The White and Nerdy Edition
Welcome to hip hop podcast of pop chart history from slate magazine about the hits from coast to coast. I'm Chris Landfill Chart Analyst pop critic and writer of slates wise. The Song Number One series on today's show last month in our December Twenty nineteen episode of Hip Parade. I talked about the improbable smash that was sitting on top of billboard's hot one hundred Mariah Carey's holiday classic all. I want for Christmas. Is You the first Christmas Song to top. Billboard's hot one hundred in sixty one years is that compelled us to play you the prior Christmas song to hit number one which reached the top all the way back in nineteen fifty eight As I noted David Saville's the chipmunk Song is less a Christmas song then then a novelty record it was still on the hot one hundred for weeks into nineteen fifty-nine long after the holidays were over and hand in a way. This wasn't surprising because in the early rock era novelty records were chart dominators. ooh This was the golden era for goofy hits a time when comical records would not only make the hot one hundred regularly really but quite frequently top chart jungle limbs off a tree in a time when live comics and veteran standups won grammys sold piles of albums and even got on the radio radio. Hello Hello Fata. And while the so-called golden age of novelty songs was the nineteen fifties is and sixties right through the seventies novelty and comedy songs did serious chart business the thing about novelty records though what distinguishes them from Christmas songs is they are a hard hard way to sustain a career sure. Some novelty hits our holiday related. which does make them? perennials graveyards but most novelty hits by their very nature are flashes in the Pan meant went to capture a specific cultural moment. That's what makes the one major ager novelty artist who broke in the nineteen eighties. The one whose name now leaps immediately to most Americans minds when they hear the phrase the Novelty Song so exceptional. He pulled it off. He built a decades long career out of being a goofball so before we talk about the man who actually called all himself weird I will explain how the charts both helped him and made his job so challenging thus making his this chart topping success that much more amazing you might say the magic ingredient was Hokka Pie and as we enter the twenty twenties. We'll even talk about how this accordion in playing national treasure could come back and command the hit parade again more than four decades after he started. And that's where your hit parade marches today. The week ending October October. Twenty first two thousand six. When Weird Al Yankovic White and nerdy reached number nine on billboard's hot one hundred? It was AL's first top ten hit in a multi decade career and the start of a new age for novelty songs on the charts the forty outside before we get there. Let's talk about the time. Be a before al.. The golden age of the novelty over breakfast sandwich as with my sleep day. This is often the moment in hit parade episode where I offer provisos and definitions and for this this episode. We have a real head scratcher. What exactly is a novelty record? Who Decides the recording artist? Just the music industry the public in a way they all do because novelty is in the eye ear and funny bone one of the beholder for example consider this classic by R. and B. Group. The coasters Yucky. Yeah yeah a number one hit in nineteen fifty eight written and produced by Jerry. Lieber and Mike Stolen both that legendary. Songwriting duo and the coasters are in the rock and Roll Hall of fame and the Song is hilarious. A series of drill sergeant commands by a comically pissed off parent hereon at a surly fifties teenager. Okay but is Yacky Yak a novelty record Joel. Whitbourne Whitbourne the authoritative chart statistician who publishes Books Tracking Billboard Hits Tag these socially satirical Jaki Yak Anomaly saw however whip burned does claim that the coasters follow-up hit also written by Lieber installer was a novelty record the the Equality Funny Charlie Brown a number two hit in nineteen fifty nine. Is this song a novelty because it name checks a comic strip character. Music scholar Steve. We've often in his book. The golden age of novelty songs includes both Jaki Yak and Charlie Brown in his study of the Genre congre which he says has a proud tradition. and that's another thing. Is it even insulting to call record a novelty because is both Jaki Yak and Charlie Brown are pretty great. propulsed live witty clever. How we could do this all day in this episode talk about the mysterious distinctions between novelty and normal hits? Is this number. One hit from the eighties by Austrian singer Falco a novelty or a sly mash up of of the classical figure. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the then new musical idiom of rap speaking of rap. What about vis nine thousand nine hundred ninety two number one smash by Sir Mix a lot? Oh my God becky. We devoted a large chunk of our nineties rap episode of Hip Parade to baby. Got Back. Because it's an important song long for the emergence of hip hop on the charts in that decade but it starts with a spoken word comedy bid and the whole song is a laugh riot and yet few tag baby got back a novelty one. More comparison powers in the sixties this song by Australian Rolf Harris Timea Kangaroo down sport a number three. US Hit in one thousand. Nine hundred sixty three was regarded as culturally. Specific novelty. Hit a borderline offensive ditty that trafficked in Australian stereotypes stereotypes for Non Australians amusement. The NAB downs time down but and twenty years later this nineteen eighty three men at work number one hit trafficked in many of the same snarky Australian troops but down under was regarded as a Whimsical pop song and a new wave. Classic while Rolf Harris's Alcee satirizing hit is called a novelty men at work's is not about. My point is not to come up with a definitive answer sir to what a novelty record is rather. I want to emphasize that the border between so-called serious hits and novelties is thin indeed indeed novelty may be like pornography to paraphrase a supreme court justice. You know it when you hear it. Several artists we will discuss have walked that line throughout their careers. In fact dating back to the days of Tin Pan Alley Novelty songs were such a fixture on the hit parade that some of the most celebrated singers found them irresistible vehicles for getting on the radio. Much is that Again the window though. That's traditional pop vocalist Patti page with the nineteen fifty. Three number one hit. How much is that Doggie in the window? Window page recorded all sorts of songs and scored hits with everything from the classic Tennessee Waltz to Allegheny Moon but Doggie in the window. Complete with barking. Sounds one of her biggest hit is whimsical. If not