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THIS POST DESIGNED TO CREATE A MEFI CIVIL WAR
April 20, 2011 11:04 AM   Subscribe

"Weird" Al Yankovic wanted to do a parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," so he did what he usually does: he contacted the artist and asked permission. Lady Gaga said she'd have to hear the lyrics, so Weird Al wrote the lyrics and sent them to her. Gaga then said she's have to actually hear the song, so Weird Al went into the studio and recorded it - at which point Gaga refused to give her permission. Weird Al responded by doing something he's never done in his entire career: he's asserted his fair use rights and made an unapproved parody available to the public.
posted by mightygodking (538 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite

 
/ french accent: HO HONH!
posted by everichon at 11:05 AM on April 20, 2011 [16 favorites]


Go "Weird" Al, go!!!
posted by freakazoid at 11:06 AM on April 20, 2011 [21 favorites]


Is this where all the Gaga googoos say how great she is and how dare anyone open their mouths to criticize her?
posted by blucevalo at 11:07 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


True, but he came close when he released "You're Pitiful". James Blunt signed off on it and then Atlantic Records wouldn't agree to it...so it could be said to be unapproved by half. Then he released it.
posted by inturnaround at 11:07 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weird Al versus Lady Gaga -- the only bout more suited for this place is... non-existent.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:08 AM on April 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


(didn't note the thread title before my comment...civil war indeed...)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:08 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't believe she actually made him make the song before saying no.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2011 [33 favorites]


This was almost my first post, but I was beat to the punch by 2 minutes. Ah well…

I have no idea if Julie Brown even asked for permission for her Gaga parody Big Clown Pants, but I approve of parodies...
posted by Mad_Carew at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know why he didn't just ask Madonna for permission to use Express Yourself/Vogue instead of asking Lady GaGa.
posted by Zophi at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2011 [141 favorites]


This might be just the nudge I need to create that Coolio sockpuppet.
posted by box at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2011 [24 favorites]


Oh shit!
posted by kmz at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2011


Pretty funny, actually. I give him a lot of credit for just going ahead and releasing it, too.
posted by defenestration at 11:10 AM on April 20, 2011


I really need a Lady Gaga parody video too. Weird Al. Wearing a suit made of kielbasa.

Or something.
posted by freakazoid at 11:10 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like the lyrics but the vocals seem rushed and not in sync to his idea, seems he needs to slow it done a quarter beat and tighten up the back ground vocals.
posted by clavdivs at 11:11 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've never bought a Weird Al album, but I like his style. I've just donated $100 to the Human Rights Campaign in celebration of this song. Join me.
posted by Plutor at 11:12 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is this where all the Gaga googoos say how great she is and how dare anyone open their mouths to criticize her?

No, this is where we...uh...question everything in our...uh...no...like, we reevaluate our vision of...like...I'm sorry, I have to go lie down for a little while. I'm not really feeling so well.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:12 AM on April 20, 2011 [19 favorites]


I kind of like Gaga and all, but she is really humorless. Which is also what bugs me about Madonna, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised?
posted by padraigin at 11:12 AM on April 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well, Al's grammy acceptance showed some remorse about using Coolio's gangstas paradise w/o permission, as Al seemed a bit cowed by the gangsta.. What's gaga going to threaten or intimidate him with ?
posted by k5.user at 11:12 AM on April 20, 2011


I really need a Lady Gaga parody video too. Weird Al. Wearing a suit made of kielbasa.

A better one would be to smash cut her videos and photos over the Weird Al song.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:12 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "parody" here is pretty toothless, and I'm a huge Weird Al fan. Without some really funny angle or particularly clever wordplay, this just seems like a half-baked attempt to cash in on Lady Gaga's star power.
posted by hermitosis at 11:12 AM on April 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


Don't like Gaga, think Weird Al is really played out and not funny.


....but good for him. Parody is protected speech and fuck you if you can't take a joke.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:12 AM on April 20, 2011 [19 favorites]


Huh. Doesn't seem like there's much of a story here unless Gaga decides to sue Wierd Al. Basically he asked, she said no, then he decided he didn't need her permission. It's what happens next that could be interesting. Maybe Gaga will just shrug and go back to designing a bra made entirely out of forks or something.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:13 AM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm slightly on the Gaga-fan side of this mefi divide, but damn, having him record it? That is a dick move. Well, at least I already like polka.
posted by Mizu at 11:13 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is Al really giving us a parody? Couldn't these lyrics easily have been the real lyrics of the original song? Maybe Al's attempt wasn't over the top enough for Gaga.
posted by quadog at 11:13 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love Weird Al but I don't get what the point of this story is. Lady Gage basically led him on despite it appearing that she was going to say no the whole time. Weird Al apparently responded by revealing that when push comes to shove, he was going to release the song the whole time.

So basically, he asked for permission he didn't need to do something he already ended up doing. I mean, alright but I don't really see any heroes here.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:14 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can't believe she actually made him make the song before saying no.

That's the obnoxious thing -- from the lyrics, she could have seen that it was an obvious goof on her (as opposed to most other Weird Al songs, which have lyrics that rhyme with the originals but cover different content.) It's not like there's anything surprising in the song's performance.
posted by lisa g at 11:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


By refusing her permission, Gaga gets to claim artistic seriousness (or something) and gives her fans something to get energized about. By releasing the song anyway, Al gets to act rebellious/irrepressible and gives his fans something to get energized about. Everybody wins!
posted by DaDaDaDave at 11:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [18 favorites]


You guys, Lady Gaga can't read.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [88 favorites]


I kind of like Gaga and all, but she is really humorless. Which is also what bugs me about Madonna, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised?

Madonna was not all that humorless in younger days. Maybe she lost it all when she decided to snub Sandra Bernhard.
posted by blucevalo at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I heard that I'd say no too. That was weak.
posted by zeoslap at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought this song was surprisingly a) spot on and b) serious/critical of Gaga as a performer and her schtick. I'm not too familiar with the Yankovic canon, but does he usually write songs that are this critical of the pop singers he is making parody of?
Its interesting to see this as a critique of "weird music" from an industry insider - Yankovic fighting back against performers that take themselves too seriously about being silly. It wasn't a great parody, but an interesting song nonetheless.
posted by DeltaZ113 at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nah. Madonna's sense of humor just got much dryer when she magically turned British.
posted by defenestration at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


/me nails his Weird Al flag to the mast.
posted by whuppy at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weird Al never needs permission, but he always asks anyway. The dick move here is that he had to go all the way and record the track, with the usual studio musicians and studio time, before he got the 'no'. That's time and money sunk that he can't get back, and he was going to use this as a lead track on his upcoming album.

Weird Al apparently responded by revealing that when push comes to shove, he was going to release the song the whole time.

This is his first such release I'm aware of. Any other such songs are either buried or only performed live, never to be sold.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:17 AM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Without some really funny angle or particularly clever wordplay, this just seems like a half-baked attempt to cash in on Lady Gaga's star power.

And Gaga's never tried to cash in on anyone else's star power.
posted by blucevalo at 11:17 AM on April 20, 2011 [17 favorites]


He already does "Polka Face" as part of a pop polka thing - does he not ask permission for those?

Or maybe Lady Gaga just hated this song.
posted by muddgirl at 11:17 AM on April 20, 2011


Nah. Madonna's sense of humor just got much dryer when she magically turned British.

Oy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't Madonna, back in the day, actually give Weird Al the idea to do "Like A Surgeon"?
posted by whuppy at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Madonna was not all that humorless in younger days. Maybe she lost it all when she decided to snub Sandra Bernhard.

Yes, specifically latter-day Madonna. Fun Madonna was fun! I wish I had a Fun Gaga to reminisce about.
posted by padraigin at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is theft. Weird Al should be in prison for stealing from Lady Gaga. How is Lady Gaga expected to make a living with people like Weird Al stealing from her?
posted by ryoshu at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2011 [20 favorites]


So basically, he asked for permission he didn't need to do something he already ended up doing. I mean, alright but I don't really see any heroes here.

He wouldn't have released it anyway. He recorded several parodies that have never seen an official release and were never leaked by him, like his Paul McCartney parody "Chicken Pot Pie".

Usually he records them, then he gets permission...here, situations happened that made him not record it until it was required of him by Gaga to get permission. I'm not sure why the lyrics weren't enough to get him the rejection. It's not like she didn't know her own song.
posted by inturnaround at 11:19 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


whuppy: "Didn't Madonna, back in the day, actually give Weird Al the idea to do "Like A Surgeon"?"

Sort of.
posted by Plutor at 11:19 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having actually now listened to the fucking song, I think Weird Al is doing himself and his fans a favor leaving this off his new album unless his work has significantly dropped in quality recently. It's pretty weak.

If I was Lady Gaga* and somebody was asking to do a parody song of one of my songs and then went ahead and made the song about me (especially when doing songs about fame is my schtick), I'd be hard pressed to give my stamp of approval -- especially when I'm promoting that song as a gay rights anthem. It's not humorless -- it's brand management.


* Given how things have been around here lately, I'd like to state unequivocally that, despite my half-endorsement, I am not Lady Gaga.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:20 AM on April 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


Now that I listen to it, it lacks accordion.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:20 AM on April 20, 2011


> I kind of like Gaga and all, but she is really humorless.

I'm not intimately familiar with Gaga beyond the outermost layers - heard some songs, know about her activism and so on, and generally like what I've heard. But I have to say, that seems a really, really poor fit with the kind of persona on which she seems to be basing her work, her celebrity, and indeed her entire career.
posted by Naberius at 11:20 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice to see that the youtube video suggests that we donate to the Human Rights Campaign. I'm not a huge Weird Al fan, but that was a tasteful touch.
posted by immlass at 11:21 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not like she didn't know her own song.

/snicker!
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:21 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not humorless -- it's brand management.

A distinction without a difference, I believe.
posted by echo target at 11:21 AM on April 20, 2011 [26 favorites]


Lady Gaga is already so close to parody herself, it's tough to add comedy to it. And then Weird Al, whom I love, chooses like her actual best song in terms of message to mock, and then uses the song to poke gentle fun at Gaga. Overall the song is just kind of meh, though I could see him using it as an awesome live show opener where he could be wearing insane outfits.

I love Weird Al, huge fan from the KMET days of the early 80s on Dr. Demento, but I think he should have chosen a more innocuous song from her catalog to make silly. "Born this way" is actually an awesome message song that deserves some praise for getting popular instead of mockery.
posted by mathowie at 11:22 AM on April 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


Usually he records them, then he gets permission...here, situations happened that made him not record it until it was required of him by Gaga to get permission. I'm not sure why the lyrics weren't enough to get him the rejection. It's not like she didn't know her own song.

Maybe I'm missing something - usually he records them first. So why is this particular case different?
posted by muddgirl at 11:22 AM on April 20, 2011


Basically he asked, she said no, then he decided he didn't need her permission.

No, more like, "he asked, she said, 'let me see the lyrics and then decide,' he gave them to her and she said, 'mmmm, I need to hear the song and then decide,' he went to the trouble, and she said, "wait, I changed my mind, no."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:22 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's pretty weak.

It really is. I thought maybe it was a fairly hasty demo, and he didn't bother to fix the production when she said no.
posted by rusty at 11:22 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Specific speculation aside, I imagine the legal hoops that one would have to jump through in order to clear the rights to the Born This Way are more complex than those necessary for most songs. Back to speculation: I wouldn't be surprised if there's a sample or two from Express Yourself buried in the mix of Born This Way intentionally so that GaGa could rip it off and then just pay for the sample rather than clearing it as a cover.
posted by The World Famous at 11:23 AM on April 20, 2011


But it has always been my personal policy to get the consent of the original artist before including my parodies on any album, so of course I will respect Gaga’s wishes. However, given the circumstances, I have no problem with allowing people to hear it online, because I also have a personal policy not to completely waste my stinking time.
posted by exogenous at 11:23 AM on April 20, 2011 [21 favorites]


Oh, and the Gaga backlash is already in full effect
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:23 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weird Al is an absolute pop genius, his parodies are better than a lot of actual serious releases... he's got more talent in his pinky, than GagaGirl has in her entire body. That is all.
posted by dbiedny at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


inturnaround: He wouldn't have released it anyway. He recorded several parodies that have never seen an official release and were never leaked by him, like his Paul McCartney parody "Chicken Pot Pie".

Usually he records them, then he gets permission...


That's contradicted by Al's post:
If she didn’t hear it, she wouldn’t approve it.

Okay then. I decided – based on my belief that people are basically good – to go through the trouble and considerable expense of actually recording the song. Now, I never do that – never. But because I was really excited about this parody, I decided I would faithfully jump through as many hoops as Gaga deemed necessary.
As for the lyrics, I also find them weak. Again, Al's words:
I was right in the middle of my Australian tour and I didn’t have a whole lot of free time, but I cranked day and night until I had a set of finished lyrics.
I don't know his usual turn-around on songs, but that seems fast. I understand sometimes inspiration strikes, but this seems like a slightly distorted photo-copy of the original, with some of the usual Weird Al kookiness (kielbasa, ha!).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Usually he records them, then he gets permission.

Al's post suggests that's not the case: "Because of my 30-year track record, most artists know that my songs are all in good fun and they’re more than happy to approve a parody just based on the concept alone." (i.e. the sort of general pitch—without lyrics—given in Al's post).
posted by jedicus at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2011


Weird Al's version is WAY better. Damn.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2011


Part of what makes it so unfunny is that virtually all of the "zany" costume ideas he throws out there are things that she could easily really wind up wearing. So there's really nothing to the song except "Yeah, we get it -- Lady Gaga wears outrageous outfits, and you noticed."
posted by hermitosis at 11:26 AM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why is Yankovic the one called "weird"?
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:26 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Are there any Weird Al parodies that are extremely hilarious or poignant? When I said "pretty funny, actually" upthread, that's in the context of a Weird Al parody. I like that he was (gently) taking the piss out of an artist that is so campy, yet so so "serious."
posted by defenestration at 11:27 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


immlass: "Nice to see that the youtube video suggests that we donate to the Human Rights Campaign. I'm not a huge Weird Al fan, but that was a tasteful touch."
I had written, recorded, mixed and mastered 11 of the 12 songs for my new album and was just waiting to come up with that one elusive “big idea” for a parody that I thought I could turn into the lead single and video. I was well aware that “Born This Way” was coming out, and I thought that just might be the pop culture juggernaut I had been waiting for… but after hearing the song, I was reluctant to tackle it. Because it was such an earnest human rights anthem, I thought some people might consider a parody to be in poor taste. Plus, I was really kinda predisposed not to do a Lady Gaga parody anyway because, well, that’s what everybody in the universe was already assuming I would do, and I hate to be so predictable.

But a few weeks later, a parody idea popped into my head, and I thought it had a lot of potential – enough to warrant telling my record label that I’d finally found my next single. Based on my concept, I was reasonably sure that my parody wasn’t really going to offend anybody… but I still decided, as an act of good karma, that I would donate all the money from sales of the song and music video to the Human Rights Campaign.

posted by zarq at 11:27 AM on April 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'll admit that I fail as an Al fan, I should have known he doesn't record songs without permission.

Mea culpa.
posted by inturnaround at 11:28 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I think "Born This Way" is weak sauce to begin with, and this parody doesn't do it a single favor, but Gaga's behavior, if this is the whole story, is entirely unacceptable.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are there any Weird Al parodies that are extremely hilarious or poignant?

Offhand, not that I can think of. Most of his parodies are actually staggeringly toothless.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


but does he usually write songs that are this critical of the pop singers he is making parody of?

The only other one I can think of is his parody of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" : "Smells Like Nirvana", which is about Kurt Cobain's lack of enunciation.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


All I want is GOOD video of him on stage with POUSA doing the Boston song.
posted by maxwelton at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be surprised if both of them agreed for this to be the story. Weird Al gets a bit of coverage for a kind of lame parody of a Gaga song, and Gaga, well, you know, she'll do whatever.
posted by entropone at 11:30 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


So where is just the MP3 of this song - the authorized version? Because I don't want to wait for 'shortly'
posted by rough ashlar at 11:30 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only other one I can think of is his parody of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" : "Smells Like Nirvana", which is about Kurt Cobain's lack of enunciation.


Along the same lines was "Bob", where Weird Al slurred his way through a bunch of palindromes.
posted by Jpfed at 11:31 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only other one I can think of is his parody of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" : "Smells Like Nirvana", which is about Kurt Cobain's lack of enunciation.

I remember hearing that the story of "Smells Like Nirvana" went like this:

Al: I'd like to to a parody of "Smells like Teen Spirit." Would you be cool with that?

Kurt: What, is it going to be about food or some shit?

Al: It's going to be about how nobody can understand your lyrics.

Kurt: Heh. OK.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:32 AM on April 20, 2011 [35 favorites]


PERSONAL TIMELINE:

2:16 pm - see this post
2:17 pm - click link to listen to Weird Al parody
2:17:30 pm - realize that, just like always with Gaga posts, I don't think I've ever actually heard her song (although I knew it existed)
2:18 pm - man, it must really sound a lot like "Express Yourself" though
2:19 pm - what the heck, search youtube for "born this way"
2:19:05 pm - "born this way lady gaga" is youtube's suggestion as soon as you type the letter b; that probably bodes well
2:19:30 pm - start watching
2:20 pm - ...
2:21 pm - ...
2:22 pm - Jesus she made a music video of the Cremaster Cycle
2:22:10 - there's no way I'm the first person to think of that
2:24 pm - leave video going in another tab while I google "born this way" "cremaster cycle"
2:25 pm - 1830 results
2:26 pm - I'm surprised 1830 people have watched both this video and the Cremaster Cycle
2:27 pm - come here to compose post
posted by penduluum at 11:32 AM on April 20, 2011 [90 favorites]


Huh. Doesn't seem like there's much of a story here unless Gaga decides to sue Wierd Al. Basically he asked, she said no, then he decided he didn't need her permission. It's what happens next that could be interesting. Maybe Gaga will just shrug and go back to designing a bra made entirely out of forks or something.

Parody is completely covered under the fair use doctrine. Their ain't no lawsuit gonna happen.
see Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994)
posted by Ironmouth at 11:33 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The lyrics are funny enough, but you can tell the production is rushed. I wonder if this was actually meant to be the final version, or just something quick to get her approval.

The video for it would have been amazing.
posted by Gary at 11:34 AM on April 20, 2011


Watched it. Not that bad, but... I'm sorry, Weird Al, but your Lady Gaga parody must be at least this good to ride the ride.

(OK, so it's easier to be funny with niche-audience parody than with broad-spectrum parody)
posted by gurple at 11:34 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Gaga all slamming her shoe on the table at the UN. "We will bury you, Weird Al," she shouts.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:35 AM on April 20, 2011 [26 favorites]


To expand on my off-the-cuff guess as to what went down here: when Al showed Gaga the lyrics, she realized that the parody would do the most for her, publicity-wise, if it were released but not approved. Lady Gaga's act (as far as I understand it) relies on a paradoxical combination of total artifice and total sincerity: she has to appear completely committed to the wacky plastic persona she's fabricated. If she approved the parody, she would be admitting that it's all an act, thus robbing the act of its power. But the parody itself, in calling attention to the ludicrous and calculated artifice of the Gaga fame-show, actually emphasizes and reinforces the exact thing that makes Gaga fascinating, her fervent embrace of artificiality. So the parody can actually work as a piece of perverse pro-Gaga propaganda...if it's released without Gaga's permission.

So Gaga essentially tricks Al into writing and recording the whole song, then refuses her permission. Al's got a perfectly good parody just sitting there and he can't put it on his album. What's he gonna do, not release it?

What's more, I suspect that Al (a smart dude) realized at some early stage that Gaga was essentially playing him, and he realized that by allowing himself to be played in this way he would come out looking good, too. Of course a Weird Al parody of Lady Gaga is going to poke fun at the ridiculous excesses of her persona (cf. "Smells Like Nirvana" etc). Al had to realize that Gaga knew exactly what the parody would sound like and was leading him on. The real giveaway here is the demand that he let her hear the song after he sent her the lyrics--at that point, it's obvious what the parody is going to sound like, so the request that Al actually record the thing is just a set-up to make sure that the song already exists when permission is denied, since otherwise Al might just say "ah, fuck it" and move on to Justin Bieber or whoever. Al, realizing what's going on and knowing that the denial of permission will just make people more sympathetic to him (cf. l'affaire Coolio), plays along, records the song, gets rejected and releases the song anyway.

It's always inspiring to watch two masters at work.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 11:35 AM on April 20, 2011 [137 favorites]


DaDaDaDave,
Genius!
However, I will never work at the same company as you.
posted by forforf at 11:38 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nice!
posted by AndrewShortComedy at 11:39 AM on April 20, 2011


I'm too old for the internet now, so I subbed in the word "Marilyn Manson" instead of "Lady Gaga" and it all started to make sense. I'd always kind of assumed that Weird Al stopped existing in the 90s as well, so it makes entirely more sense in that context.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:39 AM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think you're probably on the right track, DaDaDaDave. But I wonder if there's also the added complication of Madonna owning a portion of the rights to the song and GaGa, therefore, being legally unable to give permission by herself.
posted by The World Famous at 11:40 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


yeah, this is the whole Coolio thing all over again get off my lawn
posted by Melismata at 11:43 AM on April 20, 2011


Though I own no Al or Gaga songs in any form, I recall someone (Dave Grohl?) from Nirvana saying something to the effect of "holy shit, we've made it big time/arrived if weird al wants to do one of our songs.."
posted by k5.user at 11:43 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cremaster Cycle? At $100,000 for the DVD set and periodic screenings - no wonder only 1800 or so comments mention it.

I now await how Wierd Al is part of the Masonic conspiracy over at Vigilant Citizen
posted by rough ashlar at 11:43 AM on April 20, 2011


I'm having a hard time understanding how anyone could say no to being spoofed by Weird Al. I mean... like... he's Weird Al.
posted by brundlefly at 11:43 AM on April 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


DaDaDaDave: " Al, realizing what's going on and knowing that the denial of permission will just make people more sympathetic to him (cf. l'affaire Coolio), plays along, records the song, gets rejected and releases the song anyway."

At the concert I went to last year, he wore a bright yellow t-shirt that read "ATLANTIC RECORDS STILL SUCKS" on stage during White & Nerdy. He has a long memory. So do his fans.
posted by zarq at 11:43 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: deviate from the norm this way
posted by LD Feral at 11:44 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I fully believe Lady Gaga is that cynical. I cannot imagine that Weird Al is.
posted by Zozo at 11:44 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


gurple: “Watched it. Not that bad, but... I'm sorry, Weird Al, but your Lady Gaga parody must be at least this good to ride the ride.”

Randomly: my girlfriend goes to Baylor College of Medicine, and knows the people who made that video.
posted by koeselitz at 11:44 AM on April 20, 2011


Another huge Al fan reporting in... One of the things I love about Al is he doesn't have to ask permission, but he always does. Class act. That is all.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 11:44 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ms. Gaga has quite the ego and not so much the sense of humor.

> But I wonder if there's also the added complication of Madonna owning a portion of the rights to the song

Madonna has allowed Weird Al to parody her songs before. And he doesn't need "legal" permission, because he can in fact release his copy without permission if he pays "compulsory mechanical" fees, which aren't outrageous - he's more looking for "artistic permission".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:45 AM on April 20, 2011


Cremaster Cycle? At $100,000 for the DVD set and periodic screenings - no wonder only 1800 or so comments mention it.

Other methods exist.
posted by penduluum at 11:45 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd always kind of assumed that Weird Al stopped existing in the 90s as well, so it makes entirely more sense in that context.

I'm not going to claim that Al's more recent output has been nearly as good as his heyday 25 years ago, but if you've not paid any attention to what the Weird-meister has done in the past 15 years, you really owe it to yourself to explore his catalog. He's been right there all along, and when he hits, he knocks it out of the park. Just like he's always done.
posted by hippybear at 11:45 AM on April 20, 2011


My niece loves showing me the latest in parodies on YouTube. Her two favorite acts:

Barely Political
Venetian Princess

Both have gone through Gaga.

