"Oh, that 'Weird Al' Yankovic," they said. "He's just a novelty, a gimmick, poking fun at the superstars with those silly parody songs of his. He and his accordion will never last!" Yeah, well, they were saying that close to 30 years ago, and now 50-year-old Alfred Matthew Yankovic is having the last laugh, doing a lot better these days than the vast majority of those superstars he's goofed on. Let's take a look at a few:
Song: "Amish Paradise" (1996)
Parody of: Coolio's 1995 hit "Gangsta's Paradise"
Weird Al Yankovic is scheduled to perform Thursday, August 12, at Celebrity Theatre.
Best line: "I'm a man of the land, I'm into discipline / Got a Bible in my hand and a beard on my chin / But if I finish all of my chores and you finish thine / Then tonight we're gonna party like it's 1699!"
What's Coolio up to in 2010: With a couple of dreadlocks left on his nearly bald head, Coolio glommed onto Insane Clown Posse's recent tour in a desperate bid to resuscitate his career via the love of the Juggalos; got an ICP-related tattoo but spelled the word "Jugalo" by mistake, much to the amusement of the Interwebs.
What's "Weird Al" up to in 2010: Recently surpassed the 12 million mark in albums sold, making him the biggest selling comedy recording artist in history.
Song: "I Lost on Jeopardy" (1984)
Parody of: Greg Kihn Band's 1983 hit "Jeopardy"
Best line: "Don't know what I was thinkin' of / I guess I just wasn't too bright / Well I sure hope I do better / Next weekend on The Price Is Right-ight-ight."
What's Greg Kihn up to in 2010: Plays the same damn Zeppelin and Skynyrd songs you've heard a million times and engages in "wacky antics" as co-host of a Morning Zoo-type show on a California classic rock radio station, where he works alongside someone named "Sloppy Joe."
What's "Weird Al" up to in 2010: Personally invited to perform at England's so-cool-it-hurts All Tomorrow's Parties Nightmare Before Christmas festival by this year's curators, Canadian post-rock luminaries Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Song: "Smells Like Nirvana" (1992)
Parody of: Nirvana's 1991 hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Best line: "It's unintelligible / I just can't get it through my skull / It's hard to bargle nawdle zouss / With all these marbles in my mouth."
What's Nirvana up to in 2010: Kurt Cobain is dead as a Gulf of Mexico sea turtle.
What's "Weird Al" up to in 2010: Inked a lucrative deal with HarperCollins, which next spring will publish When I Grow Up — the first in a line of children's books he plans to author in the coming years.
Song: "I Want a New Duck" (1985)
Parody of: Huey Lewis & the News' 1984 hit "I Want a New Drug"
Best line: "I want a new duck / Not a quail or an owl / One that won't molt too much / One that won't smell too fowl."
What's Huey Lewis up to in 2010: Appeared in a Jimmy Kimmel bit singing an intentionally sad-sack (and so true to his washed-up reality) solo rendition of "We Are the World."
What's "Weird Al" up to in 2010: Putting the finishing touches on his 13th studio album (not bad for a parodist!); his 12th album, 2006's Straight Outta Lynwood, was the most successful LP of his career thus far.
Song: "Like a Surgeon" (1985)
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Parody of: Madonna's 1984 hit "Like a Virgin"
Best line: "It's a fact, I'm a quack / The disgrace of the A.M.A. / 'Cause my patients die, yeah, my patients die / Before they can pay."
What's Madonna up to in 2010: Utterly usurped by Lady Gaga to the point where many kids under the age of 14 have no clue who she is; currently in Paris directing a biopic about Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson that, given her cinematic track record, is almost guaranteed to be a flop.
What's "Weird Al" up to in 2010: Fooled everyone with a hysterical-but-fake Weird: The Al Yankovic Story movie trailer — featuring himself, Patton Oswalt as Dr. Demento, and others — that became an online sensation, and made plenty of people (including myself) salivate at the prospect of a real Yankovic dramatic biopic, à la 8 Mile or Walk the Line.