exactly the funny. But it was part of a long tradition of comical or quirky records that were hits for everyone from Al Jolson to Tex Williams. It was somewhat rarer for a recording artists to focus exclusively on comedy records but Spike Jones the nineteen forties and fifties performer not to be confused with the Modern Day. Film director was a pioneer of the novelty form. Build up all day for the race. Food town is favored today assaulted in their dog. Biscuit is Rita one safety has been unscratched. Spike Jones was not only a bandleader and host of a TV variety show he was a creator and altar of comical recordings. His songs could be heard as a satire of the big band era replacing musical notes with obnoxious clatter in Jones's hands a piece of music as grand as Rossini's William Tell overture would turn utterly madcap instruments is competing with noisemakers Spike Jones and his city slickers even scored a holiday holiday perennial and novelty standard with his nineteen forty nine number. One hit all I want for. Christmas is my two front teeth for Christmas. With his exposure boh-sia in a range of Media Spike Jones would serve as an inspiration to generations of novelty recording artists including weird Al Yankovic Mlkadic but Spike Jones hits were largely confined to the pre rock era. Of course rock and roll had its own Manic Energy Ritchie that lent itself to laughs and it is remarkable. How many early rock and roll hits can be read? As basically comical the big boppers chantilly lace this is tagged by Joel whipper and other rock historians as a novelty record even as he is also regarded as a rockabilly pioneer. The same goes for multi. Genre singer Bobby Darin who broke as a rock and roller with the KITSCHY. Catchy splish splash it and later in the decade Rock Pioneer Bo Diddley scored believe it or not his only top forty pop hit with same man. A single that is essentially mostly dialogue as is to shit talking friends. Rank on each other over a beat black rock and roll was also the Meta text for another form of parody. Hit the so-called break in record invented by producer Dickie Goodman his nineteen fifty-six hit with partner. Bill Buchanan the flying saucer. Reinvented Orson Jason Wells. War of the worlds as a spoken word news broadcast punctuated by snippets of then current rock and roll hits Goodman failed to get permission. For any of the song samples it was arguably the rock. Era's first mix tape mash offramp. I Ju- In general comedy records were a Ripe Forum for experimentation as we discussed in last month's hit parade eventual chipmunks monks creator David Seville helped refine the art of sped up recording with his nineteen fifty eight number. One hit the witch doctor. The doctor with doctor he totally what he says and weeks later the high pitched recording trick was replicated by another chart topper shove willies. The purple people eater. There's two purple. Only maybe address you. Your sound was novelty. Records were so omnipresent in nineteen fifty eight that Willie's hit even included a reference to another comical smash Willie's backup singers snuck in reference to short shorts a song going by the royal teens. That had peaked at number three just weeks earlier. These novelty records were in dialogue with each other. Sometimes openly Joe South south a young singer who a decade later would win the song of the year. Grammy for Games. People play scored his first chart hit in the summer of nineteen fifty eight with the mash up record. The Purple People Eater meets the witch doctor. I got real strange. Found people eater and my practice. I saw the witch doctor Seton by his side world witchdoctor in the start of the sixties novelty records. Were topping the hot one hundred on the regular nineteen sixty alone. had three chart topping topping novelty hits and sonically. They were all over the map. Whether it was Brian Hyland's Chirpy owed to a tiny bathing suit very very risque by nineteen sixty standards or four a lurching party record about a caveman named alleyoop recorded by a fictional one off Los Angeles band who call themselves the Hollywood Hollywood argyle's or the half spoken word. Mister custer her a photo lament by a soldier in eighteen seventy six pleading with his general not to send him into the battle of the little bighorn. The track doc was fronted by a man named Larry Verne. Who'd never sung in his life but had a memorable southern drawl of these artists? Only Brian Hyland of itsy-bitsy teeny weeny in Yellow Polka dot. Bikini fame went on to further recording success and that was his last novelty hit. However the producer of the Hollywood argyle's Gary Paxton would produce an even bigger novelty smash two years later Bobby Pickett's Halloween perennial slash instructional dance record? The Monster Mash a number one in October. One thousand nine hundred sixty two graveyards on slow. It's generally novelty alty. Records were a producer's medium and the artists were incidental. The one thousand nine hundred sixty one number. One mother-in-law A CLASSIC OF NEW ORLEANS R&B and hilarious plant about a meddling maternal figure was the first big hit for legendary writer and producer Alan to song as for the lead artist of mother-in-law New Orleans singer Ernie Quedo it was his only top forty. Hit in me on top of all of these musical novelties. The early sixties was a boom time for straight up comedy recordings by stand up and nightclub performers performers like Bob Bob Newhart yes that Bob Newhart. The Future TV legend was I kid you not a comedy. LP selling Titan in the early sixties new hearts nineteen sixty album the button down mind of Bob newhart topped the billboard album chart for fourteen weeks and one thousand nine hundred sixty one grammy for album of the year offense where you're going with Mr Adams junk for my car. Seven seventy five. And where was that your driveway. Two years later that same grammy was won by another spoken word comedy. LP The first. I family a blockbuster album by comedian and John F. Kennedy impersonator meter that you didn't touch phthalate either routine tonight or at dinner last night would you tell us. Please let me say this about that now. Number one in my opinion the fault does not lie as much with the salad as she does with the addressing being used had a time in the early sixties when the long playing thirty three and a third. RPM album was only beginning going to overtake the forty five RPM single live comedy in front of an audience proved a durable seller of LP records and if a live comedian could tell jokes while singing all the better Harvey CPAP he works for Ib am he went to. Mit God is hd former TV producer. Allan Sherman made a bigger name for himself in writing comic parodies of well known public domain songs with goofy lyrics not unlike Spike Jones a decade earlier Sherman scored three number one. LP's filled with Borscht belt style parody songs in nineteen sixty two