Weird Al Denied Permission To Parody Lady Gaga... Releases New Song For Free Anyway [Updated]

from the fair-use-doesn't-need-permission dept

Updated this story to make it clear that it was Lady Gaga's manager who apparently failed to forward the song to Lady Gaga for permission.

A few weeks ago, in discussing the takedown on Dan Bull's "Death of ACTA" song, some of the discussion in the comments turned to parody in music and whether or not Weird Al has to get permission for his parody songs. What was noted is that he does ask for permission, but almost certainly doesn't need it. He appears to have now put that to the test somewhat. A bunch of folks are submitting the news that Lady Gaga's manager snubbed a permission request from Weird Al, but since she had asked to first hear the song before giving her permission, he already had it done and released the song anyway... for free, on the basis that he was protected by fair use. As a side note, the report (from his agent) notes that this is only the second time he's been refused, with the other time being (you guessed it) from Prince:
Justin wrote to me last night: "You're going to love this. Lady Gaga denied Weird Al the right to release his parody of BORN THIS WAY, only the second time in his career that he's been denied [ed: the other refusal came from Prince]. But he recorded the track at her request as a part of the approval process... the first time any artists has made that request. She summarily passed without comment. So instead of selling a couple hundred thousand or a million copies... he gave PERFORM THIS WAY away for free to his 2 million followers on Twitter."
Of course, it's nice to see him stand up for his fair use rights. The post script to the story is that after this got so much attention, Lady Gaga's manager finally caved and got Lady Gaga to grant permission. But it's really unfortunate that we still live in "permission culture" where people feel the need to ask permission to create culture.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 11:22am

    Al's Blog

    Reading his blog, Lady Gaga likes the song, it was her manager who turned Al down without even letting her listen to it (until he was called on it).

     

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  2.  
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    crade (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 11:58am

    If ever there was an argument for censorship...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    "But it's really unfortunate that we still live in "permission culture" where people feel the need to ask permission to create culture."

    Really? He asked permission to do it and was told no, then he released it anyway. Why ask?

    We don't live in a permission culture" if when told no, we go ahead and do it anyway.

    I put up a fence, I told my neighbor I was putting up a fence to be nice, if they said no, I would have still put up the fence. I wasn't asking permission, I was informing to be nice.

     

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  4.  
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    Lirodon, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    Well guess what Weird Al, "Born This Way" no longer exists due to the Prince Paradox. Good going~

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    We don't live in a permission culture" if when told no, we go ahead and do it anyway.

    *Precisely* what I was going to say. And once again I'll add that OBVIOUSLY you don't need permission to create culture, you need permission to sell culture built of derivative works.

    It's right in the story, Weird Al made created the song without permission. Distribution/selling does not equal the creative process. No matter how hard one would like to shill for the content aggregators, you can't change the fact that 'censorship' of this nature can only come after the creative process.

    And if you're going to claim that perhaps fear of C&D letters is a disincentive for creativity, then by the same token you are claiming that remuneration is incentive for creativity. You can't have it both ways.

     

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  6.  
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    Huph, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re:

    ^^^ Forgot to sign my comment. Wouldn't want you guys to have no idea who you're foaming at the mouth against.

     

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  7.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    From what I've heard Weird Al wants permission, and cuts them in on half of the profits, because he does not want an adversarial relationship with a bunch of musicians.

    Obviously Lady Gaga would prefer an adversarial relationship.

     

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  8.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually no. Weird Al does not need permission to sell his parodies any more than he needs permission to create them. He only seeks permission as a gesture of good will toward the original artist.

     

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  9.  
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    mrdarkrai (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Al's Blog

    My URL has the billboard article, he has permission now.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    frosty840, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Re:

    Actually, as was noted a few hours after this story broke, last night, this story actually has nothing to do with Lady Gaga, but with her manager, who is an asshat, and didn't even tell her about Al calling.

    Allegedly.

    Personally, I think the whole thing screams publicity stunt, but hey, what do I know?

     

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  12.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Al's Blog

    or this was all a marketing ploy to both boost her ratings and help him in the process...

     

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  13.  
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    Richard, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:23pm

    That's Not True

    Coolio snubbed him over Amish Paradise too. If Prince refused him, this is the third time...

     

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  14.  
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    Matthew Krum, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:24pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Not really. More like you offered to build fences for everyone else on the block for free and after being surrounded by fences and seeing how nice it looked, neighbor was okay with it.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    As a little monster I have to say I really enjoyed that song. Go Al. You still got it.

     

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  16.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re:

    If I'm reading you correctly, your point is that copyright doesn't actually stifle creativity, because anyone is free to create what they want so long as they keep it to themselves and never share it with anybody?

    I don't think that's the goal we are talking about when we talk about promoting culture...

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't think the lady living in an egg for three days would even bother with this type of "publicity stunt."

    Between the meat dress and performing covered in "blood" I doubt Lady Gaga would agree to a "fake snubbing." If she wanted more publicity on this she would probably just start showing up at interviews pretending to be a creepy transsexual version of Weird Al or leave a real actual horse head on his front porch with a note.

