Lady Gaga vs. Weird Al: The road to the release of his parody of 'Born This Way'

Gaga-Al

Image Credit: Gaga: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; Weird Al: Lester Cohen/Getty Images

Lady Gaga has been courting controversy her entire career, to the point where the star sometimes takes heat for stuff she hasn’t even done yet.

And while she’s busy beating back people hating on her choice of album cover art, she also alienated legions of “Weird Al” Yankovic fans (or at least the two million people who follow him on Twitter).

The longtime parodist published a blog post today explaining why his new track “I Perform This Way”—a parody of Gaga’s char-topping smash “Born This Way”—is currently being given away for free and not getting a featured spot as the first single from his upcoming new album (nor is it getting a proper video treatment). Check out his version after the jump.

Update: Yankovic’s manager told the New York Times on Wednesday evening that Gaga’s camp has given permission for “Perform This Way” to appear on Weird Al’s next album.

Though Al’s work is protected legally by fair-use statutes, he makes it a habit of getting artists’ approval before he goes public with any of his tracks (Coolio famously got upset after Al turned the rapper’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” into “Amish Paradise”). After Gaga’s team requested to see the lyrics and then hear the finished song, the track ultimately got the thumbs down.

As Al explains, he’s not entirely sure what went wrong. “As of this posting, I still don’t know specifically what kind of problem she has with the song (obviously I take a few jabs at her, but y’know, it’s satire–that’s how it’s supposed to work),” he wrote. “And I’m especially confused as to why she waited until I actually recorded the song (at her insistence!) before saying no. It’s not like there were any surprises in the finished song that she couldn’t have foreseen by, you know, READING THE LYRICS.”

The kicker is that Al was reticent to send up such a positive jam in the first place. “After hearing the song, I was reluctant to tackle it,” Al wrote. “Because it was such an earnest human-rights anthem, I thought some people might consider a parody to be in poor taste.” Ultimately, he decided he would give the proceeds earned on the single and the video to the Human Rights Campaign as a gesture of good faith.

Of course, they won’t be seeing any money now, as the single will simply be released free via Al’s website (though he’s still encouraging his fans to donate to the HRC).

So what do you think, readers? Is Al’s parody of “Born This Way” in poor taste, or is Lady Gaga just born too sensitive? Sound off in the comments (and let us know your favorite lines—we’re partial to “I’ll wear a porcupine on my head/ On a W-H-I-M”).

Read more at EW.com:
Lady Gaga reveals cover art for ‘Born This Way’ album: Do you like Gaga as a machine?

Lady Gaga’s new single ‘Judas’ leaks: Hear it here
Lady Gaga gets nearly naked, slams haters, and defends ‘Born This Way’ in new interview

Comments (145 total) Add your comment
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  • PN

    Yankovic is known for doing a parody of the more overplayed pop songs that some people can’t stand to hear over and over. I still think his Eat it is the best. That he parodies Michael Jackson’s huge hit Beat it is his best one, even faster in tempo than Michael’s original. I don’t think he’ll win any play with his Lady Gaga’s parody song.

    • Amanda Kiwinerd

      Gaga is a humorless b****

      • Tiffany

        Gaga said that she hasn’t heard the song. It is possible her management said “No” with out getting her approval. The label owns the song, not her.

      • BC

        “The label owns the song, not her.”
        No it doesn’t. The songwriter, Lady Gaga, owns the song. Her label owns her particular recording of “Born This Way,” which is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

      • Ana170

        If Gaga wrote the song then she should own it not the label. Most modern songwriters retain ownership of their songs.

      • Drayke

        She has approved it after all. Weird Al put the cart before the horse on this issue and spoke out before getting any final word.

      • JJ2

        The song writer owns the rights to the song. The record label owns the rights to the specific recording.

      • tarc

        Actually, she’s anything but. As always, making comments with no actualy FACTS invariable makes people look STUPID.

      • tarc

        Oh, and BTW – Gaga’s manager has admitted publically that he had never forwarded any of this to Gaga and had denied this withou her knowledge. As soon as she found out, she reviewed the material and approved it – she’s a huge Weird Al fan.

      • tina

        It wouldn’t be the first time somebody’s “team” got more offended than the person themselves. Remember when Gary Larson did that Far Side comic about Jane Goodall? He got this scathing letter from the “Jane Goodall Institute” about how offensive it was. Larson wrote her an apologetic letter saying he hadn’t meant to hurt her — and it turned out she thought the comic was HILARIOUS and hadn’t approved the actions people took on her behalf. Happens all the time.

      • O’Snap

        Oh Good Lord. This is all manufactured PR. Without this “controversy,” none of us would know anything about this single or even that there was a new Al Yankovic album being released. Wake up.