and sixty three back. Toback toback he even scored a number two single in the summer of sixty three with his dance of the hours parody about a boy riding home from summer. Camp Hello Mudehwe hello fodder hello fodder here. I am at Camp Granada very entertaining. And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining in a more area Vein Piano playing college professor. Tom Lehrer satirized. The fears and foibles of Cold War Era Society -ociety with Jaunty Cole. Porter like melodies visit American city. You will find it very pretty just two things which you must be aware. Don't drink the water and don't breathe the air but after a half decade of performing his original ditties in front of audiences both in clubs and on television laborers nineteen sixty five album. That was the year that was cracked the billboard the top twenty and eventually went gold by the late sixty S. After the British invasion and Hippie rock began to take over the charts the line between novelty records and rock hits became blurry some novelty hits still read as pure comedy singer Songwriter. Jerry Samuels while under the influence of psychedelics. wrote a perverse song about going mad complete with chipmunk like like sped up vocals released under the moniker Napoleon the fourteenth. They're coming to take me away. Ha Ha reached number three in the summer of one thousand nine hundred. Sixty six coming to take me away. Ha The coming to take me away Ho to the funny farm where life is is beautiful all the time and be happy to say those nice young men in their. Interestingly several listeners noticed in in one thousand nine hundred sixty six that the Napoleon the fourteenth zone featured the same marching drumbeat. As a very recent Bob Dylan stoner anthem. Rainy Day women number twelve thirty five live had reached number two on the charts just weeks earlier in the spring of sixty six. Of course this being Dylan. no-one considered hit a novelty. There was a similarly thin line between novelty and rock credibility on snoopy versus the Red Baron and the breakthrough hit for Florida banned the Royal Guardsmen there whimsical. Oh my gosh to Charles Schulz's comic strip. Canine reached number are two in early. Nineteen sixty seven by the way the second number two hit named for a peanuts character after the coasters one thousand nine hundred fifty nine hit curly brown challenge. They got a if that little rock breakdown sounded familiar. It's because the royal guardsman's snoopy included an intentionally obvious he s allusion to the McCoy's nineteen sixty five number. One hit hang on snoopy indeed throughout the PSYCHEDELIC era. The novelty status of hit records was debatable. especially when sixties pop took on the sounds of Music Hall and Vaudeville Novelty Song Scholar. Steve Often USC. It claims that the two number one hits by Herman's hermits both juvenile revivals of Music Hall. DITTIES are in essence novelty realty records. Mrs Brown you've got a lovely daughter uh-huh and I'm entry. Excuse me Henry. The Eighth I am saves the bust a year later British novelty act the new Vaudeville band scored their only chart topping hit winchester cathedral with an old timey megaphone like the again. None of these trippy. Hits was tagged a novelty by the music business but was the difference between these singles and the more outlandish knowingly tweeden novelty hit tiptoe through the tulips with me by nineteen eighteen sixty eight ukulele playing falsetto singing. Tiny tim the with tiny Tim. Aw was such a pop culture sensation in one thousand nine hundred sixty eight and sixty nine his televised marriage to Miss Vicki on the tonight show drew tens Hinz of millions of viewers that his single hit the top twenty and his album reached the top ten and rode the charts for more than half a year on the countryside of the radio. Dial Johnny cash new the power of a novelty song. He recorded a stem winding story story song written by cartoonist and Songwriter Shel Silverstein called a boy named sue and he took it to number two on the hot one hundred in one thousand nine hundred sixty nine his biggest ever pop hit a cash never took himself too seriously deep into the seventies. He scored his biggest country number one of the decade gate and his last pop. Top forty hit with tall tale one piece at a time a novelty record about a GM plant worker building his his own Cadillac by smuggling home auto parts from his job. On time. You lets it and in the early seventies another rock. Pioneer Chuck Berry scored. His is only number one with the lewd novelty. My Dingley recorded live in front of a British audience who lustily sang by the seventy s novelty records were a big enough genre to inspire their own. Radio program created by a man born Barry Hansen Johnson. Who redubbed himself doctor? demento doctor Demento where on the radio line up your Radio Westwood. One presents the Dr Phil Show to launched at a Pasadena radio station and eventually syndicated at dozens of stations nationwide. The doctor Demento show would play the kind kind of crazy ephemera too weird for the top forty. The doctor Demento show would prove a formative influence on a generation of novelty performance. In later years Hansen would would claim that he launched the show because novelty records. were starting to disappear from the radio. Airwaves after rock turned more serious. In in the late sixties airplay was indeed often the limiting factor with funny or novelty records. The amusement would become less amusing amid the repetition of top forty radio rotation but truth be told novelty records could still become hits in the seventies seventies. One musician even spent the decade successfully walking the line between serious and silly ray. Stevens was the irrepressible energizer. Bunny of novelty hit makers risky had been knocking around the music industry. Since the early sixties he'd even scored a couple of top forty novelty hits early in the decade like a half the Arab but Stevens stepped up his game toward the end of the sixties guitar and Ode to a Loincloth. Clad rock and roller was his first gold. Single in one thousand nine hundred sixty nine during the sixties Stevens had on occasion tried his hand at singles scoring minor hits with tracks like Sunday morning coming down which was later a country hit for Johnny cash. But it wasn't until the seventies that Ray Stevens his career took an unexpectedly ernest turn back on the nineteen seventy number. One hit everything is beautiful. Ray Stevens turned kitsch in to cancel. The single was received as a straight faced inspirational song. Complete with a children's chorus an anthem of tolerance. That was even played in churches. Virtuous everything is beautiful. One grammys in both the pop and inspirational categories in nineteen seventy one and it was played on easy listening and even country stations. But Stevens couldn't stay in in this lane by the mid Seventies. He put his