Music

Published: Saturday July 26, 2014 MYT 5:35:00 PM
Updated: Monday July 28, 2014 MYT 10:25:16 AM

Eat this! 'Weird Al' Yankovic scores his first #1 album

Indisputable king of pop music parody 'Weird Al' Yankovic is feeling slightly weird about the recent turn of events.

That’s because the 54-year-old singer – of such songs as Eat It, a culinary spoof on Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit Beat It, and Amish Paradise, the send-up of rapper Coolio’s 1995 sensation Gangsta’s Paradise – has finally scored his first No. 1 album on the US Billboard chart with Mandatory Fun, his 14th album release

“It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around that,” Yankovic says in an interview. “It means a lot to me.”

Seemingly eclipsed at his own game by the rise of parody and fan-generated music videos online over the past decade and shut out from MTV when the network largely gave up music videos for original programming, Yankovic says that he’s survived the fickle game of pop by tapping into social media.

Ready for his selfie: Singer 'Weird Al' Yankovic arrives at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California in Feb 2012. — Reuters

“I realised that the Internet was pretty much where my bread was buttered,” admits the three-time Grammy winner, whose three-decade career has been due largely in part to the success of his humorous music videos.

“I wanted to do something that would appeal to the online community and things on the Internet go viral quick,” Yankovic says, referring to his week-long gimmick of rolling out of eight new videos, one for each day, beginning on July 14 with Tacky, a celebrity-filled video of Pharrell’s international hit Happy.

“There was always the danger people would get tired of it, by the third day I was wondering if people would be going, ‘Oh no, more Al,’” said Yankovic of the eight videos that have so far racked up more than 40 million views.

Meanwhile, Mandatory Fun sold 104,000 copies in its first week, according to figures compiled by Nielsen SoundScan. It also became the first comedy album to reach No. 1 since 1963’s My Son, the Nut by Allan Sherman. Yankovic is quick to attribute the album's chart success to his videos. 

“It kind of had a snowball effect,” the three-time Grammy winner said of the videos. “By the end of the eight days, there was a little bit of a Pavlovian effect as well, because when it ended, people were like, ‘Where’s the 'Weird Al' video?’”

The singer, whose new fare about aluminium foil parodies poor grammar to the tune of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines and Lorde’s Royals, said it took about two years to complete the album and videos. Yankovic was able to field cameos by actors Jack Black, Eric Stonestreet and Margaret Cho among others and partnered with websites such as Nerdist.com and Will Ferrell’s Funnyordie.com as a way to help with its launch.

“I wish I had YouTube when I was starting out,” he said. “All it does really for me is, it means I need to step up my game, make sure that I can rise above the crowd and not always go for the most obvious idea. I’ll have to make myself a little bit more unique.” If unique is what he’s aiming for, it’s safe to say Yankovic is already one of a kind. — Reuters

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