    • SaraJeanQueen

      Nah, I love Michael and I would’ve loved this parody. Obviously Michael and Madonna had a sense of humor and Gaga doesn’t..? Or maybe she’s tired of being made fun of for this horrendous 2nd album attempt.

      • Candice

        Gag ga who she is irrelevant, she has been overshadowed by every single artist out there, why because her singles SUCK

    • JAM

      for someone who preaches tolerance and diversity she can’t take a little Weird Al humor? I ask, why so serious?

    • Drayke

      So it turns out Gaga never said no and has given the ok for the parody. Look like more than a few news/gossip sources (and commenters on this very site) have put their foot in their mouths.

      • JackieB

        OR Gaga/her people took at look at some of these comments and changed their minds.

      • tarc

        OR, as has been said by Gaga and her manager, the manager acted withou her approval, and as soon as she discovered that there was any request, promptly reviewed and approved the parody.

      • Paul NY

        Yeah because I’m sure she cares what you think Shannon lol.

    • tom

      he will never top “churning lots of butter” gangsters paradise! Watch it on you tube….classic and yes better than the michael and madonna parodies!

      • Shannon

        You’re preaching to my generational choir, Tom. I was actually in my 6th grade choir when “Amish Paradise” was released, btw. Too bad we couldn’t sing this song in class because I might’ve actually had fun during that hour for once. My teacher couldn’t sing, banged on the piano to get the class to shut-up, and claimed to have lost her “singing” voice from yelling at us. Nice.
        But, yes, that was a definite pinnacle for the mighty Yankovic. The full lyrics to the butter-churning anthem are forever lodged in my cranium.
        One of my favorite lines: “I never wear buttons/but I got a cool hat/and my homies all agree I really good in black/fool”

      • ian

        Actually, I’d say he topped it long before he did it with “Polkas on 45″. That song was inspired satiric genius.

  • jstwhite

    The Skirt Steak line made me laugh out loud. Weird Al still rules.

    • commentor

      Did you hear the whispered Express Yourself mid way through? Wonder if she threw a fit, like in her interview, and rejected the song based on that?

      • Mad Man

        Yup, at 1:59! Laugh! I’m sure she LOVED that!

      • Drayke

        I’m guessing it was other that “express yourself” whisper too. That probably wasn’t included in the lyrics he sent to her in advance. That part’s a bit of a cheap jab, but the song is otherwise all in good fun. I love Gaga, but I hope she’ll change her mind about this. I can’t blame her for being sick of the Express Yourself thing coming up constantly though. I still don’t get how they sound the same to people.

    • G.R.

      For some reason, “I’ll wrap my small intestines ’round my neck / And set fire to myself on stage” is the part that made laugh the hardest.

    • LOL

      Skirt Steak!

  • whatevs

    Perfect photo placement.

  • Jackson

    It’s just a shame that she couldn’t say no after he showed her the lyrics – instead she made him waste time and money to record the song fully. Charity be damned. Show’s what a class act Weird Al is though that even though he doesn’t need her permission to sell it, he won’t do it without her blessing. Gaga comes out of this looking a little too full of herself I think. Too bad.

    • Paul NY

      She put a gun to his head and forced him to make a dumb video?? Where does it say that?

  • theBigE

    Gaga is refuting his claims, saying she never turned him down. It’s Weird Al, she should be honored. Release the song, Al!

    • Al

      I agree. She should feel honored. Weird Al is a genius!

    • jen

      if that is true i smell a gaga cameo in his music video, that would be awesome!

    • Candice

      Kinda like when she said Madonna sent her an “email” regards to the BTW single, she is a liar and a plagiarist there is NO denying it

  • talkin’

    She likely “insisted” to see the finished product before consenting. That seems reasonable.
    She has her reasons and I don’t blame any artist for protecting their work, for whatever reason. I think she is in fact un-parody-ible since nothing he could do would be more outlandish that what she does.
    That said, Weird Al’s cover of I Want It That Way, reworked as Found It On E-Bay is one of the funniest things ever.

    • Gabe

      Un-parody-ible…

      You’ve… seen this woman, correct?

  • DizzySnazzle

    Gaga clearly takes herself too seriously. I mean, this is one of his weaker parody songs anyway, probably because she asked him to do it, so he was forced to come up with an idea, rather than having one come to him organically. Add to that the fact that Gaga takes the song way too seriously- it’s just a song!!!- and the fact that apparently she herself isn’t gay and the gay community, while they like her, don’t want her to be their spokesperson- it’s an interesting situation. Gaga needs to get off her pedestal and just make good music again. This Judas/Born this way stuff is getting too political- her music isn’t good enough to be political.