You really need to see Venetian Princess's chilling effect video. Weird Al has lawyers; not everyone does.
posted by effugas at 11:47 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The money was going to charity. Lady Gaga made a jerk move.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:48 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


What amazes me the most about this story is the fact that even musicians with zeppelin-sized egos, such as Michael Jackson, have had absolutely no qualms with letting Weird Al do what he wants. I think many musicians realize the mutual benefit involved there. Maybe she's still stinging for all the flack she's been getting over the original song or something.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:48 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lady Gaga- I have enjoyed your work in the past, and have often defended you. But do not make me choose between you and Weird Al.

You will lose.

Every time.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:48 AM on April 20, 2011 [27 favorites]


If she approved the parody, she would be admitting that it's all an act, thus robbing the act of its power

I don't get it, of course it's an act. Are people under the impression Gaga eats her Cheerios in the morning wearing meat pajamas?
posted by Hoopo at 11:49 AM on April 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's like your parents having sex - even if you know they do, it works better for everyone if you pretend you don't.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:50 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another huge Al fan reporting in...I don't want to quibble about when his best work was, but "Skipper Dan" is fucking brilliant genius.
posted by Melismata at 11:50 AM on April 20, 2011


You guys, Lady Gaga can't read.
Exactly. "She'll have to hear it first."

But then, why does Al parse that as "Okay, she'll have to read the lyrics"?

This sequence reveals a weird side of Weird Al to me. The song is more lampoon than his other "parodies" (which generally amalgamate another pop culture element). And this tantrum isn't very diplomatic. I guess I thought Weird Al was sort of more easy-going and friendly than this.
posted by Straw Cab at 11:51 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


> But I have to say, that [humorlessness] seems a really, really poor fit with the kind of persona on which she seems to be basing her work, her celebrity, and indeed her entire career.

Really?! Am I missing something? She seems really serious about everything she does. The actual result can often be interpreted as funny, even ridiculous (which I'm not using in a bad way) but Gaga doesn't ever seem to make jokes or laugh at herself or her material.

Remember, sarcasm is not humor.

There are lots of excellent artists who are dead serious! Springsteen, Dylan, Radiohead, U2... It doesn't say anything bad about Gaga, but she should still get over herself.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:51 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was lukewarm until he busted out "covered with BEEEEEEEES."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:52 AM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, and to chime in on the "favorite Weird Al" subthread, I'll have to go with The Hardware Store.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:52 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, now that I think of it, are Weird Al's pieces normally such hatchet jobs?

All About The Pentiums...Eat It...Amish Paradise...hmmm. Not really.
posted by effugas at 11:53 AM on April 20, 2011


I mean, a legal stuff and Gaga hate and shit aside, that was a really. dumb. parody. /Weird Al has lost it.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:53 AM on April 20, 2011


So does he also not have permission to do Polka Face? (warning, shaky cam)
posted by zarq at 11:53 AM on April 20, 2011


Are people under the impression Gaga eats her Cheerios in the morning wearing meat pajamas?

Well, now I am.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:53 AM on April 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, and the Gaga backlash is already in full effect

Okay, I think "Born This Way" is godawful, but not because it makes gays look like "freaks and outsiders." I think I can hazard a guess that most gays of a certain age are more offended by the blatant steal from Madonna and Stephen Bray and by the clunky heavyhanded rhythmlessness of the song than they are that the song makes us out to be victimized denizens of the gay ghetto.

The idea that "gay culture" is a form of false consciousness to be shedded as we march arm in arm toward a utopia of equality and sunshine-bathed unicorns is also more than somewhat overstated.
posted by blucevalo at 11:56 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "Oh, and to chime in on the "favorite Weird Al" subthread, I'll have to go with The Hardware Store."

I prefer an older classic. :D
posted by zarq at 11:57 AM on April 20, 2011


So does he also not have permission to do Polka Face? (warning, shaky cam)

I asked the same question, but on further thought I don't think he's ever recorded Polka Face - IANAL, but live performances are held to a different standard than recorded material.
posted by muddgirl at 11:57 AM on April 20, 2011


Also: Polka Face, best Polka ever, or laziest? Or perhaps both?
posted by muddgirl at 11:58 AM on April 20, 2011


Eminem's refusal for Weird Al to do a video parody of "Lose Yourself" soured me on the rapper for years afterward.
posted by fairmettle at 11:58 AM on April 20, 2011


I love Weird Al, huge fan from the KMET days of the early 80s on Dr. Demento, but I think he should have chosen a more innocuous song from her catalog to make silly. "Born this way" is actually an awesome message song that deserves some praise for getting popular instead of mockery.

But aren't earnest songs exactly the best targets for parody?

And that's not even getting into whether "Born This Way" is a good message song at all. The cons of the "it's not a choice" argument for gay rights have been hashed out here before.

There are lots of excellent artists who are dead serious! Springsteen, Dylan, Radiohead, U2... It doesn't say anything bad about Gaga, but she should still get over herself.

And at least U2 on that list has allowed parodies by Weird Al before. (Of course, U2 isn't really all that dead serious all the time either, but I don't want to get into that digression.)
posted by kmz at 11:58 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I made a joke on Twitter this morning about Gaga and now this. Weird indeed.
posted by tommasz at 11:58 AM on April 20, 2011


echo target: "It's not humorless -- it's brand management.

A distinction without a difference, I believe.
"

Indeed -- reading that quote of mine out of context makes me want to disagree with myself. But the context is what I mentioned (and mathowie expanded on more clearly) about how if I was Lady Gaga (I'm still not) would feel about the usage about that particular song.

Further context: my love/hate/grudging respect for Lady Gaga which notes that she is fully aware that what she is doing is an act -- and anybody who thinks she takes it seriously is seriously not paying attention. There's a reason she called her most well known albums: The Fame/The Fame Monster -- and it's not because she takes the whole celebrity experience as seriously as Billy Bush et al.

But just because she's in on the joke, it doesn't mean I'm not going to dig at her at any time just for the fun of it. Exhibit A, this recently sent text message:

THIEVERY *AGAIN*! Gaga's "Judas" clearly a rip-off of "Eep Ok Ork Ah-ah" from THE JETSONS!!!

(which I guess could be read as a dig at people who mock Lady Gaga, now that I think about it.)

posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:58 AM on April 20, 2011


The parody is terrible.

The original song is worse.
posted by empath at 11:59 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are there any Weird Al parodies that are extremely hilarious or poignant?

I think White & Nerdy is pretty funny.
posted by exogenous at 12:00 PM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think it's hilarious that Coolio refused Weird Al permission to parody "Gangsta's Paradise" in light of the fact that Coolio stole the song from Stevie Wonder to begin with.
posted by kozad at 12:01 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


muddgirl: " I asked the same question, but on further thought I don't think he's ever recorded Polka Face - IANAL, but live performances are held to a different standard than recorded material."

Ah! OK, that would make sense. Thanks.
posted by zarq at 12:04 PM on April 20, 2011


So, by the law of passive aggresion, if she asks him to do something before she decides the only decision can be to say yes? Not sure that's really a decision.
posted by Artw at 12:05 PM on April 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


I like Weird Al a lot and am neutral about Gaga, but I think Weird Al was in the wrong here. If he thought her demands were unreasonable, he could have said no before going to the efforts he went to. Yeah, I know parody is protected speech, and I'm all for that, but if Weird Al is going to talk big about how important it is to him to go beyond what's legally required to get the artist's permission, he should be willing to live up to that.
posted by Zed at 12:07 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Are there any Weird Al parodies that are extremely hilarious or poignant?

Well, it's dependent to an extent on how invested in the original you may be, and now funny you take the central joke to be. I've been really impressed by I Think I'm A Clone Now, The Theme from Rocky VIII, and I love Rocky Road, which are simple but funny in their central absurd or ironic rhymes, and their resonance with the kind of random things a person is likely to think while suffering from one of these overplayed earworms. It's All About The Pentiums, which captured the zeitgeist well, to my teenage mind, anyway, and likewise Ridin' Nerdy have a different kind of cultural commentary intelligence. It's that Al doesn't make the same joke over and over every time (okay, there's a lot of food jokes, but we all like food) which makes him a master parodist.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:07 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Parody is completely covered under the fair use doctrine. Their ain't no lawsuit gonna happen.
see Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994)


How does this work on the music side vs. the lyrics? Are they treated as one thing in these cases? Because the music isn't being parodies but used verbatim.
posted by smackfu at 12:08 PM on April 20, 2011


Oh, and to chime in on the "favorite Weird Al" subthread, I'll have to go with The Hardware Store.

Yes. Yes. Yes.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:08 PM on April 20, 2011


Al needs to put some coochy in that song, sounds flat.
posted by clavdivs at 12:08 PM on April 20, 2011


If I was a pop star, I wouldn't let Weird Al cover my songs either.

He's like the 21st century equivalent of the Barron Knights
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:09 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


by the law of passive aggresion

It's just a suggestion, really.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:10 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


or Al sound like Al doing Gaga. Not Al doing Gaga and retaining the Al aura.
posted by clavdivs at 12:10 PM on April 20, 2011


if she asks him to do something before she decides the only decision can be to say yes?

When it's the equivalent of asking somebody if you can sit next to them on a bus, and they insist that you sit first to test it out, and then tell you to get up ... yes.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:10 PM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


" I asked the same question, but on further thought I don't think he's ever recorded Polka Face - IANAL, but live performances are held to a different standard than recorded material."

There's no legal question here. Parody is fair use. Full stop. This is just about Yankovic's personal policy, and it may just be that he doesn't bother to ask permission for the polka medleys (though he actually does, as Jimmy Page refused permission to have an All-Zep polka cover.) Anyway, live vs. recorded makes no real legal difference here. The only place it comes close is with the Atlantic Records bullshit, and that's not because Atlantic had an actual case but because Weird Al's label didn't want to bother with it.

Also, I don't think Coolio outright rejected Amish Paradise, so much as he was just pissed that he wasn't actually asked (no one at his label passed along the request, they just approved it for him.)
posted by Navelgazer at 12:10 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Madonna has allowed Weird Al to parody her songs before. And he doesn't need "legal" permission, because he can in fact release his copy without permission if he pays "compulsory mechanical" fees, which aren't outrageous - he's more looking for "artistic permission".

It's not that Madonna wouldn't give permission. It's that if - and this is pure speculation - if Madonna (or, you know, whoever actually wrote Express Yourself) owns a portion of the rights to Born This Way, the Lady GaGa legal and PR teams might not want to draw attention to that fact in the context of getting permission for Weird Al to do a parody.
posted by The World Famous at 12:10 PM on April 20, 2011


Jimmy Page refused permission to have an All-Zep polka cover

It makes me a little bit sad to think that Jimmy Page might not like Dread Zeppelin.
posted by The World Famous at 12:13 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why does Yankovic ever ask permission? It seems to me like he's muddying the PR waters for situations exactly like this and for other parody artists who are less well-known and thus less likely to obtain permission.
posted by muddgirl at 12:15 PM on April 20, 2011


Oh, and to chime in on the "favorite Weird Al" subthread, I'll have to go with The Hardware Store.
Good, but I have to go with Your Horoscope for Today.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:16 PM on April 20, 2011


Re: The Cremaster Cycle. I've been pretty convinced that Lady GaGa is just another Matthew Barney project pretty much since day one.
posted by Polyhymnia at 12:17 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


It makes me a little bit sad to think that Jimmy Page might not like Dread Zeppelin

I wonder if he likes this.
posted by mintcake! at 12:17 PM on April 20, 2011


Eminem's refusal for Weird Al to do a video parody of "Lose Yourself" soured me on the rapper for years afterward.

Nickelodeon put out a parody video, that he made them pull.

Meat is back
back again
Meat is back
tell a friend
...
I created a sandwich
cause nobody wants to be hungry no more
they want mayonnaise and chopped liver
...
now this looks like a lunch for me
so everybody just let me eat
cause I need a little pork or beef
I feel so empty without meat


And Skipper Dan is good good stuff.
posted by nomisxid at 12:19 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had a whole like spiel about professionalism and how Al's been doing this for probably longer than Gaga's been goddamn alive and how she should flattered, he is a legend, & c., & c., but. Whatever.

I think that's pretty much been covered so far.

So instead, to all the people saying "Weird Al's lost it," I put the following:

1) Were you 15 years younger than you are now when you first heard a Weird Al song? And was it fucking hilarious? Yes? Maybe he's still doing that same thing, and maybe you just turned cynical and humorless.

2) covered with bees

pffffffffffft

goddammit now there's bourbon all over my fucking screen

fuck you it's not too early for bourbon and also Weird Al is still funny

posted by pts at 12:19 PM on April 20, 2011 [21 favorites]


Lady Gage basically led him on despite it appearing that she was going to say no the whole time. Weird Al apparently responded by revealing that when push comes to shove, he was going to release the song the whole time.

No. He gave her the courtesy that he always does-- Prince has denied him many times; Al doesn't legally have to acquiesce, but he does because he's respectful. In this case, BlahGa dicked with him, so he released it as a "fuck you." And if it doesn't seem like the parody is up-to-standard, it was an early draft, and he probably didn't see fit to polish it before the clock ran out on his timely "fuck you."
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:19 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


but does he usually write songs that are this critical of the pop singers he is making parody of?

Oh wait, also Achy Breaky Song.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:20 PM on April 20, 2011


"Born this way" is actually an awesome message song that deserves some praise for getting popular instead of mockery.

To the extent that Born this Way is a "good" message song, I suspect the existence of a parody won't cause it to suffer.

Personally, though, I think there's some confusion going on here between the concepts of a "good message" song and a good "message song," and that Germanotta, however humorless, is apparently smart enough to capitalize on this common problem, among her other exploits.
posted by weston at 12:21 PM on April 20, 2011


Yeah for SURE this would've been polished, fine-tuned and even improved lyrically if he had the OK all along. Why waste more time in the studio and pay a bunch of musicians when he can't officially release it? Go Al!
posted by ReeMonster at 12:22 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


fairmettle: "Eminem's refusal for Weird Al to do a video parody of "Lose Yourself" soured me on the rapper for years afterward."

Especially annoying because he'd already gotten permission to do the song. Video parodies are such a big part of how the Al promotional machine works. Allowing the song but refusing the video is just mean for no reason.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:23 PM on April 20, 2011


Oh wait, also Achy Breaky Song.

Don't forget "This Song is Just Six Words Long"...
posted by Melismata at 12:24 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah for SURE this would've been polished, fine-tuned and even improved lyrically if he had the OK all along. Why waste more time in the studio and pay a bunch of musicians when he can't officially release it? Go Al!

Hamburger? He can release it, he's just being kind of a douche, whether on purpose or not I don't know.
posted by muddgirl at 12:24 PM on April 20, 2011


Yeah for SURE this would've been polished, fine-tuned and even improved lyrically if he had the OK all along. Why waste more time in the studio and pay a bunch of musicians when he can't officially release it?

Then again, why complain about being turned down if you know that what you handed in for approval was merely a half-baked version of what you hoped the final result would be?
posted by hermitosis at 12:24 PM on April 20, 2011


I never understood why he asked permission for his parodies. Just do it, yo. I can see where he approaches people like the Doors keyboard player in order to make the song about Craig's List super awesome but, at this point, he just should just do it. He's Weird Al, he untouchable.
posted by zzazazz at 12:26 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because professional mixing & mastering is really expensive?
posted by mintcake! at 12:27 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I don't really have a horse in this race, however awesome I thought In 3-D was back in the day.)
posted by mintcake! at 12:28 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Favorite Weird Al songs (in no particular order): Jurassic Park, Livin' in the Fridge, eBay, and Don't Download This Song.

There are too many to list, really, but these are the ones that come immediately to mind.

Favorite Lady Gaga songs: .....
posted by wierdo at 12:31 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because professional mixing & mastering is really expensive?

Having recently paid for professional mixing and mastering by someone who mixed and mastered several huge international hits in the last few years, I can tell you that professional mixing and mastering is really not expensive at all, particularly if it's just for a single song rather than an album that has to be mastered to sound right as a single group of songs. I mean it is really, really inexpensive.
posted by The World Famous at 12:32 PM on April 20, 2011


How does this work on the music side vs. the lyrics? Are they treated as one thing in these cases? Because the music isn't being parodies but used verbatim.

This was addressed during the Two Live Crew SCOTUS case:
The Court did find the third factor integral to the analysis, finding that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that, as a matter of law, 2 Live Crew copied excessively from the Orbison original. Souter reasoned that the "amount and substantiality" of the portion used by 2 Live Crew was reasonable in relation to the band's purpose in creating a parody of "Oh, Pretty Woman". The majority reasoned "even if 2 Live Crew's copying of the original's first line of lyrics and characteristic opening bass riff may be said to go to the original's 'heart,' that heart is what most readily conjures up the song for parody, and it is the heart at which parody takes aim." The Supreme Court then looked to the new work as a whole, finding that 2 Live Crew thereafter departed markedly from the Orbison lyrics, producing otherwise distinctive music.

Looking at the final factor, the Supreme Court found that the Court of Appeals erred in finding a presumption or inference of market harm (such as there had been in Sony). Parodies in general, the Court said, will rarely substitute for the original work, since the two works serve different market functions. While Acuff-Rose found evidence of a potential "derivative" rap market in the very fact that 2 Live Crew recorded a rap parody of "Oh, Pretty Woman" and another rap group sought a license to record a rap derivative, the Court found no evidence that a potential rap market was harmed in any way by 2 Live Crew's parodic rap version. In fact, the Court found that it was unlikely that any artist would find parody a lucrative derivative market, noting that artists "ask for criticism, but only want praise."
posted by hippybear at 12:34 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love Weird Al.


This song was terrible... but the original really didn't give him anything to work with, it was equally as terrible and embarrassing to listen to.
posted by Malice at 12:35 PM on April 20, 2011


OK, so the lyrics aren't so strong with this one...but think about how awesome the video will be. It'll basically be Weird Al in a variety of increasingly outlandish Lady Gaga costumes.

I want to see this video right now.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:36 PM on April 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


Having owned lots of Weird Al albums throughout my youth, I have to say that this parody in particular has a bit more of a personal, critical edge to it than any of his other songs I've heard (though it's possible I may have missed one at some point). Previous Weird Al tracks that have seen success didn't really have any really obvious direct references, and were usually done just in the name of fun and randomness. Amish Paradise? Like a Surgeon? Fat? The subject matter has nothing to do with the original songs or artists. This track has taken a little different turn, in my opinion.

I don't have a problem with the idea of parodying, or with Al releasing the track without Gaga's blessing, but I can definitely see why she didn't endorse it.
posted by erstwhile at 12:36 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


That is a genuinely funny, mocking parody, unlike many of Weird Al's "parodies" which are just "take this tune and rewrite the lyrics with something vaguely amusing."
posted by deanc at 12:37 PM on April 20, 2011


I don't get the outrage. They set up an agreement, which didn't go in his favor, so he released the song anyway. Ok. I'm sure he'll still raise a lot of money for the charity, because there's a lot of people that like that thing (for some reason). Al seems to come off as sort of pissy, which doesn't really fit his persona at all.
posted by codacorolla at 12:41 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like Weird Al, but this song is kind of weaksauce. I think Gaga was afraid of the video. If he made the video and outgaga-ed Gaga, it would be a pretty Emperor's Clothes moment.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:42 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really do think I must be the only person in the known universe that actively dislikes Weird Al.

I must be missing some sort of parody-appreciation gene or something.
posted by Windigo at 12:44 PM on April 20, 2011


Also, W-H-I-M is funny. That's just funny.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:47 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really do think I must be the only person in the known universe that actively dislikes Weird Al.

Don't worry friend, you are not alone.
posted by codacorolla at 12:49 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Allowing the song but refusing the video is just mean for no reason.

I always assumed that Eminem refused the video because, given the ridiculous way he carries himself, he was completely aware of how easy it is for a visual parody to mercilessly trash him. all IMO.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:50 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a "Dare to Be Stupid" man myself.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:51 PM on April 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


hippybear: This was addressed during the Two Live Crew SCOTUS case:
The majority reasoned "even if 2 Live Crew's copying of the original's first line of lyrics and characteristic opening bass riff may be said to go to the original's 'heart,' that heart is what most readily conjures up the song for parody, and it is the heart at which parody takes aim." The Supreme Court then looked to the new work as a whole, finding that 2 Live Crew thereafter departed markedly from the Orbison lyrics, producing otherwise distinctive music."
This is likely the most glowing review 2 Live Crew has ever received.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:51 PM on April 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


I really do think I must be the only person in the known universe that actively dislikes Weird Al.

naw.

well, let me amend that: i liked him when i was a kid but when you're a kid it's cool for one of your favorite musicians to be all novelty songs.

also UHF was pretty great.

but no, you're not alone.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:51 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really do think I must be the only person in the known universe that actively dislikes Weird Al.

Well there are at least two of us.

I do like parody, but Weird Al's style of "exact replica + word differences" just is not at all funny to me. Same goes for the "parodies" in The Family Guy and The Critic.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:52 PM on April 20, 2011


You guys, Lady Gaga can't read.

She's a time traveling alien hermaphrodite from the 29th century. Of course she can read . . . MINDS.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:53 PM on April 20, 2011


I like Weird Al much more in principle than in my headphones.

And I do! I do like what he's all about.
posted by everichon at 12:56 PM on April 20, 2011


First Scott Adams, now Lady Gaga? People, be more obscurantist in your sockpuppetry!
posted by KingEdRa at 12:56 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Heh, I was just thinking that Weird Al should do a parody about Scott Adams.
posted by Melismata at 12:58 PM on April 20, 2011


I want to see this video right now.

Ditto. Weird Al made being weird sort of amusing and okay when I was a little kid. He was like Mad Magazine set to music (this was during the Weird Al classic period with Yoda and Another One Rides the Bus). I think he asks for permission because he doesn't want to make enemies of people. I liked this song fine, but I'd really like to see it. White and Nerdy's Donny Osmond dance still makes me smile.
posted by jessamyn at 12:58 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


If that is Lady Gaga, then at least she had the decency to not pretend not to be.
posted by codacorolla at 1:00 PM on April 20, 2011


How does a man go from Charles Nelson Reilly to this crap? Maybe she refused him permission because he can do so much better.
posted by stavrogin at 1:00 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "Ditto. Weird Al made being weird sort of amusing and okay when I was a little kid. He was like Mad Magazine set to music (this was during the Weird Al classic period with Yoda and Another One Rides the Bus). I think he asks for permission because he doesn't want to make enemies of people. I liked this song fine, but I'd really like to see it. White and Nerdy's Donny Osmond dance still makes me smile"

Why oh why must I live in a country where every cool thing on YouTube has been blocked on copyright grounds?

Ah, well. Time to use a glype proxy and give the video the 10 minutes it'll need to load.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:01 PM on April 20, 2011


If that is Lady Gaga, then at least she had the decency to not pretend not to be.

wow. hmm.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:03 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been on a Gaga kick lately and I do quite like the material. What's really clear about her, even without thinking about Wierd Al, is that she's 100% focused on her thing and really doesn't have much room in her head for anything else. And that's probably where she needs to be right now in her career. So yeah, there's some confidence issues and some brand management she's still dealing with. I mean, I don't care how many millions of records you've sold or Grammy's you've won or singles you've released, if you're in your mid-twenties and you were washing dishes five years ago, you're an emerging artist.

Another thing that's really clear about Gaga is that she's got almost no self confidence at all other than what is given her by her performance and her acceptance by her fans. Which is kind of why she's so atomic powered and goes on eighteen month tours, because without that clamour she's got only herself to look at, and she finds that pretty scary (Fame Monster is basically eight songs about exactly this).

So, yeah, if anything doesn't slot exactly into her head about what she needs/wants, then it's either ignored or rejected. And I'm thinking that the whole reason Al got as far as he did is because of his street cred -- I'm sure everyone was telling her behind the scenes that this would be a good thing, that a Wierd Al parody of your shit means "hello, you've arrived, you're an actual world-wide thing" but she just couldn't figure out where it would fit into her vision of herself so it was just, "no."

Actually I'm really keen to see where Gaga is in ten years or maybe twenty. If she can keep her shit together and integrate some actual life experience into her deal rather than just 100% performing, I think she'll really have something nuanced and subtle to say rather than just broad brush stuff. I hope.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:05 PM on April 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm not a hyper Gaga fan (other than for "Bad Romance") but I was liking her, up until the "Born This Way" kerfuffle. I don't know why she doesn't just admit that it's an homage -- she's already said that Madonna's people were OK with it, but today she's on the rails for calling the comparisons between the songs "retarded", which has really annoyed backers of a movement to eliminate use of that word. It just makes her appear thin-skinned, and beggaring sympathy is definitely off-message for her act.