tongue firmly back in his cheek. In nineteen seventy four Stevens jumped on a fad sweeping the nation. And the World Streak Ed Eh. From sporting events to universities and even the Academy Awards Pranksters were sprinting naked in public like never before never never one to pass up a whimsical trend. Ray Stevens wrote and recorded the streak which topped both the US and UK charts in the Sprang of seventy four. It even reached number three on the American country chart pointing the direction. That Stevens career was headed on the north by the end of the decade Stevenson's brand of humor has been most warmly embraced by country audiences and he began aiming his novelty tracks. Like the nineteen eighty-one hit shriner's convention directly at country. Radio Stevens is politics also turned more conservative. Later decades would find him scoring country. Hits with the likes of Osama Yo Mama and Caribou Barbie however nineteen nineteen seventy four is the streak remains Ray Stevens his biggest ever hit but Ray Stevens remained the exception a mostly novelty avalon. hitmaker with more than one hit to doctor demento point but the seventies novelty singles were largely one offs C. See W McCall. Another country pop. Crossover artist who likes. Stevens tried to build a career out of novelty hits managed one on chart topping smash in the winter of one thousand nine hundred seventy six that capitalized on the growing fad of citizens band or CB radio radio the trucker anthem convoy CW. McCall and Iowa singer who invented his truck driver persona for an advertising campaign and wound ended up assuming it for decades never reached the top forty again. The seventies were a kitschy decade in general and like Ray a Stevens a song about streaking or C. W McCall Song about. CB radio's no cultural trend. Escaped novelty hit status Addis Dickie Goodman who in the fifties had invented these so-called breaking record scored another such smash in nineteen seventy five breath with the number four hit Mr Jaws a combination spoken word and pop song satire of Steven Spielberg's Blockbuster Shark Doc. Movie we are here on the beach where a giant shark has just eaten a girl swimmer. Well Mr Jaws how was it and what what did you say when you grabbed her. No Shock Sir. Stupid and in one thousand nine hundred seventy six radio. Dj Rick Dees. He's took a break from his day job to satirize disco music with Disco Duck. A number one hit that would make a cameo appearance in the movie Saturday night fever a year later speaking of media personalities Moonlighting from their jobs. I would be remiss if I left the seventies without talking about the recording success success of. TV's Saturday night live SNL's also. I five years are renowned for several reasons including reinventing TV sketch comedy for a new generation and introducing a new wave of comic performers like Chevy Chase Gilda radner and Bill Murray but one underrated aspect of Saturday. Night live launch was its impact on the music business of course each episode featured a musical performer. which by itself helped break various artists lists but the SNL cast members the so-called not ready for primetime players were also music Dabbler who's dabbling dowling's a lot of records? The Blues Brothers were an invention of SNL CAST members. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd originally finally devised as a warm up act for SNL's Studio Audience Belushi and Aykroyd performances as Jake and elwood blues. Complete with kitschy fifties style suits and Fidora's eventually made the live. TV show itself. Then with the help. Hope of future David Letterman bandleader Paul. Shaffer Belushi and Aykroyd assembled an actual blues brothers band with legendary aside men from booker t and the M Jeez and their album briefcase full of blues was a no kidding number one LP on the billboard album chart it even spun off top forty hits like they're straight faced cover of Salmon Dave's soul man and their novelty novelty hit rubber biscuit on and what's more in January January one thousand nine hundred seventy nine. The week briefcase full of blues broke into the album charts top three. It was sitting next to another LP by by a Saturday night live regular. Old Steve Martin was never an official. SNL CAST member but he was the show's most frequent guest and his repeat appearances. Princes made him a comedy Megastar Martin's Lp a wild and crazy guy was mostly a standup album recorded. Live live in front of crowds in San Francisco and Denver but it closed with a novelty track. Martin wrote for and first performed on Saturday night live King Tut celebrated and satirized Egyptian Pharaoh. Tutankhamun whose remains toward American museums. In one thousand nine hundred seventy eight and were a cultural blockbuster. Released as a single in seventy eight Steve Martin's King Tut made the hot one hundred's top twenty and it pushed Martin's a wild and crazy guy. LP to number two on the charts and double platinum entering the nineteen eighties. Then novelty records were not exactly scarce and some were even hits but they were a tough way to build a sustained career career. Tightening radio formats meant that most stations would not play comical records in regular all day rotation especially after after the launch of FM radios so called morning. Zoo programs these madcap morning shows offered a venue for novelty singles but they might be the only time. Such songs would be played so while established performers like Frank. ZAPPA could score one off. Novelty hits like nineteen eighty-two Valley girl a number thirty to hit recorded with his daughter Moon Unit or pop superstar Rick Springfield could crack the top thirty with the song. Long Bruce a novelty hit about how Mr Springfields fans confused him with Mr Springsteen. It was understood that these songs were never going to receive heavy radio rotation and for performer. Who specialized in novelty hits like? Chicago's jump in the Saddle Apple. Curly the time in the spotlight was brief. Jump in the saddle smash the curly shuffle sold well enough to reach number fifteen gene in early one thousand nine hundred eighty four but again. It's radio spins were largely confined to morning and drive time. Hours and jump in the saddle title never cracked the hot one hundred again. Doctor DEMENTO had a point novelty hits even when they found an audience. We're now no longer anger. Radio hits it was around this time that a young protege of Doctor Demento 's broke on the charts a novelty recording artists. Who would go on to build the most enduring career in comical Nicole musically when we come back how AL became weird in the summer of Nineteen nineteen seventy-nine nineteen year old? Alford Yankovic a student at California Polytechnic State. University in San Luis Obispo California. Nia noticed that there was this punchy song dominating the radio it was my Sharona. The atop hit of one thousand nine hundred