    • Drayke

      She pokes fun at herself more than anyone. In this particular case, she seems like she should lighten up. In general though, she has a great sense of humor about herself. Unfortunately, that’s never what makes the headlines. They take the snarkiest or most outlandish line she says in an interview and make a story about that, completely leaving out all the tongue-in-cheek things she says about herself. If you watch or read full interviews with her you’ll see what I mean. She rarely takes herself as seriously as people assume.

      • tarc

        Her management screwed up. As soon as she knew this even existed, she approved it.

  • Shawn

    Geez Gaga, now who’s being a drag?

    • SaraJeanQueen

      LOL!

  • Johanna B. (Swedish Amazon)

    I hope that Lady Gaga has a cameo in Star Trek 12 as a singer and her character could have dark connections to the Orion Syndicate (the mafia of the Star Trek universe) who should be the villains of the sequel. With her futuristic music and style, she would fit right in.
    Midway through Star Trek 12, I’d like to see Kirk, Spock and McCoy go undercover to a concert of hers on a distant planet like with Diva Plavalaguna in The Fifth Element (1997). When she sings Bad Romance, Paparazzi, Poker Face or Just Dance, her show could be raided by Syndicate henchmen who have a thunderous phaser fight with Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

    • 42man

      Considering this comment is pretty off-topic anyway… What the hell are you talking about?

    • dipshat

      WTF?Are you Broken?

    • Kris

      Were you even speaking English by the end?

    • ikagirl

      Put the cocaine down now and walk away. Then seek therapy. Fast.

  • commentor

    Wow. I’m going to donate the money I would’ve spend on the Born This Way album to the Human Rights Campain. I’m beginning to lose respect for the EGO that is Gaga. I really was a champion for her when she first came on the scene, enjoyed the wacky outfits, loved loved loved the songs (pre-B.T.W.), and thought she might be in it for the Long Term like Madonna. But really, she’s showing all her cards, running out of sane ideas, and is becoming sort of a parody of herself. Weird Al was classy in his response; however, because of Gaga, the HRC won’t be seeing any money because of her bruised ego. Lame.

    • Amber

      Gaga is saying that she never turned him down. She hasn’t heard the song, Weird Al was contacting her management…apparently the mgmt didn’t do their jobs well.

      • ian

        and if you believe her version of things, then I have some lovely real estate i’d love to sell you in Brooklyn. More like she said no, assuming no one would ever hear about it, and then Al’s blog post went viral, and she made her management take the fall because she didn’t like everyone telling her she’s an egomaniac with no sense of humor.

    • Frank

      I agree 100% dont really like these new single she is putting out..lets be hinest..kinda sad if you ask me

  • Jean Genie

    Weird Al is a freakin’ legend & Gaga should play nice. Whatever happened to Coolio, anyway? Don’t tell me to just Google it, ‘k?

    • Shawn

      Bing it.

      • Mad Man

        That’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone use that phrase.

      • HoneyB

        FTW

  • John

    The short list of artist that have turned Al down:

    Prince
    Eminem
    Lady Gaga

    Three artist that I like but need to not take what they do so seriously all the time.

    • Cris

      To be fair, Eminem OK’d the song, just not the video.

      • dipshat

        Yeah, Cris is right. HOWEVER Weird AL got back at him with his ‘Al TV’ parody of him.I dare you to check it out, funniest 10 minutes on YouTube.

      • Shannon

        Ugh. Em still practically pulled a Coolio with that attitude, though. If anyone remembers the drama that ensued after Weird Al parodied “Gangsta’s Paradise” when Al’s people told him that the washed-up rapper was totally coolio with it, it was a similar predicament. Coolio had a lot more animosity, though. He said he never wanted his song’s serious subject matter made light of. Please. Your name’s Coolio. And I hate when musicians take that stance. Especially when people are making fun of them all the time anyway. Lame.
        You want the “serious” side? Go listen to the original song or watch the Michelle Pheifer (sp?)-filled video.
        You want the fun stuff? Go watch the video for “Amish Paradise” complete with a horse-and-buggy and a Amish-ized Florence Henderson.

      • ian

        McCartney also turned him down once because the song’s subject matter was to involve meat, and he’s a vegan, lol.

      • Shannon

        Yep. The interesting thing, though, is Weird Al’s actually a vegetarian himself.

    • psychoanalyzer

      MJ actually turned down Weird Al’s request to parody Man in the Mirror but was ok with him redoing Beat It and Bad.

