In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, in tribute to Mandatory Fun, we’re recounting some of our favorite “Weird Al” Yankovic songs.
A confession: I have never owned a Weird Al record, tape, or CD. I could never imagine listening to Mr. Yankovic’s music—as entertaining as I find it—without the aid of his just-as-famous videos. In fact, my favorite Weird Al thing ever is actually not in the song itself, but in the lead-up to the song, in the video for “Fat.” Considering how big a hit “Fat” was, it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t just having fun with the music for Michael Jackson’s “Bad,” but also the epic “short film” that accompanied it. Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Wesley Snipes, the 18-minute Michael Jackson video depicts the K.O.P. heading home from a boarding school where he’s treated like an exotic creature because of his skin color. When he gets back to the dirty streets of NYC, things don’t go much better: Snipes and his crew want Jackson to slip back into his (totally believable) earlier life as a street thug. Eventually, pushed to the edge by peer pressure, Jackson fights back, proclaiming, “You ain’t bad, you ain’t nothin’!” Weird Al distills that bloated prospect down to a lean minute at the top of the “Fat” video, presenting the three thugs as bloated chubbies who try and force Al to eat. It’s all great, but one line—the only line delivered by one of the actors—always struck me as particularly perfect, both in its writing and its delivery. It goes like this: “Yo, Ding Dong, man. Ding Dong. Ding Dong, yo!” And the rest of “Fat”? The jokes are occasionally funny (“When I go to get my shoes shined / I gotta take their word”) and often too easy (“Just watch your mouth / Or I’ll sit on you”). But for me, “Fat” is immortalized by the parody that comes before the parody.