How was it? A review of ¨Weird: The Al Yankovic Story¨


Kyra Drescher, Staff Writer

November 4th 2022 was the release date for an anticipated film. I was excited for it, at least! This film is “Weird, The Al Yankovic Story” based on a celebrity known as “Weird” Al Yankovic. Playing Al in this biography is Daniel Radcliffe, the same man who played Harry Potter!  You may be asking, “Who is Weird Al?” or “Why is this anticipated, it’s a biography?” I’ll answer those for you! Weird Al is a popular musician mostly known for his parodies that made light of popular songs and his polkas. Weird Al has lived, and still is, living a life, that one that we would look at and say, “Huh, that’s weird”.

On October 23, 1959 in sunny California, Alfred M. Yankovic was born and was the only child of his parents Elizabeth and Nick Yankovic. His father, Nick, actually received two purple hearts for his service as a medic during World War II. Al was naturally smart as a kid from being able to start kindergarten a year early to skipping the second-grade. He reminisced on this by saying, “My classmates seemed to think I was some kind of rocket scientist, so I was labeled a nerd early on.”  Jumping forward to the pivotal point in Al’s career, the day before his seventh birthday. That day a door-to-door salesman came up to the Yankovic’s home and was offering lessons from the local school program in either guitar or the accordion. They picked the accordion for Alfred, which they chose because they believed “there should be at least one more accordion-playing Yankovic in the world,” They made this reference to Frankie Yankovic, who is known as “America’s Polka King,” but he conveniently is not even related to Al. His mother was often strict with Alfred and would not let him out much as a kid, which in turn gave him plenty of time to practice the accordion. In the end, he continued the lessons for three years before deciding to continue his practice on his own. During his years at Lynwood High School, Yankovic, being two years younger than his classmates, wasn’t very interested in sports or other social activities. He was however, very active in his school’s clubs; he participated in the National Forensic League, public speaking events, a play based around Rebel Without a Cause, the yearbook, and even something called the Volcano Worshippers club which in Yankovic’s words they did “absolutely nothing;” it was created “just to get an extra picture in the yearbook.” He graduated in 1975 and was even valedictorian of his class!

He ended up going to California Polytechnic State University and got his bachelor’s in architecture. During his time in college, Yankovic became the disc jockey for his local college radio station. This was the year that Yankovic got his nickname “Weird Al,” which was used by other colleagues and students as a way to insult his standoffish attitude. Yankovic adopted this name to be his radio personality. In 1979 “My Sharona” by the Knacks was listed on the charts. It was during this time that Al decided to take his accordion and some recording equipment into the restroom across the hall from the office of the station to record his first-ever parody called “My Bologna.” After broadcasting it to Dr. Demento’s radio station, a radio station that mostly played novelty songs and comedy, it received tremendous feedback, and Al even got the opportunity to see the Knacks and was told by them to put out a single! This is when he decided to begin pursuing comedic music. This led him to his first record label and another hit “Another One Rides the Bus” a parody of Queen’s hit song “Another One Bites the Dust.” However, this didn’t last long because the label he signed for went bankrupt about two weeks after that single was released.

In 1981, Dr.Demento invited Al to perform at a nightclub in Arizona where he caught the attention of Jay Levey, who was a manager at the time. He asked Al if he wanted to pursue music full time to which Al said yes. Levey then started holding auditions for people to join Al. After the auditions were complete, Al released “I Love Rocky Road,” a parody of “I Love Rock n Roll” by Joan Jett and “Ricky” based on “Mickey” by Toni Basil. “Ricky,” however, broke MTV’s top 100 charts, and Yankovic took that as a sign to completely pursue music. Yankovic released his second album in 1984 called ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic in 3-D.” On it, included one of his most popular songs “Eat It,” a mimic of Micheal Jackson’s “Beat It.” In July of 1989 Al released UHF, his own movie starring himself, David Bowie, Fran Drescher, Emo Philips, and other notable cast members. This did not gain popularity well as there was the release of blockbuster hits like Ghost Busters II and Batman as well as other films that stole the thunder from his film. This left Yankovic in a slump, and for the next three years, he would remain there. 

1990 Al finally came back and began to work on his next album “Off the Deep End.” He had to end up becoming his own producer due to personal issues from his previous one. Yankovic was still down due to his failed movie and denial to parody Micheal Jackson’s song “Black or White.” Soon after this, he released “Off the Deep End” without a lead parody. At the same time, the grunge scene was taking off which meant the incline of Nirvana’s popularity. Yankovic asked Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, if it would be okay to make a parody of the song “Smells like Teen Spirit,” in Kurt’s eyes that was the sign that they “made it.” Al added “Smells like Nirvana” to his recently released album, and it hit No. 35 on the Top Billboard charts, and this ultimately got Yankovic over his previously mentioned film UHF. 

Fast forward to 2006, Al released four more albums and some singles between 1992 and 2006. This was the year he released one of his most notable songs “White and Nerdy” based on Chamillionare’s “Ridin.”  He ended up releasing his album “Mandatory Fun” in 2014 which included some original polka mashups with popular songs, and some more parodies he hasn’t released since. In his interview in 2017, Al said that “I can’t tell you when any material is coming out. Inspiration could strike tomorrow and I might have something out next month. There’s no plan. It’s just going to be whenever it winds up being.” While it doesn’t really follow his life to a T it is still an amazing movie. He wanted his biography to somewhat mock other famous artists’ biographies.