This week's onslaught of Weird Al Yankovic music is near its midpoint, as the longtime L.A. comedian unveils his latest batch of musical parodies one video at a time over the course of eight days. Already we've seen him tackle Pharrell's "Happy," transforming it into a celebration of tackiness in "Tacky." Yankovic has done grammar sticklers the world over a huge service by turning Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" into "Word Crimes." He's celebrated handymen through Azalea Banks' "Fancy."
All of these and more are on "Mandatory Fun," Yankovic's new album. A hilarious ode to today's hits and misses, the record has been heralded as a masterpiece by at least one notable critic. Yankovic's been doing this for years, though.
Below are a few of his more successful parodies.
Yankovic has a few different approaches to parodies. Sometimes he takes on specific songs; for others, he cribs style, fashion and feel to create well-mimicked new works. Yankovic's paean to the Doors gets at the essence of the group's sound, while celebrating the myriad offerings of a certain online marketplace.
"White & Nerdy"
Rapper Chamillionaire's 2006 hit "Ridin' " about the dangers of cruisin' in Houston, takes on stereotypes with an ode to the myriad joys of Caucasian geekiness. Bragging while rhyming, Yankovic celebrates his many impressive achievements and his accumulated booty. "First in my class here at M.I.T./Got skills, I'm a champion of D&D/MC Escher that's my favorite MC/Keep your 40 I'll just have an Earl Grey tea."
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Yankovic was famous before he transformed Michael Jackson's "Beat It" into a song about gluttony, but afterward the comedian's success multiplied. Receiving nearly as many spins on MTV as the original, "Eat It" confirmed an artist willing to parody the greatest.
"Smells Like Nirvana"
Poking at the self-serious rock stylings of grunge wasn't too difficult, but Yankovic went for the jugular on "Smells Like Nirvana." Not only a funny video but a great piece of music criticism, his Nirvana parody found its way into the ears of a new generation of dissaffected cynics.
Yankovic grew up in Los Angeles, so it makes sense he'd nail the Beach Boys at some point. He does so with a curious take on the band's classic mid-'60s sound. Quoting many Brian Wilson melodies in a suite that draws on the band's most experimental period, "Pancreas" is a weird non sequitur about one of the lesser-referenced human organs.
"Trapped in the Drive-Thru"
R. Kelly is the perfect subject for Yankovic, as evidenced by his harrowing take on "Trapped in the Closet." Rather than interrupting a lover mid-tryst, though, Yankovic tells the story of a trip to a fast-food joint gone bad.
Transforming a hip-hop hit about the toils and joys of home into a celebration of Amish life, Yankovic's version of "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio travels the backroads. "We don't fight, we all play nice/Livin' in this Amish paradise."
And, finally, Yankovic composed a classic to warm the hearts of grammar teachers and copywriters the world over with this week's unveiling of "Word Crimes," his adaptation of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." Co-opting that same Thicke rhythm (or was it Marvin Gaye's?), Yankovic runs through the many grammatical plagues of the online and smartphone world.