     

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  18.  
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    Richard Ahlquist, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    Likely he asked permission to prevent any issues with being sued (some dont care about parody). Since he was told no he released it free for publicity for his new album and to share his work. It sounds like a moot point now. Basically if sued over a song he released free that combined with parody defense would have ended the lawsuit.

     

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  19.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    Except we absolutely live in a "permission culture". Our laws may not state that you need permission for this or for that, but in general people think that you should seek their permission before you use their ideas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    crade (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re:

    There is no legal difference between him putting it on his album or releasing it for free, it's covered as parody either way. It's just Al's personal policy not to.

    Also, your corelation between fear of punishment and "remuneration" needs further explanation, because it makes no sense at all as is. Respect for the law and the quest for personal wealth don't automagically have some direct correlation that everyone is supposed to recognize.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Al's Blog

    Doubtful. If you came into this early on with a dog in the fight, the other side looked like a douche.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Mistake, Miss-communication, marketing ploy?
    Who cares? Look at all of the free press they both received.

     

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  23.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re:

    No one anywhere has ever claimed that monetary remuneration is not and can not be an incentive for creation. The question is if monetary remuneration is necessary for creation. The question is it remuneration the only incentive for creation. Another question is whether copyright laws as they currently exist help or hinder creation. A point made is that you don't need copyright laws as they currently exist (and possibly not at all) in order to be remunerated for creation.

    Nice try with the straw man argument though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Dave Cortright (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Coolio apparently didn't approve Amish Paradise either

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:35pm

    According to Weird Al's blog, your postscript is wrong. According to the blog it was Gaga's manager who said no to the song, and that when she learned of/heard the song herself, she okay'd it.

    " The post script to the story is that after this got so much attention, Lady Gaga caved and granted permission." - Mike

    "Apparently the fact that she didn’t approve it was news to Lady Gaga herself!

    Gaga’s manager has now admitted that he never forwarded my parody to Gaga – she had no idea at all. Even though we assumed that Gaga herself was the one making the decision (because, well, that’s what we were TOLD), he apparently made the decision completely on his own.

    He’s sorry.

    And Gaga loves the song." - Weird Al

    The blog article, http://alyankovic.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/gaga-update/


    Secondly, this article has nothing to do with a 'permission culture' as you state. We may live in such a culture, but this specific example does not show it, considering it is Weird Al himself who will not make a parody without permission. He doesn't need to ask, as is explained in the original post about the Gaga song; it is his choice to do so, and he does.

    "But it's really unfortunate that we still live in 'permission culture' where people feel the need to ask permission to create culture." - Mike

    "My parodies have always fallen under what the courts call “fair use,” and this one was no different, legally allowing me to record and release it without permission. But it has always been my personal policy to get the consent of the original artist before including my parodies on any album, so of course I will respect Gaga’s wishes." - Weird Al

    http://alyankovic.wordpress.com/the-gaga-saga/

    You didn't cite your original sources, but if they are more legitimate than Weird Al's own blog about the story, please enlighten all of us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:37pm

    Re: That's Not True

    Well... Coolio did, but his Agent allowed Weird Al, so, it is kind of an odd situation when asking if he got refused or not. Although considering the two times the Artists were OK and the producers were NOT, I would say Coolio does belong in the group snubbed.

    If I remember, a similar thing happened with "You're Pitiful" in which the record label denied Al, but Blunt gave the OK.

     

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  27.  
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    mischab1, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    The biggest problem I see for the artists being parodied is that, about 80% of the time, I like Weird Al's song better. :-)

     

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  28.  
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    umccullough (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: That's Not True

    Precisely, and it was released on countless websites for free.

    You can see his sarcastic plug about that here:

    http://www.weirdal.com/alnewsfeed.shtml

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    2nd time?

    Third isn't it? Or did Coolio just threaten his life when he parodied "Gangster's Paradise"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    I suddenly have the urge to download UHF and watch that movie for the hundredth time.

     

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  31.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Al's Blog

    Not to mention that the world's most famous parody artist covering the world's current biggest(ish?) pop singer is already about as good as marketing gets.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    I hope Gaga get a new manager soon.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    theangryintern (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Only the 2nd time he's been turned down? My memory is fuzzy, but I thought I remembered he tried to do an Eminem parody a few years back and was denied permission from Mr. Shady.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:23pm

    Re:

    Nope. Eminem, IIRC, actually wanted to be in on it.

     

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  35.  
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    umccullough (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:26pm

    Re:

    You mean his Couch Potato song? I like that one :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:34pm

    Gotta love the dude!

    Best Weird Al song I've heard in a while! :-) I wonder if Lady Gaga would sue if I started a band named "The Gaga's"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: That's Not True

    Also, I recall Michael Jackson not wanting a parody of 'Black and White'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    Re:

    You didn't cite your original sources, but if they are more legitimate than Weird Al's own blog about the story, please enlighten all of us.

