We’re opening a new weekly feature that highlights the musical side of YouTube. Every Monday, we’ll take on a theme, no matter how random (depending on how sadistic our Editor-in-Chief feels), and write about the first musical act on YouTube that springs to mind.
First up: parody songs.
You say “parodies” and there is a lot to choose from on YouTube. Tons. Parodies might be the biggest subject on YouTube in fact. But how could I not pay homage to the maestro of parodies, Mr. “Weird” Al Yankovic? Essentially the legend who started it all, Weird Al has been putting out parodies since before many YouTubers were born. And yet, he is as culturally relevant today as he was back in the 80s. In fact, with the canon of work behind him and his young fans as arrested development grownups, it could be argued that he’s more popular than ever before. In fact, his last album, 2014’s Mandatory Fun debuted at number one on the Billboard charts — the first time a Weird Al album has even done that! So parody is still alive and well with him — something that can’t be said for many of his so-called contemporaries. Are Cletus T. Judd or Bob Rivers even still alive?
His early work was a little too new wave for my taste. But when “Dare to Be Stupid” came out in ’85, I think he really came into his own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost.
He’s been compared to They Might Be Giants, but I think Weird Al has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor. In ’96, Al released this: “Bad Hair Day,” his most accomplished album. I think his undisputed masterpiece is “Amish Paradise”. A song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity and the importance of trends. It’s also a personal statement about the band itself. Ahh, parody.
People at the office were giving me a hard time today, assuming that I would choose a “Cups” parody for today’s inaugural “Music Monday.” Like, come on guys, do you really think I’m incapable of branching out? I totally have other interests.
So, instead, I would like to share with you this wonderful SNL parody of “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast starring Anna Kendrick!
Oh, Anna Kendrick, you say. But that’s Pitch Perfect, you say. No, no. Anna Kendrick is her own woman. She exists in all of her films (even that one I still haven’t gotten through where everyone damn person is pregnant), but she also exists as a human being outside of her films. And therefore, is not them. I have no idea what I’m talking about. Everyone else takes up so many lines for these things. The pressure is getting to me.
But I do love this parody. I don’t watch SNL regularly, but this is easily the most intricate opening “monologue” I’ve personally seen. Anna’s over-the-top relentless enthusiasm fits the musical theater theme brilliantly, and serves as great juxtaposition for when the other cast members are just being themselves. Except more musical, of course.
Parody music videos are booming on YouTube but a truly great one is still hard to come by. A perfect parody has to strike a balance between sticking close to the source material and creating something new and funny. That’s why I’m recommending #Daguerreotype, perfect parody of The Chainsmokers’ #Selfie from musical comedians Pop Roulette. It’s got the original’s catchy tune and annoyingly infectious beat, but it turns the original completely on its ear. Instead of slick club kids banging on about their ideal vampy Instagram pose, we get fussy Victorian ladies trying to lock down their most stoic faces for a dignified lithograph.
The #Daguerreotype video also follows the original scene for scene which guarantees you get the maximum payout from every joke. Nothing pairs better with a dub-step breakdown than a serious discussion about provocative hat ribbons and scandalously exposed ankles. I’m probably over selling it but this remains one of my favorite song parodies, made even better by the fact that #Selfie is pretty much a genre parody unto itself. Watch it, love it, send me gifts and cash you express your gratitude!
Few people can make music parodies as weirdly adorable as Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement of the New Zealand-based comedy band “Flight of the Conchords.” They’re less about making parodies of specific songs and more about skewering genres and styles, like this goofy live performance of their David Bowie tribute. It’s classic Kiwi humor – creative and clever but not mean, and making fun of themselves as much as anything. And really, when you’re from a tiny country famous for “The Lord of the Rings,” rugby and sheep, that’s kind of the only way you can make fun of people — but Bret and Jemaine do it so freaking well. Go ahead and watch “Frodo Don’t Wear the Ring” too, just to get the full experience.
The Lonely Island parodied not a song, but a moment. And it was brilliant. The moment was from the Season 2 finale of the O.C. (which I don’t want to spoil for you but, well, someone gets shot) and hey, Shia LaBeouf happens to be in it.
Teddie Films did a Taylor Swift + Breaking Bad parody. It could’ve just been them in costumes. But then they also had to do a visual parody of the music video as well.
But we are never ever ever ever gonna cook together. Like, ever. (Especially after “Ozymandias.” Like, the cooking is just done after that.
Hit the comments to recommend other amazing song parodies we can spend the afternoon watching.