.

In Switch, Lady Gaga Will Allow Weird Al Parody

Yankovic released 'Born This Way' parody this morning despite Gaga's disapproval

April 20, 2011 6:25 PM ET
In Switch, Lady Gaga Will Allow Weird Al Parody
Rick Diamond/Getty (Gaga), Jim Dyson/Getty (Weird Al)

"Weird Al" Yankovic released "Perform This Way," a parody version of Lady Gaga's hit "Born This Way" earlier today against the wishes of the pop star, who initially refused to provide permission for him to include the track on his upcoming album. In a post on his blog, Yankovic wrote that Gaga had made the process of submitting his parody for her approval very long and difficult. At first, Gaga said no, even though Yankovic had planned to donate all proceeds from the single to the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered causes. (Gaga's spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.)

But apparently Gaga has relented. According to a tweet by the New York Times' David Itzkoff, Yankovic's manager has confirmed that she has given "Weird Al" her blessing to include the song on his album.

Photos: Lady Gaga's Best Looks

Though Yankovic has maintained a policy of getting permission to parody songs as a courtesy to artists, he has no legal obligation to do so, and was within his rights to release the song as he pleased. When he put the track – along with its lyrics – on YouTube this morning, he asked fans to donate to the Human Rights Campaign.

Yankovic's song is essentially a light-hearted goof on Gaga's penchant for outlandish costumes and high-concept performances, but it's not too surprising that the singer would object to its lyrics. Unlike the vast majority of "Weird Al" song parodies, which mainly rely on silly wordplay, "Perform This Way" is a commentary on Gaga herself. ("Got my straight jacket today, it's made of gold lamé / No, not because I'm crazy - I perform this way / I strap prime rib to my feet, cover myself with raw meat
I'll bet you've never seen a skirt steak worn this way")

Yankovic insisted in his initial pitch to the singer that he was only "having a bit of fun with her larger-than-life image," but his words could certainly be construed as dismissive and mean-spirited. His take on Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is the only major song in his catalog that takes a similar tack in describing the artist being parodied, but that song was more of a fond tribute ("A garage band, from Seattle / Well, it sure beats raising cattle)" than a slam on their image.

Photos: Lady Gaga's Fashion Icons

Over the years Yankovic has been granted permission to parody a huge number of superstar artists, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, R.E.M. and AC/DC,  but he has been denied in the past. Notably, Yankovic was initially denied permission by the Kinks to release "Yoda," a version of their hit "Lola." The song received plenty of airplay on Dr. Demento's radio show anyway, and was a major fan favorite by the time it was officially released on the Dare to Be Stupid album in 1985.

UPDATE: In a post on his website, "Weird Al" has confirmed that Lady Gaga has given permission for him to release his parody. According to Yankovic, Gaga's manager had never forwarded the track to her, and she was unaware of its existence. As it turns out, she's a big fan of the song.



RELATED:
Exclusive: 'Weird Al' Yankovic Almost Done With 13th Studio LP

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com