“Weird Al” Yankovic has been parodying pop music for more than 30 years now, and he’s been one of the most consistent presences in the music world. Trends and tastes can change over time, but no matter what the dominant musical form is, we can bet that Weird Al will be around to mock it. To honor his incredible career, we’re ranking Weird Al’s best parodies of all-time. This was an extremely hard list to put together, and I spent plenty of time arguing with myself, so if you’re upset about your favorite not being on this list, chances are I was even more bummed about leaving it off to begin with. Now then, on with the fun!
10. “Word Crimes”
This parody of “Blurred Lines” does an expert job of critiquing bad grammar, but what really earns it a spot on this list is how it made its source material palatable. A lot of people loved “Blurred Lines” when it came out, but once we took a closer look at the lyrics, we all shied away, and now it’s just weird to hear it at a sporting event. Thanks to this language-obsessed parody, we can enjoy the song’s killer beat without feeling awkward about the lyrics.
This was an example of two things coming together perfectly: A parody of “Lump” by The Presidents of the United States of America all about Forrest Gump. It’s not the most complicated thing he’s ever done, but it’s hilarious nonetheless. And yeah, what was with that hair?
8. “The Saga Begins”
If you don’t remember, this was the “American Pie” parody that describes the plot of The Phantom Menace, presumably so we don’t have to watch the actual movie. Anyway, the whole thing is great, but I’m particularly fond of the line “may be Vader someday later, now he’s just a small fry.” Could a sequel to this one be in the works for The Force Awakens? We can only hope.
This wasn’t quite Weird Al’s best parody of a Michael Jackson song (we’ll get there), but it was pretty awesome nonetheless, particularly the spot-on spoof of the short film from the original “Bad” video. Also, it’s just fun to watch Weird Al get bigger and bigger as the whole thing goes on. Replacing “sham on” with “ham on… wheat” was a nice touch, too.
6. “Amish Paradise”
Coolio was famously resistant to getting the Weird Al treatment, but it’s hard to deny the brilliance of this one, as Amish life is perfectly chronicled here. This is the only time where “I look at my wife and notice she’s very plain” can work successfully as a hip-hop boast. Luckily for Weird Al, there’s no way the Amish could have gotten upset about this song, because, well… how could they have heard it?
5. “It’s Still Billy Joel to Me”
This one never appeared on any of Weird Al’s proper albums, but it’s a classic nonetheless. This comes from his early days, when the tone of his parodies was a bit edgier than his modern stuff. Here, he takes on Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me,” as well as Joel’s attempt to mimic the punk sound on his Glass Houses album. While his current, more lighthearted parodies are quite fun, it’s interesting to remember how vicious Weird Al could be in his early years.
4. “Smells Like Nirvana”
This one is far less cruel than “It’s Still Billy Joel to Me,” but it still does a fine job of mocking not just “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but in fact, the entire dynamic of grunge music, from the indecipherable lyrics to the quiet-loud-quiet dynamic. It was a loving mockery, but it was still devastatingly effective. And accurate.
3. “Trapped in the Drive-Thru”
Parodying R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” is not an easy task, because it’s such a ridiculous song to begin with. Luckily, Weird Al comes up with an even more absurd tail on “Trapped in the Drive-Thru,” an 11-minute track about a couple just trying to figure out what to eat for dinner who gets a lot more than they bargained for. The random falsettos mock R. Kelly’s style perfectly, and the whole thing is a masterpiece of absurdity, perhaps even more so than the source material.
2. “White and Nerdy”
One of Weird Al’s biggest hits, and deservedly so, “White and Nerdy” reminded us that his skills as a rapper are top-notch. If we’re being honest, Chamillionaire’s claim to fame in 2015 is probably writing the song that inspired this parody of it. As great as the song is, the video really makes it. Who doesn’t get a chuckle out of Weird Al’s awkward smile as he’s mowing his front lawn?
1. “Eat It”
Perhaps an obvious choice to top this list, but the brilliance of “Eat It” cannot be denied. It’s hard to say what the funniest moment is here, but I’m quite partial to “have some more yogurt / have some more Spam / it doesn’t matter if it’s fresh or canned.” This was Weird Al’s first major success, and it introduced the world to perhaps the finest song parodist it has ever seen.