I’m not ashamed to admit that “Weird Al” Yankovic taught me more lessons on life, grammar, wit, and music appreciation in the 1980s than most of my elementary school teachers (and certainly any other celebrity) did. But Al didn’t feel like a typical famous person; he was more like a loyal homie-for-life that you could always count on or a wiser older brother that earnestly passed down important information. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s songs truly were the definition of kid-friendly, but as a 38-year-old adult, they still have quite a bite and exemplify staying power as well; I definitely can’t say that about every form of art that I loved as a single-digit kid on Long Island.

To the young readers who may not be very familiar with the works of “Weird Al” Yankovic, I suggest that you keep reading and check out each track listed here (and pretty much all of his others). Mr. Yankovic has stood the test of time because you can hear the sincere love he has for each word and note in each word and note. It’s rare to hear a vocalist who can belt a pop song with the best of all divas, rap like a credible battle rapper in “8 Mile,” and rock a rock song with more grit than sweaty bearded dudes in skinny jeans who probably don’t like you.

Before I list my Top Ten Favorite “Weird Al” Yankovic parodies, here are two disclaimers:

  1. I did not include any Michael Jackson or R. Kelly parodies on this list. Be offended or don’t.
  2. There are no polka medleys (which rule/ruled) or original songs (which also rule/ruled) on this list.

And, here’s my list:

  1. “Word Crimes” (parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”) from 2014’s “Mandatory Fun” LP

I know that it isn’t cool to like new shit by older artists, but this song is too good to neglect. Plus, “Mandatory Fun” was Al’s first number one Billboard album, and (in my humble opinion) a lot of its success can be attributed to “Word Crimes”.

  1. “Jurassic Park” (parody of Richard Harris’ “MacArthur Park) from 1993’s “Alapalooza”

As referenced before, “Weird Al” taught me a thing or two about life, liberty, and the pursuit of parodies. Before Al’s version of this song, I had no idea WHO Richard Harris was or WHAT baroque pop is. Now I’ll never forget either. Jurassic Park IS frightening in the dark.

  1. “The White Stuff” (parody of New Kids on the Block’s “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” from 1992’s “Off the Deep End” LP

Nearly everyone from my elementary school’s first concert was New Kids on the Block; I preferred cookies. WELL, Al created a perfect melodic shout-out to the forever crowd-pleasing filling of America’s favorite cookie. Oh oh oh oh oh. Oh-oreo.

  1. “White & Nerdy” (parody of Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone’s “Ridin”) from 2006’s “Straight Outta Lynwood” LP

Two white references in a row, but one (like many of Al’s hits) is about food, and this one is about Caucasians; I’m not mad. It’s pretty badass that at exactly three decades into his musical career (at this time), “White & Nerdy” became his biggest selling single. As of today, “White & Nerdy” still has his largest numbers on both YouTube and Spotify.

  1. “Gump” (parody of The President of the United States of America’s “Lump”) from 1996’s “Bad Hair Day” LP

“Gump” is the shortest song on this list, but it manages to say A LOT in two minutes and ten seconds. The rock is relentless (courtesy of THE most underrated backing band in music) and the lyrics highlight many of the iconic scenes and characters featured in the Oscar winning movie “Forrest Gump” so perfectly. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  1. “King of Suede” (parody of The Police’s “King of Pain”) from 1984’s “’Weird Al’ Yankovic in 3-D” LP

This addition may confuse some, as it is definitely the most obscure deep cut parody listed, but “King of Suede” is so humorously detailed, you’d think it was written by a cast member/writer from Saturday Night Live. Plus, and I may get flack for this, but Al Yankovic exposed single-digit Scotty to the magic of The Police (and Sting). Sorry.

  1. “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi” (parody of The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy”) from 1999’s “Running With Scissors” LP

Speaking of flack, I may get some for thinking think that Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song” is a close second to “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi” for Jewish anthems of the 90s… And I LOVE/loved Sandler’s song! But Al set the bar (mitzvah) higher with a (dead) sea of clever Jewish verbiage, and a barrage of mild Yiddish and Hebrew words. Plus, I’ve yet to encounter another mohel (GOOGLE NOW) reference in song.

  1. “Smells Like Nirvana” (parody of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) from 1992’s “Off the Deep End” LP

I once read that Kurt Cobain asked “Weird Al” if his Nirvana rendition was going to be about food. It wasn’t, but marbles are technically edible, right? Facts are facts, and this song will forever be the most iconic and noteworthy grunge parody. Boy, this oughta bug your parents.

  1. “Amish Paradise” (parody of Coolio and L.V.’s “Gangsta’s Paradise) from 1996’s “Bad Hair Day” LP

As evidenced earlier on this list with “White & Nerdy,” “Weird Al” Yankovic is an extremely undervalued/vicious rapper, and the world NEEDS to know this. Coolio may not have been a fan of “Amish Paradise,” but everyone that I knew in 1996 sure was, as it was SO well done. Side inquiry: Wouldn’t it be flattering/a sign that you made it if “Weird Al” chose to tackle your music?

  1. “Yoda” (parody of The Kinks’ “Lola”) from 1985’s “Dare to be Stupid” LP

There. Is. No. Better. Parody. Period.

So that’s it. If you have the time and money, check out “Weird Al” Yankovic’s

tour this summer featuring a freaking symphony orchestra. It’s true (and badass). As someone who has had the pleasure of seeing Al live, his show is not to be missed. Enjoy this playlist featuring the ten songs I listed and try to laugh a little. Life is so much better when you don’t take it so seriously. Thank you, Al Yankovic. You’re not weird to me.