Same with this. I think the thing she needs the most right now is a little lightening up. This new album isn't a smash hit even out yet, so for all we know it could fall flat on its face.

Anyway, she makes it hard for parodists, being Poe's Law level out there to begin with. But imagine if she'd done a cameo in his video. (On preview) seanmpuckett has great points. She's much more fragile than she likes to appear, but obviously has major talent -- far and above the current crop of pop starlets. It's a matter of her learning to master it.
posted by dhartung at 1:08 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't give two shits and a great goddamn about Lady Gaga, but I will say that the Donny Osmond White and Nerdy dance may just be the pinochle of human achievement. It's so deck, it has 48 cards.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:09 PM on April 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


I'm a huge fan of both Weird Al and Lady Gaga -- more Al, of course, but he's been around longer. But yeah -- I'm more on the Al side of this one. I can see Gaga's point, assuming it IS more because "Born This Way" is a message song... but that's still a dick move. When Michael Jackson didn't want Al to do a parody of "Black or White" because THAT was a message song, it was basically just in the pitch stage anyway. (And Al did do "Snack All Night" live for a while, too -- but IIRC, it was just about a verse/chorus -- so it was probably just what he was thinking of when he had the idea to ask in the first place.)

Also -- if you want Biting Al, the unreleased "It's Still Billy Joel To Me" is pretty awesome/hilarious. Apparently it took about 30 years for Billy Joel to get over it, and approve "Piano Man" for parody on Poodle Hat. ("It's Still Billy Joel..." is way funnier, though.)

As for "Perform This Way" -- it's got its moments, but is overall a little weak... but then, that's probably a result of being turned around in a couple days. I figure if he'd had more time -- if the Haus had given him a yes-or-no decision from the pitch like everyone else -- it'd be really great, both musically and lyrically. (This arrangement fell a little flat to me, too, but, again -- I'm thinking this was basically a demo version anyway, not so much a Final Single Mix.)

Speaking of songs bette than the originals -- I always thought "King of Suede" was really, really sad -- more so than the original. I also think Al's version "pops" more, from a music/mix standpoint. The Police one always sounds muddy to me.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 1:12 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't call it "poignant", but Weird Al's "Happy Birthday" is pretty grim. It almost sounds like Grandmaster Flash's "the Message".

Well, it's time to celebrate your birthday, it happens every year
We'll eat a lot of broccoli and drink a lot of beer
You should be good and happy that there's something you can eat
A million people every day are starving in the street

Your daddy's in the gutter with the wretched and the poor
Your mama's in the kitchen with a can of Cycle Four
There's garbage in the water
There's poison in the sky
I guess it won't be long before we're all gonna die

(chorus)

Well, what's the matter little friend, you think this party is the pits
Enjoy it while you can, we'll soon be blown to bits
The monkeys in the pentagon are gonna cook our goose
Their finger's on the button, all they need is an excuse

It doesn't take a military genius to see
We'll all be crispy critters after World War III
There's nowhere you can run to, nowhere you can hide
When they drop the big one, we all get fried

(chorus)

Well there's a punk in the alley and he's looking for a fight
There's an Arab on the corner buying everything in sight
There's a mother in the ghetto with another mouth to feed
Seems that everywhere you look today there's misery and greed

I guess you know the Earth is gonna crash into the sun
But that's no reason why we shouldn't have a little fun
So if you think it's scary, if it's more than you can take
Just blow out the candles and have a piece of cake

posted by Challahtronix at 1:13 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Gaga strikes me as having no sense of humor, so I'm not surprised that she wouldn't be confident enough to let Al parody one of her songs. But, "Perform This Way" is also directly about the person whose song he's parodying, which he doesn't d that often. Perhaps if the song was about food* and not Gaga herself she might have let it go through.

*one swiss cheese reference does not a food song make
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:16 PM on April 20, 2011


She may have done this as a way to get attention.
posted by longsleeves at 1:18 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, when the actual war starts and the bullets are flying, I'm going to be the one standing for Al, holding my rifle in the air all Red Dawn-like, screaming "TAMBOURINES!!"
posted by quin at 1:22 PM on April 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


I just don't see why Gaga comes off as the "bad guy" here. Yankovic was free to say, at any point, "Meh, I don't actually need your permission, I was just trying to be nice." The fact that he actually made the whole demo has nothing to do with Gaga and everything to do with his own persona. Like I said, kind of douchey.

Although honestly, my first instict is that it's a joint performance art.
posted by muddgirl at 1:24 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Funny how this is the post that warrants a torrent of comments. What a bitch for making him record the song, then saying no. Too bad the parody wasn't any good anyway. Weird Al hasn't really been relevant for at least ten years.
posted by Leisure_Muffin at 1:26 PM on April 20, 2011


The fact that he actually made the whole demo has nothing to do with Gaga and everything to do with his own persona.

Except for the part where she wouldn't say yes or no til she heard the song. But you're right, that has nothing to do with Gaga...
posted by pupdog at 1:26 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except for the part where she wouldn't say yes or no til she heard the song.

Which, as other people have said, doesn't mean she's obligated to say "yes" just because he made her the demo.
posted by Vibrissa at 1:29 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Heh. I think the song is pretty funny. Weird Al totally nails the outer-trappings-of-a-performance-artist aspect of Lady Gaga. The actual Lady Gaga is a *little* more creative than this song gives her credit for - she has done thing egg thing, but not the nude thing, the self-immolation thing or the dress made out of meat thing - or perhaps she simply has a bigger budget than most performance artists. Marrying the spectacle of performance art to the spectacle of pop music is something she does well. Too, removing or diluting the politics of a subculture to get a version that is palatable to the mainstream is a time-honored way to sell a lot of records.

All that said, Lady Gaga never said she was going to approve the song. Asking for permission and then becoming offended when it isn't granted is a dick move on Weird Al's part. I realize he went through a lot of trouble of booking studio and musician time, but he could have done something cheaper - recorded himself on his laptop and whipped up something quick in garageband for Lady Gaga to approve (or not). Implying that Lady Gaga OWES him her permission because he expected he would get it is pretty entitled.

And then Weird Al fans and/or random bystanders claim Lady Gaga is 'humorless' because she didn't agree to a song that is all about how she is not as weird as she thinks she is/Weird Al/truly weird people: it just reminds me of all the other times in our culture people have claimed that women are 'humorless' because they are trying too hard to be taken seriously.

Finally, the way Weird Al has handled this is completely passive-aggressive. The song is not on the album, but it is on Youtube (where most people get their music these days). His rant is not only on his blog, it is LINKED IN THE HEADING of his blog. Not classy!

It was a pretty awesome idea to record a parody of Born This Way and donate all the proceeds to charity, though. I think Lady Gaga probably should have given her permission for this. But that's just the thing, her permission is hers to give. Making sure that everyone who sees the video knows that all the proceeds WOULD have gone to charity, had the song been released, may get some people donating to charity (which is good) but it is also another passive-aggressive move on Weird Al's part.

Whew. TL;DR: Lady Gaga may take herself too seriously, but it is her right to do so; Weird Al may have some pretty good ideas, but he's not handling his disappointment well at all here.
posted by subdee at 1:29 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean, I don't care how many millions of records you've sold or Grammy's you've won or singles you've released, if you're in your mid-twenties and you were washing dishes five years ago, you're an emerging artist.

I disagree with this. She's got what I have to assume are 3 multi-platinum albums to her name. That's not emerging, she's a pop star and she's done better with 3 albums than a lot of other pop stars do with entire careers.

"Gaga: “No. Listen to me. Why the f**k...? I'm a songwriter. I've written loads of music. Why would I try to put out a song and think I'm getting one over on everybody. That's retarded. What a completely ridiculous thing to even question me about. I will look you in your eyes and tell you that I am not dumb enough or moronic enough to think that you are dumb or moronic enough not to see that I would have stolen a melody. If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression. It's the same one that's been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I'm the first f**king artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn't mean I'm a plagiarist, it means I'm f**king smart. Sorry.just don't want my fans... I don't know. This is exhausting. I just don't wanna perpetuate that sh*t,” Gaga told NME. “I'm sure you want to address it but it's just so ridiculous. I was f**king shellshocked by it. It's so funny to hear you say, 'It must have been an homage,' I'm like, NO. When I homage, I f**king homage with a big sign saying I've done it...

"...Why would I not do that now? I need a f**king drink now (Sighs) I just like... I just have to say... (Starts crying) I feel like honestly that God sent me those lyrics and that melody. When you feel a message to give to the world and people are shooting arrows through it... there's no way for something that pure to be wrong.
"


She's also kind of an asshole.
posted by Hoopo at 1:31 PM on April 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


Now TMZ is reporting that LG did not reject the song after all.
posted by lampshade at 1:32 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weird Al hasn't really been relevant for at least ten years.

His first ever top 10 single was five years ago. He's still as relevant as a parody artist is going to be.
posted by Gary at 1:33 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I never understood why he asked permission for his parodies.

The story goes that when he asked Mark Knopfler for permission to parody "Money For Nothing," Knopfler basically said "Only if I get to play guitar on it." So there's that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:35 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now TMZ is reporting that LG did not reject the song after all.

THE PLOT THICKENS.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:39 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


if you want Biting Al, the unreleased "It's Still Billy Joel To Me" is pretty awesome/hilarious.

Heh.. one of the lyrics: "After listening to a couple albums, well they all start to sound the same"

Pot and kettle and all that.
posted by inigo2 at 1:40 PM on April 20, 2011


she has done thing egg thing, but not the nude thing, the self-immolation thing or the dress made out of meat thing

Sounds like you missed out on the meat dress bit. Because she totally did that.

She's got what I have to assume are 3 multi-platinum albums to her name.

Two albums. Two. The third won't be released for over a month yet.
posted by hippybear at 1:41 PM on April 20, 2011


No "Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota"? I think of it every time I travel.

It's too bad that so many people think he only makes "same song, slightly different rhyming words" songs, because while they're the most famous, they aren't by any means all he does. He also parodies styles rather than individual songs, which I often think is more clever.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:41 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Gaga's songwriting is mediocre at best, but I love her performance. Al's choice to parody that WITH her "message" song is quite canny.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:41 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


"And then Weird Al fans and/or random bystanders claim Lady Gaga is 'humorless' because she didn't agree to a song that is all about how she is not as weird as she thinks she is/Weird Al/truly weird people: it just reminds me of all the other times in our culture people have claimed that women are 'humorless' because they are trying too hard to be taken seriously. "

That's terrible ad hominem logic though.

And as for why it's not Al being the dick — she asked him to record the song. Since part of his schtick is that the song is always as close as possible to the original, it was an extra hoop to jump through.
posted by klangklangston at 1:42 PM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


she has done thing egg thing, but not ... the dress made out of meat thing

That one's real.
posted by immlass at 1:42 PM on April 20, 2011


> She's got what I have to assume are 3 multi-platinum albums to her name. Two albums. Two. The third won't be released for over a month yet.

If the next one doesn't go platinum, I'll eat my dress.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:42 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


This never happens with Bjork
posted by KokuRyu at 1:42 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Except for the part where she wouldn't say yes or no til she heard the song.

Except for the part where Yankovic does not need her permission to do the song in the first, second, or third place.
posted by muddgirl at 1:44 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are people under the impression Gaga eats her Cheerios in the morning wearing meat pajamas?

Oh, come on. Cheerios don't even have legs.
posted by zippy at 1:46 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


What a bitch for making him record the song, then saying no.
posted by Leisure_Muffin at 4:26 PM on 4/20
[+] [!]


Huh? At what point did that "bitch" make him do anything?! What a weird accusation.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:47 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


lampshade: "Now TMZ is reporting that LG did not reject the song after all"

Right. Weird Al did all this because he's a mean, spiteful dude who hates Lady Gaga so much that he'd invent this entire scenario just to make her look bad.

I realize this is one of those "parody artist said singer's manager said vs. singer's manager now says" scenarios, but this seems like hasty ass-covering.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:47 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking Lady Gaga's problem with Weird Al's parody is that it sounds too much like "Express Yourself."
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:47 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


it just reminds me of all the other times in our culture people have claimed that women are 'humorless' because they are trying too hard to be taken seriously.

Note to men and women everywhere: If you're trying to be taken seriously, don't act like Lady GaGa.
posted by The World Famous at 1:47 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yankovic does not need her permission

But getting some kind of permission helps to avoid a court case.

A case can be expensive and who here would like to make the FPP "Lady Gaga overturns parody precedent"?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:48 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right. Weird Al did all this because he's a mean, spiteful dude who hates Lady Gaga so much that he'd invent this entire scenario just to make her look bad.

More likely Gaga's manager said no, but "Lady Gaga personally rejected LITTLE OL' ME" is a much better (read: more attention-grabbing) story than "Lady Gaga doesn't really think one way or another about me, and I was given the run-around by her handlers."

But getting some kind of permission helps to avoid a court case.

HE RELEASED THE SONG ANY WAY. So no, I guess it doesn't.
posted by muddgirl at 1:49 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, what was brilliant and awesome about Amish Paradise was that it took Coolio's song and tipped it toward the other end of the spectrum, so it was no longer about gangstas or even about Coolio but instead about quaintly religious folk. It was interesting, and innovative. And I think a lot of that came out in the video -- Weird Al was always one of those guys whose videos were better than they had any right to be. Maybe it's hard to capture that without actually going and filming the video itself, because to me the song is mostly supporting material.

But Lady Gaga has been really fortunate to have so many parodies made of her, to have the entire world obsessed with her in this weird, awesome, creepy way. And so I think she has the right to expect that if she's going to give her blessing to a project, it should be the most awesome parody out there, the one that outshines all the others. And already several people have posted links to brilliant Gaga parodies in this thread.

Weird Al's song wasn't that.

The territory that he gets into with asking the permission of artists before releasing his parodies, or even recording them, is sort of like asking for approval as endorsement. You know, he doesn't legally need the approval, so what is it for, really? To say the artist being parodied isn't offended? Or to say the artist being parodied is in on the joke? I think it's the latter.

In which case, I can totally understand the decision not to "approve" this parody. Maybe she's saying, "You know what, Al? It's just not good enough. I'm Lady Gaga, for crying out loud. I ride in eggs. I wear bacon. You're going to have to step it up if you want to successfully parody me."

And the market is saturated with Gaga parodies and tributes and jokes. Next week's episode of Glee is entitled Born This Way, and they've been performing her songs all season. They've got a big budget and a bunch of great voices, and they can connect with Gaga's audience, which Al can't do. Just as a business decision, I could see her wanting something absolutely grand from a Weird Al parody, something on the scale of Amish Paradise.

On preview: Or maybe she just hasn't listened to the song yet.
posted by brina at 1:49 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


but this seems like hasty ass-covering.but this seems like hasty ass-covering.

I agree. If LG does anything well, she and her crew read the trends.
posted by lampshade at 1:49 PM on April 20, 2011


Note to men and women everywhere: If you're trying to be taken seriously, don't act like Lady GaGa.

Hrrrm. Be serious or need a on-call chiropractor to re-adjust my back from sitting on a wallet fill of money?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:50 PM on April 20, 2011


TEAM YANKOVIC
posted by scody at 1:51 PM on April 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


Jesus she made a music video of the Cremaster Cycle

Bwwaaaa!!! fyi, i have the book, and saw it at a museum in Minneapolis many years ago. So i had to check her video... dead... on. ;) Someone made a Little Big Planet level of it a while back, amused the hell out of me. ;)

Gaga needs a sense of humor or she's destined to be on whatever "Behind the Music" pops up in ten years or so as a nostalgia piece.
posted by usagizero at 1:51 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is all reminding me that I have Cremaster 3 on my computer. I keep meaning to check it out, but everything I hear about it is kind of lukewarm.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:57 PM on April 20, 2011


And then Weird Al fans and/or random bystanders claim Lady Gaga is 'humorless' because she didn't agree to a song that is all about how she is not as weird as she thinks she is/Weird Al/truly weird people: it just reminds me of all the other times in our culture people have claimed that women are 'humorless' because they are trying too hard to be taken seriously.

No. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assert my right to call a spade a spade without violating some secret feminist tenet. This Weird Al thing comes hot on the heels of a whole bunch of nonsense she's been spewing about whatever, like getting pissy about the idea that her new pointy body parts are her actual bones, or this crap about not being manufactured that she fed NME. To the extent that it's humor at all, it's a meanspirited humor, but mostly it just seems like weird aggression for no good reason.
posted by padraigin at 1:58 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Weird Al FTW!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:59 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: The permission getting is not only a nicety -- though it IS that. Weird Al's said that while a lot of it IS out of respect for the original artist's wishes, it's also so he can get songwriting credit/royalties by working out a deal with the artist's management/publishers.

Parody falls under fair use, but ALSO, copyright-wise, a derivative work -- meaning that unless a deal like that is struck, the original artist owns everything he does on a song. So, like, for example, while Al is free to record/release what he wants, if, say, "Perform This Way" were to become a hit, Al wouldn't get a dime[1], and all the money would go to Lady Gaga & the other songwriters (if they exist, I don't know the publishing info on "Born This Way").

So, yeah -- if Al hadn't got permission for "Eat It", it wouldn't have bought him a house. Or maybe it would, but a much smaller one.

(This said: I think it's kinda silly that a parody comes under "derivative work", since folks like Al are bringing a lot of stuff to the table -- you can't confuse the original for the parody, so why shouldn't he split the lyric-writing credit by default, y'know? But it's stuff like that that causes, say, all the royalties for "Bittersweet Symphony" to go the Stones, even though you'd never confuse it for "Symphony for the Devil". Should the Stones get a cut? Sure, why not. Should they get 100%? Fuck that noise.)


[1] Or, rather, the HRC wouldn't get a dime.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 1:59 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: "More likely Gaga's manager said no, but "Lady Gaga personally rejected LITTLE OL' ME" is a much better (read: more attention-grabbing) story than "Lady Gaga doesn't really think one way or another about me, and I was given the run-around by her handlers."

Which is just so like him, that cynical, calculating bully.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:01 PM on April 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Except for the part where Yankovic does not need her permission to do the song in the first, second, or third place."

Uh, yeah. But having permission avoids label static and is also polite. So he was being polite, and she — or her handlers — were being kind of dumb and making him jump through excess hoops. Saying "No" at the lyrics stage would have been OK.

I'm not sure what you're not getting about this. He asked mostly as a courtesy, and she responded discourteously.
posted by klangklangston at 2:02 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


> You know, what was brilliant and awesome about Amish Paradise was that it took Coolio's song and tipped it toward the other end of the spectrum, so it was no longer about gangstas or even about Coolio but instead about quaintly religious folk. It was interesting, and innovative. And I think a lot of that came out in the video -- Weird Al was always one of those guys whose videos were better than they had any right to be. Maybe it's hard to capture that without actually going and filming the video itself, because to me the song is mostly supporting material. But Lady Gaga has been really fortunate to have so many parodies made of her, to have the entire world obsessed with her in this weird, awesome, creepy way. And so I think she has the right to expect that if she's going to give her blessing to a project, it should be the most awesome parody out there, the one that outshines all the others. And already several people have posted links to brilliant Gaga parodies in this thread. Weird Al's song wasn't that.

I dunno, I think "perform this way" makes an interesting comment on "born this way," in that it highlights the other half of outness, which is being prepared to look like a freak. I don't think it really chides GaGa for that in its lyrics. But where Born This Way is saying "be as you are and people will love you," Perform This Way adds "and if you light yourself on fire, they'll love you, too, because DMD."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:04 PM on April 20, 2011


(also, to clarify my aside -- I'm not saying a parodist should get 50% of the song royalties -- I'm saying 50% of the lyricist royalties. So if I write a song and Al parodies it, I'd get 75% (music and half-lyric) and Al'd get 25%. Given his track record, that's still a chunk of change for both of us. If I wrote the lyrics with someone else but wrote the music on my own, that'd be about 66% royalties for me, and 16.6% each for Al and the other guy.)

That said, me being me, I'd probably just give Al the full 50%. But that's me, and that's because it's AL! Man, I love him.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 2:05 PM on April 20, 2011


Cremaster Cycle? At $100,000 for the DVD set and periodic screenings - no wonder only 1800 or so comments mention it.
Other methods exist.


You mean, like buying Kenny Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle on DVD for $30?

Because with the $99,970 left, I can probably pick up a Maya Deren film too.
posted by orthogonality at 2:05 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which is just so like him, that cynical, calculating bully.

You can put words in my mouth, Mr. Yankovic :)

But really, why should we assume that Weird Al is any less of a celebrity than Gaga, and that he doesn't act in his own best interest? I say this as a Yankovic fan - when did Yankovic earn the reputation of not spinning his PR? He's pretty good at it.

He asked mostly as a courtesy, and she responded discourteously.

I don't see any discourtesy. She (presumably) didn't like the song, or she didn't even listen to the song because her handlers were running a poor defense. Why do we get to label her as discourteous? Why does she owe Yankovic her attention?

He asked permission, she asked for the lyrics. He could have said "No" and that would have been the end of the story. Politeness does not automatically earn a positive response.
posted by muddgirl at 2:07 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


hippybear et al:

I did miss the dress made out of meat thing! Hmm. I can't decide whether this is awesome or lame. Maybe lame for taking an obviously political act and turning it into pure spectacle. Or maybe awesome in that it seems to have worked in getting her more attention - but THAT is a truly circular argument, like claiming that rich people are smart because their investments paid off and they became more rich. So, I'm going to go with lame.

klangklanson et al:

I couldn't make a clear case for the reaction against Lady Gaga being motivated by sexist double standards for women, more than by (e.g.) people liking Weird Al more as an artist. So I just said that I was reminded of a phenomenon that is sadly very common in our society, without specifically saying that I believed that all or even most participants in this thread were perpetuating that double standard. Women ARE accused of being humorless way more often than men are.

Not in response to any previous comments:

I'm a Weird Al fan and I like Lady Gaga's "taking down the patriarchy, one dude at a time" videos. Doesn't mean Weird Al can't be mean or Lady Gaga's can't be superficial.
posted by subdee at 2:11 PM on April 20, 2011


And in fact, she didn't ask for the lyrics. Her manager asked said that she would need to hear it to give approval the very first time. For some reason, Yankovic interpreted this as "she needs to see the lyrics."
posted by muddgirl at 2:11 PM on April 20, 2011


Well I can't believe Jonny Knoxville didn't get all upset when Lady Gaga ripped off his idea for a meat suit.

Though, personally, I love seeing self important artists get a little jab... as long as it's not too vindictive
posted by Redhush at 2:13 PM on April 20, 2011


IMO, Bad Romance parody could have been a hit, esp. if Al got into the groove, he can, but this project seems rushed. All the elements are there, Al can do Divas and is about the only who can. I say re-draw and come up with a tighter product.
posted by clavdivs at 2:14 PM on April 20, 2011


Here's the part that really gets me:
I know this news is disappointing to many of you.
Yes, Al. I am really disappointed about not seeing the video to a song I wouldn't have known about if you hadn't just told us about it.
posted by muddgirl at 2:14 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bad Dreams would be better at this point.
posted by clavdivs at 2:16 PM on April 20, 2011


Parody falls under fair use, but ALSO, copyright-wise, a derivative work -- meaning that unless a deal like that is struck, the original artist owns everything he does on a song. So, like, for example, while Al is free to record/release what he wants, if, say, "Perform This Way" were to become a hit, Al wouldn't get a dime[1], and all the money would go to Lady Gaga & the other songwriters (if they exist, I don't know the publishing info on "Born This Way").

So when Yankovic says
My parodies have always fallen under what the courts call “fair use,” and this one was no different, legally allowing me to record and release it without permission. But it has always been my personal policy to get the consent of the original artist before including my parodies on any album, so of course I will respect Gaga’s wishes.
he is engaging in what is politely called "spin?" Again, I point this out as a fan of Yankovic's work.
posted by muddgirl at 2:18 PM on April 20, 2011


Yes, Al. I am really disappointed about not seeing the video to a song I wouldn't have known about if you hadn't just told us about it.

