Weird Al Yankovic - An Icon of the Decade:
There are few entities from the '80s more recognizable than "Weird Al" Yankovic, a musical artist of moderate talent who also happened to be blessed with a great mind and unlimited drive to succeed. Finding his niche quickly as a novelty/comedy/parody artist, Yankovic went on to produce a slew of family-friendly but satirical hit songs based musically on hits of the day but bearing the distinct lyrical mark of his goofy yet endearing sense of humor.
Born in 1959 in suburban Los Angeles, Yankovic gravitated to music early on, taking up accordion by age 7. During his teen years he parlayed his admiration for Dr. Demento's radio show into his first break, passing some of his songs to the radio host, who later added them to the show's playlist. In college Yankovic served as a disc jockey at the campus radio station, where he got the idea to record his first major parody, a twist on the Knack's 1979 hit "My Sharona" called "My Bologna."
Debut Album & Breakout:
Gradually Yankovic garnered enough attention from his parodies to attract the interest, oddly enough, of rocker, session musician and producer Rick Derringer. 1983's Weird Al Yankovic appeared soon after, and Yankovic's period of chart dominance thus began. The continued rise of MTV helped usher the young star along, and videos for parodies like "Eat It," "I Lost on Jeopardy," and "Like a Surgeon" increased Yankovic's recognition and exposure.
More Than Temporary:
Like all novelty artists, Yankovic was vulnerable to extinction by the middle of the decade as styles changed and the fickle musical landscape continued to churn. However, he avoided what many thought would be a career lapse with the release of another hit album, 1988's Even Worse. Buoyed by the song "Fat," which took a shot at familiar target Michael Jackson's recent hit song "Bad," the album proved that Yankovic had what it took to endure as a relevant though silly artist.
Yankovic Will Not Fade Away:
Since his '80s heyday, Yankovic has continued to emerge every few years with new material that riffs on prevalent music of the day. And while he's never regained the same status of sensation that he held during his breakout years, the so-called "novelty" artist has nonetheless built a respectable career with considerable staying power.
Other Key '80s Song Parodies:
Here's a partial list of some of Yankovic's most memorable parodies, with each title followed by the artist and title of the original version: