Hey Weird Al! Gotta say that I love your music and videos. I went to a concert of yours once and it was one of the best ones I've ever been to.
What would you say your favorite song to perform live is? Do you think any of your new songs from Mandatory Fun will be more fun to perform than that one?
Thanks for making awesome music!
I love performing all my big parody hits live, but I have to say, I still get the biggest kick performing my original (Beck pastiche) "Wanna B Ur Lovr," because I get to leave the stage, go out into the audience and faux-seduce all the ladies. You just never know what's going to happen when you leave the stage, so it's always exciting and it forces me to be in the moment.
There are a bunch of songs from the new album that I'm really looking forward to performing live. I think "Tacky" might be pretty fun, because that might possibly include some audience involvement as well!
Is it easier to parody music now than it has been in previous decades? How has the process changed between the 80s/90s and now?
Also: UHF 2?
The mechanics are pretty much the same, and in fact, because I've been doing it for so long I like to think that I've gotten better at it. The synapses in my brain are hard-wired that way now. The challenge for me is in finding new ways to be funny (i.e. not repeating myself too much), as well as finding ways to differentiate myself from the millions of other people now doing parody videos on YouTube.
Hey Al! Here's a Welcome to reddit lase I made for you: (Link) So for the question: Have any artists ever approached you and requested for you to do a parody of one of their songs?
That happens sometimes in social settings - an artist will make a comment at a party or awards show like, "Hey Al, when are you going to do a parody of one of MY songs?" I don't know if they're being polite or making conversation, but that's always nice to hear. Actually, last year I was in New York doing a satellite radio tour, and Graham Nash was in the very next room... and it just so happens I had just recorded my CSN pastiche "Mission Statement" (which is on the new album). So I walked over to say hi... he sees me, and the first words out of his mouth are, "So, when are you gonna do a parody of 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes'??" I whipped out my iPhone and played "Mission Statement" for him. Instant request! (He loved it, BTW.)
Oh, and awesome laser art - thanks!!!
We are all aware of and impressed by your policy of asking for permission to parody someone's works. What is the most memorable reaction an artist has had to a request to parody them? What are some of the best reactions artists have had to a parody of their work?
One of my favorite reactions was from Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. I did a parody of "Money For Nothing" in my movie UHF, and when I asked him for permission, he said, "Well, yeah... but you have to let me play GUITAR on it!!" So.... he did!
I was tickled by Chamillionaire's reaction to "White & Nerdy." I ran into him on the Grammy red carpet a few years ago, right after he had won the award for Rap Song of the Year. He thanked me, because he said my parody made it undeniable that his song ("Ridin'") was, in fact, the Rap Song of the Year!
Parody has blown up on the Internet over the past few years. What are some creations of others that you admire?
I've been a big admirer of Epic Rap Battles of History for a long time. Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd are great guys and terrific songwriters, and they consistently turn out a high quality show - it was a real pleasure to be Sir Isaac Newton for them.
Hi Al, quick story I've always wanted to share with you:
Back when I was in Russia, my 7 year old brother really loved your Music. Hell, I loved it too. Anyways, he really wanted "Straight outta Lynwood", so I bought it and downloaded it from iTunes, since it's nearly impossible to get purchase new albums in Russia. Anyways, I gave it to him and he listened to it, but then he came across "Don't download this song". He threw a huge fucking fit because I downloaded it from iTunes, and he wouldn't listen when I tried to explain to him that you meant pirating music. I had to get one of my American friends to ship it over because he wouldn't go near the burned, downloaded disc. Anyways, we got the disc and it was all good from there.
Anyways, for my question, what's personally your favorite song that you've written?
Oh... this week it's "Jackson Park Express."
Hey Weird Al!
Which one of your parodies have you had the most fun with so far?
Also, Bill Nye was on here earlier. What was it like being in an ERB video battling against "him"?
Well, I will say that "Tacky" was the most fun I ever had on a video shoot. It was over MUCH too soon... I would have been happy shooting that thing all day and night! It was a huge honor to work with such a talented, professional, FUNNY group of people (Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal and Jack Black).
And it was an honor and a privilege to engage in a rap battle with Bill Nye's doppelgänger.
Was the video for Tacky really a single shot, or was there some seamless edits?
While it looks like there MIGHT have been an edit somewhere, I absolutely guarantee you, that was all done in ONE CONTINUOUS SHOT. That was a bit of a challenge for me, because I start the video on a 5th floor fire escape, and I reappear on street level wearing completely different clothes. That means - for EVERY TAKE - as soon as the camera was off me I had to run down 5 flights of stairs WHILE CHANGING MY CLOTHES so I could be on camera again at the end. Definitely got my workout THAT day!
Hi Weird Al! Thanks so much for doing this AMA. As a kid growing up in the '90s, Bad Hair Day was one of the first albums I ever bought. Your music has been a part of my life since I was 8 years old and you've stated that there's a good chance Mandatory Fun could be your last traditional studio album. Are you still planning to release songs on a more individual basis or are you looking at getting back into a studio, perhaps under a new label? And if you release songs indivually, will there be any sort of schedule or just more of a song-by-song basis?