Ummmm, feel free to hate on Weird Al if you want, but the man has every right to assume that people reading his blog are his FANS and would like to see the video.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:18 PM on April 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


this project seems rushed. All the elements are there, Al can do Divas and is about the only who can. I say re-draw and come up with a tighter product.

For what it's worth, it's probably rushed and not a fully produced song like usual. Without a firm yes, i'm sure he just did a mock up, and didn't put his all into it like a ready to go song.

And Gaga, Born this way is almost exactly like Express Yourself, and your lack of creativity is showing. Alexander McQueen was what kept you interesting. He was the true artist.
posted by usagizero at 2:19 PM on April 20, 2011


Why do we get to label her as discourteous? Why does she owe Yankovic her attention?"

Why do you get to label Al as "douchey"?

It's discourteous because it still seems that she made him jump through unnecessary hoops.

"Yes, Al. I am really disappointed about not seeing the video to a song I wouldn't have known about if you hadn't just told us about it."

Wow, between this and "douchey," it seems like you've really got more invested in defending Gaga and slagging Al than this warrants.

Given that the song is pretty much only descriptions of fantastical outfits, yeah, it's a bit disappointing that he doesn't get to illustrate those descriptions with video.
posted by klangklangston at 2:20 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


feel free to hate on Weird Al if you want

No hate intended. Again, I am a Weird Al Fan. He could have saved me the disappointment by not revealing that such a video (awesome as it would be) could have existed. Then I could live on in blissful unawareness. That probably would have been the polite thing to do.
posted by muddgirl at 2:21 PM on April 20, 2011


muddgirl: "But really, why should we assume that Weird Al is any less of a celebrity than Gaga, and that he doesn't act in his own best interest? I say this as a Yankovic fan - when did Yankovic earn the reputation of not spinning his PR? He's pretty good at it."

His entire MO throughout his career underlines his tendency to defer to the wishes of the artist he wants to parody. This is why I find it highly suspect the suggestion that he invented this, or that there was some "misunderstanding". More likely, the story got legs and Lady Gaga's management back-pedaled. That's all.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:22 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


" That probably would have been the polite thing to do."

Why does Weird Al owe you his attention?
posted by klangklangston at 2:22 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


But it's stuff like that that causes, say, all the royalties for "Bittersweet Symphony" to go the Stones, even though you'd never confuse it for "Symphony for the Devil".

Dear god, I'd hope not. The string bit from Bittersweet Symphony is from "The Last Time". If you confused it with "Sympathy For The Devil", I'd have to insist you know nothing about music at all.

I'm curious about this symphony you mention. Who wrote it?
posted by hippybear at 2:22 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


No hate intended. Again, I am a Weird Al Fan. He could have saved me the disappointment by not revealing that such a video (awesome as it would be) could have existed. Then I could live on in blissful unawareness. That probably would have been the polite thing to do.

I didn't see you hated Weird Al, I said you were hating ON him.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:23 PM on April 20, 2011


You go Al. To hell with GaGa.
posted by jonmc at 2:23 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hippybear: The problem is that I am a complete moron who wasn't paying attention. Carry on...8)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 2:25 PM on April 20, 2011


meaning that unless a deal like that is struck, the original artist owns everything he does on a song. So, like, for example, while Al is free to record/release what he wants, if, say, "Perform This Way" were to become a hit, Al wouldn't get a dime[1], and all the money would go to Lady Gaga & the other songwriters

And this, ladies and gents is the giant "fuck you" to Ms. Gaga and hangers on.

She could have had a cut of something and now gets a cut of $0, what with it not being published for pay.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:26 PM on April 20, 2011


"Parody falls under fair use, but ALSO, copyright-wise, a derivative work -- meaning that unless a deal like that is struck, the original artist owns everything he does on a song. So, like, for example, while Al is free to record/release what he wants, if, say, "Perform This Way" were to become a hit, Al wouldn't get a dime[1], and all the money would go to Lady Gaga & the other songwriters (if they exist, I don't know the publishing info on "Born This Way").

So when Yankovic says
My parodies have always fallen under what the courts call “fair use,” and this one was no different, legally allowing me to record and release it without permission. But it has always been my personal policy to get the consent of the original artist before including my parodies on any album, so of course I will respect Gaga’s wishes.
he is engaging in what is politely called "spin?" Again, I point this out as a fan of Yankovic's work.
"

For what it's worth, Al's parodies are credited as being written by the original songwriters, at least as far as All Music lists. So he wouldn't have been getting any writing royalties anyway, and he gets the same mechanical royalties with or without permission.

So, no, it's not "spin."
posted by klangklangston at 2:26 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: "Here's the part that really gets me:
I know this news is disappointing to many of you.
Yes, Al. I am really disappointed about not seeing the video to a song I wouldn't have known about if you hadn't just told us about it.
"

Speaking as a fan, it's disappointing to me that he tried to do something that could have been pretty cool and couldn't.
posted by zarq at 2:27 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


(this does make GaGa look like a pretentious precious insecure 'artiste' which I knew she was anyway. at least Madaonna had the sense to play along, according to Weird Al, he even took the idea for "Like a Surgeon" from something she said in an interview.)
posted by jonmc at 2:28 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do you get to label Al as "douchey"?

Because I'm trying to show the (possible) other side of this story? The one where Weird Al is, intentionally or no, spinning a tale to make someone else look like an asshole? Because I'm sick of stuff like (from the blog)
She said no because she knew Al would be better looking than her. Self-absorbed and ugly to boot.
based entirely on a single-source blog post from someone with an image to manage?

I'm not a Lady Gaga fan in particular (I actually sort of hate her music), but I just don't see what she did wrong here. She is not at Yankovic's beck and call. He is not at hers. They are both adults and business persons.

I said you were hating ON him.

Like, ALL on him? Seriously giving 14-year-old-me wet dreams.
posted by muddgirl at 2:28 PM on April 20, 2011


Number of people who would have bought the new 'Weird Al' album: a few thousand
Number who will hear this song on YouTube because 'Lady Gaga' snubbed him: millions
posted by Flashman at 2:29 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, Al's parodies are credited as being written by the original songwriters, at least as far as All Music lists. So he wouldn't have been getting any writing royalties anyway, and he gets the same mechanical royalties with or without permission.

So, no, it's not "spin."


In the liners -- particularly for UHF, which is where I first really noticed it -- Al does get credit on the parodies along-side the original songwriters.

And, really -- as far as "spin": I tend to take Al's statement seriously that permission IS about being nice; it can be more than one thing. Hence stuff like the Coolio falling out, where everything from Al was apologetic. If it were just about the money/songwriting credits, he could have just said "Too bad, your publishers let me do this, so there." Instead he'd said repeatedly that had he known Coolio wasn't fine with it, he wouldn't have released it. By the time it had come out, "Amish Paradise" was already a hit, so the genie was sorta out of the bottle at that point.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 2:31 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree that the blog post is a little douchey-sounding.

I liked the part where he kvetched about having to cut his family vacation short, because HE IS TOTALLY A HARDWORKING FAMILY MAN NOW WITH A WIFE WHO LETS HIM ENGAGE IN COITUS WITH HER AND THERE'S A DAUGHTER THAT'S PROOF.

He's ridin' nerdy.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:31 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like, ALL on him? Seriously giving 14-year-old-me wet dreams.

Ummmm, you seemed to imply that just because you were a fan of Weird Al, you couldn't be hating on him. Read back over every thing you've said in this thread. You're totally hating on Weird Al.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:31 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


muddgirl, it seems that the two sides are rapidly turning this into a he said/she said affair, but taking Al at his original word, he has a long track record of good faith dealings with the artists he parodies, and she (or her manager, or whatever) did not respond in good faith.

Again, if we're taking him at his word, that is.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:32 PM on April 20, 2011


My favorite: I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead. More than a song, it's a manifesto. An anthem, even.
posted by whuppy at 2:33 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, if we can kickstart a Robocop statue for Detroit, I bet we can kickstart a Gaga video for Weird Al. Someone get on this.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:33 PM on April 20, 2011


The Venn diagram of the fans of Weird Al and Lady Gaga has approximately zero overlap, and you know what they say about publicity.
posted by clearly at 2:34 PM on April 20, 2011


Anybody who objects to Weird Al spoofingthem takes themselves too seriously. (Yes, you too, Coolio, even though you made some gret songs. Lighten up, man)
posted by jonmc at 2:35 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, a Interview with Al on the issue.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 2:36 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want Weird Al and Lady GaGa to have a baby together.
posted by Daddy-O at 2:37 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rev. Syung Myung Me: “Also: The permission getting is not only a nicety -- though it IS that. Weird Al's said that while a lot of it IS out of respect for the original artist's wishes, it's also so he can get songwriting credit/royalties by working out a deal with the artist's management/publishers. Parody falls under fair use, but ALSO, copyright-wise, a derivative work -- meaning that unless a deal like that is struck, the original artist owns everything he does on a song.”

Looking around, this seems to be explicitly untrue. Do you have a citation? Because wikipedia disagrees with you.
posted by koeselitz at 2:40 PM on April 20, 2011


"I'm not a Lady Gaga fan in particular (I actually sort of hate her music), but I just don't see what she did wrong here. She is not at Yankovic's beck and call. He is not at hers. They are both adults and business persons."

That doesn't follow. If they're both adults and yadda yadda free agency, etc. then there's nothing douchey about him writing the entry to reflect his interests. Inventing some counter-narrative doesn't matter; his actions would not have been "douchey" if you apply the same standard to both Gaga and Al. In that case, neither would be a bad actor.

For Al to be "douchey," he'd have to be materially wrong about the facts.

But given that Weird Al has a long career of being deferential to the wishes of the artists, he's got a decent amount of credibility on this. And by refusing this parody, it makes Gaga look bad because the parody itself is innocuous. It's her right, but it's still a bad move; a more extreme version would be if I was at the store and asked the clerk to borrow a pen in order to write a check (or even check off something from a grocery list) and they refused without explanation. It's their right; it's still a violation of social norms. This is a milder violation of artistic norms and social norms — the central complaint from Weird Al is that she wasted his time. Which she did. The risk of wasting time was his to take, but that doesn't mean that Gaga doesn't come across badly here.

"I liked the part where he kvetched about having to cut his family vacation short, because HE IS TOTALLY A HARDWORKING FAMILY MAN NOW WITH A WIFE WHO LETS HIM ENGAGE IN COITUS WITH HER AND THERE'S A DAUGHTER THAT'S PROOF."

I've been pissed when work required me to cut my vacations short. Believe it or not, even lazy, single people are annoyed when work requires cutting vacations short, especially if nothing comes of the work.

You're reading douchiness into that where it doesn't exist.
posted by klangklangston at 2:41 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think he missed an opportunity to spoof body mod and other fetishism with "Porn This Way".
posted by norm at 2:41 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rev. Syung Myung Me: “So, yeah -- if Al hadn't got permission for "Eat It", it wouldn't have bought him a house. Or maybe it would, but a much smaller one.”

To be more direct:

This is wrong, as far as I can tell. Yes, you can make a fair-use parody of someone else's song and collect royalties on that parody. You do not have to be the original artist. I can't see anywhere that it says that fair-use parodies have to give royalties to the "original artist." If that were the case, then it wouldn't be fair use – that is, it would explicitly violate the very definition of "fair use."
posted by koeselitz at 2:43 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I want Weird Al and Lady GaGa to have a baby together.

Baby ...Algar?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:43 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spin isn't automagically a bad thing. It doesn't imply bad intentions.

and she (or her manager, or whatever) did not respond in good faith

Again, I don't see bad faith - at the most it seems like an honest mis-communication. Maybe an "Ask vs. Guess" culture clash. But to assume that the manager was acting in bad faith is an unwarranted assumption brought about by the way the narrative was presented. For example, Yankovic mentions a very strict deadline -
(My record company needs 8 weeks of advance notice to confirm an album release date – so in order to be as timely as possible, I almost always have to lock in the date before I’ve even started writing the lead single.)
His recording timeline straight up assumed that she would give him permission - how is that fair to Gaga at all?

I feel bad for Yankovic that he went through all that trouble for a song he feels he can't sell, and that abiding by his own ethical code lead to a conflict between his desires and reality. It happens. To blame it on someone else is what I have a problem with.

For Al to be "douchey," he'd have to be materially wrong about the facts.

Not really - my problem isn't with the facts (the facts seem very unproblematic on both sides) but on the presentation. A presentation that makes Lady Gaga out to be a thoughtless vacation- and fun-video-ruining person.
posted by muddgirl at 2:45 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


klang, I've been a reader of Al's for long enough to detect when he's milking his family man/legend status, and that was a little more slef-pitying kvetching than was strictly required. Literally douchey? No. Funny, considering his recent transformation into less weird guy? YES.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:46 PM on April 20, 2011


This Weird Al thing comes hot on the heels of a whole bunch of nonsense she's been spewing about whatever, like getting pissy about the idea that her new pointy body parts are her actual bones,

What you have mistaken for "getting pissy" is actually awesome trolling of perfectly credulous media saps.
posted by hermitosis at 2:46 PM on April 20, 2011


Also, Weird Al will outlast her, which gives me a very warm glow.
posted by jonmc at 2:48 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


"You know what, Al? It's just not good enough. I'm Lady Gaga, for crying out loud. I ride in eggs. I wear bacon. You're going to have to step it up if you want to successfully parody me."

I agree. But largely because the case you're making seems more akin to Tom Lehrer's pronouncements regarding satire upon Kissinger's receipt of a Nobel Peace Prize, and less like a successful defense of the rejection of Al's work.

It is indeed hard to parody a spectacle-focused performance artist. How do you fry the bacon when it comes pre-cooked -- or, if you will, if it was "born this way"?
posted by weston at 2:49 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


What you have mistaken for "getting pissy" is actually awesome trolling of perfectly credulous media saps.

Yeah, she sure pulled one over on ol' Harper's Bazaar. I bet they just didn't know what to believe about her shoulder-points after that interview.
posted by padraigin at 2:51 PM on April 20, 2011


And in fact, she didn't ask for the lyrics. Her manager asked said that she would need to hear it to give approval the very first time. For some reason, Yankovic interpreted this as "she needs to see the lyrics."

He addresses this pretty succinctly in his message: it's her music, presumably she knows what it sounds like already and the only difference would be Al's lyrics. Al's voice should be well known to just about everyone by now, and also that's it's not the nicest singing voice. If you had his lyrics, you'd know what you'd be getting.
posted by Hoopo at 2:52 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


After reading this blog post and hearing an interview with him recently, Weird Al is a gentleman through and through.

I have defended Gaga dozens of times here and elsewhere (though I am not a big fan of most of her music) but she really acted poorly this time around.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:53 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


TMZ is saying that Gaga's manager says she hasn't even heard the song yet let alone rejected it and that she's a huge Al fan.

Methinks Gaga's manager has some 'splaining to do to her....
posted by inturnaround at 2:55 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


But it's not her music - she doesn't "know what it sounds like" - otherwise Al could have slapped the lyrics over her backing track and sent that in. Another example of what I find problematic in that blog post - he makes her out to be an idiot for wanting to know how he will arrange one of her songs.
posted by muddgirl at 2:55 PM on April 20, 2011


Y'know Madonna did a lot of the same shit gaGa does, but she also let Weird Al spoof her at will and made out with Mike Myers as Wayne for chuckles. For all of GaGa's contrived weirdness, she seems kind of humorless about herself.
posted by jonmc at 2:57 PM on April 20, 2011


It's a song. I think I like it. Hmm, maybe I don't like it.

Oh look, important things going on in the world. Off to reality.
posted by pupdog at 2:57 PM on April 20, 2011


This article states that there was a misunderstanding and Gaga hasn't even heard the song yet.

From People.com:
There must of been a misunderstanding because [Gaga] is in no way trying to block the release of the parody," a source told TMZ. "She's busy touring and hasn't heard the song yet. Her manager hasn't had a chance to play it for her yet. She's a huge Weird Al fan."
posted by adustum at 3:00 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another example of what I find problematic in that blog post - he makes her out to be an idiot for wanting to know how he will arrange one of her songs.

Outside of the polkas, aren't Weird Al's parody songs all pretty faithful in tune to the original? But then I'm not a musician, so I could be missing some nuances. (Nor am I that familiar with all of Weird Al's back catalog and/or the songs they're parodying.)
posted by kmz at 3:00 PM on April 20, 2011


Yes, I'll agree with koeselitz and klangklangston that Weird Al probably would get away with a fair use defense.

The problem he has is that fair use is an affirmative defense, meaning that should Gaga take him to court, Weird Al would have to spend money on lawyers to explain how it's fair use under the guidelines set by Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, possibly do it again on appeal, and again.

Realistically, copyright is a game of financial chicken often won by whoever has the most money to create red tape in the legal system. So while getting permission is a courtesy, it also provides a bit of a shield from nuisance suits.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:01 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


TMZ is saying that Gaga's manager says she hasn't even heard the song yet let alone rejected it and that she's a huge Al fan.

Here's how this is gonna go down...

Gaga, her management, et al will all claim this is "all news to us!" and pretend to be huge fans all along and "what I REALLY wanted was to hear an early cut - cause I was just SO super excited!"

......because what really happened is that she tried to fuck Al around and pull some diva shit and act like a queen who does not approve of this fool. And Al's no spring chicken, and he's no moron. He's got a pretty rabid fanbase, and millions of casual fans.

Gaga sees backlash cause Al made it public that "hey, your big super cool diva popstar is actually super-paranoid and humorless" and she can't have that. So, she'll spin it to sound like he made it all up or that the somehow "the message didn't get delivered correctly".

Mark my words.
posted by revmitcz at 3:01 PM on April 20, 2011 [19 favorites]


The back and forth, he said she said stuff, to my mind misses a bigger point to be discussed. Sure the lyrics to Born This Way are blatantly transparent in a way that some people consider cheesy. It's whole point is to be immediately consumable, to quickly resonate with whoever might be listening and need to hear that message. It's a human rights "anthem." (It seems like Al recognizes it as such and questions himself whether he should even proceed with the parody.)

I would suggest that human rights anthems should probably just get a free pass from parody. Even if they aren't great songs. There's lots of material out there folks. And with satire and parody, the target you choose IS the point.

Al is wickedly clever, and seems to have a history of being a good guy. By any standard, it seems like he could, and has, done better. Gaga is the lit fuse on the parody bomb. Al could have chosen a different Gaga vehicle for his satire and would have been just as successful in saying what he wanted to say about her. If there were none immediately suitable (that weren't trying to deliver a sincere human rights message), then he could have waited the 20 more minutes it would have taken her to do something else worthy of his wit.

But he didn't. He chose that song. It's a shame because he's better than that. There are lots of sloppy, unsophisticated, cliche murals lining schoolyards and underpasses everywhere out there. And you won't find any self-respecting graffiti artist thinking they need to cover them with their clever edginess. It seems like there are some things we can agree don't need to be targets. His whole, "but I just had this great parody idea and I felt like I had to let it out" claim is understandable, but weak. It's sad to me, because it's like the comedians who can't resist telling jokes that are in bad taste just because they think of them. At a certain point, it makes you look more like Andrew Dice Clay than Lenny Bruce.

Gaga should be parodied along with everybody else. It's not Gaga that should get a pass. It's the song and the message it delivers that we should respect. Even if it's as easy and cheesy as a big playground mural.
posted by nickjadlowe at 3:01 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's a song. I think I like it. Hmm, maybe I don't like it.

Oh look, important things going on in the world. Off to reality.


Oh look. You took time to comment in a thread just to say you think the content of the thread is unimportant.

Does that mean that the content of your comment in the thread you think is unimportant is thus unimportant? Or does your comment have the only real meaning in the entire thread? Please hope me understand!
posted by hippybear at 3:02 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


GAGA GAGS GAGA GAG

/NYPost
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:02 PM on April 20, 2011 [35 favorites]


From that NYT blog linked upthread: "Jay Levey, a manager for “Weird” Al Yankovic, said on Wednesday evening that permission had been given for “Perform This Way” to appear on Mr. Yankovic’s new album."
posted by brina at 3:04 PM on April 20, 2011


I don't like the original song, and I think Weird Al's version is awesome... yet I also feel it's a really weak parody. He's making fun of her kinda directly, and as a parody of an solidarity anthem it comes down to mocking the point of the original song.

He could have made a much funnier song out of hers.
posted by Catblack at 3:06 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does that mean that the content of your comment in the thread you think is unimportant is thus unimportant? Or does your comment have the only real meaning in the entire thread? Please hope me understand!

Don't judge me, I'm just commenting on the state of current affairs.


And it's not that I think it's unimportant, just the amount of discourse is entertaining.
posted by pupdog at 3:06 PM on April 20, 2011


Having now heard one side of what happened as reported by one person involved, I would like to immediately condemn one of these people I do not know for things that they might or might not have said in conversations I was not privy to! How dare they? HOW DARE THEY?!!
posted by kyrademon at 3:06 PM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Jay Levey, a manager for “Weird” Al Yankovic, said on Wednesday evening that permission had been given for “Perform This Way” to appear on Mr. Yankovic’s new album."

HEAD ASSPLODES!
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:08 PM on April 20, 2011


or that the somehow "the message didn't get delivered correctly".

But isn't that exactly what happened in the Coolio case (rather, the opposite)? And yet, instead of learning our lesson about the relationship between an artist and his manager, and other artists and their managers, we again fall for the whole charade that artists are Super Best Friends who can directly contact each other, and pretend that Gaga is directly responsible for every word that her handlers say, and use this as an excuse to call her a paranoid humorless diva.
posted by muddgirl at 3:08 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


So, she'll spin it to sound like he made it all up or that the somehow "the message didn't get delivered correctly".

Also, that she'd be happy to arrange for Ina Garten to make lunch with that little boy.
posted by scody at 3:12 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


290 comments and 53 favorites. wow.
posted by zombieApoc at 3:14 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


mathowie: "I love Weird Al, huge fan from the KMET days"

Whooya!

I once saw Weird Al at Costco, so there's that.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:15 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given all the Star-Wars hating yesterday, I shoulda known:
Glad to have gotten a chance (after the workday-long on this thread, and w/o youtube) to watch the vid and read the lyrics,

as a decades-long fan of all things Al, "celebrator of his entire catalog," and three-time (and counting), etc.-- this is some good Al. Sure, it's wouldn't be an album highlight-- as we already know from the 'Internet Leaks' tracks, but it isn't weak.. Jesus, I have to remember to just take ya's at the opposite of your word on this shit.

I haven't heard an original before the parody (or any of the originals ever, for that matter) since 1999, so.. as with that Chamillionaire song that I'll still never hear and all of the others, I never have and never will listen to "Born This Way."

(I'll leave out my argument that straight folk don't have the right to say shit about whether homosexuality is a choice, because they don't EXPERIENCE it so they just don't know, but someone should point out that the 'backlash' was by gays against the song, so.. hmmm)

TL;DR - the tone of this song is perfectly appropriate to Al's style and sense of humor-- it's nothing personal against Lady GaMeh herself, strictly speaking (though it correlates just fine with reality-- she fits the bill as obviously as Kurt Cobain's vocal performance fits the description of "so loud and incoherent"), and the same goes for his blog-writing: if you find it offensive when he calls her ugly and self-absorbed on his blog, you're just not getting the joke-- that's just how his voice sounds as a writer, sorry.

Lady GaGa has always struck me as incredibly uninteresting and unremarkable-- that aside, this is a great Weird Al song. oops-- that doesn't really qualify for TL;DR..
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:16 PM on April 20, 2011


ouch: "three-time (and counting) Weird Al concert attender" ... Christ I have to remember this is the site that lets you edit after you post.. like getting an electric shock for hitting 'Post' too quickly. ....
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:19 PM on April 20, 2011


...I can tell you that professional mixing and mastering is really not expensive at all, particularly if it's just for a single song rather than an album that has to be mastered to sound right as a single group of songs. I mean it is really, really inexpensive.

As someone struggling to figure out how my band is possibly going to pay for some upcoming mixing and mastering, I found this comment to be, at best, remarkably privileged.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:21 PM on April 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


"..this is NOT the site..." okay-- I'm backing away from the computer now.
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:21 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck Lady Gaga. She is basically Madonna 2.0.

