Pop stars dream of achieving certain benchmarks: platinum records, sold out tours, and that guy in a Hawaiian shirt with the curly hair making fun of their songs. For more than three decades, “Weird Al” Yankovic has been skewering the hits and outlasting most of the artists he’s parodied. Need proof of his longevity? His past two full-length albums debuted in the Billboard Top 10. Expect recent riffs on Taylor Swift and T.I., as well as his classic sendups of Michael Jackson and Nirvana, when his Alpocalypse Tour rolls into Tacoma this April.
What’s your writing process like?
I prefer not to write on the road if I can help it. My most creative periods are usually late at night after the family’s asleep, and the phone’s not ringing, and Twitter has slowed down, and there’s not much good on TV. Then I can focus on whatever crazy idea I have at the moment.
Any hits you currently have your eyes on?
It’s very difficult, because there are already three songs which would have made great parodies, but I’m not going to do them because it would be ridiculous of me to come out a year from now with a parody of a song which has already been parodied to death.
Why hasn’t anyone challenged you for the title of the parody guy?
Possibly it’s just because I’ve got a longer track record and I’ve become sort of the brand name of parodies. But there are thousands and thousands of people online that do parodies, and some of them are quite good. I’m not as prolific as a lot of people who are constantly feeding their YouTube streams.
Do you check what other people are doing on YouTube now?
I did that in the beginning. I figured, I’ve got this idea; I wonder if anybody else is doing it. And I learned pretty quickly the answer to that question was always yes. The biggest challenge for me these days is to come up with ideas that don’t feel dated by the time you finally get to hear my version of it. I’ll never again be the first person ever to parody a song.
Published: April 2013