A History of ‘Jeopardy’ Hits on the Billboard Hot 100
As ABC airs its first Jeopardy! "Greatest of All Time" tournament tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 7), with legendary contestants Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer, let's take a look at those two…
Who are … Greg Kihn Band and “Weird Al” Yankovic?
If you guessed that those are the two artists in the 61-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 who have charted hits with “Jeopardy” in their titles, you’d be correct!
As ABC airs the first Jeopardy! “Greatest of All Time” tournament on Tuesday night (Jan. 7), with legendary contestants Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer, let’s take a look at those two “Jeopardy” songs that reached the Hot 100.
Greg Kihn Band’s “Jeopardy” debuted on the Hot 100 in January 1983, earning the Baltimore-based group its fourth career entry. Four months later, the track climbed all the way to No. 2; it was blocked from the top by none other than Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” which ruled for its first of three weeks. “Jeopardy” is the band’s highest-charting song on the Hot 100 and also ruled the Dance Club Songs chart for two weeks in April 1983.
A year later, “Weird Al” Yankovic released his now-iconic parody of Kihn’s tune, “I Lost on Jeopardy,” from his sophomore LP, “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D. Yankovic’s version takes the chorus of Kihn’s song (“Our love’s in jeopardy, baby …”) and flips it to, “I lost on Jeopardy, baby…” In one verse, Yankovic even cites Jeopardy‘s Daily Double: “Oh well, I knew I was in trouble now / My hopes of winning sank / Because I got the Daily Double now / And then my mind went blank.”
The track also features an entire verse by the late announcer Don Pardo, whose voice you may recognize from Saturday Night Live, The Price Is Right and the original Jeopardy!. Pardo, Kihn and original Jeopardy! host Art Fleming all make cameos in Yankovic’s music video.
Notably, Yankovic released his parody before the current iteration of Jeopardy! was even on the air. The original daytime version aired on NBC from March 1964 to January 1975. A weekly nighttime syndicated edition aired in 1974-75 and a revival, The All-New Jeopardy!, ran on NBC in 1978-79.
In a 2014 interview with Vulture, Yankovic said of the song: “What a lot of people don’t realize, when I did ‘I Lost on Jeopardy,’ Jeopardy was not on the air; that was a retro song about the game show that Merv Griffin had created that was popular in the ’60s when I was a kid. And the fact that I did that parody, I’m told, made Merv Griffin consider doing the show again. So, I think the parody had something to do with the fact that Jeopardy went back on the air.”
Yankovic’s “I Lost on Jeopardy” reached No. 81 on the Hot 100 in July 1984.
Two months later, the current daily syndicated show, produced by Sony Pictures Television, premiered on Sept. 10, 1984.