Top 10 ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Classic Rock Parodies

“Weird Al” Yankovic is the undisputed king of parody songs, but his career hasn’t always been smooth sailing. In 1991, the artist was suffering through a commercial lull. His 1989 movie UHF had been a commercial flop, as was its soundtrack. In an attempt to return to prominence, Yankovic briefly considered doing another Michael Jackson spoof – following in the footsteps of his hit songs “Fat” and “Eat It” – but was rebuffed by the King of Pop.

It was around this time Yankovic first heard Nirvana, a band that was making waves in the Seattle music scene. “I heard Nevermind and I thought, Oh, this is really great. I wish it were popular enough for me to do a parody,” he later recalled to Spin, “but that’s never going to happen!”

In the next few months, Nevermind ascended to one of the most popular albums in the world, and Nirvana were suddenly the biggest band on MTV. Yankovic had a concept for his parody, but he wanted to get the band’s permission to move forward. When calls to the group’s management went unreturned, Yankovic went a different route.

Nirvana were set to play Saturday Night Live on Jan. 11, 1992, and Yankovic knew cast member Victoria Jackson, who had costarred with him in UHF. “I told her, If you ever get Kurt Cobain alone in a room, put him on the phone, because I’d love to talk to him,” he said. “And she did!” During their brief conversation, Yankovic made his pitch and was pleasantly surprised by Cobain’s response. “He was sweet and he got it in, like, five seconds and said, ‘Of course you can do a parody.’

“Is it going to be a song about food?” Cobain inquired. “Well, no, it’s going to be a song about how nobody can understand your lyrics,” Yankovic responded. “Oh, sure, of course, that’s funny,” the grunge icon replied.

And so “Smells Like Nirvana,” Yankovic’s hit 1992 parody was born. The lead single from his Off the Deep End LP – which also spoofed Nevermind with its artwork – proved to be a comeback for him. Its video earned heavy rotation on MTV, while spurring the album to platinum sales. Cobain even reportedly claimed he didn’t know he’d “made it” until Yankovic parodied his band.

Not every “Weird Al” Yankovic parody has a history as interesting as “Smells Like Nirvana,” but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining. We combed through his discography to find the Top 10 “Weird Al” Yankovic Classic Rock Parodies.

“Smells Like Nirvana” (1992)
The delivery, the music video, the garbled “bargle nawdle zouss” line – everything about Yankovic’s Nirvana parody is perfect. Cobain agreed, referring to the artist as “America’s modern pop-rock genius” in one of his journals. Following the parody’s success, Yankovic met the Nirvana frontman only once in person, during a chance encounter at a restaurant in Los Angeles. “He just happened to be eating at an adjoining table with his friends,” Yankovic recalled. “So I got to go over and thank him in person. I just profusely thanked him and said, ‘Anything I can do for you, let me know.’ Kurt extended his hand to me and said, ‘Polish my nails.’”



Check out the rest of the list here.


(Ultimate Classic Rock)