11 Songs Weird Al Considers

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic: The Great American Novelty, his first book in nearly three decades, includes such gems as “I Love You, Al” (a reference to the Beatles) and “Rude Boy Rap,” which is more like a series of haikus.

The book is not without its flaws. “I Love You, Al” is often mistaken for a parody (this is the first time you’re seeing that lyric, actually), though it’s clear both its message and its form have been carefully thought out. And the hip-hop lyrics feel like they were improvised. But that’s the fun of Weird Al; the details of his musical universe often take on a life of their own. Here are the 11 songs he considers on a first-come, first-served basis.

1. “Smells Like Nirvana”

When the song “Smells Like Nirvana” played a few years ago, it was credited to Paul Stanley. When Weird Al asked him if he really meant Nirvana and not Jefferson Starship? Stanley said he did, “and I think Kurt [Gruff] is a great guitarist and he’s like my favorite Nirvana guy—like, even better, because it was Kurt who recorded the album and Kurt’s really, really good.”

2. “YOLO”

“YOLO” is a reference to the concept of “You Only Live Once,” which is, well, you only live once. Not that you really do live forever, I guess, but you don’t really die every day, do you?

3. “What’s Up?”

“What’s Up” is a nod to the late-night call-in program “The Jerry Springer Show,” in which Jerry Springer would get all his followers to record phone calls, complete with the line “What’s Up?” He would then post the tapes on YouTube. Weird Al has recorded other versions of the joke—one that replaces the word “Jerry” with a reference to his own name, Al—so he’s not making a new one here.

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