In another piece of Madonna-level douchebaggery, she has also started claiming the copyright on all photographs taken at her gigs. It won't be long before she buys an estate in England and cajoles the government into exempting her property from the right to roam, whilst jetting off to Africa to go shopping for adorable pseudo-orphans.
posted by acb at 3:22 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


But it's stuff like that that causes, say, all the royalties for "Bittersweet Symphony" to go the Stones

actually . . .

Also, there is no carte-blanche right to parody.

Penny Arcade got slapped trying to (ab)use Strawberry Shortcake to parody American McGee's Alice.

Oddly, the great majority of Al's work is in this pattern, but who said the law has to be consistent. . .
posted by mokuba at 3:22 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Much as I like Weird Al, the whole parody defense as it applies to is work strikes me as problematic.

He changes the words - good - but not the music. The thing is, one can alter the melody and make it recognizable parody - he's done it before, as have the Rutles. But by and large he does not. Re-doing the lyrics and taking the arrangement wholesale - that seems to be highly arguable.

At the risk of being proven majorly wrong, I'm wondering if la Gaga will be able to keep the career going much longer. The Madonna trajectory doesn't seem to me to be working. I worry she takes herself too seriously. (And, yeah, I get the irony of saying that considering what he act is like.)
posted by IndigoJones at 3:24 PM on April 20, 2011


I don't like the original song, and I think Weird Al's version is awesome... yet I also feel it's a really weak parody. He's making fun of her kinda directly, and as a parody of an solidarity anthem it comes down to mocking the point of the original song.

It's certainly a bit on the obvious side, but free publicity's invaluable for any small business, which is how I think of Weird Al. I've always liked his parodies, but when I saw his stage show a few years ago, I got the impression that he intensely dislikes a lot of the celebrities he parodies. Between the musical numbers, the show featured video projections of re-edited popstar interviews splicing in Al as interlocutor, presumably to give him time for costume/setup changes on the stage. The 'interviews' often ended with Al screaming abuse at the vapid popstar. It came off as both unstable and very mean-spirited, which I did not expect at all - very different from the goofy good humor in the musical videos. Put it this way, I wouldn't want to work for him no matter how good the pay was.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:27 PM on April 20, 2011


mokuba: Penny Arcade got slapped trying to (ab)use Strawberry Shortcake to parody American McGee's Alice.

Penny Arcade declined to defend the parody. That's a different issue from whether they were legally entitled to the parody.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:27 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


she has also started claiming the copyright on all photographs taken at her gigs.

Sounds like a post-Napster-Metallica-caliber fan revolt may be on the way... that would certainly be entertaining.
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:28 PM on April 20, 2011


Fuck Lady Gaga.

It's also possible to, you know, change the channel and watch something else, or turn off the radio, or close the browser window, etc.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:28 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


But isn't that exactly what happened in the Coolio case (rather, the opposite)?

Ehh.. not quite. In that case, Atlantic Records gave permission and Weird Al assumed they'd spoken to Coolio, but they did not. (for the record, I also think Coolio was a dick about that whole thing).

In this situation - his manager talked to her manager. There was quite a bit of back-and-forth. Not just a quick "sure, go for it". It's possible she didn't actually hear the track, but it's not far-fetched to imagine a scenario wherein her manager heard the track and said "ohhh... yeah, she's not gonna like this kind of abuse", hoping to squash this bug before it ran off.

That's the kind of decision that happens when you KNOW how off-the-handle someone would get about such a thing, and you're trying to run damage control.

Not to mention the myriad stories that abound about her paranoia about her public image and "brand", and that all signs point to her being super-serious about her whole... whatever it is she's doing.
posted by revmitcz at 3:29 PM on April 20, 2011


It is sad that she will learn the hard way not to mess with THE YANKOVIC!
posted by freakazoid at 3:36 PM on April 20, 2011


It's the song and the message it delivers that we should respect.

I don't know, would this apply equally to Ebony & Ivory? I mean, there's a lot of dreadful songs out there that with good message that I'm fine with anyone mocking outright. It's a pop song, it's not really deserving of reverence.
posted by Hoopo at 3:37 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would suggest that human rights anthems should probably just get a free pass from parody.

I don't agree with this. Parodies bring more attention to a subject, no matter what it is, and more attention for human rights is a good thing. Even if someone has a stance I disagree with, at least the issue is being talked about. So I'm in favor of parodies of human rights anthems, charitable collaborations ("We are the World" is possibly one of the sappiest songs ever, and it made for great parody material), etc.

or that the somehow "the message didn't get delivered correctly".

But isn't that exactly what happened in the Coolio case (rather, the opposite)? And yet, instead of learning our lesson about the relationship between an artist and his manager, and other artists and their managers, we again fall for the whole charade that artists are Super Best Friends who can directly contact each other, and pretend that Gaga is directly responsible for every word that her handlers say, and use this as an excuse to call her a paranoid humorless diva.


I would argue that instead of us 'learning our lesson' about artists and managers being 'Super Best Friends' (by the way, you are coming across as really condescending), artists and managers should have taken the Coolio situation as proof that they need to communicate with each other when stuff like this goes down, and if they don't, what happens afterward is their own fault.

Which, by the way, makes Lady Gaga's side of the story, that she never said no at all, even less believable to me. Because since this kind of miscommunicaiton has happened before, and Weird Al made a point of apologizing even though the miscommunication wasn't his fault in the Coolio case, then there is no reason whatsoever to suspect he is not telling the truth when he says that, in this case, they told him no.

Lady Gaga has some amazing costumes and creative videos, but the adulation she receives is over-the-top when you consider her actual music. "Bad Romance" is genius, sure. I would absolutely support that.

But her recent popular songs are just derivative. It's not just "Born This Way"; I can't listen to "Alejandro" without being reminded of Madonna (in fact, my husband and I both thought "Alejandro" WAS a Madonna song until we saw the video). And I'd like to see an infodump analysis of her lyrics, because cigarette and lipstick references seem to be an obsession with her.

Anyway, I just don't get how Weird Al could appear douchey at all here. He just told what happened and showed his fans what he put together as a result of his communication with Lady Gaga. No insults or misogyny. How is that douchey?
posted by misha at 3:37 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


As someone struggling to figure out how my band is possibly going to pay for some upcoming mixing and mastering, I found this comment to be, at best, remarkably privileged.

That's why you have a manager. You know who the best managers are? Bored pot farmers. You didn't hear that from me.

Seriously, either do some wedding gigs or keep doing free gigs until you find someone with some money to throw in - or learn to do it yourself, which will pay off in spades even if your first few efforts aren't that great. Just make sure your levels don't clip when you record and you can always go back to the original tracks.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:37 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone struggling to figure out how my band is possibly going to pay for some upcoming mixing and mastering, I found this comment to be, at best, remarkably privileged.

Dude, just send me a MeFiMail and I'll get you in contact with my mixing/mastering guy and I'll call ahead to tell him I know you and to give you a deal. I'm serious. I can give you a link to what he did for my band, as well as a lot of the other stuff he's done. You'll be amazed at the price. Again, seriously, MeFiMail me and then send me some of what you're going to send him so I can tell him about it when I talk to him.
posted by The World Famous at 3:38 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]



From that NYT blog linked upthread: "Jay Levey, a manager for “Weird” Al Yankovic, said on Wednesday evening that permission had been given for “Perform This Way” to appear on Mr. Yankovic’s new album."

If Gandhi 2 confirms it, it's confirmed. Hooray!
posted by inturnaround at 3:39 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


^ You won't get an offer like twice.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:39 PM on April 20, 2011


er, like that.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:40 PM on April 20, 2011


but it's not far-fetched to imagine a scenario wherein her manager heard the track and said "ohhh... yeah, she's not gonna like this kind of abuse", hoping to squash this bug before it ran off.

Which is, um, exactly what I'm saying. To jump from "Lady Gaga's manager walked right into a PR mistake" to "Lady gaga is a paranoid humorless diva" is what I have a problem with.

by the way, you are coming across as really condescending

I try to include myself in any condescending characterizations. I personally wish that Lady Gaga and Yankovic were best friends - I think they probably have a lot in common.

but the adulation she receives is over-the-top when you consider her actual music

I agree, and I bet Stefani Germanotta would agree with you too.
posted by muddgirl at 3:41 PM on April 20, 2011


^ it sounds wicked nice too, I can vouch for that
posted by Hoopo at 3:42 PM on April 20, 2011


The 'interviews' often ended with Al screaming abuse at the vapid popstar. It came off as both unstable and very mean-spirited, which I did not expect at all - very different from the goofy good humor in the musical videos.

Because Al's side of those "interactions" is edited in, it is hard to tell what the artists would think, but, as has been mentioned a few times here, he does have substantial cred when it comes to respecting the artists, and that sort of debasing material is funny, and doing funny is Weird Al's job description-- it goes back to how seriously the artists want to take themselves.

One thing I couldn't help but notice in those is that he does seem to mistreat artists that have not been represented by studio-recorded, non-polka parodies-- Michael Stipe, Steven Tyler, Robert Plant, Jessica Simpson, and Cher; exceptions would be Eminem and Avril Lavigne-- the former having blocked the music video pardoy and the latter, I'm not aware of any conflicts, but her interview was also not particularly debasing.

In the blog linked above, Weird Al emphasizes that having a big single-- and a big video with it-- is integral to each release. This would definitely be the case with "Couch Potato" (the Eminem parody) on 2003's 'Poodle Hat,' and getting the video blocked probably prompted a little bit of public dissing-- the Eminem interview is probably the most intense of any of them, in terms of Al actually making fun of the artist.
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:42 PM on April 20, 2011


In this situation - his manager talked to her manager. There was quite a bit of back-and-forth. Not just a quick "sure, go for it". It's possible she didn't actually hear the track, but it's not far-fetched to imagine a scenario wherein her manager heard the track and said "ohhh... yeah, she's not gonna like this kind of abuse", hoping to squash this bug before it ran off.

That's the kind of decision that happens when you KNOW how off-the-handle someone would get about such a thing, and you're trying to run damage control.


Well, you know, if that is the case, then Ms Gaga needs to fire whomever she has working as her manager, because according to more recent news reports about this situation, Gaga says she never heard the song and never gave disapproval for it. So she's employing someone who claims to speak for her but who does so without actually knowing what her wishes may be and who is actively doing the opposite of what Gaga claims she would do if she were the one being consulted.

It's only good to have someone running damage control for you if they actually know your mind.

I suspect that it all went down more in the "Al asks permission, Gaga makes him jump through hoops and still says no" way like Al reports, and now that he released the song anyway she's having to run damage control between the public and herself.

The smart thing to do, for Gaga, even if she never heard the parody and loves it and wishes it were the first single from the new Weird Al album, would have been to just not say anything and not look like you're either two-faced about publicity or that your organization doesn't actually do the things it presents as its public face.

As it stands, she's stuck between the narrative her team has spun in the direction of Al (and the narrative which Al presents on his website) and whatever she's going to try to claim is the real story, which at this point seems petty regardless of the truth of the situation.

Note to self: If I'm ever really famous and have managers and handlers, fire any of them who pull this kind of shit on my behalf.
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love Weird Al and I still dig Gaga. It's not a study in cognitive dissonance.
posted by inturnaround at 3:43 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Note to self: If I'm ever really famous and have managers and handlers, fire any of them who pull this kind of shit on my behalf.

Dude, give them a raise. This is gold for all involved.
posted by Hoopo at 3:45 PM on April 20, 2011


Dude, give them a raise. This is gold for all involved.

You got that right. I'm surprised that people are taking this seriously rather than as the rather obvious guerrilla marketing it is, per that paragraph about 'I wish you could have seen the video, it was going to be so AWESOME.' I give it about 3 weeks.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:49 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude, give them a raise. This is gold for all involved.

Al seems to indicate that he disagrees, presumably based on his career experience so far.
I'm sure he's smart enough to figure in everything that any of us could possibly think of (youtube searches for Lady GaGa/no bad publicity/whatever) and then some.
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:51 PM on April 20, 2011


Surprised this is the first time this has happened. Shows how toothless Weird Al usually is. Like his 'style parodies', like 'Bob' and 'Everything You Know Is Wrong'. Heard he's great on stage.
What Gaga did sounds really irritating and a waste of everyone's time. Wish somebody could destroy this whole modern 'dance pop' thing altogether. The only difference between Gaga and Rebecca Black is the outfits.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:54 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wish somebody could destroy this whole modern 'dance pop' thing altogether. The only difference between Gaga and Rebecca Black is the outfits.

*loquacious dances on LiB's lawn in meat pajamas*
posted by loquacious at 3:58 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Got through 30 seconds of the Weird Al version. Is the original this irritating? The extreme artificiality of Gaga has always made her almost unlistenable and adding a bunch of facile jokes about her stage persona dosen't make the beats any easier to take.
That said, if I was big enough to parody I'm not sure I'd let Weird Al do it either. Every Al song somehow diminishes it. When you hear 'Beat It', there's a small part of me that hears 'Eat It'.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:07 PM on April 20, 2011


The most amazing aspect of this, for me so far, is that 320 people commented on it. Weird Al vs Gaga bruhaha, search engines getting hits after hits of hardly correlated contents, and some SEO newbie is running to register weiralgaga.com hoping to sell it to some sucker.

I know it's cliche fark, but still no cure for cancer, really! And massive unemployement.
posted by elpapacito at 4:08 PM on April 20, 2011


I always knew people really love Weird Al Yankovic.
He's like the nerds 2Pac-only not dead.
posted by PHINC at 4:09 PM on April 20, 2011


The only difference between Gaga and Rebecca Black is the outfits.

And 10 years in age, reflected by the fact that one of them came up through the underground DJ/dance scene while the other was an ironic Youtube sensation. And there's a whole East Coast/West Coast thing where West Coast is earnestly authentic in their famewhoring while East Coast is more stand-offish and tries to kind of negotiate with fame.

I quite relate to this story about Black:
In late 2010, a classmate of Black and music-video client of Ark Music Factory, a Los Angeles label, told her about the company.[11] Black's mother paid $4,000 for Ark Music to produce her daughter's music video
Who doesn't know some high school girl whose parents were paying all kinds of money to get a "modeling portfolio" or demo reel or what-have-you? At least Black grew up in Anaheim - it was pretty sad when small-town kids would get suckered in by these riches-to-riches stories.

I know it's cliche fark, but still no cure for cancer, really!

I actually know some cancer researchers - how do you think they spend their smoke breaks? Curing cancer? Reading Proust?

...ok, some of them probably do spend their free time reading Proust...
posted by muddgirl at 4:10 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure he's smart enough to figure in everything that any of us could possibly think of

For my part, I thought about listening to Weird Al for the first time since I was 12, heard about HRC for the first time ever, and am considering listening to the Lady Gaga song now for comparison. Win, win, win.

The most amazing aspect of this, for me so far, is that 320 people commented on it.

Yep
posted by Hoopo at 4:11 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wish somebody could destroy this whole modern 'dance pop' thing altogether. The only difference between Gaga and Rebecca Black is the outfits.

what the fuck
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:13 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think the venom for Gaga in this thread is undue. The framing of this thread is really poisoning the well, in my opinion.
posted by codacorolla at 4:16 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm alright with the framing of the FPP but it did get pretty Dynasty in here.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:18 PM on April 20, 2011


In a perfect world the most famous person involved in this post would be MightyGodKing, who turned Doctor Strange from a second-stringer to the most popular character in the world.
Wish somebody could destroy this whole modern 'dance pop' thing altogether. The only difference between Gaga and Rebecca Black is the outfits.

what the fuck
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:13 PM on 4/20
[+] [!]


I meant what I said and I said what I meant. You can dress it up and beanplate it all you want but it's still just intentionally artificial, shallow songs about dancing and whatnot.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:20 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only difference between Gaga and Rebecca Black is the outfits.

Even Gaga acknowledges the undying superiority of Rebecca Black, blasphemer!
Boxxy is still queen of the internet though
posted by anigbrowl at 4:20 PM on April 20, 2011


I meant what I said and I said what I meant. You can dress it up and beanplate it all you want but it's still just intentionally artificial, shallow songs about dancing and whatnot.

Sometimes it's OK to have fun, friend.
posted by codacorolla at 4:23 PM on April 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Who doesn't know some high school girl whose parents were paying all kinds of money to get a "modeling portfolio" or demo reel or what-have-you?

Yes, yes, we've all heard The Strokes.
posted by The World Famous at 4:25 PM on April 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


The most amazing aspect of this, for me so far, is that 320 people commented on it.

For 30 years, Weird Al has a song about every 5 years that earworms its way into the public consciousness. Lady Gaga is like the biggest musician alive right now.

Yeah, I can see how it would look like NO ONE would want to comment on this thread.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:27 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I meant what I said and I said what I meant. You can dress it up and beanplate it all you want but it's still just intentionally artificial, shallow songs about dancing and whatnot.

Okay.

First, let's discard notions of "dressing it up" or "beanplating it." I am doing neither. What i am doing is observing.

If you believe there are no observable differences between the songwriting, presentation, artistic intent or musical product/performance of Lady Gaga and Rebecca Black - if that's what you're saying - then that is, objectively, an incredibly stupid thing to say and honestly I tend to give you more credit than that. It's on par with saying there's no difference between a Ford Model T and a Chevrolet Cavalier.

And you know what, that's not even a defense of Gaga's music. I'd be saying that even if I couldn't appreciate her music for what it is.

Really - what if I said there's no difference between The Mountain Goats and, say, Plain White Ts? Here's what would happen: nothing would happen, because I would not say that, because it is a stupendously idiotic and wrong thing to say. But hey, they both have guitars! They both sing about feelings and stuff!

That's how you're coming off here.

Now that we've (hopefully) discarded that ridiculous metric: what's actually wrong with dance-pop? Why should it be destroyed? Why is it a bad thing that there's music you can dance to whose lyrical content is not the main draw? Does it mean that other, good music isn't getting the chance to exist?

Is there only one thing music is allowed to do? I like Andrew Bird as much as the next MONSTER but sometimes I really just want something to shake my ass to. I assure you there's room in the world for all of it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:33 PM on April 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


Really - what if I said there's no difference between The Mountain Goats and, say, Plain White Ts? Here's what would happen: nothing would happen, because I would not say that, because it is a stupendously idiotic and wrong thing to say. But hey, they both have guitars! They both sing about feelings and stuff!


'They both have guitars! They both sing about feelings and stuff!' is the EXACT reasoning I use to justify my love of bands like Alkaline Trio and Get Up Kids. And yes, if a Plain White T's song came on the radio I'd be more likely to listen to it than Gaga. Music that isn't guitars and feelings does weird things to my brain, to the point of panic attacks if I listen to it for too long.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:39 PM on April 20, 2011


Who doesn't know some high school girl whose parents were paying all kinds of money to get a "modeling portfolio" or demo reel or what-have-you?

Yes, yes, we've all heard The Strokes.


Hey! The Strokes are awesome!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:39 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Al's Blog: Gaga Update.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:39 PM on April 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Apparently Lady Gaga approves now:
https://twitter.com/#!/ditzkoff/status/60821332048351233
posted by EricT at 4:40 PM on April 20, 2011


So basically, he asked for permission he didn't need to do something he already ended up doing. I mean, alright but I don't really see any heroes here.

They're both heroes. Just for one day.

Now, forgive me, since I don't have time right now to read this whole thread (someone else may already have suggested this) but perhaps Weird Al and Lady Gaga concocted this whole story to get ye olde maximum viral mileage out of this thing. Cause hey, they're both pretty smart folks, I reckon.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:41 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quote from Al's entry:
After putting my Lady Gaga parody on YouTube this morning – and announcing that it wouldn’t be on my next album because Gaga didn’t approve it – there was a huge outpouring of disappointment from the Internet.

Apparently the fact that she didn’t approve it was news to Lady Gaga herself!

Gaga’s manager has now admitted that he never forwarded my parody to Gaga – she had no idea at all. Even though we assumed that Gaga herself was the one making the decision (because, well, that’s what we were TOLD), he apparently made the decision completely on his own.

He’s sorry.

And Gaga loves the song.

I’m thrilled on many levels to hear this, because 1) I truly respect and admire Gaga as an artist and it pained me to think of her as having less than a great sense of humor, and 2) it means I GET TO PUT OUT MY ALBUM!
So now that the farmer and the cowman are friends, the rest of us should put aside our differences and focus on the real enemy. And I think we all know who that is.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:42 PM on April 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


Jud, of course.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:43 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


And that's fine, but it isn't the point; the point is that it might be a fine reason for you to listen to either band but it's no reason at all - and in fact it's a spectacularly wrong reason - to suggest that there's no difference between the two bands.

Look, it is okay to just not be into a kind of music. It really is. I promise. And if you're not into it, it is okay to just not really pay attention to it. Your blood pressure will thank you. You will then have to deal with how it's possible for an abstract concept to thank you, and what implications that may have for your relationship with reality, but you're on your own on that one.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:43 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yay, everything is right with the world again. Gaga is pulling the ol' 'flip flop'.. smart huh? I guess now she can say she has a sense of humor and just wanted the charity proceeds to work out. Way to get more mileage out of her shitty derivative rip-off of a 22-year-old Madonna song which even today sounds better than the Gaga.
posted by ReeMonster at 4:44 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey! The Strokes are awesome!

The Strokes really are awesome, and I really like their new album. But they pretty closely fit the definition of "Who doesn't know some high school girl whose parents were paying all kinds of money to get a "modeling portfolio" or demo reel or what-have-you?" I mean, except for the "girl" part.
posted by The World Famous at 4:45 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. I can't believe it. This whole thing has really made me think a whole lot less of Bruce Springsteen. WTF BRUCE?!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:50 PM on April 20, 2011


Quote from Al's entry::

Apparently the fact that she didn’t approve it was news to Lady Gaga herself!

Gaga’s manager has now admitted that he never forwarded my parody to Gaga – she had no idea at all. Even though we assumed that Gaga herself was the one making the decision (because, well, that’s what we were TOLD), he apparently made the decision completely on his own.


Hey? Hey? What'd I tell ya? Planned from the start! Now the song's gonna get massive media attention, with the backstory already there! Much more for journalists and talk show hosts and music bloggers to write/talk about than if it had been just the usual Weird Al release. And and all due to her manager's (nudge! wink!) mistake. Brilliant.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:51 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


A less than mediocre parody of a less than mediocre song that's basically a ripoff of a mediocre song to begin with shouldn't really warrant these many comments on the blue, much less an additional mediocre post about it by me. Ahhh! Mediocrity--makes the world go places! and do things!
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 4:54 PM on April 20, 2011


Mediocrity is sorta underrated.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:55 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Look, it is okay to just not be into a kind of music. It really is. I promise. And if you're not into it, it is okay to just not really pay attention to it.

It would be easier to ignore if the people I respect at MeFi didn't take it so seriously. I ignore all the posts on house and techno and backpacker hiphop 'cause, hey, not my thing but I'm sure there's hidden depths there and it clearly means alot to people etc. But it's pretty hard to ignore Lady Gaga.

Wow. I can't believe it. This whole thing has really made me think a whole lot less of Bruce Springsteen. WTF BRUCE?!!

Wait, what?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:56 PM on April 20, 2011


I only listen to medioXcore.
posted by defenestration at 4:57 PM on April 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Wait, what?

Hee hee!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:58 PM on April 20, 2011


Look, it is okay to just not be into a kind of music. It really is. I promise. And if you're not into it, it is okay to just not really pay attention to it.

Pop's fair game for the occasional screed cuz you can't avoid it as easily as, say, cookie monster death metal. You're going to be exposed to Lady Gaga at some point, whereas I've never heard the Mountain Goats in public. When I first read about Gaga here, I was like "who?", then I heard googled the song and I thought "oh yeah, I've heard this like everywhere." Same story with Mountain Goats, only when I googled it was the first time I heard it.

Let it roll off you, FAMOUS MONSTER, Gga wins in the end because she makes a gajillion bucks and wear crazy outfits and you still get to enjoy her singing and dancing.
posted by Hoopo at 4:58 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


(actually on the funniest song parodies ever was on the Boss. Search for "Bruce Springstone," to find out.)
posted by jonmc at 4:59 PM on April 20, 2011


I would take the LGG hype about the fantastic outfits, breakthrough fashion innovation, archly and ironically queer sensibility, etc, more seriously if so many of her videos didn't end up with huge chunks of her dancing in formation stripped down to her underwear using a bunch of fast-cut body moves that are completely congruent with the current US pop/R&B choreographic rhetoric and thereby utterly unsurprising. That's just pandering.