Finally, how do you keep your curls so damn tight?
I haven't made any real plans beyond the release of my current album, but since everybody's asking... I'll probably just be releasing singles (possibly EPs) going forward - I really don't think the album format is the most efficient or intelligent way for me to distribute my music anymore. I highly doubt that I would sign with another label. I guess I might be open to a distribution deal, but... we'll see. Anyway, I certainly wouldn't want to have my releases on any kind of a schedule - that would be too much pressure, and it might actually start to feel like a JOB!
And, I keep my curls tight through sheer will power.
Hi, Al! Thanks for giving me a reminder to keep things weird all these years. My first awareness of you was when I thought Coolio was making fun of that Amish song I kept hearing.
I have 2 questions:
How come you haven't done any movie (or even TV show) based songs in a while now? Is it because the days of big blockbusters that everyone is in tune with are a thing of the past, or more just the fact that the right idea hasn't come about?
What is your favorite kind of bagel?
You said once that you were accused of not having a songwriting "style", on account of most your originals being style parodies. I'm not sure that's a fair criticism.
If someone were to write a style parody of "Weird Al" Yankovic the songwriter, which of your compositions should they study to glean your songwriting essence?
Hmm. Well, there were a number of original songs on my first few albums that weren't in any particular style or modeled after any particular artist - off the top of my head, let's say "Midnight Star" or "Nature Trail To Hell"... but that was many years ago and I like to think I've become a better songwriter since then. I guess "Hardware Store" would fall in that category as well - that was ORIGINALLY going to be in somebody else's style, but then I scrapped that idea and made it a pure original.
You got any bear claws?
Wait a minute, I'll go check.
NO!!! WE'RE OUTTA BEAR CLAWS!!!
Why dont you have a album called Weird Album?
How do you know I DON'T??
Al! Welcome back to reddit! :) Congrats on completing a thirty two year record contract! You've been the soundtrack for my entire life! (I'm 33!) My question for you is quite simply this: It's been said that you loved your time on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic quite a bit. Your episode was awesome. (Pinkie Pie is best pony after all!) At the end of the episode, Cheese Sandwich is seen walking away from Ponyville/Equestria.... will he ever return to Equestria? Can't wait to buy the new album!
That's up to the writers! I had a blast doing MLP, so I would be more than happy to bring Cheese Sandwich back to Equestria if that's what they want!
Hey Al, always been a big fan of yours. My Questions: Was it fun to work with the guys at Hasbro/DHX for your My Little Pony guest role? How did things go and what do you think about the result? Are you a fan of that show and if so which pony is best pony?
Thanks a lot in advantage, hope you have a great day and thanks for your great music.
Do you know of Danny Sexbang and his group Ninja Sex Party? I know he takes a ton of inspiration from you and he considers you quite a role model for his comedic music. Him and Arin hanson (Egoraptor) also have a group called Star Bomb which does comedic songs about video games.
Followup question, they (Arin and Danny) do a show called GameGrumps on youtube that's quite popular and it was recently brought up that they would love to have you as a guest for an episode. Would you consider that? Just hang out, play video games, and shoot the breeze with those awesome guys?
Here's an example where they play Dennis the Mennace and have a blast (special custom song near the end) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWPYF5thVPw
Yes, I know those guys and I like their stuff (although I probably wouldn't play their material for my daughter!) Happy to do the show... they can feel free to contact me through my record label or my manager.
Hi Al! You're a hero of mine and I'm trying to become a better cook. What's your favorite go to recipe?
Also my coworker, Sue, would like to know if you're going to do a "Game of Thrones" song like you did with the "Saga Begins".
Here's my favorite recipe: PEANUT BUTTER BALL. First, take a glob of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, it doesn't matter... it REALLY doesn't matter, don't be so indecisive, just pick one or the other... it will taste the same eventually, so why are you being so stinking picky, just PICK ONE already)... then put in on a slice of bread, wad it into a ball and cram it into your mouth. Voila!
No plans to do anything like that, but I wouldn't rule it out.
Have you gotten any feedback from Iggy Azalea, Lorde, Robin Thicke, Pharrell or Imagine Dragons from the parodies?
Not yet. I personally communicated with both Iggy and Pharrell prior to recording the parodies, but I don't know if anybody has heard them yet.
Mr Yankovic -
I have been to a few of your concerts (even meeting a future boyfriend at one), and I was always in awe of your energy. Not only are your concerts long and your performances exciting, but you have so many costume changes.
My question - What do you to get yourself ready for your live appearances? Is there a workout routine? Special diet? Vow of silence like Celine Dion?
(And a huge thank you, Mr Yankovic, for being a huge part of my childhood, teenage years, and now.)
An hour before the show, I shower and comb out my hair, and then I just relax and have a little quiet time. I rest my voice, suck on a cherry cough drop - save my energy. Then, 20 minutes before the show, I get dressed, put in my in-ear monitors, and do my vocal warm-up exercise. Then, right before I walk out on stage, I do a WHOLE BUNCH OF CRACK!!!
