A number of musicians see being parodied by Weird Al as a great honour, and only a handful of artists have ever turned down the Poka King. Paul McCartney, Eminem, and Weezer are just a few of the bands and musicians who’ve refused Yankovich, but did you know he wasn’t allowed to do a Harry Potter movie parody?
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Yankovich explained that Warner Bros told him he couldn’t do a parody of Hedwig’s Theme, and as he always tries to get the blessing of the musicians who originally wrote the piece this meant his fantasy movie parody had to be shelved.
“Whenever it was, about a decade or two ago, I approached the movie company just to get a general blessing like, ‘Hey, I’d like to do a Harry Potter parody.’ And I think they said no, or they never responded or whatever,” Yankovic explained. “But sometimes when you’re dealing with franchises, and you ask permission, you know, there are so many people that can say no, and they usually do.”
In the same interview, Yankovich joked that he learned his lesson from the Harry Potter incident. Now he just parodies the song and then apologises if the rights holder doesn’t like it. “If I’m doing a franchise, it’s usually better just to do it and ask for forgiveness rather than permission,” he said.
And in case you think Yankovich can’t parody songs without the original writer’s permission, then I’ve got bad news for you. He can and will. In the US, Fair Use and the First Amendment (which guarantees freedom of speech) protect parody, and Yankovich only gets permission to be polite.
If you love Weird Al, you need to check out the musical biopic Weird: The Al Yankovic story; it’s one of the best comedy movies of the year; just don’t go in expecting anything even slightly resembling the musician’s life. Or, if you only clicked this because you love the Wizarding World, we’ve got a list of the best Harry Potter characters for you.