Is it wrong to say, though, that I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing Weird Al stripped down to his underwear, however, and doing some of that formation line dancing?
posted by meehawl at 5:02 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lovecraft:

See the old Rockism versus Poptimism fights, especially over at ILX.

Getting over a reflexive hatred of pop is part of growing as a music listener, and if the Ramones can have an unironic love of bubblegum, you can find some things to like about Gaga.
posted by klangklangston at 5:10 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess now she can say she has a sense of humor and just wanted the charity proceeds to work out. Way to get more mileage out of her shitty derivative rip-off of a 22-year-old Madonna song which even today sounds better than the Gaga.

well, not quite as much mileage as the haters got out of an FPP that characterized this as a direct disagreement between two artists who, it turns out, never spoke to each other at all. but nice birther-ish touch there, not letting the threat of anything factual ruin your pretext for whining.

reminds me of this dude who spent like ten minutes talking about how unoriginal gaga is, and then, in a stroke of brilliance dubbed her 'lady gag-me' in such a high tone of self-congratulation that he clearly expected to be nominated for like some dorothy parker award.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 5:16 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


In fairness, those are pretty easy to get.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:17 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


you can find some things to like about Gaga.

I dunno. Every time we have one of these threads about her, I go and dutifully listen to a bunch of her songs to try and get to like it.

And every time I get the feeling that I'm listening to the Kraftwerk Orange band from the Mighty Boosh, except more derivative.
posted by winna at 5:18 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had never heard of The Mountain Goats when I heard Cotton on an episode of Weeds and was bowled over. By the end of the week I was playing Sunset Tree on a loop. Just sayin': that was a nice surprise.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:18 PM on April 20, 2011


That's just pandering.

Even in her schlockiest videos, she's not exactly congruent with the mainstream.
posted by hermitosis at 5:19 PM on April 20, 2011


I got my Dorothy Parker award for a Bon Jovi Mot the Hoople doublepunstravaganza. Because I rock like that.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:21 PM on April 20, 2011


She's Britney Spears for the hipster demographic. Hats off to the girl for making millions of dollars singing vapid Madonna lite pop music in an array of Elton's cast off dresses but you might as well be discussing the eternal artistic and political significance of the Bay City Rollers. She knows exactly who she's marketing herself to, and she panders to that audience with slavish devotion, but I bet Weird Al's career lasts a lot longer in the end, even if he makes a fraction of the money.
posted by joannemullen at 5:22 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pop's fair game for the occasional screed cuz you can't avoid it as easily as, say, cookie monster death metal.

THIS
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:23 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm OK with the occasional screed against cookie monster death metal, too, actually.
posted by The World Famous at 5:26 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd be more likely to think it was a work if they'd waited longer for the reveal. Like, the way to do this as a work would be:

1. Al posts his first announcement this morning, with the download of the mp3.
2. Track lists for the new album show up without the Gaga song.
3. Song gets played on the radio. Music video appears with Lady Gaga in it.
4. Everyone is like WTF?
5. Album releases with Gaga song. Weird Al and Gaga appear on TRL together.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:27 PM on April 20, 2011


As it is, it just seems like a little PR flub.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:28 PM on April 20, 2011


So, how DID GaGa hear about it, then? She must have gotten the news today, right? From some online news source? She may be a genius and an amazing entrepeneur, but she's no telepath. Yeah, I called her a genius.



How many of you think I am Lady GaGa?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:33 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Honestly given the strange amount of Gaga love here I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't have at least one agent on the Blue.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:34 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


How many of you think I am Lady GaGa?

Not I.
posted by jonmc at 5:34 PM on April 20, 2011


Weird Al and Gaga appear on TRL together.

TRL doesn't exist anymore. You would be a terrible narc, you blatant old person you.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:36 PM on April 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


Lord GaGa? Is that you?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:36 PM on April 20, 2011


In a way, aren't we all Lady Gaga? You, in the back. The boy with the Lisa Frank binder. You are different, but you're not sure why. You are Lady Gaga. And you, doodling obscure anime in the margins of your notebook. You are Lady Gaga. And you, destroying your body to play sports you don't enjoy. You are Lady Gaga.

We all have in ourselves something that is different, and something that is special. In that way, we are all Lady Gaga.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:37 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


We all have in ourselves something that is different, and something that is special.

I don't.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:39 PM on April 20, 2011


This thread is so long because you are all high, right?
posted by coolxcool=rad at 5:39 PM on April 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


Not yet. Soon.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:40 PM on April 20, 2011


I mean, "NO."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:40 PM on April 20, 2011


How many of you think I am Lady GaGa?

As the designated holder of unlikely contrarian positions, I now declare my incontrovertible belief that Ambrosia Voyeur is, in fact, the entertainer popularly known as Lady Gaga. No amount of logic or protestations shall convince me otherwise, no, not though they come from the woman herself.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:41 PM on April 20, 2011


I thought I'd tell my favorite Weird Al Story. A buddy of mine was at Cal Poly at the same time as Al and one Friday night he had the DJ shift after Al. There was a record1 on and they were chit-chatting. My buddy asked Al what he was going to do and Al said that he wasn't going to do much, just go back to his room. My buddy, shocked, pulled the needle off the record and opened the mic, "AL NEEDS A DATE! CALL IN RIGHT NOW TO GET A DATE WITH AL!" The phone started lighting up, but it turned out to be other DJ's calling to give Al a hard time for not having a date on a Friday.

Three final words: Weasel Stomping Day.

1Those things that are made of black vinyl, stored in printed cardboard sleeves that sit on your parents' shelf collecting dust, kind of like your CD's, except that after the apocalypse you could actually build your own record player.
posted by plinth at 5:43 PM on April 20, 2011


posted by anigbrowl at 4:20 PM on April 20 [+] [!]
...
This thread is so long because you are all high, right?


Apparently I'm overcompensating for the fact that I don't smoke pot. If I weren't married I'd be a cheap date.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:44 PM on April 20, 2011


hermitosis: "Even in her schlockiest videos, she's not exactly congruent with the mainstream"

MTV was *built* on frottage.
posted by meehawl at 5:46 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I weren't married I'd be a cheap date.

Hardly mutually exclusive options...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:47 PM on April 20, 2011


anigbrowl, you can call me Steffie.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:51 PM on April 20, 2011


Couple of things being conflated here. When an artist publishes a song (the words and the melody) they do so through ASCAP/BMI, which has statutory performance fees. When she published the song, she gave permission to anyone who wants to pay the performance fee to perform it. Even if it wasn't parody, and even if there wasn't a fair use exception for it, he would still be able to do it.

(This is why artists can do cover songs.) This org covers the melody and words as the IP.

RIAA deals with recordings. This is why sampling and parody are completely different. This org covers the actual sound as the IP.
posted by gjc at 5:53 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'll agree with koeselitz and klangklangston that Weird Al probably would get away with a fair use defense.

The problem he has is that fair use is an affirmative defense, meaning that should Gaga take him to court, Weird Al would have to spend money on lawyers to explain how it's fair use under the guidelines set by Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, possibly do it again on appeal, and again.

Realistically, copyright is a game of financial chicken often won by whoever has the most money to create red tape in the legal system. So while getting permission is a courtesy, it also provides a bit of a shield from nuisance suits.


But you bet your ass he will. This is his business.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:55 PM on April 20, 2011


So everyone who posted comments criticizing LG personally for this decision is going to post apologies in this thread right?
posted by codacorolla at 5:55 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Addendum: would it be within site policy to edit the FPP to include the updated information?
posted by codacorolla at 5:57 PM on April 20, 2011


No, I still hate her.
posted by jonmc at 5:58 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


How many of you think I am Lady GaGa?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur


I'm gaga for you, lady.
posted by George Clooney at 6:02 PM on April 20, 2011


So everyone who posted comments criticizing LG personally for this decision is going to post apologies in this thread right?

Apologies to who?
posted by 23skidoo at 6:04 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strangely, I thought George Clooney was Ambrosia Voyeur. And now, I am confoozled.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:04 PM on April 20, 2011


My terrible Weird Al story is one that was related by a "writer" who was freelancing for Hustler. She claimed to have dated Weird Al for a while in the '90s, and that he refused to have any sex save oral.

"And that's how I got throat herpes," she said.
posted by klangklangston at 6:13 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


*unzips skinsuit to reveal George Clooney, unzips George Clooney skinsuit to reveal Lady Gaga*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:13 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I kind of like Gaga and all, but she is really humorless. Which is also what bugs me about Madonna, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised?

Unconfirmed anecdote: Lady Gaga approached Grace Jones about the possibility of doing a collaboration; Grace Jones declined, but politely suggested that she should work with Madonna instead.
posted by ovvl at 6:18 PM on April 20, 2011


Gaga’s manager has now admitted that he never forwarded my parody to Gaga – she had no idea at all. Even though we assumed that Gaga herself was the one making the decision (because, well, that’s what we were TOLD), he apparently made the decision completely on his own.

That's the letter U, and the numeral 2.

(these guys are from England and who gives a shit?).

posted by Shepherd at 6:24 PM on April 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Meh, it's the manager's job to take the fall for things like this. Doesn't mean the story that he never forwarded it to Gaga isn't true, but at this point someone has to take the blame, and better some flunky like the manager than Gaga, who is invested in looking authentic.
posted by immlass at 6:26 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weird Al occasionally has flashes of sheer brilliance. His "Genius in France" is not so much a parody as it is a note-perfect, spot-on Frank Zappa retrospective. He throws nearly all of Zappa's styles into one seven-minute track. Dweezil came in to do some guitar work for it, too. (I don't think he got Ruth Underwood in on the marimba, but whoever did that part played amazingly well.) The lyrics are inconsequential at that point since it really is the music that he worked the hardest on.

Yeah, the dude does phone in some parodies, especially to fill out an album. I wince at the "change one word of the title to make it funny" style of parody but when he's on, he's on.
posted by Spatch at 6:30 PM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Goddamnit Shepherd, you just HAD to make me remember that incident and how pissed I was about U2's response.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:31 PM on April 20, 2011


Hey! The Strokes are awesome!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:39 PM on April 20 [1 favorite +] [!]
Eponysterical!
at this point someone has to take the blame, and better some flunky like the manager than Gaga, who is invested in looking authentic.
And the way you do that is by establishing that your image and reputation are out of your control?
posted by rhizome at 6:32 PM on April 20, 2011


Made-up anecdote: Lady Gaga once approached 'Weird' Al Yankovic about making a sequel to UHF. They did a few pitch meetings, but, when she said that she wouldn't work with Michael Richards, Al dropped out of the project.
posted by box at 6:32 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Spatch, thanks for introducing me to "Genius in France". It's...so Zappa.
posted by Bugbread at 6:33 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the way you do that is by establishing that your image and reputation are out of your control?

Better than looking like a humorless asshole who can't stand Weird Al parodying your srs bzns anthem and persona, I reckon.
posted by immlass at 6:34 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


anigbrowl, you can call me Steffie.

OK, but I insist you let me borrow the George Clooney suit to test Mrs Browl's marital resolve on alternative weekends.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:38 PM on April 20, 2011


I looked up Madonna's "Express Yourself" and listened to it today along with "Vogue". As a songwriter myself I can say that yes, there are common chords and both are disco hymns, but they are different enough that I wouldn't call it plagiarism. "Homage" would be appropriate. Mind you, Gaga's stuff is as deep as a mud puddle, and I grudgingly admit Madonna's lyrics were more complicated, but dance music is dance music.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:48 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Better than looking like a humorless asshole who can't stand Weird Al parodying your srs bzns anthem and persona, I reckon.

What's wrong with being humorless? Serious question. I see this come up alot as an insult and I don't get it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:52 PM on April 20, 2011


I haven't cared for Lady Gaga since I first encountered the name "Lady Gaga," so go Al. In other news, the first Gaga song I ever heard turned out to be a Weird Al cover of her song "Born This Way."
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 6:53 PM on April 20, 2011


"Skipper Dan" is a genuinely great song, Weird Al or no. I forget which power pop song it was loosely based on, but I don't care. Weird Al has always been mostly a genius, and that track was one of those moments where you remember that he's a musician just as much as he's a humorist.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:57 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a way, aren't we all Lady Gaga? You, in the back. The boy with the Lisa Frank binder. You are different, but you're not sure why. You are Lady Gaga. And you, doodling obscure anime in the margins of your notebook. You are Lady Gaga. And you, destroying your body to play sports you don't enjoy. You are Lady Gaga.

We all have in ourselves something that is different, and something that is special. In that way, we are all Lady Gaga.


Maybe, but no one gives a shit when i do weird shit, much less pay me millions. Along with everyone else like that, except for her. She was in the right place at the right time, with Alexander McQueen and others helping her. The rest of us, we get bullied, harassed, beaten, etc. and she makes a song, calls it an anthem and then expects us all to kiss her ass. I had grudging respect for her until that.
posted by usagizero at 7:00 PM on April 20, 2011


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: “Hey! The Strokes are awesome!”

Oh, please. Just hipster-fuel for the kids who want to seem cool. Kinda like that "Mountain Goats" dude.
posted by koeselitz at 7:04 PM on April 20, 2011


Maybe, but no one gives a shit when i do weird shit, much less pay me millions. Along with everyone else like that, except for her. She was in the right place at the right time, with Alexander McQueen and others helping her. The rest of us, we get bullied, harassed, beaten, etc. and she makes a song, calls it an anthem and then expects us all to kiss her ass. I had grudging respect for her until that.

I was taking the piss.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:08 PM on April 20, 2011


Better than looking like a humorless asshole who can't stand Weird Al parodying your srs bzns anthem and persona, I reckon.
Sure, but the point was about authenticity. I'd say being humorless is more authentic than having a manager who allows persona-affecting-shit to blow up in her face. It would seem in this case that the manager is the humorless asshole here.
posted by rhizome at 7:19 PM on April 20, 2011


I hope this escalates into full blown feud where they start dissing each other in their songs. Maybe not on the same level as Biggie and Tupac. More along the lines of LL Cool J and Kool Moe Dee.
posted by cazoo at 7:23 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like this more if the song were an actual parody. Yes, Gaga acts odd and wears weird shit. Brilliant points, wait, not really. Not one of his better ones...

Maybe if he'd gone the other way and made a song about her being sedate and really ordinary. I'm trying to imagine Weird Al dressed in a pilgrim dress being a prim Lady Gaga, but then I just imagine Gaga in a pilgrim dress with holes for her boobs to stick out and a live turkey purse. This is harder than it seems.

Now I want a turkey to act as my personal caddy.
posted by efio at 7:26 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Commercial spectacle resists detournement. I stand amused.
posted by warbaby at 7:29 PM on April 20, 2011


What's wrong with being humorless? Serious question.

Nothing in general. We've all got things we don't think are funny. In this case (IMO) the wrongness is damage to her brand or persona or whatever you want to call it for looking like she's too self-important to let Weird Al parody her. Weird Al parodies, love them or hate them, are a sign of having made a mark in pop culture. She could have just said 'no, not interested' if it wasn't her bag, but the whole rigmarole with the request for lyrics and then the recording and so on, down to the "my dog ate my homework" thing with the manager, makes her sound full of herself. She could have said "hey, this song is serious and important to me, can you parody something else?" which would have been a way to find it not-funny but not seem like such a control freak about it.

Sure, but the point was about authenticity. I'd say being humorless is more authentic than having a manager who allows persona-affecting-shit to blow up in her face.

I can't entirely disagree with the idea that humorlessness might be more authentic, but where she seems to be trying to be authentic is in her art and her connection to her fans. Authentic may not be the perfect word. Maybe more like "earnest"? Certainly not a jackass who jerks other artists who approach her respectfully around and then blows them off, which is how the original version of the Weird Al story makes her sound.
posted by immlass at 7:30 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Great Weird Al Songs:

Canadian Idiot
Velvet Elvis (great style parody of early Police)
Everything You Know Is Wrong (impressive style parody of They Might Be Giants)
It's All About the Pentiums (similar sort of fun as White and Nerdy)
Phony Calls
Couch Potato
Ebay
Genius in France
Hardware Store
I'll Sue Ya
King of Suede
Taco Grande
Jerry Springer
Don't Download This Song
posted by straight at 7:34 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I kind of think Weird Al is being a dick here. He didn't need to ask permission, and gaga (or her people) didn't need to give it for him to make the song. If someone asks permission to do something as a courtesy, then you're giving them the option to say no. Instead of saying no right away, she gave him a chance to see what he was going to do, then said no. He should have realized there was a possibility she might say no.

By writing this passive aggressive blog post about how wronged he is, he's being a douche.

If you're being "classy" about something you have to be prepared to take no for an answer. If you're going to passive aggressively bitch about people who turn you down then you're not classy, you're a douchebag.

A lot of people are taking this as a straight forward "I like Weird Al, I don't like GaGa, so weird al is obviously right!!!"
That doesn't follow. If they're both adults and yadda yadda free agency, etc. then there's nothing douchey about him writing the entry to reflect his interests. Inventing some counter-narrative doesn't matter; his actions would not have been "douchey" if you apply the same standard to both Gaga and Al. In that case, neither would be a bad actor.

For Al to be "douchey," he'd have to be materially wrong about the facts.
You don't have to be "materially wrong about the facts" to be a douche. That's ridiculous. He asked someone permission to so something, then when he got a no response he flipped out. That's not actually being classy or polite, that's being a passive aggressive twerp. He could have done the song without permission, or he could have not done the song. Asking permission, not getting it, then whining about it isn't the same thing.
Well, you know, if that is the case, then Ms Gaga needs to fire whomever she has working as her manager, because according to more recent news reports about this situation, Gaga says she never heard the song and never gave disapproval for it. So she's employing someone who claims to speak for her but who does so without actually knowing what her wishes may be and who is actively doing the opposite of what Gaga claims she would do if she were the one being consulted.

Note to self: If I'm ever really famous and have managers and handlers, fire any of them who pull this kind of shit on my behalf.
-- hippybear
That's just not realistic. If you are, as Jay-Z says "not a business-man… a business, man" then you have to let people make decisions for you. Sometimes not the same decisions you would make and sometimes you can correct them. You can't manage every aspect yourself. Also he could just be taking a fall to make her look good.
posted by delmoi at 7:36 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter's own athenasbanquet did a much better Gaga parody than this Weird Al thing.
posted by straight at 7:37 PM on April 20, 2011


The entire "orchestrated marketing" theory sounds a lot more plausible to me now.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:49 PM on April 20, 2011


The most depressing thing that I have read in this thread, now that I have finally (hopefully?) finished the whole thing, is that Express Yourself is 22 years old.

Way to make me feel old, MetaFilter.




Team YANKOVIC 4 Life!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:50 PM on April 20, 2011



I can't entirely disagree with the idea that humorlessness might be more authentic, but where she seems to be trying to be authentic is in her art and her connection to her fans. Authentic may not be the perfect word. Maybe more like "earnest"? Certainly not a jackass who jerks other artists who approach her respectfully around and then blows them off, which is how the original version of the Weird Al story makes her sound.


Yeah, that makes alot of sense. I like earnestness, as a rule, but if one of the guys I like got approached by Weird Al I hope they'd just give him a straight answer. And speaking of dudes I like 'Bob' is one of my favorite things EVER.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:54 PM on April 20, 2011


Somehow, I had heretofore missed Skipper Dan. Since I like better than I like Born This Way, which I like better than I do Perform This Way, it makes the whole 400-some-odd comment thread worthwhile for at least one member of the gallery. Thank you.

You may return to your scheduled hate now
posted by tyllwin at 8:01 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't.

Would you like to? Because I think I could arrange that. Holla!
posted by loquacious at 8:02 PM on April 20, 2011


If this were a civil war, Elton John would write a parody of Al writing a parody of Gaga.

Your Schlong
It’s a little less funny my ditty this time
I’m not one of those who can easily rhyme
Can’t get your permission but boy if I could
I’d feel less conflicted that it isn’t so good . . .

And you can tell everybody this is your song
And so could Madonna too but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that it’s not approved
Or that in the video I’ll show you packing wood.

posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:05 PM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Love Gaga AND Weird Al, so glad this got worked out, regardless of what actually happened.
posted by Kimberly at 8:09 PM on April 20, 2011


We all have in ourselves something that is different, and something that is special. In that way, we are all Lady Gaga.

In that way, too, we are like snowflakes, covered with lots of dirt so as to raise our melting points.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:11 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


So a story got made up out of nothing, bile was spilled en masse by MeFi because that's what they love to do about Gaga, and when it turns out that the story was nothing everyone rushes to justify their bile because "the story was actually true all along, honest!"

I'd love for this thread to be deleted now that it's proven false, but before that I'd like to ask one thing:

How the fuck can you call someone who's worn a dress made out of decapitated Kermit heads humorless!?
posted by flatluigi at 8:13 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


How the fuck can you call someone who's worn a dress made out of decapitated Kermit heads humorless!?

You know that was how Jim Henson died, right? Decapitated by a pop star in desperate need of a prop?
posted by BYiro at 8:19 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the word is disembodied if you're talking about the head.
posted by ODiV at 8:19 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I sort of want to see Weird Al do a parody of Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All. Maybe Godspeed? He can do a whole album of arty indie shit. I'd actually buy that.
posted by codacorolla at 8:24 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You don't have to be "materially wrong about the facts" to be a douche. That's ridiculous. He asked someone permission to so something, then when he got a no response he flipped out. That's not actually being classy or polite, that's being a passive aggressive twerp. He could have done the song without permission, or he could have not done the song. Asking permission, not getting it, then whining about it isn't the same thing."

Not to belabor the point, but yeah, he would. First, he didn't "flip out." He posted a song and complained about wasting his time trying to be polite. Second, if you accept Muddgirl's premise that Gaga had no responsibilities regarding Al, the contrary must also be true: that he had no responsibilities regarding her, ergo his account is no more immoral. Or, rephrased, if she wasn't a douche, he wasn't either.

But Muddgirl had argued that Al was a douche, which was inconsistent, unless Weird Al was "materially wrong about the facts." And he was, as (as far as we know), Gaga never heard the song. Though that's still not enough to make him a douche — it's unlikely Gaga would have heard the song if not for his releasing it.

Further, that you're reading "passive-aggressive twerp" is on you, not Al.

Sorry, I realize this is a totally silly argument to have, but I'm surprised at how vehement people are getting about this.
posted by klangklangston at 8:40 PM on April 20, 2011


So wait, mefi liking Weird Al is like me saying Everclear is a good band right? I mean they were awesome when I was in high school and sparkle and fade was like my favorite album ever in 10th grade, but as I got older........ I will still defend them to the death because of the happy memories even though I know better. This guy wasn't relevant in the 90's, how does he even come up anymore, let alone be defended with such feverish devotion?

I loved UHF too, but this has to be a case of mass age-induced cognitive dissonance.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 9:04 PM on April 20, 2011


"This guy wasn't relevant in the 90's, how does he even come up anymore, let alone be defended with such feverish devotion?"

Well, as pointed out upstream, his first album to break the Billboard Top 10 came out in 2006.
posted by Bugbread at 9:17 PM on April 20, 2011


I loved UHF too, but this has to be a case of mass age-induced cognitive dissonance.

I dunno... my coworker just saw him in Sydney and flipped out at the awesomeness. I don't really get it, but apparently he's great live.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:19 PM on April 20, 2011


Fuck Lady Gaga. She's done nothing interesting or remotely original. I initially liked her in spite of her forgettable music because I appreciated how she brought back The Weird to music videos. But you know what? She's not even that good at being weird. Bjork did it better back in the 80s. I'm sick of hearing about Lady Gaga, and I'm sick of her derivative nonsense. I'm sick of seeing her re-appropriate shit that was cool like 30 years ago and having people call it art. I'm sick of hearing people talk about how impressed they are by her sexual openness, because gee, huh, that's never been done before. I'm sick of her being "the pop star it's okay to like", because she's all, like, genuine and shit. I'm not impressed by her, I'm not impressed by her story, and I'm not impressed by her act. I'm sick of hearing people compare her to Madonna. Madonna was impressive because she successfully re-invented herself every few years. Lady Gaga could never do that, because she never invented anything in the first place. I'm just sick, sick, sick of it all. At least Rebecca Black made us laugh.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:20 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


So everyone who posted comments criticizing LG personally for this decision is going to post apologies in this thread right?