Just kidding, of course. I don't shower before the show, silly!
How much involvement does the band have in what you choose to record?
Do they sometimes say “let’s do something like Pixies,” or is it always you saying “I want to do something in the style of Pixies can you guys work on that”?
I'm afraid the band has no real say in what we record - but I know that whatever I throw at them, they will deliver 100%. Best band in the world.
You've mentioned that, before UHF's release, the folks at Orion Pictures were grooming you to be a regular movie star. Did you have any ideas for future films you wanted to write and star in?
You mean, besides UHF 2 through 8? Hmm... from what I recall, I was just starting to tinker around with another screenplay idea, but I stopped working on it after it became painfully clear that Orion wasn't going to follow through on their promise to "make me their new Woody Allen."
Who is better at macramé, Snoop Dogg or Eminem?
Snoop! You kidding me? He's the shizzle at macramizzle.
Hi Al, In the song "Everything You Know is Wrong", in the third verse with the room beside the noisy ice machine, did you sing that all the way through without breathing? I really need to know because I have been trying for years and have never been able to do it.
Frankly, I don't remember - but if I had to bet, I would guess that was done in at least 2 passes. I'm not too proud to edit! So you don't need to have lung envy anymore.
Salutations Al! Welcome back to Reddit.
My question is about your polkas. How do you know which songs you want to put in there and how do you arrange them (musically and tempo-wise) so that they all mesh together? This is your 12th album polka, and it keeps getting better and better.
Will we also see you upload more polkas when you want to go digital distribution?
A lot of times if I really want to do a parody of a song, but I can't come up with an idea that I think is clever enough, I will put that song in the polka medley. Also, I'll choose a song for the medley if I think it will sound particularly funny as a polka, or if there is an opportunity in the lyrics for me to add sound effects or some other kind of gag. Once I have a dozen or so songs approved, I'll just play those songs on the accordion and find a comfortable key for me to sing them in, and then see which order seems to flow the best. Then I'll do a demo and arrange all the horn charts, and then the band and I will go into the studio and polka down with our bad selves!
Sorry to say, I'm not sure if there will be another recorded polka medley after the one on the new album. They are a lot of work to put together (mostly for my manager, who has to deal with stacks of paperwork each time). But I think the polka medley will always be a part of the live show, so maybe it will just continue to evolve over time. This is all conjecture, of course... I have NO IDEA what I'm doing next.
I was discussing the new album with a friend and I was surprised you didn't include any parody of Let it Go from Frozen, when I realized I can't remember you ever parodying a song from any Disney films or other animated films/cartoon shows. Is there a technical/legal reason for this or do you have your own reasons?
You know what, I was very close to doing a parody called "Make It So" about ST:TNG... but then I checked online, and of course, somebody had done that already. And apparently it had gotten enough attention online to make the Disney legal department ask them to take it down! I couldn't think of an idea that I liked as much as "Make It So," so... I gave up!
If you were to rebrand yourself (e.g. Snoop Dogg > Snoop Lion) what would your new name be?
If you could give one quotable line of (general; inspirational?) advice - the kind one could put on a tea towel - what would it be? And do you have a mantra or motto which has helped you through tough (creative) times?
The answers are one and the same... "DON'T DRINK BLEACH."
Someone asked me how different my life would have been if my parents had gotten me guitar lessons instead of accordion lessons. (They just deleted their question.) Anyway...
I probably wouldn't have a music career right now. The reason Dr. Demento played my material on the radio when I was a teenager wasn't because it was so GOOD, it was because it was such a novelty hearing a kid rocking the accordion. Dr. D. probably wouldn't have given my tape a second listen if I had been playing acoustic guitar. And if I hadn't gotten that early encouragement, I highly doubt that I'd be doing a Reddit AMA right now.
Do you plan on writing more Star Wars song parodies as the new movies are released? Do you have any unreleased Star Wars song parodies that got lost in the pipeline?
I have been a big fan ever since I got "Dare to Be Stupid" and it became the first album I listened to on repeat. Thanks for being a legend!
I used to joke that "I do a Star Wars parody every 20 years, like clockwork!" Well... I guess we're not TOO far away from the next 20-year anniversary! I really don't know if I'll ever do another Star Wars song - I've already got 2 of them in the live show, and more than that would probably be pushing it! But hey - never say never. (Oh man... did I just quote Bieber??)
I see that you're going to be at comic con next weekend!, Have you ever been before?
Any plans of dressing up and wondering around incognito?
I don't think I've ever been to ComicCon in an official capacity before, but I went about ten years ago as a fan. It was a bit overwhelming - I got stopped about every two feet, so I wasn't really able to see much of anything. Since then I found out that celebs are supposed to wear stormtrooper outfits on the convention floor. (Good thing to keep in mind - if you see any stormtroopers walking around ComicCon, be sure to get their autographs, 'cause they're pretty much guaranteed to be SUPER FAMOUS.)