5 Another One Rides the Bus (Another One Bites the Dust ““ Queen)
Especially funny for hardened New Yorkers, when listening to Another One Rides the Bus you almost forget the song is originally one of Queen’s megahits. The accordion might be part of that”¦ who knows. All I know is this song is awesome for an array of reasons. Firstly”¦ there’s an accordion. Secondly, it’s about RIDING A BUS. Thirdly, it’s based on Queen! These are all ingredients that combined by Weird Al’s inimitable genius, and a little bit of double, double toil and trouble, come together to make a brilliantly funny song.
4 Like a Surgeon (Like a Virgin ““ Madonna)
There is nothing funnier than Weird Al, in scrubs, wielding a chainsaw. Ignoring the fact that Like a Virgin is already a pretty silly attempt at an electronic-pop driven love song, Weird Al does a brilliant rendition of it with Like a Surgeon (it basically rhymes, right?). He prays on one of our biggest fears: death. Morbid, right? Wrong. Weird Al’s falsetto driven lyrics are particularly entertaining, coupled with the comical images in the video (with frequent homage to the original””including Weird Al rolling around “˜seductively’ on a gurney) combine to make a perfect parody. While we’re not sure how much true flattery is in this version, Weird Al certainly seized an opportunity to turn a big hit into a brief flash of brilliant comedy.
3 I’ll Sue Ya (Killing in the Name Of ““ Rage Against the Machine)
I’ll Sue Ya is surprisingly similar to the original in the sense that it tackles the same kinds of issues that Rage Against the Machine took very seriously. Of course, Weird Al takes it to a whole new level of kooky. Weird Al mentions more than a dozen major corporations and brands (blatantly misspelling their names, of course), manages to insult New Jersey and Ben Affleck, and makes fun of our mass proclivity toward law suits””all within three minutes and 52 seconds. Wow. In this case, the humor lies within the truth Weird Al is showing us about ourselves. While people see it as their right to sue, Weird Al reveals how ridiculous it has become. Surprisingly thoughtful, I’ll Sue Ya is probably only funny to people who aren’t the suing type (let’s hope that’s most of us).
2 Amish Paradise (Gangsta’s Paradise ““ Coolio)
Juxtaposition is key in comedy. Here, Weird Al takes two quite disparate themes and marries them in perfect harmony””the Amish and gangstas. Now, this was way before TV decided to make a reality TV show about the Amish. In Amish Paradise, Weird Al shows his musical versatility, and his proclivity toward the absurd. The thought of someone like Coolio in Amish Lancaster, Pennsylvania is laughable already. On top of it, you’ve got Florence Henderson (Mrs. Brady of The Brady Bunch) playing “œMrs.-Amish-Weird-Al.”If you’ve ever listened to 90s hip-hop you can’t help but clutch your sides and laugh until you’re crying because, really, the sheer absurdity of Amish Paradise is genius. Coolio, apparently, didn’t think so, and denied giving Weird Al permission to record Amish Paradise after it was released. Coolio didn’t quite know how to laugh at himself, but never complained about receiving royalty checks. Whatever.
1 Smells Like Nirvana (Smells Like Teen Spirit ““ Nirvana)
Weird Al’s genius is best exemplified by his parody of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. As all of Weird Al’s works, Smells Like Nirvana is hilarious, especially if you love Nirvana. His deliberate exaggeration of Cobain’s mumbling is taken to whole new levels as Weird Al literally gargles water in the video, and purposefully garbles lyrics. It’s easy to love Smells Like Nirvana when you take into consideration Cobain & Co.’s approval of the song. The video was filmed in the same studio, with some of the same actors. For Nirvana, being covered by Weird Al meant “œmaking it”””ironic, considering Smells Like Nirvana was considered the song that resurrected Weird Al’s career; a symbiotic relationship to be sure. Smells Like Nirvana manages to pay homage to Nirvana, in a warped form of flattery, while it allows everyone to do something really important: laugh at themselves.
Weird Al is truly genius. He has effectively chronicled the evolution of music over the past three-plus decades. Not only is he a musician and a comedian, but he is also a historian, and a music-anthologist. Sure, his versions of these songs are far funnier than the originals, but they have as much cultural weight. We tend to associate comedy with frivolity, but there is nothing culturally superfluous about the music Weird Al creates.