I will, at least (though I posited in my earlier comment that it may have been her manager's fault.)

I'm glad it's resolved. I'm not a super-fan of either party, but I like that both are out there doing what they do. For Gaga's part, most of her pop is better than most of what comes out these days, and I enjoy having a little more oddity in this world, especially when it's used for good causes.

For Al, his humor is not always my own. I like it when he goes a little darker or dangerously surreal, as in "You Don't Love Me Anymore" or "Albequerque." But "White & Nerdy" was brilliant, made even better by its video with the Donny Osmond dancing and all. (It's probably eclipsed the original more than any of his other parodies have as well, by my estimation.)

In the end, hopefully this will get a lot of money funneled to HRC. That alone would justify (why does it need justification?) this long-ass thread.

(Though I'll add that via my friend's research HRC is actually extremely inefficient and vague about where donations will go. I need to find out from him which equal rights organizations are a better option.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:23 PM on April 20, 2011


This guy wasn't relevant in the 90's, how does he even come up anymore, let alone be defended with such feverish devotion?

Not really sure what "relevant" would be when it comes to someone like Weird Al, but every album he's released since 1990 was in the top 50 albums on Billboard's charts, and with one exception they were all in the top 20. Every album he's ever released has gone Gold on the sales charts, and a good number of them have gone platinum. He's toured basically non-stop all over the world for decades, and he currently has a television series in development.

It could be that you just weren't paying attention.
posted by hippybear at 9:23 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Weird Al is still relevant for Nerds and all so yeah still relevant to his core fans the legion of nerds and misanthropes that still polka on 45.
posted by NiteMayr at 9:38 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Further, that you're reading "passive-aggressive twerp" is on you, not Al.

I'm seriously a huge Al fan, the kind who waited outside the concert venue in hopes of meeting him... IN COLLEGE, and I don't read lots of emotion and rhetoric into writing, usually, but he's definitely complaining about his own decisions, which is whiny, acting like it was GaGa's leading him on that was entirely responsible, and embellishing the story with self-lionizing details and you-won't-believe-this-dear-reader rhetoric.

In short, he's wildly successful, and if he has to write a BLOG about how this happened:

I decided – based on my belief that people are basically good – to go through the trouble and considerable expense of actually recording the song. Now, I never do that – never. But because I was really excited about this parody, I decided I would faithfully jump through as many hoops as Gaga deemed necessary.

...but he didn't get the result he wanted, well that's a little pitiful. Whiny. Just move on to the next thing, Al, like you're so capable of doing. When you're wildly successful and then you whine about things not going your way, that's often seen as a bit douchey. When you publicly complain about a professional colleague in your frustration, you're being BOTH professionally uncouth in the way he believed GaGa had been, AND petty, besides.

People have said in response to this story, and to other parodies he's done, that "you're not really 'big' until Weird Al parodies you." But that doesn't mean every musical act that becomes popular is his birthright to manipulate. Artists don't owe him their respect and cooperation, they can totally opt out of thinking he's some kind of important cultural institution. If he wants to post videos of GaGa parodies on YouTube, right on! Get in line! But why should he have a special right to be given her blessing? What entitlement is he appealing to?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:50 PM on April 20, 2011


Metafilter: the legion of nerds and misanthropes that still polka on 45
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:51 PM on April 20, 2011


This guy wasn't relevant in the 90's, how does he even come up anymore, let alone be defended with such feverish devotion?

When Amish Paradise came out in 1996, that song was EVERYWHERE (except maybe the rock under which you were living).
posted by 23skidoo at 9:58 PM on April 20, 2011


i think this goes beyond al being a douche in that it calls into question--over the course of his career--his sincerity in asking permission as a form of courtesy. his blog thing was pretty nasty--especially considering he wasn't dealing with gaga directly. if this kind of reaction--attempting to publicly embarrass an artist who does not give permission--was always on the table, then asking permission was never the kind of courtesy he would have us believe; it was merely the appearance of such. likewise, his using the whole HRC-charity angle as something to try to hit her over the head with was incredibly tacky: A conventional release for the song and video would have also raised a nice chunk of change for the HRC – an organization which I have to assume Gaga supports.

i came to the story late, but i was surprised at the level of support he got with this kind of tantrum. frankly, i was surprised that this (face it) D-level novelty act felt he had some inherent right to an audience with an incredibly busy and rising 25-year-old international pop star who has created an industry around herself, for the sake of his making a few bucks in the process of exploiting her massive popularity to sell his next record.

so what surprises me is that the overall reaction is not that al has had some kind of weird charles-sheenish bloggy likely-career-panicky meltdown; but that gaga is humorless, and oh by the way, she's not talented, etc.

I'm just sick, sick, sick of it all.

but what all you said pretty much amounts to the fact that you're just sick of other people enjoying something you don't enjoy--or that they're enjoying something instead of being dreadfully cynical about it. personally, i think we get a lot of gaga fans around here because that whole attitude has just gotten so damn tired and it's nice sometimes just to have a bit of fun.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:59 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


but what all you said pretty much amounts to the fact that you're just sick of other people enjoying something you don't enjoy--or that they're enjoying something instead of being dreadfully cynical about it.

Nope. Just tired of hearing about her. Not just on MeFi, but everywhere. The amount of attention she gets is completely disproportional to the quality of anything she's ever actually done.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:04 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


"i was surprised that this (face it) D-level novelty act"

I understand if you don't like Weird Al, and that's fine, but if he's D level, who would you say is C level? Who is B level? Who is A level? I'm curious.
posted by Bugbread at 10:08 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have no particular problem with Gaga. Her songs aren't worse than her contemporaries, and her wearing unusual clothes isn't exactly unheard of for a musician. I also have no problem with people liking her. People are entitled to like whatever the hell they want, whether or not I like the same artists. But I know where Afroblanca is coming from, because I heard about Lady Gaga long before I found out what her music sounded like. Her reputation for incredibly great music finally got the best of me after a few years, and I checked out a video on YouTube...only to find out that it was one of the generic pop pieces I had heard when driving around in America over Christmas break. It wasn't bad, but it was utterly, utterly generic. I was actually pretty shocked that this was the person everyone was going crazy about.

So, just like Afroblanca, I'm not sick of other people liking her, even though I don't, or that they're enjoying her songs instead of being dreadfully cynical, but I am sick of hearing about her, on MeFi and on all the KDDI commercials here, and I also feel that the amount of attention she gets is completely disproportional to the quality of her music.
posted by Bugbread at 10:14 PM on April 20, 2011


if this kind of reaction--attempting to publicly embarrass an artist who does not give permission--was always on the table, then asking permission was never the kind of courtesy he would have us believe

I think this is the first time it's been on the table because this is the first time an artist (or her handlers) insisted that he actually do a complete studio recording of a song and then denied approval.

He makes it pretty clear in his blog post that his usual MO is to ask permission with a summary of what the parody will be. But Gaga (or her people) insisted on having lyrics and then a recorded version of the song, and THEN told him no.

He certainly wouldn't go out and record a song that he'd been denied permission to do just out of spite. He already had spent the time and money on recording the song, so he released it, as is his right under fair use / parody rights.
posted by hippybear at 10:16 PM on April 20, 2011


(That said, I usually don't go around telling people to stop talking about something I'm not interested. I just knew where Afroblanca was coming from and wanted to support his position that one can be tired of hearing about X without it necessarily meaning that you don't want other people to enjoy X, or other people to be happy)
posted by Bugbread at 10:22 PM on April 20, 2011


his sincerity in asking permission as a form of courtesy

My gut feeling is that what we're hearing now is the truth- Weird Al's camp was dealing with her manager, who claimed to be passing the requests along to her but didn't, and was having Al jump through additional hoops while lying to him about it. I think that there's a good chance that Al (who's had to go through the approval process many times before and has dealt with similar "mix ups" previously) figured that this was the case and wrote the blog post in an attempt to out the manager's behavior figuring that LG wasn't involved in the decision. If the manager had said "no" at the very beginning we probably wouldn't have heard about any of this. Did "she" really expect him to record a song in the studio at her request and then not release it even as a demo track?

I have no evidence for this other than my gut, and my gut has shit for brains.
posted by Challahtronix at 10:24 PM on April 20, 2011


Bugbread: the screen name you're looking for is Afroblanco.
posted by hippybear at 10:29 PM on April 20, 2011


"Bugbread: the screen name you're looking for is Afroblanco."

Ah, thanks. And...man, that's weird. Apparently Afroblanco is afroblanca. I don't know why afroblanca has stuck in my head for all these years, given that Afroblanco has been the more prolific. Maybe I saw it first and it just stuck?
posted by Bugbread at 10:42 PM on April 20, 2011


i came to the story late, but i was surprised at the level of support he got with this kind of tantrum. frankly, i was surprised that this (face it) D-level novelty act felt he had some inherent right to an audience with an incredibly busy and rising 25-year-old international pop star who has created an industry around herself, for the sake of his making a few bucks in the process of exploiting her massive popularity to sell his next record.

You're Gaga. Weird Al was around before Gaga and he'll be around after Gaga.

So, just like Afroblanca, I'm not sick of other people liking her, even though I don't, or that they're enjoying her songs instead of being dreadfully cynical, but I am sick of hearing about her, on MeFi and on all the KDDI commercials here, and I also feel that the amount of attention she gets is completely disproportional to the quality of her music.

THIS. Especially the MetaFilter thing, which frankly mystifies me. It would be one thing if it was 'oh, she's silly but she's a guilty pleasure. Nice costumes' but the way people go on it's like there's something deeper there.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:44 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The amount of attention she gets is completely disproportional to the quality of anything she's ever actually done.

which statement rather proves my point. she's getting attention from people who feel the opposite. but what affect has that attention on you, outside the disappointing knowledge that others appreciate something you do not approve of? you're tired of hearing about her on mefi? aren't threads about her--including this one you're choosing to engage in--clearly marked and, even for non-members, completely voluntary in terms of clicking or reading? our media experiences are entirely customizable, so i don't really buy the whole 'involuntary exposure' thing, as if we were still back in the day, when you had like three tv stations and maybe one decent rock radio station.

I think this is the first time it's been on the table because this is the first time an artist (or her handlers) insisted that he actually do a complete studio recording of a song and then denied approval.

but the denial of their approval was within the realm of possibility, and he accepted that it was, by recording the song and submitting it under those terms; why would he agree to them if he did not accept the outcome? otherwise, it was a completely empty gesture. at the point of recording and submitting it, he was going to put it out there whether she/they approved it or not--evidenced by the fact that this is exactly what he did.

...and wrote the blog post in an attempt to out the manager's behavior figuring that LG wasn't involved in the decision...

and i could see that possibility as well; but then why not say outright that he thought she wasn't getting the request? or even make a lighthearted public appeal? he seemed to have no problem making her look bad--and his blog still hosts the insults eagerly thrown her way in the comments; and he has no apology for that. and the way it turns out at this point, gaga could likely be guilty of absolutely none of the assumptions made about her over the course of the story; and yet many will still assume she is, and that the manager angle is fake. so he pretty much gets what he wants, and publicity on top of it, and she's still going to take a hit, no matter what she does.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 10:46 PM on April 20, 2011


What's strange and kinda wonderful is how Gaga's legions of fans act like she's some underground treasure who needs to be defended and not one of the most popular entertainers in the world. It's sweet - I'm that way with Dylan and The Ramones. But still.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:48 PM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Neither Bob Dylan (or Dylan Thomas) nor The Ramones are underground treasures which require defending. Ever. They have legacies which can withstand nearly all assaults.
posted by hippybear at 10:59 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


"our media experiences are entirely customizable, so i don't really buy the whole 'involuntary exposure' thing, as if we were still back in the day, when you had like three tv stations and maybe one decent rock radio station."

We have 7 TV stations here in Tokyo (I suppose 9 if you include the two "university of the air" stations), and I don't get to pick what they play over the PA in convenience stores, in supermarkets, and from outdoor TV screens. Luckily, here in Japan, there's a lot more "hearing her" than "hearing about her" (until she comes on a tour, and then the TV is packed with her), and it's the "hearing about her", more than the "hearing her", that annoys me. (But the KDDI commercials are starting to get annoying. That's more their fault than hers.)

"I think this is the first time it's been on the table because this is the first time an artist (or her handlers) insisted that he actually do a complete studio recording of a song and then denied approval.

but the denial of their approval was within the realm of possibility, and he accepted that it was, by recording the song and submitting it under those terms; why would he agree to them if he did not accept the outcome?"


This is entirely a guess, but perhaps he didn't think it was really in the realm of possibility? That is, maybe he felt it was just a hoop he was being made to jump through, a formality, because if she really was going to veto it, she would have vetoed it at the lyrical stage (since she already knew the background music). I dunno.
posted by Bugbread at 11:00 PM on April 20, 2011


Weird Al was around before Gaga and he'll be around after Gaga.

well, his chances are certainly higher now that she has agreed to form the centerpiece of his album. his initial statement and his later response (it means I GET TO PUT OUT MY ALBUM!) kinda spells out that without her song (and her fame, and her fan base), the album wasn't going to happen.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:01 PM on April 20, 2011


Realy? What makes you think that Weird Al depends on Lady GaGa's audience in order to justify an album release?
posted by The World Famous at 11:13 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


his initial statement and his later response (it means I GET TO PUT OUT MY ALBUM!) kinda spells out that without her song (and her fame, and her fan base), the album wasn't going to happen.

Well, he makes it pretty clear that he was looking for a central single to use as the launching point for his new album.
I had written, recorded, mixed and mastered 11 of the 12 songs for my new album and was just waiting to come up with that one elusive “big idea” for a parody that I thought I could turn into the lead single and video.
and
I was very excited now, because I knew that the second I got the official blessing from Lady Gaga, I could lock in an official release date for my album and announce it to the world. (My record company needs 8 weeks of advance notice to confirm an album release date – so in order to be as timely as possible, I almost always have to lock in the date before I’ve even started writing the lead single.)
It's not like the album won't happen without the Born This Way parody. It's more like, he tries to plan his albums with a parody of whatever the HUGE single is close to the time of its release so he can be timely (always important for a pop-culture parodist) and to help give his release a boost. Without that parody, he'd have to work to find a new lead single.

I doubt Al would allow any single artist to stand between him and an eventual album release. But I certainly could see him delaying the release while he found the right lead single. With the exception of In 3D, which has a definite album quality to it, most of his work doesn't really rely that much on having each release be a cohesive statement, so he could easily tread water for a month or three looking for the right lead off song.
posted by hippybear at 11:14 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]



Neither Bob Dylan (or Dylan Thomas) nor The Ramones are underground treasures which require defending. Ever. They have legacies which can withstand nearly all assaults.


That was my point. They don't need my defense (though I will offer it) and Gaga doesn't need legions of Little Monsters screaming that 'you just don't understand!'
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:24 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder what Al listens to these days. The style parodies are mostly of bands that can inhabit one man's fandom comfortably -- I'm a fan of them too, from The Police to They Might Be Giants. But as the Al albums continue to be released, the bands, especially the ones in style parodies, get older, less contemporary.

If he IS an institution, he's one that makes the most money by catering to the middle, and the middle, in terms of popular music, is impoverished. If there aren't any blockbuster hits worthy, as Bad and Beat It really were, it seems, and yet no super-widely-known alternative stars either, like Devo or George Harrison, I would prefer it if Al would cater more to the geeky fanbase that would enjoy his take on the stuff he actually loves. I wonder if that has any possibility of working.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:40 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never mind the difference between Lady Gaga and Madonna; right now I can't tell the difference between Metafilter and Fark.

Seriously, stand down nerds, stand down.
posted by happyroach at 12:31 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Al confirmed on his blog the "Manager never told Gaga" story. Whether it's just throwing the manager under the bus or really what happened I don't care.

I'm just looking forward to Weird Al being covered in bees in the video. (Which can now be made)
posted by anateus at 12:43 AM on April 21, 2011


Why do you get to label Al as "douchey"?

The courts have determined that labelling Al as 'douchey' is Fair Use.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:46 AM on April 21, 2011


I totally get the angle of "If you're going to ask permission, you have to understand people may say no." If it were just "She said no; she's a jerk," that's where I'd come down, too.

I think what irritated him, and what seems to me like a legitimate argument, is that she -- or, as it turns out, her manager -- didn't just say no. The concept had been explained, and it was fairly obvious where he was going with it. Then it was, "Weeell, maybe, but we need to see lyrics." So he gave lyrics. Then it was, "Weeeell, maybe, but we need to actually hear the song." So he recorded the song. And the song was exactly what he said it was going to be, with the lyrics they said it would have, and not only was it "no," but it was "no" without any explanation at all. (At least as he tells it.)

Yes, anybody can say no, of course. But if the answer was "You're making fun of me," or the answer is "I think this song is too important to parody," or the answer is "Not a good enough parody," or the answer is "You say this objectionable thing that I cannot abide," there's no reason they couldn't have told him that after the lyrics were turned over but before he recorded the track, you know? I think if you encourage the person to go ahead and complete the track, you're not agreeing to say yes, exactly, but you're suggesting that saying yes or no depends on getting more information than you already have from the lyrics. The fact that he'd turned over the lyrics and that didn't make them say no would have sounded to me like they were willing to say yes as long as the finished track didn't have any other surprises in it. And then getting a no without any explanation would have made me mad, too.

She has every right to say no, of course. But when somebody tries to extend you a courtesy and you pay it back this way, I don't think having him explain in public what happened is an unreasonably unfair consequence.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 4:46 AM on April 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


So Weird Al is now the Gallagher of the nerd set?
posted by FreezBoy at 5:00 AM on April 21, 2011


We must have a different conception of "Gallagher". I'm seeing a lot of love for Weird Al here, but I thought Gallagher was the equivalent of the Hitler of comedy, until Carrotop appeared: the comedian that brings everyone together out of their shared hate for him.
posted by Bugbread at 5:42 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Challatronix, I'm totally stealing "my gut has shit for brains." May I credit you?
posted by whuppy at 6:39 AM on April 21, 2011


can I see how you're going to use it first before I approve?

(actually I lifted it from a Nick Hornby novel, High Fidelity I think)
posted by Challahtronix at 7:08 AM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weird Al is an absolute pop genius, his parodies are better than a lot of actual serious releases... he's got more talent in his pinky, than GagaGirl has in her entire body. That is all.

Weird Al sings mainstream pop songs and changes the words. That is all.

my first instict is that it's a joint performance art.

Sounds more like miscommunication. I don't think Gaga would make that misstep. Why would she care if Weird Al parodied a song of hers?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:03 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm late to the party, but for me, one of Al's better (and sadly less known) style parody was Germs,. his take on Nine Inch Nails.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:20 AM on April 21, 2011


Meh, it's the manager's job to take the fall for things like this.

Yup. And unless The Lady, the Manager, or the sysadmin behind the email/SMS system steps forward - that shall be the 'truth' of the situation.

And now we can all move onto other matters.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:20 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Weird Al is an absolute pop genius, his parodies are better than a lot of actual serious releases... he's got more talent in his pinky, than GagaGirl has in her entire body. That is all."

"Weird Al sings mainstream pop songs and changes the words. That is all."


Not quite. That's 1/2, or 2/3, or so. He does mainstream pop songs with different words, but he also does "style" songs, which amalgamate the sound of a band without actually being one of the band's songs, original songs, and polka medleys. He's actually pretty good at writing music, but his parody works outsell his original stuff by far (I mean, honestly, no matter how good you may be, you're not going to become a famous musician in America due to your polka compositions).
posted by Bugbread at 9:03 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weird Al sings mainstream pop songs and changes the words. That is all.

Wow, you don't know much about Weird Al's music, do you?

Yes, a good number of his songs are direct parodies, but an equal if not larger number of songs in his catalog are spot-on pastiches of bands and artists, which contain pretty brilliant observations about the kind of lyrical content usually found in the work that is being pastiched.

On loading new comments... yeah, Bugbread. Exactly that.
posted by hippybear at 9:07 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then it was, "Weeell, maybe, but we need to see lyrics." So he gave lyrics. Then it was, "Weeeell, maybe, but we need to actually hear the song." So he recorded the song.

That's not actually what happened. Yankovic is very clear that they asked to hear the song first. They never asked to see the lyrics.

At that point, he is perfectly free to say "No, I'm not going to make this song without your permission to put it on my album." But he didn't - instead, he deliberately interpreted their request to be about the lyrics. Which wasn't what they asked for.
posted by muddgirl at 9:17 AM on April 21, 2011


I made this very important pic I needed to share. /nogoatse
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:21 AM on April 21, 2011


If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression.


OK. Based on Lady GaGa's ridiculous and detailed denial regarding Born This Way and Express Yourself, together with the fact that the two songs have an identical melody line (similarities of other parts aside, the "if you want it right now/make him show you how" part is identical to Born This Way's chorus) I think it's inevitable to draw at least one or more of the following conclusions:

1. Lady GaGa has never actually heard Express Yourself.
2. Lady GaGa is tone deaf.
3. Lady GaGa is a terrible musician who is incapable of recognizing melodies in different songs.
4. Lady GaGa had little or no role in writing Born This Way.
5. Lady GaGa did write Born This Way, but she was stoned out of her mind at the time and is just making excuses now.
6. Lady GaGa is an idiot.
7. Lady GaGa is a liar.

No matter how you slice it, there is no way to avoid reaching at least one of those conclusions. And, regardless of which conclusion is drawn from her very revealing denial, the only truly unfortunate thing about Weird Al's parody is that it doesn't call her out on any of those things.

I can excuse GaGa if the reason for her crazy-ass denial is that she has never actually heard Express Yourself. It's a song from the generation before hers and even though it was a huge hit back when she was an infant, I can realistically believe that she has never heard it.

But I'm inclined to think it's actually that she is a terrible musician with a tin ear who really doesn't recognize the melody. Maybe she wrote the song but didn't realize that she was ripping Madonna off (tin ear, after all).

Or, actually, maybe she's like Eddie Van Halen and she was so wasted when she wrote it that she didn't realize she was ripping off a giant, famous hit song (see #5 above). After all, that's how EVH was able to rip off Celebration by Kool & The Gang without realizing it.

On the bright side, blatantly ripping off, note for note, a key melody in a massive hit song and then not only claiming authorship but flatly denying any similarity between the melodies puts GaGa in good company with at least one songwriter I greatly admire: Jimmy Page. And so, for that, I say: Well-played, Lady GaGa. Well played.
posted by The World Famous at 10:01 AM on April 21, 2011


presenting lady gaga's "judas"

i note that the bass riff during the verse is awfully close to the instrumental break of emerson lake and palmer's karn evil 9 1st impression pt 2(about 1.05 in)

i think she's playing herself out
posted by pyramid termite at 10:16 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would like to see the Ladies Gaga and Antebellum perform together. Songs should include "Lady Marmalade" and "Lay Lady Lay."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:18 AM on April 21, 2011


and then there's the cover

all it needs is meatloaf riding on her back with bats flying around
posted by pyramid termite at 10:22 AM on April 21, 2011


Meh... they both need more cowbell...
posted by Debaser626 at 10:34 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


with the fact that the two songs have an identical melody line (similarities of other parts aside, the "if you want it right now/make him show you how" part is identical to Born This Way's chorus) I think it's inevitable to draw at least one or more of the following conclusions:

8. That sequence of two descending scale fragments is so unremarkable that it's inevitable that someone writing in the same genre as Madonna would independently stumble upon it when writing a melody on top of a similar chord progression.

Similarly, I have no trouble believing that EVH might have randomly banged out that intro riff for Best of Both Worlds even if he'd never heard Celebrate before. He's just bouncing back and fourth between a I chord and a IV chord to a generic disco beat and then ending on the V.
posted by straight at 10:37 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


8. That sequence of two descending scale fragments is so unremarkable that it's inevitable that someone writing in the same genre as Madonna would independently stumble upon it when writing a melody on top of a similar chord progression.

First, Lady GaGa claims that she still cannot hear the similarity between the two melodies. Either she has a tin ear or she's a liar. I'm guessing it's the former. Her denial just seems too sincere to be a flat-out lie.

Second, to support your theory about the inevitability of other songs containing that same melody, please cite for me at least one other example of a dance pop song that contains that melody.

