“Weird Al” Yankovic Breaks It Down

It’s been two weeks since “Weird Al” Yankovic rushed into the digital-music era and rush-released his parody of T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” to iTunes. In the first week that it was available at Apple’s digital-music store, the track sold 21,000 copies and entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 104; this was after a snafu that resulted in it coming out a day later than he’d originally announced, which in turn resulted in a lot of typo-riddled comments from frazzled Al fans. That release-date issue has resulted in him deciding to not announce future singles until they’ve safely arrived at store shelves, according to a post at his blog reflecting on what went down. “I’ve learned from hard experience that iTunes is not able to guarantee a time–or, apparently, even a day–that a song will go live on-line,” he wrote. Ouch!

Other notes on the Yankovic experience:

He’s pretty happy with how things went down in general. “It was very gratifying for me to be able to put a parody out while the original song was still at its commercial peak – and it seemed to be gratifying to the fans as well.”

He’s pretty dissatisfied with iTunes, though! In addition to the whole issue of the song actually coming out, there was the matter of the song being poorly promoted: “I’m not sure that I’d agree to give iTunes any kind of an exclusivity window in the future – it seems like the amount of publicity I received from them didn’t really compensate for the sales I lost by not also having my song available elsewhere.” And they listed it under “Pop,” not “Comedy”! The nerve!

But he’s comforted by the fact that he’s probably psychic, and that his cultural foresight will allow him to be even more au courant in the future. “The good news, of course, was that the DOW dropped a thousand more points that day, bringing us ever closer to the brink of a devastating financial apocalypse… and thereby making my song that much more topical! Yay!” Yay, apocalypse! Wait, what?

What I Learned [Weird Al Yankovic's MySpace Blog]

  • Anonymous

    I have extremely fond memories of Weird Al. Quite a nice career he’s carved out for himself.

  • Halfwit

    I actually dove back into the catalog after this news break (see, coverage does create mindspace). There’s some great stuff in there… check out the Talking Heads parody “Dog Eat Dog”.

  • Chris Molanphy

    I’m a longtime Al supporter and bought the song in week one, but I have to say it’s only about a 5 or 6 on a 10-scale. I think the problem is his keeping the title and main chorus line the same as T.I.’s — all of Al’s best parodies drop a big, funny bomb in the chorus, from “Eat It” to “White and Nerdy,” and leaving the main lyric alone means the whole thing over-relies on the verses. Which are plenty amusing (and the opening part with the talking is snicker-worthy) but not funny enough to put this in the all-time pantheon.

    Long story short: love the timeliness/topicality, and keep it up. But give us something a little more transformational next time.

  • Al Shipley

    @Chris Molanphy: I agree somewhat, it’s not his best work, but I still like it (although I didn’t get around to buying it until week 2). And I’m grateful for Yankovic’s version because he’s taken a song I disliked but had to hear all the time, and given me some funny alternate lyrics to think about when the original comes on the radio. My main criticism is that he didn’t take T.I.’s “big boy” riff and write some lyrics about Bob’s Big Boy for it.

  • AL

    “it seems like the amount of publicity I received from them didn’t really compensate for the sales I lost by not also having my song available elsewhere”

    given that it was kind of a big-deal exclusive by an established artist, i was really surprised that iTunes didn’t give it a front-of-the-store banner ad. i imagine there are a lot of iTunes users out there who don’t keep up on music blogs/news and would be interested in hearing a new Weird Al song, but had no idea that one had even come out.

  • revmatty

    I bought it on day one. It’s a solid addition to his body of work, though I too would have loved something about Bob’s Big Boy in there.

    Because Bob’s Big Boy is awesome. Even more so if you’ve seen Steve Wozniak talking about it with Kathy Griffin…