Lady Gaga Says No To Weird Al Yankovic's 'Born This Way' Parody
Update: After first turning down Weird Al Yankovic's request to parody her song, 'Born This Way,' Lady Gaga has reportedly changed her mind! The New York Times writer who was covering the story now reports he spoke with Yankovic's manager who reveals Gaga has now given permission for his song 'Perform This Way' to be on his album. An update is also expected to be posted on Yankovic's blog.
Lady Gaga takes herself very seriously. So seriously, she has refused Weird Al Yankovic's request to include a parody of her hit single 'Born This Way' on his new album. The New York Times reports that while song parodies are legal under fair-use interpretations of copyright law and he is not required to get her permission, Yankovic, who has famously satirized everyone from Michael Jackson to Madonna, has a personal policy "to get the consent of the original artist before including my parodies on any album."
As with most songs Yankovic parodies, he is actually a fan of 'Born This Way,' which he refers to as "an earnest human rights anthem" in a lengthy post on his blog responding to Gaga's decision. Not wanting his take to seem in poor taste, Yankovic even decided to donate all proceeds from the single's sale to a charity that advocates for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. "Based on my concept, I was reasonably sure that my parody wasn't really going to offend anybody, but I still decided, as an act of good karma, that I would donate all the money from sales of the song and music video to the Human Rights Campaign," he writes.
Listen to Weird Al's take on 'Born This Way,' entitled 'Perform This Way,' below.
Yankovic contacted Gaga's management to seek permission to parody her hit, writing:
I'd like to do a parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" called "I Perform This Way." The basic concept is that I, as a Lady Gaga doppelganger of sorts, describe the incredibly extravagant ways in which I perform on stage. Meat dresses and giant eggs would most likely be referenced, but also much more ridiculous made-up examples of bizarre wardrobe and stage production. As with all my parodies, it would be respectful of the artist, while having a bit of fun with her larger-than-life image.
The pop star's camp demanded to hear the song before giving Yankovic the permission he sought (but didn't really legally need) to include the song on his album. On tour in Australia, the 'Eat It' singer drafted the lyrics and presented them to Gaga only to be told again that she wanted to hear the completed track before approving it.
"She actually needs to hear it. Otherwise the answer is no," Yankovic says Gaga's management said in response.
"This was mystifying to me," he writes. "At this point she has the lyrics, and hopefully she is familiar with her own song... and the parody is basically her music ... with my lyrics. It really shouldn't be that hard to decide -- based on having the lyrics right in front of you -- whether or not you'd be 'okay' with a parody. But, alas, we'd been given an ultimatum. If she didn't hear it, she wouldn't approve it."
While Yankovic says he "never" conducts his parodies in this fashion, he decided to go through with recording the song without her approval "because I was really excited about this parody, I decided I would faithfully jump through as many hoops as Gaga deemed necessary."
He delivered the completed track to Gaga, who responded with a resounding "no."
Yankovic says he still doesn't know what problems the pop star had with his song, though he admits, "obviously I take a few jabs at her, but y'know, it's satire -- that's how it's supposed to work."
"A conventional release for the song and video would have also raised a nice chunk of change for the HRC -- an organization which I have to assume Gaga supports," Yankovic writes on his blog. "Hopefully, if fans enjoy hearing the song online, they'll make a donation anyway."
It is rare for an artist to decline Yankovic's offer to lampoon them. Atlantic Records and James Blunt initially gave Yankovic permission to record a parody of 'You're Beautiful' called 'You're Pitiful,' but after hearing the song the record company revoked permission, saying it was "too early" in the singer's career.
He was similarly declined by Yoko Ono. Yankovic approached Paul McCartney in an effort to parody The Beatles song 'Free as a Bird' with 'Gee I'm A Nerd,' but McCartney turned the decision over to Ono, who told Yankovic she didn't feel comfortable with his parodying the song. He still performs 'Gee I'm A Nerd' in concert.
Yankovic also found himself in something of a feud with rapper Coolio following the release of 'Amish Paradise,' a parody of Coolio's 'Gangsta's Paradise.' The rapper reportedly felt his song was too serious to be satirized. While Yankovic insisted he had been given permission to parody the song by Coolio's record company, the rapper denies giving him the green light. IMDB reports the misunderstanding was likely caused by Yankovic receiving permission from the record label without Coolio's knowledge.
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