The best Weird Al songs, ranked

Image via IFC

Parody music has never been more accessible thanks to the internet, and no one has immortalized it more than “Weird Al” Yankovic. Born Alfred Matthew Yankovic, the American entertainer recently announced plans for a biographical film about his life on the Roku streaming service, which will star Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe. The idea was previously satirized in a web short from Funny or Die in 2010 with Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as Yankovic.

As his life story gets closer to being told on screen, many may wonder what of his work can actually be considered good, or even great. Is all mockery a waste of time, or are there items that can surpass the original songs they pay tribute to? As always, we’ve got you covered.

Below you will find our ranking of the best songs from Weird Al to date. Though other articles of this type often have a spoiler warning attached, it’s not really feasible to do so here, as parodies by nature require familiarity with the original songs. Without further ado, here are the top 10 best Weird Al songs ⏤ so far.

10. “Smells Like Nirvana” (1992)

Yankovic is famous for nailing the look of original works, and here he pins down the grunge aesthetic of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” expertly. The intelligible lyrics mock how the song was hard to understand and almost needed subtitles, and the mumbled parts speak for themselves. Kurt Cobain loved it and was reported to have felt like the band had finally achieved success when they were approached for their blessing for the mockery to be made.

9. “Eat It” (1984)

This parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” was arguably the work that shot Al to mainstream acceptance, and though it’s silly, it’s still catchy to this day. It won him a Grammy, featured many of the dancers from the original video in its recreation, and also features guitar work from underrated American rock legend Rick Derringer, making it a solid musical contribution.

8. “Amish Paradise” (1996)

This tribute to “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio is not without its controversy. Though Yankovic does not need permission from artists to mock a song, he always seeks it out of respect and as a means of maintaining good relationships. It later came out that Coolio was upset about the parody, as he felt the piece had disrespected the serious meaning of his original work, but the pair made amends in 2016 with Coolio admitting he’d been “stupid.” If you haven’t seen the music video, give it a watch. There’s a great jab at Prince and a fun cameo you won’t see coming.

7. “Achy Breaky Song” (1993)

This is one of only a few songs from Weird Al that does not have a corresponding music video, but it’s on our ranking for being a great takedown of the infamous work by Billy Ray Cyrus. Its opening feels familiar, but the song hits on a variety of divisive and loathed acts while also poking fun at Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.” Fun fact: It was played often on country radio stations!

6. “Foil” (2014)

A parody of Lorde’s “Royals,” this piece sees Yankovic take on conspiracies while leading a cooking show. While it begins with his familiar ground of food and culinary references, it’s fun to watch as it shifts into the bizarre and insane. Artists who have tried to change a piece from one thing to another at a rapid pace could learn a lot from Al here.

5. “Perform This Way” (2011)

A parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” this is higher on our list for being a clever crack of a tough nut. How does one make fun of an artist without stepping on what is an important song about empowering those in the LGBTQ+ community? Yankovic, as he often does, found a way and made it about Gaga’s clothing styles. It was a truly genius move, and he did even better here by encouraging those who liked the piece to donate to the Human Rights Campaign.

4. “Angry White Boy Polka” (2003)

It’s wild how different background music can make serious or harder songs seem more mellow or ridiculous, and Yankovic proves that this is possible with anything on this track that has polka music and lyrics from songs like System of a Down’s “Chop Suey,” “Rage Against the Machine’s “Renegades of Funk,” and others.

3. “Don’t Download This Song” (2006)

Gal Gadot and a host of public figures know that saccharine and ridiculous awareness songs are not good, and Weird Al also knew this long before they got their education in the era of COVID-19. This piece makes fun of the genre while not really touching on a specific tune, and the extreme things that happen to a boy who dares to defy the music business is the best kind of criticism of the industry Yankovic has shown to date.

2. “White & Nerdy” (2006)

A twist on “Ridin” by Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone, this piece satirizes Caucasian men who often want to act like those they see in urban ghetto settings and in modern forms of mass media. Al makes a number of nerdy references in it, and this was his first piece to achieve a platinum certification from the recording industry. Chamillionaire was also very impressed with Yankovic’s rapping skills and said he was “pretty good” and also “crazy.”

1. “The Saga Begins” (1999)

In our opinion, a good song from Weird Al Yankovic should mock something well-known, be affectionate while amusing, and have a catchy side to it alongside a great video. This piece, which goes along with Don McLean’s “American Pie” and pokes fun at Star Wars, is the perfect example of this and is his best song to date. George Lucas loved it, and anything that can please him while also correctly guessing most of Episode One’s plot is just amazing.

This concludes our list of the best Weird Al Yankovic songs to date. We hope there are a few original ones in the coming biopic, which promises to explore Yankovic’s “depraved lifestyle.” May they last as long as the ones on this list.