seventy nine recorded by new wave rock band the knack and one thing owl knew right away this would be a funny any song to parody. How Yankovic had already spent years listening to the doctor Demento show and home recording his own comical the songs played on accordion? Al Had even passed a tape of some of his songs to Demento when the radio host visited Al's high school all in one thousand. Nine hundred seventy six DEMENTO played a couple of AL songs on the show now at CAL poly Yankovic took his accordion into into a bathroom across from the college radio station and recorded his own version of the tax hit Hungary. One hungry one. I had with him my Bologna Ano- marsh to lunch. Meat would not only launch Al Yank vicks recording career. It typified several royal trends for him for one thing. It was a smash on the doctor. DEMENTO show demento claimed my below was his most requested song of Nineteen Nineteen seventy-nine for another thing als- parody charmed the artist behind the original song. Doug Feiger lead singer of of the neck found out about my Bolognia expressed his appreciation for the flattering Omar and helped. I'll get it released on the next own label people capitol records and it was on that forty five actual label that Al formerly debuted his full performing me. Weird Weird Al Yankovic. A moniker given to him by fellow CAL poly students a couple of years earlier by nineteen eighty. Allie was a star on the doctor Demento show and when he appeared as a guest on the program late that year he came ready to record a follow follow up to my Bologna and had even selected his next hit song parody and another one. The Queen's another one bites the dust was rising to number one on the hot one hundred in the fall of nineteen eighty just cost as al appeared on the Demento show accompanied only by his accordion and the pounding of self styled drummer. Jon Bermuda Mute Schwartz on Al's accordion case Yankovic recorded another one rides. The bus live in Doctor Demento studio media it released on former disco label. Tk records another one rides. The bus became weird Al's first billboard hit reaching a number one hundred and four on the magazine's bubbling under the hot one hundred chart in March of nineteen eighty one. The song was popular enough enough. That al was invited by late night TV host. Tom Snyder to perform another one. Rides the bus on his NBC program the the Tomorrow Show Weird. Al Yankovic I became known for his parodies of Popular Rock Tunes in one thousand. Nine hundred seventy nine with parody song done by the next which was called Misha Aroma and weird. Al Knew how to present himself off on television with his shaggy hair and Frank Zappa like mustache and his rabid rock and roll attack on the Accordion on rock instrument and here was a performer. who had seemingly learned from every novelty act that had come to four from Spike Jones and Allan Sherman? The wit of of combining a familiar melody with unexpected lyrics from Shel Silverstein. How to build a whimsical song like a story from Tom? Lehrer are how to make parody song lyrics not only funny but sharply phrased all of these skills including the visual would come in handy very very soon. It should be noted that weird. AL's initial breakthrough via the DEMENTO show predated the nineteen eighty-one launch of MTV. But once that video channel took off and popularized the music video in America the kinds of new wave songs that became hits lent themselves yourselves to parody and Allie Yankovic had a great year for hit songs with both comic and visual potential. Joan Jett and the black hearts cover of the Arrows I love rock and roll was a number one smash in the spring of one thousand nine hundred eighty two and it lent itself to another weird Al Food Related Parity already I love rocky road helped get out a permanent signing to a label Scotti brothers records and it spawned one of his earliest music videos in which rich a leather clad al trying to look as bad as as Joan Jett herself makes a grand entrance in an ice cream parlor and demands his favorite flavor later in nineteen eighty-two another new wave chart topper would inspire another TV friendly parody. Mickey was a hit largely fuelled by MTV ATV a song that singer choreographer and video artist Toni. Basil routes specifically to accompany her clip of a drill team of cheerleaders. You leaders it reached number one on the hot one hundred in late. Nineteen eighty two and in weird. AL's hands off. Aw I knew blow. It became an Omarosa Komo. TV's I love Lucy with future simpsons voice actress Tress McNeil playing the part of Lucille Ball and weird al.. Oh doing his best Ricky Ricardo. The video shot mostly in black and white presented a madcap but letter perfect parody of the Lucy show and went into regular rotation on MTV. This exposure finally got out onto the hot one hundred itself. Not just the bubbling under Chart Ricky reached number sixty three in the spring of Nineteen eighty-three less than six months after Toni Basil's original Mickey had topped the chart. A follow up single release of I love rocky road also charted in billboard but missed the hot one hundred bubbling under at number one. Oh six this mixed chart. Performance reflected the specific challenge facing weird Al in the early eighties. AL's skill was parodying being songs that were very recent hits trading on their familiarity and adding not only comical lyrics but hilarious. MTV friendly videos news but even following up hits as big as Joan. Jett's and Toni Basil's in an era of regimented. Top Forty Radio Radio playlists a weird AL parody would have to be truly enormous to make the upper reaches of the hot one hundred remember. You're also that in the seventies what got songs like the streak and convoy to number one was latching onto a major trend or fat in short our would have to parody a positively massive cultural phenomenon to break into the top forty and as one thousand nine hundred eighty three turned to eighty four. That's exactly what he did. Yeah well don't general. That are starting up Pan Weird Al targeted the biggest pop sensation on the planet with eat it a parody of Michael Jackson's beat read it a number one hit in the spring of nineteen eighty-three taken from Jackson's all time bestselling album thriller eat. It was recorded and released. When Jackson Mania was at its absolute apex? It should also be noted that as per his usual policy our reached Out to Jackson himself to secure his approval parodies are protected in US law as fair use but AL insists on receiving leaving the original acts blessing to ensure there are no misunderstandings and to ease the process of apportioning royalties on songs. Owl did not originally right like Doug Feiger of the neck. Most artists are flattered by a weird AL parody but Michael Jackson's seal of approval in one thousand nine hundred. Eighty four proved invaluable. That's because weird Al Not only parodied the