Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Making a Case: Weird Al

By the Rock Hall’s standard, the most honored artists are those who don’t reinvent the wheel. It’s much easier to continue spinning it and spinning it.

A bevy of Rock Hall members and future Hall members are guilty of stealing the riffs that made them famous.

The most heinous con artists would be Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, and thrice-inducted Eric Clapton, whose careers began the moment they plundered the catalogs of black bluesmen before them.

Any Replacements fan knows that Goo Goo Dolls’ singer/songwriter Johnny Rzeznik owes a treasure trove of “creative royalties” to Paul Westerberg.
The kind of company rip-off artist Rzeznik (center) keeps.

And not too long ago, we pointed out how ungracefully Green Day ripped off the Kinks.

There are too many examples to chose from that I have to resort to a visual description of the history of rock and roll.

Which brings us to Weird Al Yankovic. What separates Al from his riff-raping predecessors is that Al makes no bones about it.

And he has been doing this since his 1979 debut. Think about it: Weird Al has had widespread name-recognition for 32 years. By pop culture standards, that’s at least 3 generations that know who he is and know at least a handful of his songs.
That’s both a cause and effect of this role within music: pop culture’s kingmaker. A pop artist isn’t a pop star until Al does them right.

Here’s a taste of Rock Hall inductees and future inductees that got a free career boost courtesy of Weird Al: Michael Jackson, Queen, R.E.M., Madonna, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Eminem, U2 and Green Day.

Personally, my favorite Weird Al tune his Devo parody, “Dare to Be Stupid,” – an original song penned by Al that was intended to sound exactly like Devo. I guess this makes me a first-generation Al fan.

If the Rock Hall prefers its music watered down by a bunch of one-trick white boys, wouldn’t Al fit that criterion exactly?

All joking aside, what case could the Rock Hall make against Al? I’d love to hear it. Because the case for him includes:
  • 12 platinum albums and singles
  • 18 gold albums and singles
  • 3 Grammy Awards
  • 11 Grammy nominations
  • Dozens of singles and albums charting across several continents
Put that up against any artist that’s in or considered a shoe-in for the Rock Hall.
If anything, just nominating Weird Al Yankovic would make the Rock Hall look a lot less of the bad joke that it currently is.


  1. I don't think you make it clear enough that 50% of all Al's MUSIC is his own original composition, and 100% of his lyrics are. He has been eligible since 2004 and check out this video

  2. my favorite original Weird Al tune has to be "You Don't Love Me Anymore" from "Off The Deep End;" when it comes to parody, I have to go with "Amish Paradise" - it's just too perfect.

    As for the RRHF, I think weird Al should be proud he's not in - this puts him in the company of other greats like Yes, Rush, Boston, Kansas and many others that have been overlooked for no reason I can understand.