Third, as a songwriter myself, I can believe that whoever wrote Born This Way might have stumbled upon that line or one similar to it while making up the melody. But if they were familiar with Express Yourself, they would also sooner or later have realized it. And if they didn't (say, for example, that they had never heard Express Yourself before), someone else in the production team would have.

Fourth, dude, Best of Both Worlds is a complete rip-off of Celebration.

I have no trouble believing that EVH might have randomly banged out that intro riff for Best of Both Worlds even if he'd never heard Celebrate before.

Indeed, Kool & the Gang did, in fact, randomly bang out that riff before they had ever heard Celebration. EVH, on the other hand, did not live on any planet other than Earth in the '80s and, therefore, had definitely heard Celebration at least a zillion times. Moreover, have you listened to the whole song of Best of Both Worlds? It's not just the intro.
posted by The World Famous at 10:51 AM on April 21, 2011


I like the new album cover. It's very Britney Spears meets Tron Legacy.
posted by misha at 10:59 AM on April 21, 2011


I like the new album cover.

i don't - it looks like it should have a little k-tel logo in the corner
posted by pyramid termite at 11:01 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


First, Lady GaGa claims that she still cannot hear the similarity between the two melodies. Either she has a tin ear or she's a liar. I'm guessing it's the former. Her denial just seems too sincere to be a flat-out lie.

She does say "it's the same chord progression disco's been using for the past 50 years", and with that, I can certainly agree (apart for disco being 50 years old). I think the fact that she is often compared to Madonna and accused of aping her style has made people particular shouty about the similarities.

My friends and I used to joke about one day compiling a G-C-D songbook. Just a collection of rock standards comprised of nothing but G, C and D. They are legion. Lady Gaga tapped a similar vein, in another genre of music, one that was also used by an artist that many have said she's trying to imitate already. Which is what brings us here.

For my part, I found her responses really defensive, almost Pomeranianesque in its snappiness. And people who use "retarded" as a rhetorical device just need to stop talking. This doesn't mean she ripped off "Express Yourself", consciously or unconsciously. She might really just be utilizing a disco chord progression that's been used many, many times before.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:09 AM on April 21, 2011


Looks like the crisis has been averted - Lady Gaga caves.
posted by garnetgirl at 11:10 AM on April 21, 2011


From waaay up-thread ...

This is theft. Weird Al should be in prison for stealing from Lady Gaga. How is Lady Gaga expected to make a living with people like Weird Al stealing from her?

That's like a straw Al dressed as a straw GaGa wearing a straw suit. Or something. I know they both start with "P," but "piracy" and "parody" are not the same thing.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:14 AM on April 21, 2011


This is theft.

I think this is also a joke, Amanojaku.
posted by muddgirl at 11:16 AM on April 21, 2011


She does say "it's the same chord progression disco's been using for the past 50 years"

Are we adding the possibility that she doesn't know the difference between the term "chord progression" and the term "melody?"

This doesn't mean she ripped off "Express Yourself", consciously or unconsciously. She might really just be utilizing a disco chord progression that's been used many, many times before.

And the melody. Don't forget the melody.
posted by The World Famous at 11:17 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The World Famous, I hear the similarities you are pointing out. I just disagree that they are qualitatively different from the similarities between songs that people don't typically think of as ripoffs. "Born This Way" sounds more like "Express Yourself" than most songs, but there are a lot of songs that sound somewhat similar to "Express Yourself." And it's certainly not as similar as the correspondence between Weird Al's "Perform This Way" and "Born This Way." I just don't see the bright line you seem to see between similar songs and ripoffs.
posted by straight at 11:17 AM on April 21, 2011


My friends and I used to joke about one day compiling a G-C-D songbook. Just a collection of rock standards comprised of nothing but G, C and D.

I think maybe you mean a I, IV, V songbook, since the relative relationships between chords capture the feel of a song more than the particular key it's pitched in.
posted by straight at 11:20 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I said G-C-D I meant G-C-D broseph.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:28 AM on April 21, 2011


No... on the guitar, G C and D are three of the easiest chords, and are among the first taught to any student. Throw in an Em and an A chord, and that's pretty much all the really basic chords which don't require huge strength (like barre chords do).

Yes, they are all I IV and V chords, but on the guitar, G C and D have special significance.

In this vein, let me link here (apropos of nothing other than this derail) one of my favorite things ever... Uncle Bonsai's Folk Song. (lyrics found in the right hand column here)
posted by hippybear at 11:32 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fine, but limiting it to songs that are actually in that key seems like you miss a lot of songs that would otherwise fit nicely into your joke. It's not like most people would say, "Wait, no, "La Bamba" is actually in the key of C; That doesn't fit!
posted by straight at 11:37 AM on April 21, 2011


The "joke" part was my friends and I actually making a song book; that a lot of songs use G-C-D is serious. I don't deny that calling it "I IV and V" allows for flexibility of key, but the fact remains, I said G-C-D. This is what I meant to say. If I had wanted to say Roman numeral one, three and five, I would have done so.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:43 AM on April 21, 2011


I promise you, if you're in a circle of beginner guitar players who only know 5 or 6 chords, what key a song was written in won't matter one whit. They'll just play them all using G C and D, transposing willy nilly, and ruining all music theory developed on the planet up to that point.

(Warning: the preceding statement devolves into meaningless hyperbole)
posted by hippybear at 11:44 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes not even the rhythm seems to matter. I'll never forget hearing this girl at a party playing "Hearts and Thoughts" in 4/4 and making it work. I'd had a few beers and got all pedantic on her, ruining the little singing circle by trying to explain how 3/4 works. I should've just shut up and let her play.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:49 AM on April 21, 2011


According to Weird Al's blog:
Gaga’s manager has now admitted that he never forwarded my parody to Gaga – she had no idea at all. Even though we assumed that Gaga herself was the one making the decision (because, well, that’s what we were TOLD), he apparently made the decision completely on his own.

He’s sorry.

And Gaga loves the song.


I'm looking forward to the music video. :)
posted by xedrik at 12:25 PM on April 21, 2011


World Famous, the other thing that seems a bit off to me in what you're saying is that pop music seems far more concerned with originality and uniqueness and creativity in the "sonic texture" of a song than any other sort. That's why you can often identify a song you know from a two-second snippet without reference to the melody or the chord progression.

In that context, maybe it's almost beside the point to be paying so much attention to the melody if that's not really the sort of originality and creativity that pop stars are aiming for.
posted by straight at 12:27 PM on April 21, 2011


i'm not sure how the born this way/express yourself thing comes into play here, except that the story here is a pretext for the same old humorless whining. i don't think born this way is her strongest move, but i think it's because she went at it with an agenda, as noble as it is (and, as she said in her google thing, one aim was to put out a song at number one that celebrated GLBT folks by name, which was unprecedented, and which she did). i viewed gaga's first album as a retrospective of the range of previous decades' dance music, with all kinds of very specific well-known and -worn musical elements referenced and quoted therein that did not raise the same kinds of ire. in this case, it seemed to me more that the adamant haters needed something to hyperfocus on to counter what they resent in the appreciation she gets from fans every time she makes a move, which feelings of fun and good cheer apparently just drive them up the fucking wall. for most of us, simply not liking something, particularly when the assessment is purely subjective, rather sensibly precludes us from having to take it so far as to attack its sincerity or authenticity; where would it get us?

but which takes it to the same old conclusion, which is that many people are simply nourished by their hatreds and dislikes, and some so much so that the reality they can't find their way to is that they have no less appreciation for gaga than her most ardent fans, not so unlike how the most vocal anti-gay bully dudes often have the piggiest gay fantasies. really, what else explains the attraction, oddly characterized so often as involuntary exposure (in an age of purely customizable entertainment landscape), and the commitment to an ostensibly unworthy topic?

obviously, it's an aspect of gaga, and of fame generally, that i'm interested in; there are a lot of fascinating contradictions that are echoed in our politics and media mindset, such that i'm mildly surprised that no one has demanded gaga's birth certificate. i think david foster wallace gets at some of it with his take on irony and cynicism, and this place is an interesting one in terms of seeing where these elements endure and where they are overcome.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:34 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


In that context, maybe it's almost beside the point to be paying so much attention to the melody if that's not really the sort of originality and creativity that pop stars are aiming for.

Dude, it's the chorus of the song. Sing it without any musical accompaniment:

I'm beautiful in my way
'cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way.

Now sing the same melody but change the words:

So if you want it right now
then make him show you how
Express what he's got
oh baby ready or not
posted by The World Famous at 12:38 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've enjoyed this thread. :)

I haven't heard either song, but I decided to check out the lyrics to Born This Way.

Did I miss the memo where it's okay to refer to people from Asia as "Orient made" and Hispanic women as "Chola made"?

As a third generation American of Mexican descent whose family settled in and around East LA. That offends me.

I'm a Beaner, damnit!
posted by luckynerd at 1:30 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe if he'd gone the other way and made a song about her being sedate and really ordinary.

Not so much in the lyrics, but you may enjoy Roisin Murphy's video for Overpowered.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:36 PM on April 21, 2011


World Famous, I'm saying that praising or condemning a song based on the originality of its melody seems like something from the days when Irving Berlin was on the pop charts.

Now it's all about the texture of the sounds, the rhythm, the bass line, and sometimes the lyrics.

Sing it without any musical accompaniment

And they both sound completely lame, except for the extent to which the listener can hear the accompaniment in her head.
posted by straight at 1:51 PM on April 21, 2011


Did I miss the memo where it's okay to refer to people from Asia as "Orient made" and Hispanic women as "Chola made"?

No, you didn't miss any memo. It was discussed with the appropriate level of internet outrage in the thread about the Born This Way video.

As a third generation American of Mexican descent whose family settled in and around East LA. That offends me.

I'm a Beaner, damnit!


I grew up with a bunch of your types in southern New Mexico. They never had barbeques, which struck me as odd.
posted by hippybear at 2:01 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


World Famous, I'm saying that praising or condemning a song based on the originality of its melody seems like something from the days when Irving Berlin was on the pop charts.

Now it's all about the texture of the sounds, the rhythm, the bass line, and sometimes the lyrics.


I will say this about Lady Gaga... Her songs actually have melodies.

I know it's kind of a "get off my lawn" moment for me, but I'm so sick of pop songs with playground taunt-chant simplicity in place of actual melody I could scream. I mocked one of Britney's new singles for this so harshly toward a friend of mine that he can't listen to her new album at all without hearing my mockery, and he's a fan of Ms Spears.

So, yeah. It may be all about the texture of the sounds, the etc etc... but fuck, to me it mostly sounds like children making fun of each other during recess.
posted by hippybear at 2:04 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


World Famous, I'm saying that praising or condemning a song based on the originality of its melody seems like something from the days when Irving Berlin was on the pop charts.

straight, I'm saying that the melodies of the two songs are virtually identical and that Lady GaGa, who adamantly claims that she cannot tell that they are even remotely similar, is either tone deaf or a liar.

And they both sound completely lame, except for the extent to which the listener can hear the accompaniment in her head.

The fact that it's not a particularly good song is irrelevant to the fact that they are both the same song.
posted by The World Famous at 2:15 PM on April 21, 2011




I think it sounds as much like Vogue as Express Yourself.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:38 PM on April 21, 2011


Or the verse is Vogue and the chorus is Express Yourself.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:38 PM on April 21, 2011


well if this thread is winding down into comparative music 101, THIS is how you parody where I come from! Just kidding. I love Weird Al.


and the Circle Jerks
posted by Redhush at 2:46 PM on April 21, 2011


well if this thread is winding down into comparative music 101

I don't understand what's up with that, actually. My point was not about whether or not the songs are similar, but what, if anything, is to be gleaned from Lady GaGa's tearful and expletive-emphasized insistence that she is incapable of finding any melodic similarity between the two.
posted by The World Famous at 2:48 PM on April 21, 2011


Only she did say there is a similarity. But anyway, what have you gleaned?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:52 PM on April 21, 2011


I'm saying that praising or condemning a song based on the originality of its melody seems like something from the days when Irving Berlin was on the pop charts.

A lot of musicians and listeners could probably stand to learn a thing or two from the days when The Great American Songbook was written. This is sortof beside TWF's point, though.
posted by weston at 3:02 PM on April 21, 2011


Only she did say there is a similarity.

Really? Because here's the quote I read: "If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression." That's not only not her saying there's a melodic similarity, it's her flatly denying that there is any similarity other than the chord progression. She either cannot hear the melody or she's lying (or, I suppose, she doesn't know the difference between melody and chord progression).

That said, if I'm wrong and she did, in fact, acknowledge the shared melody that I noted earlier, I would love to hear or read what, exactly, she said about it.

But anyway, what have you gleaned?

That one of the items in the list I posted above must be true. Given the fervor of her denial and that she called anyone who is capable of hearing the melody of her song "retarded," I'm going with a combination of 2, 3, 4, 6 & 7.
posted by The World Famous at 3:05 PM on April 21, 2011


fallacy of the beard "in an age of purely customizable entertainment landscape"

You've mentioned that before, but what does it mean? I gather you don't mean "you could always turn off the TV if you don't like musician X", because that has always been the case. I suspect you mean something more along the lines of, say, "there are multiple music TV channels, so you can always pick one of the ones that doesn't play Gaga", or something like that. And I have to ask, not living in the US: don't they use her music on TV commercials, or play it in stores? At least here in Japan, I watch maybe 30 minutes of TV a day, and listen exclusively to my mp3 collection or non-pop internet radio stations, and I still know all her major hits, from hearing them in commercials and store PAs. Is that not the case in the US?
posted by Bugbread at 4:02 PM on April 21, 2011


The fact that it's not a particularly good song is irrelevant to the fact that they are both the same song.

I'm questioning your insistence that the melody and chord progression are the defining parameters of a modern pop song and that if two such songs have similar melody and chord progression then they are the same song. Because that doesn't seem to be where pop artists put most of their creative energy, nor is it the primary way in which most people identify a song. As I said before, many people can identify a pop song they know with snippets of sound too short to contain either melody or chord progression.

"If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression." That's not only not her saying there's a melodic similarity, it's her flatly denying that there is any similarity other than the chord progression.

I think it's possible she regards melodic similarity as irrelevant because it's not to her the essence of the song.
posted by straight at 4:18 PM on April 21, 2011


And I have to ask, not living in the US: don't they use her music on TV commercials, or play it in stores?

I promise you that I'm not a representative sample of media intake in the US, but if I hadn't clicked on links either from Gaga Monsters that I know or in MeFi threads about her, I never would have heard a single song of hers. I haven't heard her in stores or commercials at all.

Again, I'm not typical, and perhaps she's more pervasive than I realize. But I don't see her as being that immersive in the greater mediascape.

It's possible that the way permissions for such use are granted is significantly different between Japan and the US, too.
posted by hippybear at 4:25 PM on April 21, 2011


Ah, ok, thanks.
posted by Bugbread at 4:31 PM on April 21, 2011


I hear her plenty, but I am the Yelp duchess of my local skating rink, so that explains a lot of it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:38 PM on April 21, 2011


I'm questioning your insistence that the melody and chord progression are the defining parameters of a modern pop song and that if two such songs have similar melody and chord progression then they are the same song.

I have never insisted that the melody and chord progression are the defining parameters of a modern pop song. They are important and recognizable elements, obviously, and yes, if you sing the melody of Teenage Daydream over a different beat and claim it as your own, you're ripping it off.

I would, posit that if one sings the melody and lyrics of Let It Be over the beat of When The Levee Breaks, it would take a very special kind of tone deaf person to not recognize the difference between that and the song When The Levee Breaks. Indeed, there are lots of songs that sample that beat, and people don't seem to think they're all the same song, in spite of the fact that they share a common sampled beat. There are lots of examples of that sort of thing.

There are many elements of any song, modern or not, pop or not. Chord progressions and melody are two important ones, even in this marvelous modern world in which we live. They're not the only ones, of course. But they do exist, and somehow Lady GaGa manages to sing the melodies that correspond to her various songs when she gets out on that stage, so I'd guess that she's aware that there is such a thing as melody.

Based on the fact that Born This Way and Express Yourself share a common melody (and other elements) and that Lady GaGa vehemently denies that fact, I conclude that Lady GaGa is either a liar or is incapable of recognizing that one melody is similar to another.

Because that doesn't seem to be where pop artists put most of their creative energy, nor is it the primary way in which most people identify a song.

I'd like to see the data upon which you base those two assertions. I would posit that if you asked most people to sing or hum a few bars of a Lady GaGa song, they would not respond "Sorry, that's impossible without a TR-909 and Omnisphere."

I think it's possible she regards melodic similarity as irrelevant because it's not to her the essence of the song.

But she said that there is no similarity other than the chord progression.

If she regards melody as irrelevant, why doesn't she sing a completely different melody every time she performs the song?

I'm sorry, but the idea that chord progression and melody are irrelevant in modern pop music is ridiculous.
posted by The World Famous at 4:40 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Al's new album is announced and comes out June 21.
posted by Gary at 7:26 PM on April 21, 2011


I would posit that if you asked most people to sing or hum a few bars of a Lady GaGa song, they would not respond "Sorry, that's impossible without a TR-909 and Omnisphere."

Indeed- a Gaga interview (the Google talk?) noted that she writes all of her songs on the piano first. The sonic texture is not at all the core of the idea.
posted by Jpfed at 8:28 PM on April 21, 2011


this is where i tell you express yourself is D - G/C - G - D - and born this way is more like D - C - G - and "dear mr fantasy" by traffic and "i can't explain" by the who had that kind of chord progression, too, so everyone gets to sue everyone*

and k c and the sunshine band did it better, anyway** (at least on the chorus)

there is no originality, there is just bricolage, which if done cleverly enough, can pass as originality

good composers borrow, great ones steal

*ok, they're probably in different keys, but it's the same chord structure, ok?

** on 2nd listen, i think madonna took a quite a bit from k c with that song

posted by pyramid termite at 9:29 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would posit that if you asked most people to sing or hum a few bars of a Lady GaGa song, they would not respond "Sorry, that's impossible...

True, but if someone heard "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" or "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" for the first time sung without accompaniment, I think most people would agree they had "heard the song." But if someone has only heard someone sing the unaccompanied melody for "Born This Way," I think we'd be more hesitant to say that they had actually heard the song.

But World Famous, you and Jpfed have convinced me I'm trying to push this idea further than it really makes sense. I have seen GaGa sing her songs by herself while playing piano, so it's clear she does think of her songs more the way you've been saying.
posted by straight at 9:30 PM on April 21, 2011


fallacy of the beard "in an age of purely customizable entertainment landscape"

You've mentioned that before, but what does it mean?


i don't think my habits are so unusual, but i never listen to radio because i'm always carrying music with me; i don't watch commercials because all my television is time-shifted and i skip them; i love tv, but i specifically pick what i watch rather than just leaving it on a channel and taking whatever comes; i get a lot of new music exposure by recording video shows (like the ones on logo) and scanning through them later; i don't work or hang out in places where i'm involuntarily inundated with entertainment i don't enjoy. all this falls comfortably within the realm of choice.

i didn't know who gaga was (though i had heard the name) until i happened to catch a clip of her on saturday night live, and then i sought her stuff out.

but most of all, i don't at all resent the 0.2 seconds it takes me to bypass an FPP i have no interest in. that you get so many people around here complaining time and again how sick they are of hearing about some topic, after they've made the conscious decision to enter and engage with a discussion on the very subject they are ostensibly sick of, makes it clear that the exposure they're whining about is voluntary--which i take as a sign the resentment itself is like candy or nicotine to a lot of people. or a scab they just can't help picking over and over, figuring they can always blame the doctor for the resulting infection.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 10:59 PM on April 21, 2011


Al's new album is announced and comes out June 21.

I really want that shirt he's wearing.
posted by hippybear at 11:05 PM on April 21, 2011


That Album art seems like Brandon Bird... is it?!!?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:35 PM on April 21, 2011


But if someone has only heard someone sing the unaccompanied melody for "Born This Way," I think we'd be more hesitant to say that they had actually heard the song.

I think the activity you're talking about would really more accurately be discussed under the headings like arrangement or voicing/orchestration or mixing or something like that instead of songwriting. They're creative activities in their own right, and expansive or high quality efforts may be recognized as distinctive, but generally not to the point of independence.

there is no originality, there is just bricolage, which if done cleverly enough, can pass as originality

good composers borrow, great ones steal


True enough, but they usually acknowledge it in some way.
posted by weston at 12:21 AM on April 22, 2011


Love the way this parody both validates and contradicts the nature/nurture dichotomy, thus emphasizing the idea that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

"Born This Way" celebrates nature/genetics and individuality, and rightly so, but sometimes people use an overly rigid focus on this aspect to make excuses for their decisions or for not changing and growing throughout life.

Weird Al's song seems to challenge this focus while at the same time not completely disrespecting it. Rather than being about birth/genetics, he changes the focus to a decision to "perform" in a certain way, emphasizing the other side of the equation--the one where people have choices and make decisions that affect themselves and others...such as the decision to follow a W-H-I-M.

He also hits on this topic, I think, with the "not insane"-type lyrics...suggesting Lady Gaga's behaviors are not all innate. But of course, these lines could be, at the same time, a slightly back-handed compliment. They perhaps suggest that she is not crazy, but she behaves in semi-crazy ways, perhaps for the attention.

At the same time, by allowing her the freedom to behave in certain ways at certain times without using those behaviors to define her completely, Weird Al is simultaneously validating personal nature, caprice, and expression.

I don't know if Al meant for any of this, if anyone will read such a long post after 500+ other comments, and if it's understandable even if they do, but I loved that the song made me think about these issues, and for that reason I appreciate and thank you for the post.

Even without the interpretation, Weird Al's lyrics are as good, on a literal level, as I remember them from the 80's when I used to listen to him. He appears to be an intelligent and well-meaning person. Smart enough to call the Gaga camp's bluff on the writing/recording of the song, too.

Here's to whim--life would be so boring if we were all just simply predestined to do everything we do. Even if we are, I'm glad we aren't able to tell for sure that it's so.
posted by ottimo at 2:40 AM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


No Lady Gaga / Polka thread is complete without a link to Andy Rehfeldt's Polka Face.
posted by joshwa at 9:02 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's beautiful, joshwa.
posted by Bugbread at 11:06 PM on April 22, 2011


think the activity you're talking about would really more accurately be discussed under the headings like arrangement or voicing/orchestration or mixing or something like that instead of songwriting.

For dance music, which Gaga has one foot in, it's really hard to distinguish between production and engineering and song writing. There are plenty of dance records which have the same couple of notes played over and over again with the only variation being various effects applied to them.

I can even think of one trance record that literally just has one note played for the entire 5 minutes. The entire song is nothing but production and engineering. If you simply hummed the song, you wouldn't have gotten across its essence at all.

I don't think Gaga has that extreme of emphasis on production techniques, but there's definitely an element of that in the instrumentation.

That said, her stuff is still heavily vocal-based, so I think you can always hum the vocal and get across that much of it.
posted by empath at 8:50 AM on April 23, 2011


This is the thread where we talk about how great Skipper Dan is, right?

I had forgotten about it for about a year and a half until I saw this thread. Now it'll be in my head for who knows how long.

Wikipedia says it's a style parody of Weezer, but I can't say I'm really hearing it. Dare to be Stupid and Everything You Know is Wrong are spot-on; is Skipper Dan really meant to be after Weezer? Granted it's been a long time since Pinkerton and the Blue album were in my CD changer, but still...
posted by Gordafarin at 12:58 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can even think of one trance record that literally just has one note played for the entire 5 minutes. The entire song is nothing but production and engineering. If you simply hummed the song, you wouldn't have gotten across its essence at all.


Not really accurate. I listened to part of it and there were two tones, at least. Two chords even tho they were probably octave chords.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:13 PM on April 23, 2011


I tried to look up this thread and see if this has already posted, but Weird Al recently posted on his blog that Lady Gaga hadn't even heard about the parody, and it was her manager who refused the permission. Permission has now been granted and the album can go ahead. I'm not sure if this is just a face-saving measure on Gaga's part, but hooray and stuff.
posted by LMGM at 2:29 PM on April 24, 2011


I tried to look up this thread and see if this has already posted...

It has.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:47 PM on April 26, 2011


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