: Michael Jackson
Yes, even Michael Jackson knew about Weird Al’s parodies, and he was fully supportive and communicative with Yankovic about their work. Not only was the King of Pop a fan of “Eat It” (the parody of his “Beat It”), Jackson even helped Yankovic with the “Fat” music video by giving them access to the studio where “Bad” music video/short film, “Badder” was shot. The only time Jackson did not approve of a parody was when Yankovic wanted to write one based on “Black Or White”; Jackson believed the song held a very important message that he did not want ruined, and Yankovic ultimately agreed.
Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few Honorable Mentions…
The Presidents of the United States of America
The Band Has Referenced “Gump” When Performing “Lump” At Concerts
The Queen Guitarist Found “Another One Rides the Bus” to be “Hilarious”
The Devo Frontman Said That “Dare To Be Stupid” Was “The Most Beautiful Thing I Had Ever Heard”
Crash Test Dummies
Loved “Headline News” So Much That They’ve Performed It WITH Weird Al…TWICE
#1: James Blunt & Atlantic Records
Of the music artists and record labels Yankovic has dealt with, James Blunt and Atlantic Records have seemingly been the most difficult. Despite having Blunt’s approval to parody “You’re Beautiful”, Yankovic was refused permission by Atlantic Records to release “You’re Pitiful” MONTHS after his inquiry and being told he’d be approved “when the time is right”. Not only was Yankovic denied a commercial release by Blunt and Atlantic before the song quietly launched in 2006, he was denied by Atlantic again in 2009, and in 2016, he was denied permission from Blunt himself. Yankovic still performs the song at live shows, and since then, Atlantic Records has been the butt of several jokes across music videos and live performances. In a way, it’s beautiful.