song for the first time he parodied and original songs. Video shot for shot shot the edict clip recreated Jackson's iconic beat it video including its warring west side story like gangs and avenue included some dancers from Jackson's original video on MTV it was a smash and on the radio. A weird Al hit was finally too big to ignore Edith reached number twelve on the hot one hundred and went gold because the hot one hundred averages both both sales and airplay those gold record sales helped overcome the handicap novelty songs have on the radio but even on the airwaves wave's eat it received considerable rotations at the height of Jackson Mania. Thank Edith was the lead single on the album weird Al Yankovic in Three D. AL's first LP appea- to crack the top forty like the single. It was certified gold the week in April nineteen eighty-four that it reached its peak of number seventeen seventeen on the album chart in Three D.. Was One position higher than the police's blockbuster nineteen eighty three album. Synchronicity which was ironic because als next single was a parody of the police hit from that album king of pain transformed by owl into the sales. Pitch of a proprietor of cowhide king of Suede reached number sixty two in May of eighty four and it was immediately followed by another three d hit that like als earlier single. Ricky doubled as a throwback to the early television era. I'll turn the greg hin bands. Nineteen eighty-three number two hit jeopardy into I lost on jeopardy Pity and to the TV game show notably our recorded the song after the original NBC version of jeopardy hosted by Art Fleming. Fleming was on a long hiatus. Al Got The show's original announcer don. Pardo who also served as the announcer for Saturday night. Live to record a hilarious spoken word. Interlude calling al a complete loser and let me tell you what you didn't win a twenty volumes of the encyclopedia tonight. Okay so turtle wax your supply of the San Francisco drink. But that's not all Don Pardo also appeared in the I lost on jeopardy music video which featured additional cameos from Art Fleming Doctor Demento and even original songwriter. Greg Kent The clip was a smash on MTV and other televised video shows but the song only made it into number eighty one on the hot one hundred in the summer of Nineteen eighty-four the single's release preceded the return of the game show in a new new syndicated forum hosted by Alex Trebek's by just a couple of months in short just months after the success of eat it L. L. was back to peaking in the lower half of the hot one hundred. In fact eat it would be AL's last top forty hit of the nineteen eighties in part. Of course the radio bias against novelty songs was to blame but also weird Al was benefiting in different ways increasingly increasingly. His fan base was springing for his albums not his singles so even when he served up a parody of dominant song like his one. Thousand nine hundred five reboot of Madonna's chart topper like virgin gave. The album did better than the single like a surgeon. Just missed the top forty peaking at number forty seven but it's album dare to be stupid was gold. Within six months Al fans were coming to appreciate not only his parodies of big hit hit singles but his deep cuts these included his so-called style parodies like als devaux Maggi dare to be stupid a track. That doesn't evoke any specific devo song as well as his albums Polka medleys in which Al Ingeniously Ingeniously mashes up. Accordion covers of more than a dozen hit songs in three to five minutes with beer. Garden worthy arrangements generally as long as a weird album contained at least one parody of a chart topping song the disk could be relied upon to go gold in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight one year after Michael Jackson returned with the song. Bad Al once again. parodied both the song and the video with fat. The single only reached number ninety nine but als. LP even worse hit the top thirty and went gold. Weird Al's mixed chart success in the late eighties had to be considered against the backdrop of of novelty recording in general very few novelty singles. Besides als were hits at all at least the one's labeled as such coach the eighties rise of a new genre hip hop lent itself perfectly to parody. In fact to digress for a moment the history wrap from Rapper's delight to baby got back is littered with songs that skirt the line of novelty many wraps formative tracks the built as de facto comedy records including Doug e fresh and slick Rick's seminal show. They don't they never right. That's not come on Biz. Marquees top ten hit just a friend and the deliberately wacky eighty instructional dance single the Humpty dance by digital underground a group that by the way would later spawn the Solo career of to picture core. None of these rap classics was officially tagged as a novelty track. Joel Whitbourne only tags. The show as a novelty and that status is debatable. dateable any actual rapper. Trying to get over would avoid being perceived as a joke. Meanwhile numerous comedians tried to record deliberate rap parodies and none was a major chart. Success from Rodney Dangerfield go to Eddie Murphy who issued a low charting rap parody before switching to straight faced. I pop music but but me to a John Wayne imitator who called himself the rapin Duke. His self titled Minor Hit in one thousand. Nine hundred five live was legendary enough on hip hop radio to later. Be Name checked by the notorious B. I G so you think your bed with your raffle. I'll tell ya pilgrim. I started to cry when you were in diapers and wedding the sheets. I was at the on Rosa wrapping to the DA. The the rise of hair metal and hard rock in the late eighties and early nineties would also seem ripe for parody. Legitimate hits by the likes of poison poison and Motley. crue flirted with comedy but again the need for these rockers to appear hardcore kept them from producing out and out novelty holte singles. Only one hard rock act really attempted pure novelty single. The metal grunge hybrid band Green Jelly with therre thrashing fairy Tale Three Little Pigs. A top twenty single in early nineteen ninety-three that got little radio airplay but sold a half half a million copies by the early nineties. Weird owl was himself trying to regroup and hard rock would be the ticket to his comeback. At the end of the eighties. He'd made a detour are into Hollywood. That proved momentarily fatal to his career. His nineteen eighty nine film. You H F written by and starring. Al All was hyped by Orion pictures as a potential summer blockbuster but it flopped at the box office in a movie season dominated by smashes like like Batman and Indiana Jones. So it had been nearly four years since weird Al had issued a regular studio album and the UHF UHF's soundtrack had underperformed on the charts. I'll briefly considered again. Parodying Michael Jackson who