Weird Al’s ‘Mandatory’ Interview: ‘Word Crimes,’ the ‘Tacky’ Video & Prince, Who Still Won’t Say Yes to a Parody
Weird Al Yankovic has covered the gamut of popular musicians in his 35-year career, from parodying the Knack’s “My Sharona” as “My Bologna” in 1979 to new album Mandatory Fun, which pokes fun at everything from Iggy Azalea‘s chart-topping “Fancy” (“Handy”) to Pharrell‘s “Happy” (“Tacky”).
But Yankovic, who is noted for always asking for permission from the artist prior to lampooning one of their tunes, still has one major holdout from over the years: Prince.
And what better way to mess with the singer than to get a little jab in during a song — namely “Word Crimes,” his parody of Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines” — that laments writing words using numbers?
“I like to needle Prince every now and then just because he’s the one guy that’s always said no and never has given a reason; I don’t know why,” Yankovic said, laughing, in a recent interview with Radio.com. “I hate to keep picking on him after all this time, but it’s just so fun!”
Prince’s aversion to a Weird Al parody — seen by many as a sign that they’ve truly made it in the industry — goes back decades, and Al recalls an instance in the 1980s when he received a mysterious telegram from the rocker with a strange request.
“I got a telegram from Prince’s office, and this was in the ’80s, this was for the American Music Awards, and apparently I was going to be sitting in the same row as Prince,” Yankovic recalled. “We got a telegram asking that I not establish eye contact with Prince during the course of the show, which, OK, I can get that, I understand, you don’t want to be looked at, that’s fine. So I sent a telegram to him immediately saying, ‘Yes, I don’t want Prince to be looking at me, either. It goes both ways, buddy!'”