Much as when Fox and Bill O’Reilly sued Al Franken, such are the results here.
Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” is his first Billboard top ten single ever, and has reached #1 on VH1’s top 20 requested videos. And it all wouldn’t have happened had Atlantic Records just let him put “You’re Pitiful” on his latest album. (See the Wikipedia entry for citation and explanation.)
It’s times like this where I have to believe that there is a benevolent God…
I didn’t love “You’re Pitiful” (the “You’re Beautiful” parody nixed by Atlantic), it’s kinda funny but definitely far from his best work. So, yeah, this was a blessing in disguise. “White and Nerdy”, on the other hand, is one of Al’s best parodies ever and the video is great.
Aparently, Chamillionaire (the artist who performs the song “Ridin’”, of which “White and Nerdy” is a parody) loves “White and Nerdy” and currently the “Weird Al” song is on Chamillionaire’s MySpace page. According to Wiki, Chamillionaire was very impressed with Al’s rapping (he rapped previously on “Couch Potato”, a parody of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”, “Amish Paradise” a parody of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise”, and “All About the Pentiums” a parody of Puff Daddy’s “All About the Benjamins”).
I had thought that Al’s parodies had gotten weaker in recent years, though his original songwriting and his work as producer have steadily been getting more and more impressive (“Bob”, “Hardware Store”, and “Genius in France” from the album immediately before this newest one were amazing songwriting entries).
Part of the reason I haven’t been appreciating his recent parodies is that I simply don’t know the original songs being parodied. Of the 5 songs parodied on the new album, 3 are of songs I never heard before (I had heard “Ridin’” and Green Day’s “American Idiot”, but I’ve never heard Usher’s “Confessions”, Taylor Hicks’ “Do I Make You Proud”, or R Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet”, and I haven’t ever even heard James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”). I have the feeling that I would have far greater appreciation for “Trapped in the Drive-Thru” if I did indeed know “Trapped in the Closet”.
But, familiar with the source material or not, I just don’t think his parodies in recent years have been all that great. “White and Nerdy”, however, definitely stands as one of his best parodies ever.
I would agree with that as far as Running With Scissors and Poodle Hat are concerned - the parodies have been a lot weaker (although I think “All About the Pentiums” is a great song as well); however almost all the parodies on this album(excepting, IMHO, “Trapped in the Drive-thru”) are better than almost anything going back to “Even Worse”…
I also agree about his original songs - I personally think (or at least I did until S.O.L. was released) that “Party at the Leper Colony” is one of his lyrically most impressive songs - some of the puns are extremely sly
As noted by Snooooopy James Blunt was fine with it.
In fact many artists deny consent for “Weird Al” to parody their songs- notably the Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, who has on a number of occesions denied Al permission to parody his work.
Legally, Al doesn’t need anyone’s permission- as parody is a protected form of artistic expression. However, Al chooses to only do a parody after receiving permission from the artist because he wants to maintain good relationships in the music industry.
And, since the “Amish Paradise” controversy Al always gets permission from the artists directly (Al had contacted representatives for Coolio. Those representatives approved the parody. When Coolio found out about it after the fact, he was pissed off.)
Al received permission from James Blunt then proceeded with the parody. Then Blunt’s record label made a fuss and demanded that Al not do the song. To avoid making waves, Al pulled the song from the album. He instead released it only on the internet for free download.
He has said that without the artist’s permission he would never have even done the internet release, but that since it was just a bunch of suits objecting (and objecting contrary to the wishes of their artist) Al felt justified in releasing the free download.
The best part of White and Nerdy is that none of my actual white and nerdy Prius driving D&D playing friends had ever heard the original song. I had, so it was triple the funny to me.
The other corporate idiocy related to Al’s latest release was that weird AOL debut cancellation of his video. WTF? The video got leaked the day of the debut (it was supposed to be at midnight) and they cancelled the debut because of it. And Al posted on his MySpace page that he was disappointed and that the publicity would have been good. Newsflash to Al and his producers- people don’t use AOL, especially the dorks that love your music. A leaked video is going to generate 1000x the attention that some stupid AOL premier could ever do. I’m glad it leaked- it raced all over the 'net, people got excited for the CD and bought it. And AOL premier? Who’s going to watch that? My mother? My elderly aunt? Welcome to the new millinium. AOL is not the do all and end all of the Internet.