When Weird Al Yankovic released his first single, “My Bologna” – a parody of The Knack’s “My Sharona” – few people would have expected to be reading a list of the top 10 Weird Al songs 30+ years later. The parody of The Knack’s classic hit was clever, but most often we see musical artists who use parody as their schtick quickly fade to the musical annals, where if they are lucky they are remembered as one-hit wonders whose songs are only referenced when the original song they parodied gets played.
Weird Al is the exception to that rule. He has made musical parody an art form, and his fans will argue vehemently that many of his songs are actually better than the songs they are parodying. Fans of Queen, Michael Jackson, and Don McLean might grumble at having their favorite artists’ work being made mock of, but even they can’t deny Weird Al’s creativity. Like Apple, this is one musical genius who just “thinks different”. Here are my picks for the top 10 Weird Al songs so far:
10 – Another One Rides the Bus (Parody of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”) – One of the songs that started it all. Weird Al would certainly polish his work in the years to come, “Another One Rides the Bus” showed fans early on the creative genius lurking within Weird Al.
9 – My Bologna (Parody of “My Sharona” by The Knack) – Weird Al’s very first hit and the world’s first look at his demented mind. Speaking of demented minds, this song actually made its debut as part of Dr. Demento’s radio show.
8 – Fat (Parody of Michael Jackson’s Bad) – Weird Al obviously held the King of Pop in high (or low) regard as this hilarious song was the second time he had parodied Jackson’s work. The song is good, but you really have to watch the video to appreciate Weird Al’s work. He trumps Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video by climbing into a fat suit for an eat off.
7 – I Love Rocky Road (Parody of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts) – There seems to be a recurring food theme in this list of the top 10 Weird Al songs, but much of Weird Al’s best work came when he was singing about food. For some reason Weird Al songs always make me hungry.
6 – Smells Like Nirvana (Parody of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit) – Weird Al’s first foray into grunge rock parody proved almost as successful as Nirvana’s smash success. In fact, Kirk Cobain was flattered when Weird Al released “Smells Like Nirvana”, taking it as a sign that the band had hit the big time.
5 – Eat It (Parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”) – Yes, another food song, and not a huge creative leap when it came to titling the song. Still, this is the song that really catapulted Weird Al to mainstream stardom, and was arguably the most important song (career wise) that he ever released. Michael Jackson was the biggest musical act on the planet at the time of this song’s release, and Weird Al rode Michael Jackson’s coattails to fame and fortune.
4 – Like a Surgeon (Parody of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”) – Michael Jackson might have been the biggest musical act back in the mid-80s, but there was a certain blonde ambitious female performer that was challenging him for musical supremacy during that time. Madonna was rocketing up the charts herself, and her monster hit “Like a Virgin” drew Weird Al like a fly to honey. His hit “Like a Surgeon” from his album “Dare To Be Stupid”: was his most clever song to date and helped build the momentum he’d gained with the release of “Eat It” the previous year.
3 – The Saga Begins (Parody of Don McLean’s “American Pie” and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace) – This particular song stands alone on the list of the top 10 Weird Al songs in that it didn’t parody a current hit song, but rather a current hit movie. “The Saga Begins” follows the tune of Don McLean’s “American Pie”, which is an all time classic song, but hardly contemporary, but its lyrics reference the movie Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The combination was pure gold, and Weird Al continued to build his reputation as a master mocker as he took shots at George Lucas’s baby.
2 – Amish Paradise (Parody of Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise”) – With “Amish Paradise” Weird Al showed his ability in yet another musical genre: rap. He showed his impeccable lyrical prowess off in this hilarious parody of one hit wonder rapper Coolio, and the accompanying music video is one of the all time classics.
1 – White and Nerdy (Parody of Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty”) – While Weird Al might have shown off his rapping skills in “Amish Paradise” he took it to the next level with “White and Nerdy”. Anyone who has tried to rap along with Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty” knows just how easy it is to become tongue-tied by the lightning fast lyrics. Weird Al not only proved he can rap just as fast as Chamillionaire, but he actually managed to improve upon the lyrics. “White and Nerdy” is Weird Al’s most clever creation to date, and as usual includes multiple pop culture references that has listeners laughing throughout. “White and Nerdy” also has the distinction of being Weird Al’s first ever top 10 hit, hitting number 9 on the Hot U.S. 100 Singles. To that point the highest he’d ever reached had been number 12 with “Eat It”. “White and Nerdy” is Weird Al’s Mona Lisa, and is the only logical choice for top spot on this list of the top 10 Weird Al songs.