was back with a nineteen ninety ninety one album but he didn't want to deepen his reputation as primarily a Jackson Paradis but Jackson's new album was competing on the charts with a completely different kind of act and it gave weird Al a truly inspired Super Meta idea the breakthrough uh of Nevada on the charts was a seminal moment in nineties rock. But what weird AL keyed in on in their breakthrough hit. Smells like Teen Spirit. Was Kurt Cobain's elliptical at times indecipherable lyrics. So after getting permission from a very flattered cobaine AL proceeded to do a Nirvana parody about Nirvana released in the spring of one thousand nine hundred ninety two just weeks after smells like Teen Spirit had peaked. The hot one hundred smells like Nirvana returned. Weird out to the top forty for the first time since eat it in one thousand nine hundred eighty four in fat what. All's Nirvana parody climbed the charts so fast when it peaked at number thirty five it left chew spots over. Come as you are Nirvana's vonnas own follow up. Hit smells like Nirvana gave weird Al a new lease on chart life and another wave of young fans. Chance the decade of GRUNGE and Gangsta rap would be creatively fruitful for al who got a lot of mileage poking fun at the self. Oh F- seriousness of these Rhonda's whether he was puncturing a new generation of glowering rockets on his alternative Polka it or re-booting Coolio Smash Gangster's Paradise Paradise as Amish Paradise been milking cow. Even things that my mind is gone. I'm a man in a tale that could only be told in. The nineties. coolio was so protective of his reputation. That AL had trouble getting the rappers. Permission to remake. The song coolio sounded genuinely pissed. At ow for deflating his street cred. Ah I didn't I didn't give it any sanction. You know I think it was too serious to any like. It was beating a contrite weird. AL apologized to COOLIO AL recorded. Amish Paradise Thinking Kuo's management had signed off and they had at squashed the beef by nineteen ninety six by the end of the nineties. Weird Al's albums were selling as well as ever. Nineteen ninety. Nine's running with scissors went gold and eventually platinum fueled by owls star Wars Omar set to the tune of Don McLean's American Pie. It was called the saga begins. We've done this homerun but once again al found himself out of favour on the song charts. The saga begins didn't even appear on the hot one hundred entering the twenty first century between his sellout live shows and his strong album sales weird al contented himself with what was already one of the longest lasting and strongest selling careers in novelty music history but as we explained in our holiday episode hit parade chronicling the technological changes that eventually gave Christmas songs a bigger profile on the charts the digital evolution of the music business. This was about to give a major boost to weird al and all novelty musicians all of this music with all of these rights you you can buy for ninety nine cents per song with no subscription the new office launch of both legal commercial social music downloading by apple and video-sharing by Youtube would change the possibilities for hit making download. Sales were routed to the hot one hundred in two thousand five making it possible for album cuts holiday songs and other Ephemera to score single sales and and chart like they never had before and the launch of Youtube that same year even though it did not count for the charts back then changed the possibilities for music promotion and the first big beneficiary was a novelty song twinkle in the late afternoon just to see how he's doing. What's what Saturday Saturday night live? CAST member Andy Sambuc who was also part of a comedy music troupe. Called the lonely island made a name for himself. In his very very first season with a rap parody called Lazy Sunday. The video audio recorded with fellow cast mate. Chris Parnell was not only a buzz worthy hit on a December episode of SNL. It happened to land just weeks after the launch of Youtube Lazy Sunday became Youtube. First major hit reinforcing that the combination of music and comedy was potent viral content. Andy Sandberg unwitting proof of concept for Youtube was well timed for weird Out who was preparing to return with a new album and even more than on his ninety s coolio parody always going to go hard after after hip hop get me Ryden. Heiden was a number one hit in the spring of two thousand six for Houston Rapper. The track told a tale of urban policing as has the rapper. Bemoaned over zealous state troopers pulling over his car looking to catch him ride in dirty or finding illegal substances if it sounds like your hit. Parade host is over explaining a street rap cut and taking the edge out of it in a rather Caucasian manner. Well Weird Al Yankovic went much further than weird. AL turned camilion airs ride in dirty into white and nerdy a different it. Kind of St Tale of Geek. Who wants to hang with the gangsters but unfortunately is to white and nerd the Meta Brilliance of the assigned was that Weird Al wrapped it with legitimately dazzling flow matching millionare's triple time beat for beat and packing literally dozens of jokes in rapid fire succession website code? Do they call them all. Even all in the white and nerdy video was also a tour de force like edit the video recreated the look and feel of the original clip type with Geeky al standing in for the original star. But here was the difference between this single and every other video and song release in Weird Al's history white and nerdy could be shared on Youtube and the song could be purchased digitally again youtube. It did not yet count for the charts but it didn't matter fans who were enthralled by the video piled into the I tunes music store to buy the song for ninety nine cents the result white and nerdy exploded onto onto the hot one hundred when it debuted in mid October. Two Thousand Six at number twenty eight. It instantly became weird. Al Yankovic highest charting hit Since eat it in one thousand nine hundred four one week later white and nerdy pole vaulted to number nine becoming house. I ever top ten hit hit as had been true since the eighties radio. airplay of the song was limited but it's sales more than made up this deficit. White Eight and Nerdy was eventually certified by the Recording Industry Association of America as Weird. AL's I ever platinum single. Had these technologies oh jeez existed in earlier decades alll might well have racked up multiple top. Ten hits we'll never know but digital music. Changed the the possibilities for comedy singles over at Saturday night live videos by Andy Sandberg and the Lonely Island became the show's most viral content including the Justin timberlake collaboration. Dick in a box look inside is my Fox and the hip hop parody. I'm on a boat which featured t pain. The lonely island made the track available