Thanks to his hilarious comedy songs, “Weird Al” Yankovic became one of the most enduring acts of the past few decades. He has managed to stay on top of current trends, remain funny, and inspire a whole generation of YouTube parodies. At his best, Yankovic outshines the people he mocks. Here are Yankovic’s biggest hits on the Billboard Hot 100.
5. ‘Like a Surgeon’
Released at the first major peak of Madonna‘s career, “Like a Surgeon” somehow manages to make surgery funny. Yankovic adeptly mimics the high pitched vocals of Madonna’s first two albums while creating a humorous story of a deeply untalented surgeon who is desperate to get by. His decision to use a heart monitor to recreate the rhythm of “Like a Virgin” is just plain brilliant.
4. ‘Word Crimes’
When Robin Thicke and Pharrell William’s controversial song “Blurred Lines” became a hit, numerous parodies were devoted to its gender politics. Since he rarely goes for the obvious, Yankovic decided to make his version of the song about grammar, giving a voice to the numerous grammar enthusiasts of the world. Finally, there was a song that explains that irony is not coincidence. Much like the Schoolhouse Rock jams of the 1970’s, “Word Crimes” prove that educational music can be lots of fun. If there’s one song that every good English teacher should have in their arsenal, it’s this one.
3. ‘Smells Like Nirvana’
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana is widely considered to be the greatest song of the 1990s, so it’s only fitting that it inspired Yankovic’s best parody from the 1990s. While grunge was one of the most revolutionary genres to emerge from popular music in a long time, Yankovic perfectly captured everything about grunge music that was bizarre and off-putting, from the unintelligible singing to the oblique lyrics.
2. ‘Eat It’
“Eat It” wasn’t Yankovic’s first song; it wasn’t even his first good song. However, it was the first track by the singer that most people heard, so it set the standard for all of the music that he released afterward. It was also the beginning of the singer’s long musical love affair with food. Fans will know that he later released numerous songs about food, ranging from “Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch” to “I Love Rocky Road.”
The Michael Jackson song “Beat It” sounds incredibly tough, so Yankovic’s decision to turn it into a song tune about a parent telling their child to finish their dinner perfectly captures – and lampoons – the sort of aimless frustration that kids inspire in their parents. The central joke of “Eat It” – where Yankovic turns an aggressive hard rock number into a petty tantrum – is so good that one wonders why no one ever used it again.
1. ‘White and Nerdy’
Nerds were once abhorred, but Yankovic’s parody “White and Nerdy” began to change cultural attitudes toward the nerd subculture. No one before or since has made a greater song pondering whether or not Captain Kirk is better than Captain Picard. The tremendous flow that Yankovic has in “White and Nerdy” helps him to cram many more jokes into this song than usual, making it one of his funniest tracks. This track introduced Yankovic to a new generation and cemented his reputation as a master of musical comedy.