Saturday, June 12, 2021

"Fat" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

Song#:  3522
Date:  05/21/1988
Debut:  99
Peak:  99
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Comedy, Parody

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Yankovic's comedic parodies of hit songs and offbeat originals had resulted in two gold albums (later both would be platinum and his debut LP would go gold). He seemed to be on a roll, but then his fourth album, 1986's Polka Party!, slowed his momentum. Critics were not impressed, none of its singles charted, and even the associated music videos seemed to fall flat at MTV. The lack of support left the LP peaking at a very minor #177; his worst showing to-date. It had Yankovic thinking his time in the sun was over, but he decided to rally and give it another go. He recorded some original tunes for a new album, but knew he needed a solid parody to grab attention and as soon as he heard Michael Jackson's "Bad," a concept for a parody came right to him. Although he didn't necessarily want to parody another Jackson song since he had already done the gold-selling "Eat It," his concept was too strong to ignore and he sought permission from Jackson to use "Bad." Like before, Jackson agreed and Yankovic turned "Bad" into "Fat." It would be issued out as the first single from his fourth LP Even Worse, which itself sported a cover that was a take on Jackson's Bad album. While the single didn't necessarily get anywhere on the Pop chart, the song's associated music video was a sensation on MTV and it helped the album get to #27 and quickly go gold (later platinum). The album get a Grammy nod for Best Comedy Album while the video would win a Grammy for Best Concept Music Video. It was a solid comeback for Yankovic.

ReduxReview:  "Bad" was the perfect song to parody in order to rejuvenate Yankovic's career. The timing of it was perfect with the Bad album still pushing out singles and Jackson just as hot as ever. That was truly the key to Yankovic's success; finding the right song to parody and get it out at the right time. I think that's why Polka Party! failed as he just didn't tap into the right songs/artists at the time. What also helped this song was, obviously, the video. His take on Jackson's video was inspired and hilarious. I also think that may be why the single didn't do well because everyone just wanted to see the video over and over again. While Yankovic does a great job with the parody, the song itself is nothing I'd clamor to hear. Once is fine. It's hard to judge tunes like this so I think the criteria would have to be if the parody did its job in being clever versus a random comedy bit someone tossed together. I think Weird Al did well by the song. However, I do have to wonder if in today's more sensitive culture if this song would be as welcomed as it was back in the day.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Over the years, Yankovic would place a few minor singles on the Pop chart, but in 2006, he finally grabbed his first and only Top 10 hit. "White & Nerdy," the second single from his album Straight Outta Lynwood, would make it to #5. The tune was a parody of the 2005 #1 Pop/#7 R&B hit "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone. Yankovic's single would be a platinum seller and would help the album become his first Top 10 as well (#10). In 2014, Yankovic would finally get his first #1 album with Mandatory Fun. It would also earn Yankovic his fourth overall Grammy and his third in the Best Comedy Album category.


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