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article imageOp-Ed: Why Weird Al is winning the Internet

By Calvin Wolf     Jul 24, 2014 in Entertainment
Twenty-two years after beginning his famous parodies of popular music, "Weird Al" Yankovic has hit number one on the charts. A look at why this entertainer has, at age 54, entered the limelight.
According to the New York Daily News, "Weird Al" Yankovic's new album, Mandatory Fun, has topped the music charts. Many may wonder how a parody artist has claimed the top spot and why, 22 years after beginning to churn out his famous parodies, "Weird Al" is now a cause celebre at age 54. Now that this master of mimicry has gone viral, we should examine why "Weird Al" is winning the Internet.
There are several reasons that Mr. Yankovic, a veteran of the music industry, is claiming the top spot in 2014. First, "Weird Al" has remained a known, enjoyable quantity while the rest of the music landscape has shifted more quickly. In today's digital world, stars can be made and broken in record time. In a world of novices, it shouldn't be a surprise that the quality of a veteran will soon come to overshadow the competition. Basically, "Weird Al" has gotten better while other stars have waned.
And, with more artists selling music, essentially fragmenting the market, a veteran performer like Weird Al, who is a niche artist, can better maintain his fan base. Simply put, if you like Weird Al 10 years ago you will still like him today...but the same does not go for generic, run-of-the-mill rock stars, rappers, and hip-hoppers.
Secondly, parody itself is becoming more popular. How many Scary Movies have we had? Though modern parody has existed for decades, ranging from The Kentucky Fried Movie to Airplane to Loaded Weapon One and most of the post-1980 work of the late Leslie Neilson, it can be argued that today's parodies are of higher quality compared to the stuff they are lampooning. These days, when everything is a sequel, prequel, remake, reboot, or rip-off, parodies come out looking just as good as the competition. In terms of Weird Al, it means that his stuff could be considered more mainstream that it was twenty years ago, netting it a broader audience.
Third, the Internet loves humor. Weird Al's spike in the charts came from his boom on social media, which should be of no surprise. Social media has become a place to post funny videos, not music videos. People want to share Weird Al's videos for a laugh much more often than share a generic music video. In a YouTube world of funny cuts, immature rants, and silly accidents, is it any surprise that parody videos are trumping "serious" music videos?
Fourth, Weird Al showed good strategy in releasing several videos at once, keeping himself in the viewers' collective eye. Though Yankovic was worried that people might be burned out by his release of eight videos at once, he was pleasantly surprised to see that a "snowball" effect occurred instead. People would watch one video and then link to another. This strategy, of course, is utilized by bloggers and writers to increase page views...and it definitely worked for Yankovic!
Yes, Weird Al has won the Internet, at the surprising age of 54, because his craft has found the medium in which it works best. We love his stuff on social media! Will his success continue? We can only wait and see...
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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