CNN — Alfred Matthew Yankovic has come a long way from the teen chopping up ’70s disco hits for the Dr. Demento radio comedy hour.
Over the years, he’s taught us everything from where to buy quilts at a discount price to what teen spirit smells like.
But now, “Weird Al” is no longer just doing funny spoofs of Madonna and Michael Jackson; he’s educating the Internet on how to properly use the Oxford comma.
‘Weird Al’ spoofs ‘Blurred Lines’
While he’s sold more than 12 million albums, earned three Grammys and racked up four gold records, Yankovic may be at his artistic peak with the sublime new single, “Word Crimes.” Yankovic has turned Robin Thicke’s not so humble brag about his dangling participle into something that could follow in the grand tradition of “Schoolhouse Rock” and, he says, “ostensibly be part of a school curriculum.”
“I’ve taken a song that people had a problem with because it was slightly misogynistic, and I made it into a song about grammar,” Yankovic said in an interview with CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on Wednesday.
Yankovic molds Thicke’s catchy, but borderline sexist, “Blurred Lines” into a linguistic piece de resistance, waxing grammatical about those who confuse irony and coincidence.
Though Yankovic insisted that he loves all the songs equally off his new album, “Mandatory Fun,” when pressed, Yankovic said his tribute to the fundamentals of style “might be” his best track yet.
The artist’s dedication to proper English syntax seems to have struck a chord with the Internet at large. As of this writing, more than 2.5 million people took three minutes out of their day to watch Yankovic’s lesson on literally versus figuratively.
“I’m not alone. I’m not the only grammar nerd out there,” Yankovic said about the song’s success. “There’s a lot of people who share my pain.”
“Word Crimes” is the second of eight tracks Yankovic released on YouTube. The singer, rapper and musical virtuoso intends to release eight parodies in eight days to help promote his new record. But Yankovic politely deflects on whether he knows which tracks will connect with his audience.
“I love all the songs equally,” Yankovic said. “There’s no lead single on this album because I don’t know what people are going to respond to the most.”
Whereas Yankovic’s previous hits relied more on simple word substitution — see “Like a Surgeon” or “Fat” — his new songs are more textured.
The artist partially credits his new freedom to how the music ecosystem has evolved since he emerged on the scene in the 1980s.
“MTV doesn’t really stand for music television anymore,” Yankovic said. “The Internet is the new MTV.”
Less concerned with the relatively rigid formula required to rhyme his way on to the bygone “Total Request Live,” Yankovic said taking record and television executives out of the equation has given him more musical latitude.
“It does allow me to try things I wouldn’t have tried before,” he said. “Now, it’s basically, ‘What do I like? What do the fans like?'”
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