Parody music has achieved a sort of Renaissance in recent years. Viral marketing and the ease of digital distribution have launched the parody genre into the stratosphere, with a few key visionaries leading the way. Here are the top three parody music artists working today, chosen for their influence, their versatility, and of course, their hilarious songs.
“Weird Al” Yankovic
In the realm of parody music, Weird Al is the undisputed king. His long and successful career has spawned a staggering library of parodies and covers of unparalleled quality and hilarity. From his humble beginnings as an architect school dropout, Weird Al has released 13 albums in his 25-year career and continues to produce critically-acclaimed songs for a new generation of parody music lovers. To date, Weird Al’s Straight Outta Lynwood is the only parody album to ever crack the top-selling albums lists.
Weird Al and his band’s versatility and raw musical talent make most of their covers-especially their recent work-virtually identical to the original in sound and style. The difference is in Al’s twisted take on the lyrics. Whether he’s singing “Another One Rides the Bus” instead of “Another One Bites the Dust,” or “My Bologna” instead of “My Sharona,” Al’s ideas are always off-the-wall and subtly brilliant.
Weird Al dominates the parody music industry so completely that many songs by lesser-known artists are mistakenly attributed to Al and spread through the internet by peer-to-peer sharing applications. True Al fans are not so easy fooled, however. They know if it’s not quality and not funny, it’s not Al.
Flight of the Conchords
Endearingly foreign and hilariously nerdy, Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords are a New Zealand folk comedy duo with an impressive repertoire of parody music. Their songs range from head-bumping hip-hop tunes to catchy acoustic ballads, all with brilliantly funny lyrics that will play themselves over and over in your head for weeks. The Conchords don’t parody songs in the traditional sense; instead they lampoon entire genres at once. Their decidedly unsexy “Sugar Lumps,” for example, is a riff on sexually-fueled gangster rap, and their delicate “Most Beautiful Girl in the Room” pokes fun at sappy love songs.
Flight of the Conchords compliments their excellent parody music with a well-received HBO comedy series. While the show’s writing has its ups and downs, it allows the wonky personalities of Bret and Jermaine to shine through beautifully and showcases plenty of Choncords tunes.
Jack Black and his brother Kyle-together known as Tenacious D-don’t parody music in the traditional sense; their songs are more a humorous homage to their heavy metal heroes. Ridiculously dramatic and vulgar enough to make even a frat boy blush, Tenacious D produces a perfect storm of catchy guitar riffs and memorable lyrics.
The band reached its zenith with the Tenacious D TV show and the movie Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny with its rock-fueled stories and antics from Jack and Kyle. It remains unclear whether the band will continue to release albums, but should the band be discontinued today it would leave behind a respectable catalog of quasi- parody music–and plenty of rock-melted faces.