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Crisis Averted: Lady Gaga Approves 'Weird Al' Yankovic Parody

For those who hope to one day see a video in which "Weird Al" Yankovic adopts many satirized Lady Gaga personas, all's well that ends well.
Courtesy of the artist
For those who hope to one day see a video in which "Weird Al" Yankovic adopts many satirized Lady Gaga personas, all's well that ends well.

All day Wednesday, everywhere from The New York Times to TMZ, reports have surfaced that Lady Gaga had refused permission for "Weird Al" Yankovic to release a parody of "Born This Way" called "Perform This Way." Yankovic himself blogged about the apparent rejection — writing that Gaga's people had given him the runaround, asking for the lyrics, then asking for the finished song, then flatly rejecting the final product after he'd gone to the expense of canceling a vacation, booking a studio, paying musicians and recording it.

Here's the song.

Yankovic has made unauthorized parodies available to the public before — including a James Blunt parody titled "You're Pitiful," following a rejection of the "You're Beautiful" parody by Blunt's label — but he's never knowingly released one on one of his albums. "I Perform This Way" was to be the first single from Yankovic's follow-up to 2006's best-selling Straight Outta Lynwood, and Yankovic wrote that approval of "I Perform This Way" was the only factor holding back scheduling of the new record's release.

Don't blame Lady Gaga, people. She loves "Weird Al" Yankovic.
/ Courtesy of the artist
/
Courtesy of the artist
Don't blame Lady Gaga, people. She loves "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Thankfully for all involved — get ready to rest easy, folks — I received a breathless phone call from an ecstatic "Weird Al" Yankovic about an hour ago; it turns out that Gaga's people have reversed course and approved the parody after all.

That outcome seemed likely as I was chasing Gaga's side of the story for a piece earlier this afternoon — when I emailed her manager, Troy Carter, to ask why she'd rejected the song, he wrote, "Gaga didn't refuse permission of the record. In fact, she's never heard it and is a big Weird Al fan." Which directly contradicted everything Yankovic had written: namely, that Gaga herself had flatly refused to grant permission, having heard the song. So I reached out to Yankovic, who wrote, "Well, um, I'm baffled. I'll let you know what, if anything, I find out."

As reports involving the apparent rejection poured in, Yankovic's fans mobilized on Twitter, as fans on Twitter are wont to do — and most of them blamed Gaga, accused her of hypocrisy, and so on. But, given that Carter was now saying that Gaga hadn't heard the song...

Anyway, for those who hope to one day see a video in which "Weird Al" Yankovic adopts many satirized Lady Gaga personas, all's well that ends well; Gaga has now heard the song and approved of its release. And, as Yankovic was promising all along, all proceeds from the song and its forthcoming video will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign. As Yankovic himself writes, "I'm thrilled on many levels to hear this, because 1) I truly respect and admire Gaga as an artist and it pained me to think of her as having less than a great sense of humor, and 2) it means I GET TO PUT OUT MY ALBUM!"

So there you go. Disaster averted!

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)