Weird Al Yankovic says that YouTube has made him into the Kleenex of pop song parody singers.
And he’s OK with that.
“It seems that anytime that a song comes out now, there’s immediately 10,000 parodies on YouTube, and often they’re attributed to me even though I had nothing to do with them,” said Yankovic, 53. “Which is good I guess, it’s like I’ve become a brand name in parodies, like people saying Kleenex instead of tissues.”
Yankovic says YouTube has made it “impossible” for him to be unique as a parody performer. But he’s being modest, since for a generation of people Yankovic was the only pop parody performer anyone knew of, and he’s still probably the only one who can fill 2,000-seat venues around the country doing parodies.
He’ll be in Portland, at the State Theatre, on Monday. Yankovic brings with him the same band he’s had for 30 years. He also brings his stockpile of some 30 years’ worth of parodies, from “Eat It” ( Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”) and “Yoda” (The Kink’s “Lola”) in the 1980s to more recent works like “Party in the CIA” (Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.”) and “Perform This Way” (Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”) And don’t forget the polkas. Yankovic’s beloved instrument is the accordion, and he’s melded pop hits with polkas like few others have. His 1996 recording of “The Alternative Polka” is a medley of polka versions of angst and grunge-type tunes by Beck, Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, Alanis Morissette, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Soundgarden, and more.
In recent years, Yankovic has branched out to writing children’s books, and not weird ones either. He is currently touring not only to do his live show, but to promote his second children’s book “My New Teacher and Me,” illustrated by Wes Hargis.
The book is a gently humorous story about a young child and a new teacher. Though it’s a fairly conventional children’s picture book, Yankovic says that in writing it he uses some of the same skills as he does in writing outrageous parody lyrics for pop songs.
Yankovic said as a kid he was huge fan of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. He feels like his love of word play comes in handy when writing song parodies, or children’s books.
“Though my songs have more of an edge, I think, than the books,” he said.
Though Yankovic says its tougher now to pick a unique parody topic or song, he seems to find plenty. His last album, “Alpocalypse” came out in 2011, hit the top ten on the Billboard album chart, and featured a mix of parodies and silly originals. Besides the Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus parodies, he also did his own lyrics for B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You” (“Another Tattoo”) and for “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift (“TMZ”). The song “TMZ” is about the celebrity gossip TV program of the same name.
Yankovic’s originals on the last album included “Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me” which is very much in the style of “I’d Do Anything for Love” by Meat Loaf.
Yankovic’s live show, with fat suits and video screens and quick costume changes, has been basically the same for years, Yankovic says. Except that it gets bigger and a little crazier all the time.
Apparently on stage is where Yankovic displays all his inner weirdness, which is good for fans. His home life sounds kind of boring.
“I enjoy long stretches of doing nothing,” said Yankovic. “This morning I was playing a board game with my daughter. I like board games.”
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: