'Weird Al' Yankovic: Lady Gaga Has 'Rocked the Zeitgeist'
Even though it took some doing, "Weird Al" Yankovic has no hard feelings towards Lady Gaga over the struggle to release "Perform This Way," his parody of her hit "Born This Way" and the first single from his forthcoming new album "Alpocalypse."
Gaga's manager had initially refused permission for Yankovic to release "Perform This Way," but Yankovic says things changed once Gaga herself heard the song.
"Even though her manager was presenting it as such, she had never once approached Gaga, so it was news to her when people were...asking, 'How come you're not letting Weird Al do his parody?' " Yankovic tells Billboard.com. "She was not aware of it at all, and when she actually did hear the song she loved it and gave me permission."
Yankovic adds, "This is unfortunately not an isolated incident over the course of my career...I find it's better, whenever possible, to go directly to an artist and deal with them personally, but as it turns out I didn't happen to have Lady Gaga's home phone number or e-mail address."
Yankovic did hasten the process by posting the song on YouTube during the negotiations -- but only, he says, because it was the first time a manager had insisted on hearing an actual recording rather than simply reviewing a lyric sheet. "I'd never done that before," he explains. "I figured if you already have the lyrics, if you don't find those offensive then you're not going to find it offensive when you hear the fully produced version of it -- which is why I was kind of knocked for a loop when the answer we got back was 'no.' "
Now, however, the battle is history. Yankovic is a Gaga fan -- "I think she's a huge talent -- a great songwriter and a wonderful performer..." -- and the Gaga camp also gave him permission to use her "Poker Face" in a medley called "Polka Face" that appears on "Alpocalypse." And having "Perform This Way" cleared also gave him a hook on which to hang the new album.
"I had the 11 other tracks in the can for close to a year," Yankovic says, "and I was waiting for the right lead-off single. I've come to learn over the course of my career that my albums are more successful if they are released concurrently with a single that's very topical and maybe celebrates a pop culture event of serious magnitude. I thought that Lady Gaga, and specifically her new album and single, was a sufficiently large event. I thought Gaga had sufficiently rocked the zeitgeist enough for me to make that choice."
Yankovic is working on a big-budget video for "Perform This Way" that he says should be out around the same time as "Alpocalypse's" June 21 release. The album also includes parodies of Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" ("TMZ"), Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A." ("Party in the CIA," also timely in the wake of the Osama Bin Laden assassination), B.o.B's "Nothin' On You" ("Another Tattoo") and T.I.'s "Whatever You LIke," with the same title. Yankovic also recorded stylistic homages to the White Stripes ("CNR"), Queen ("Ringtone") and the Doors ("Craigslist," with the group's Ray Manzarek guesting on keyboards).
Yankovic is currently on the road and plans to spend most of the rest of the year touring. The new material is gradually being worked into the set, he adds. "This tour was booked before I knew I'd have an album coming out," Yankovic explains, "so I had a lot of things thrown in my lap at once. We're still trying to work things out."