For some artists, having one of their songs parodied by “Weird Al” Yankovic is a peak career moment. From Nirvana to Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, tributes such as “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Eat It” and “Perform This Way” served as sign posts that they’d really arrived.
In fact, in a 2012 interview, Yankovic revealed that after Jackson blocked the release of his “Black or White” remake “Snack All Night,” he decided to take on the grunge superstars by spoofing their breakthrough hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” After his manager couldn’t get Kurt Cobain on the phone to get his blessing — which Al always tries to do, even though it’s legally unnecessary — he asked his friend Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson to give him a hand.
“He was sweet and he got it in like five seconds and said, ‘Of course, you can do a parody,’” Yankovic said of the late Nirvana frontman. “The famous quote from him was, ‘Is it going to be a song about food?’ because at that point that’s primarily what I was known for.” When Yankovic explained that it would actually be about how nobody can understand Cobain’s vocals, the singer was even more enthused.
And while Al always tries to make sure his subjects approve of his punny remakes, not everyone says yes to the jest. In fact, the polka-loving accordionist and author of such giggle-worthy classics as “White & Nerdy,” “Another One Rides the Bus” and “I Love Rocky Road” has been turned down by some of the biggest names in rock and pop over the years.
Check out a list of 10 acts who told Al to beat it.