This Just In: James Blunt Still Sucks

noah | July 22, 2009 1:00 pm

Accordion-wielding parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic is compiling another greatest-hits collection for release this fall, and he wants your help as far as song-selection goes. One song that definitely won’t be on the collection, however, is “You’re Pitiful.” Yankovic’s remake of James Blunt’s mewly, unkillable “You’re Beautiful,” which centers on a guy who takes being white and nerdy to an uncomfortable, Slurpee-filled level, was an “unofficial” “Weird Al” release thanks to Atlantic Records, Blunt’s label, barring its release back in 2006—even though at the time, the singer himself had been OK with the release of the track:

Actually, James Blunt was totally fine with it, and “You’re Pitiful” was going to be my lead single. Then, the day after we announced the original release date for Straight Outta Lynwood, we heard from Blunt’s label (Atlantic Records) that they didn’t want the parody to come out. That was really odd – generally, if anybody has a problem with the parody, it’s the artist – the label is usually more than happy to get the free publicity and extra revenue. But they said it was “too early” in James’ career for a parody, and they were afraid that focusing any more attention on “Beautiful” at that point might lead to the perception of James as a “one hit wonder.” I used the argument that my Nirvana parody didn’t seem to kill their budding career – and in fact I was told by an executive at Nirvana’s label that I probably helped sell them an extra million copies of “Nevermind.” Atlantic was unswayed – they said the timing was just really bad. They didn’t say I couldn’t do the parody… they just said they’d let me know “when the time was right.” So we cancelled our release date and waited. Finally, months later, we got the answer: the “right” time, apparently, was “never.” For me, that was the last straw. I had put too much time, effort and money into the song for it to never see the light of day. Now, I’m extremely respectful of artists’ wishes, and always have been – but since this was a bunch of suits trying to jerk me around (and not James Blunt, who had approved it) – I had no problem releasing the song as a free download on the web. Within days, it was a viral worldwide hit.

Things seem to have changed in those three years, however, because now it’s Blunt who is balking at allowing Yankovic to release “You’re Pitiful.” Al broke the news on his Twitter yesterday:

In case you were hoping for “You’re Pitiful” to be included on my “Essentials” collection, sorry, this just in from Blunt’s manager: “Thanks for your email, but both James and I will never approve this parody to be released on any label.”

Huh, a change of heart! Maybe Blunt is hoping that Al will parody a song from his ill-fated second album instead, thus giving it a much-needed awareness boost? Anyway, in the spirit of needling the suddenly self-serious singer, Yankovic retaliated by providing all of his Twitter followers a reminder of where they download the song for free. Oh Al, you scamp! We might as well help the cause, no?

Al Yankovic [Twitter]Weird Al Yankovic Dishes On James Blunt, Discusses His Role As the Whitest, Nerdiest Rock Star Ever [RS]Weird Al – You’re Pitiful [YouTube]