      • Drayke

        That brings up another angle in this whole scenario. If he were doing a parody of Telephone or Poker Face, something meant to be silly and superficial, then I’d really expect her to be totally ok a parody. This particular song is touchy though. I’d be nervous about letting him parody it too if I were her. If people were to be insulted and feel like it was making fun of a gay anthem, they’d then turn and say “and Gaga even gave him the OK on it” and feel betrayed by her.

    • Flyer

      James Blunt also turned Al down when he wanted to parody “You’re Beautiful,” because he was a new artist and supposedly his music label didn’t want him to be turned into a joke. He didn’t really need Weird Al for that, though. What’s Blunt up to these days?

      • Erich

        Actually, Blunt was cool with it, which is why the Al recorded the song in the first place. It was his agent/label that then decided after the fact that they didn’t want Blunt to be remembered for that one song so early in his career or he might just end up as a one-hit wonder. Speaking of which… yeah. I haven’t heard much of him lately…

      • tarc

        Actually, I understand that he’s a favorite of the royasl, and he’ll be doing an original for William and Kate’s wedding.

      • Shannon

        I always hated James Blunt’s voice. I guess it was the bluntly (ha) sappy and emo-esque lyrics that sent the estrogen set into a swoon-fest. Well, I’m female and I never got it. At all. He sounds worse than that old, singing Quizno’s rat.

    • tarc

      FACT: she didn’t turn him down. Those pesky facts getting the way of a good hate-on…

      • ian

        Unless you’re directly involved in the matter, you don’t know that at all, therefore you can’t call it fact. The fact that Al was told “SHE’D have to hear it”, it stands to reason she did, and said no. I think once his blog post went viral she changed her mind to save face, and simply blamed it on her management since no one will ever know WHO exactly it was that said no. I don’t believe her for a seconds, but I won’t call it fact.

      • correysince1991

        She is over exposed and needs to away for a while and put out a decent album!

  • Karate Pants

    Maybe the egg pod she sleeps in sucked the very last shreds of fun and joy from her.
    Seriously, Lady. Lighten up.

  • Jay

    Just because the song has a positive message, doesn’t make a parody in bad taste. Its just a parody. Its no different than if SNL did a skit making fun of it.

    Just for laughs. I never knew Gaga was so uptight.
    She might as well be yelling at kids to keep off her lawn

    • Amber

      Gaga is saying that she never turned him down. She hasn’t heard the song, Weird Al was contacting her management…apparently the mgmt didn’t do their jobs well.

      • ian

        except, she’s most likely lying about it, and is making her management take the fall now that everyone got wind of her having no sense of humor. I’m much more inclined to believe that.

  • kaydevo

    Pretty funny stuff. Weird Al rocks. Seems Gaga takes herself a mite too seriously. This only reminds me that “Born This Way” is a blatant rip-off of Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” Sounds just like it. Gaga makes me yawn with her need to be noticed.

    • Tuesday

      @ Kaydevo: FINALLY!!! Someone picked up on the fact that BTW sounds tooooo much like ‘Express Yourself’. Everyone else I mentioned this to swore that the two songs sound nothing alike. Same song, same message. Gaga just proves time and time again that she has nothing original or exciting to offer except re-doing stuff that’s already been done. A carbon copy of Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Dale Bozzio of the 80s band Missing Persons is all she is. I look forward to the day when Gaga’s 15 minutes are up!

      • Allison

        I will concede that “Born this Way” sounds like “Express Yourself” for 90% of the song (and then the spoken part of another Madonna song at the end, but I can’t put my finger on it) and “Alejandro” could have been done by Ace of Base. But “Bad Romance,” “Paparazzi” and “Telephone” – those are pretty original. She’s a child of the 80s – I would be worried if she was a pop star and DIDN’T sound influenced by Madonna or Cyndi Lauper.
        And as Amber has repeatedly pointed out – she hadn’t heard Weird Al’s song yet.

      • Woot

        It’s been like 3 years… I don’t think she surpassed her “15 minutes” even if she dropped off the face of the earth today.

      • Val

        The two songs (while thy sound almost exactly the same) don’t have the same message at ALL. Not even close. BTW is an anthem about being born gay, not making the choice to be gay. Express Yourself is a song to women, trying to explain to them that it’s your own self-respect that makes you powerful in a relationship, not how much you can get a man to spend on you. Both songs of empowerment, but on completely different subjects.

      • Val

        Also, there’s no “spoken part” in Express Yourself. That’s at the end of Vogue.

      • tarc

        Actually, the songs are nothing alike except some similar instrumentation and production. The message is quite different, the structure is different, and if you play either song on the piano (as written) the sound nothing alike. But I totally agree that it’s awesome that Gaga know, loves, appreciate, and occasionally borrows from the massively talented ladies of the 80′s.

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