as an itunes download and it cracked the hot one. Hundred two as full weird al.. The Calculus for his career had changed fundamentally youtube and I tunes would allow him to release one off tracks whenever he felt inspired and while video had always helped his singles now it was more essential than ever weird weird. AL began issuing tracks for his next album years before it was even complete his two thousand six album straight OUTTA Lynwood had been his first ever our top ten hit driven by the video for white and Nerdy when Al finally issued his follow up Album Alpaca Lips in twenty eleven he commissioned videos for every track including his lady Gaga Parody. Perform this way. The result Al Pacalypse debuted at number nine on the charts a a bit higher than straight Outta Lynwood. Weird AL's multi single multi video strategy had worked and video play still didn't count for the charts arts but that was about to change too as we discussed in prior episodes of hip parade in two thousand thirteen billboard rebooted the hot one hundred again to include in Youtube views for the first time Brooklyn. Dj Bowers Electronic Dance Track Harlem shake instantly debuted at number one fueled by a viral fad. That felt a lot like a novelty trend before two thousand thirteen was out. An actual novelty song would benefit from in this new Chart Mountain Bard and V guard ilva soccer a pair of brothers from Norway and a comedy duo the call themselves Elvis us for short recorded a parody of Edm for their Norwegian TV talk. Show the oddly legitimate sounding dance pop song was it's called the Fox parentheses. What does the Fox say and they accompanied it with a hilarious video of the brothers in Fox costumes cavorting avoiding in a forest never intended for the US market the Fox became a viral sensation? Anyway with both adult pop fans and kids especially the video and under billboards new hot one hundred rules. The Fox became an actual top ten. Hit peaking at number six observing. All of these changes weird Al Yankovic decided to go all out for his twenty fourteen album. Mandatory Fun and as with Al Pacalypse he would produce multiple music videos. Except this time he would deploy all of the videos in a single week turning his album. Deployment into an event some of the videos like his parody of Pharrell Williams smash happy called Tacky aped the look of the original clip others were animated or more conceptual. Al Did not attempt to pick a lead single. He let the marketplace decide eventually really the most shared video his parody of Robin Thicke hit blurred lines turned into a grammarians lament. Called word. Crimes became became the most shared video. And it brought weird Al Back to the top forty word. Crimes hit number thirty nine in August of two thousand fourteen but the best the billboard news of all for Weird Al Yankovic was on the album chart that week of youtube blanketing videos spurred the best week of sales of his career more than one hundred thousand copies of mandatory funds sold in. Its first week. The collection debuted on the billboard. Two hundred hundred album chart at number one. The magazine reported that it was not only the first number one album in his three decade career. Weird al a chart topping debutante at age fifty four mandatory fund was also the first comedy album of any kind to top the chart in fifty fifty. One years since Allan Sherman's LP my son. The nut hit number one in nineteen sixty three disregard this land six years after Weird Al Chart Triumph Mandatory Fund remains remains the last album. He has issued in interviews in the late. Tens Allah has indicated. He might not release albums anymore. Focusing on individual joel singles and videos given his improbable success. You can understand why still happy to capitalize cleverly on a cultural phenomenon on in two thousand eighteen. Al Teamed up with Tony Winning Broadway composer Lin Manuel Miranda for the Broadway Medley. The Hamilton Polka the Charter Alexander Hamilton. The Hamilton Polka top the digital sales chart for one week making it hilariously Polka music. I ever digital chart-topping but at a time when downloads count less for the charts than they they once did as the music industry moves towards streaming music. The Hamilton Polka didn't make the hot one hundred so should weird al.. How retire from recording? He continues to tour but now entering his sixties it might be sensible to pass the torch to a new generation one of parachutists on the other hand in some ways. It has never been a better time for funny music. And certainly viral music on the billboard charts the number one song of twenty nine thousand nine hundred was not strictly speaking a comedy record but old town road by little nauseous featuring billy ray Cyrus was certainly funny and as the song spent over four months on top of the hot one hundred and the music business business debated what Genre Ole town road belongs in pop or NBA or rap or country many called it admiringly the biggest novelty hit of all time. Remember that since the birth of rock and roll and the rise of hip hop the lines between novelty ability and normal hits have been unsettled at best and when modern day songs become hits because of means like Lizard. Truth hurts even win court leaving because of tick tock videos like the song at number one this very week. Roddy riches the box. It seems that there has never been greater premium placed on recording artists. Who can bring the snark the goofy the kitchen the funny as of twenty honey twenty billboard has even started to count official youtube videos for its album chart if an artist like say weird Al ever pulled a multi video album launch again? Well who knows how big that album and its singles could beat in one thousand nine hundred ninety as weird. Al Yankovic toured the country with a full orchestra. A concert. Your hit parade host was thrilled to attend last summer. He looked happier and prouder of his unprecedented career than ever for US fans. That's more than enough. But Hey out if you ever wanted to record again and maybe make some tick talkable content that chart-topping career of yours just might enter its fifth decade. You could be wrapping into your seventies doc Janet. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Hit. Pery my producer is justin derived and we also had helped this episode from Rosemary. Belsen awesome June. Thomas is the senior managing producer. And Gabriel Roth. The editorial director of slate podcasts check out their roster of shows at sleep dot com slash. PODCASTS you can subscribe to hit parade wherever you get your podcasts. In addition to finding in the slate culture feet if you're subscribing on apple podcasts please rate and review us while you're there it helps other listeners. Find the show. Thanks for listening and I look forward forward to leading the hit parade back your way until then keep on marching on the one. I'm Chris uh-huh.