Many times in his career as pop music's best-known parodist, "Weird Al" Yankovic has been turned down by artists who won't let him make fun of their hit songs -- James Blunt and Eminem are just two who said no. But he says with his new album Mandatory Fun, the likes of Lorde, Imagine Dragons and Pharrell Williams were all totally down for him to spoof their hits.
"I was very lucky -- this is my first album in a long time that didn't have any actual drama," "Weird Al" tells Billboard. "It seems like my last few albums have always had some problems around the release, and this is the first time where I've gotten everybody that I wanted, and I couldn't be happier about it."
In particular, Al says he's happy that Pharrell was into the idea, because on Mandatory Fun, he takes on not one but three songs the Oscar-nominated star was involved with writing: his own hit "Happy," Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk. In Al's hands, "Happy" becomes "Tacky," "Blurred Lines" is turned into an attack on bad grammar called "Word Crimes," and "Get Lucky" is part of his now-traditional polka medley.
"My manager was having a tough time getting ahold of Pharrell through his representatives," Al tells Billboard. "In the meanwhile, I somehow -- and I'm not at liberty to say how -- got Pharrell's personal e-mail address and I sent him an e-mail requesting permission, and he could not have been nicer. He sent me a very sweet e-mail back immediately saying he'd be honored. I was just blown away. He was just the sweetest guy."
Al also turns Lorde's "Royals" into "Foil," rapper Iggy Azalea's #1 hit "Fancy" into "Handy," and Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" into "Inactive." Imagine Dragons were more than happy to provide Al with certain sonic effects he needed for that song -- turns out their bass player, Ben McKee, had his photo taken with Al when was 12 years old, and he sent it to him. "He was a fan from way back, so I would imagine he was happy about the parody," says Al.
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