More than 30 years into his career as the unchallenged king of pop parody, "Weird Al" Yankovic hit his best-ever chart position this week with his 13th CD, "Alpocalypse," which bowed at No. 9 on last week's Billboard 200. It's Yankovic's best chart news since - well, his last record, 2006's "Straight Outta Lynwood," which debuted at No. 10, his first-ever Top 10 appearance.
"I'm very grateful that 30 years into my career, I'm still peaking," Yankovic tells Billboard.com.
There are all sorts of metrics these days - Yankovic has more than 2 million Twitter followers and YouTube views reaching numbers you normally only associate with federal debt - but Yankovic says the chart position remains a certain point of pride.
"Part of me starts to rationalize 'It's just a number,' but being on the chart probably means more to me than it rationally should," says Yankovic. "My first appearance in Billboard was when I was still in college - "My Bologna" got a brief mention, and I think there was a typo and it said 'Weird Owl' Yankovic. But even with that, I was thrilled."
"Alpocalypse" sales and buzz were likely fueled by the minor dust-up involving first single "Perform This Way," which was originally nixed by Lady Gaga, resulting in an Internet outcry and his releasing the song for free on YouTube. (Yankovic isn't required to get artist permission to parody, but prefers to before releasing a song).
The video features Yankovic's CGI face plastered onto a Gaga body double. ("All those hormone shots and a low-carb diet paid off, I guess," he says.) Yankovic has released online videos for 10 of the 11 tracks on "Alpocalypse," with a promise that an official video for the record's polka medley, "Polka Face," is coming as well, part of a summertime online Weird Al blitz.
"When I first started using social media, frankly it was because there were Weird Al impersonators there on MySpace and I wanted to have a presence so I could say, "No no, I'm the real Weird Al!" he says. "But I found that I enjoyed it immensely. Particularly Twitter - it's allowed me to interact not only with my fans, but also my peers in the comedy community. I was on 'Conan' last night strictly because I was able to develop a friendship with one of Conan's writers through Twitter."
"Alpocalypse" arrives as Yankovic's pop-culture cred has never been stronger. He's been profiled in the New York Times and dubbed "a prophet" by the Atlantic; he's been spotted sitting in with the Roots on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," crashing "Conan" and elsewhere. Which begs the question: Does he ever just sit back and take a minute to gloat?
"My last several weeks have been so busy I haven't been able to schedule a window for gloating into my calendar," he says with a laugh. "(The chart) is a high-water mark for me; plus I'm getting props from organizations and institutions that I never had before. I never had a feature piece in the New York Times before. It's all pretty heady stuff. And I'm just very grateful that still I get to do this and that people still seem to care."
Yankovic and his band of 30 years will perform a week's worth of shows in July, the last of which, a July date at Toronto's Massey Hall, will be recorded. The extended "Alpocalypse" tour resumes in the fall.