I have been a fan of Weird Al Yankovic for many years now. The level of respect I have for the man ratcheted up several notches when I read his latest blog post. The story details his journey to create the first single on his upcoming new album, which is a parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” This song nearly didn’t make the album, though, due to Ms. Gaga’s disapproval.
Al has long held the belief that he should obtain permission from an artist before releasing a parody based on his work. Legally, he doesn’t have to do this. Morally, he feels it is his duty. Most singers are more than happy to allow the material. After all, it’s more press for them and perhaps even more sales. They all recognize King Yankovic isn’t trying to hurt them in any way. Parodies are fun, after all. His lyrics take a tongue-in-cheek poke at the lyrics of the other tune.
As per his usual way of doing things, his manager contacted Gaga’s handler, requesting permission to use his take on her song as the first single off the new record. The answer was a tad surprising: she wanted to “hear it” prior to agreeing. Thinking this a bit odd (usually people agree after reading the pitch), he agreed to write. Even though he was smack in the middle of his Australian tour, he busted his rump getting the wording just right. The finished song was sent to hers truly in order to read over.
Al sat on pins and needles for several days, praying for the green light. This last bit was all that the recording and release of his new album was waiting on. Sadly, the answer which came back was even more strange than the first: “She actually needs to hear it. Otherwise the answer is no.” Apparently, reading each and every lyric isn’t quite good enough.
The king of parodies locked himself in a studio, cutting short his family vacation. He again pushed himself beyond every limit in order to complete the work. He believed in this song THAT much. He knew in his heart it wouldn’t offend anyone, even though the “Born This Way” original takes a look at serious human rights issues. He even planned to donate all the money from sales of the song and music video to the Human Rights Campaign. That news, coupled with the finished single, made him sure he would get the approval he so craved.
It wasn’t meant to be. Ms. You-Know-Who decided for some reason she didn’t like it, and refused to agree. After all of his hard work – and pretty much being jerked around – Al was quite frustrated. He decided to release the song on YouTube and his own blog instead of including it on the album. This way, his hard work wasn’t for “nothing” and he is still holding to his standard of getting an artist’s approval prior to releasing on an album.
Interestingly enough, the blog post and video garnered enough positive attention that Ms. Yoo-Hoo has changed her tune. The song has been given her blessing, and will be the first single off of the upcoming “ALPOCALYPSE” album. Look for it in stores on June 21st.
Well played, sir Yankovic, well played.