    Snark much? To quote The Big Lebowski:

    Walter: Am I wrong?
    The Dude: You're not wrong Walter. You're just an asshole.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Gotta love the dude!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    Not only Lady Gaga and Prince

    I can't believe I remember this, but Coolio didn't give Weird Al permission to do his parody song "Amish Paradise." There was some kind of miscommunication, where Coolio turned him down, but it was misinterpreted as giving consent. The miscommunication wasn't discovered until after the CD was out.

    Rather than sue Weird Al, Coolio just gave a couple of whiny interviews about how unhappy he was about the situation, but recognized that it was unintentional. I remember thinking that Coolio wasn't exactly thugging it up by lamenting his inability to rectify the situation through the courts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Lu, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 2:05pm

    The Prince that was formerly a sane artist

    Not suprising about "Prince". He is also opposed to other artists covering his songs because he claims that the public then doesn't realize that he is the song's creator.
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110420/13280113977/prince-claims-when-someone-covers-your-song-or iginal-no-longer-exists.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Al's Blog

    Having the Gaga's 'manager' take the fall for rejecting it, so she can come out in support is one way to gin up even more interest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 2:32pm

    updated

    Hey guys. Updated the post based on the info about it being Gaga's manager's fault...

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    Re:

    You mean you don't have it on DVD?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    Will Sizemore (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 3:59pm

    I'm still waiting for God to sue me for making that mud pie as a kid, because as we all know, mud pie is a derivative work from dirt and water.

    And then, of course, whoever invented pie can sue me too.

    But then, it won't be either of them, it will be something like the Village Inn, because the first pie I ever ate was from there, and I used their pie tin to hold the mud.

    An who is going to sue paper manufacturers for deriving their product from wood? The dryads?

    Or, what about the fact that I get paid to write reports, using words of all things? Shouldn't someone sue me for deriving my so-called creative works from the English Language?

    Oh, but the English language is a derivative work with sources from all over, most notably the Angles and the Saxes, so should their estate managers be able to sue me?

    Sue, sue, sue. That's all anyone does to make, or preserve, wealth these days? Creation isn't about creation anymore, its about being the first to register this 'new' idea so that if anyone else uses it without permission, the original registrant can make potentially a LOT more in legal awards then they'd ever have been able to generate if they'd actually done the work.

     

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  46.  
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    Jared, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 4:57pm

    kill them with kindness

    Al always asks to be polite, not out of legal need. Its just professional courtesy.

     

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  47.  
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    Pseudonym, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 6:11pm

    Re:

    Al Yankovic asks for permission not because he has to, but because none of his parodies are in any way mean spirited. He has to ask permission because he wants to make sure that nobody gets the impression that he's trying to insult the artist that he's parodying.

    This is extremely important for him, because a) he's a nice guy, and b) this is a vital part of his brand. But crucially, the last word on whether or not it ends up on an album is the artist, not the label.

    Before the Internet, if he didn't get permission from an artist, he only used the parody in live shows. Now, of course, he can use youtube.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Randy, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 8:57pm

    Madonna, Lady Gaga, Weird Al

    Lady Gaga didn't need permission to write here "Born This Way" adaptation of Madonna's "Express Yourself" and so why should Weird Al need permission to write a parody of a parody? Or maybe he should have just gone straight to Madonna and got her permission and bypassed Gaga.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 10:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Al's Blog

    Or the manager just didn't want to bother Gaga. Of course making his client look bad could lead to a desire for a new manager with half a brain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
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    Transbot9, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 10:21pm

    Re: Not only Lady Gaga and Prince

    And Weird Al sent him a big fat check. At least, according to Weird Al.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 10:33pm

    Re: That's Not True

    There is a Billy Joel parody, It's Still Billy Joel to Me, that wasn't released on a Weird Al album reportedly because Billy Joel didn't like it. It turned up on a Doctor Demento Basement Tape that went to the Demento fan club members. You can hear this song on youtube- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnrSqZwT2pg

    I would expect that there are more things like that we never heard about.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2011 @ 7:05am

    now this really pisses me off!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
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    Soundy (profile), Apr 25th, 2011 @ 3:52pm

    The sincerest form of flattery?

    Maybe more artists need to recognize Al's work for what it really is - recognition and flattery. Kurt Cobain is claimed to have once stated, that despite the record sales and fame and money and acclaim, the thing that really told Nirvana they'd "made the big time" was when Weird Al asked to do "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

    How accurate that attribution is, I can't say, but I think it makes the point pretty well.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    dhiya, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 11:52pm

    Wordpress Video Gallery

    It may be consider as more work for recognition and it takes a lot of work fields to give input on it and it is a great way to use... http://www.hdflvplayer.net/wordpress-video-gallery/hd-flv-player-features.php

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    EagleSongs, Sep 3rd, 2013 @ 9:39am

    Re: The sincerest form of flattery?

    It was actually Dave Grohl who said that.
    -ME

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
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    HappyBlogFriend (profile), Sep 3rd, 2013 @ 10:49am

    The correct response was

    Lady Gaga: You can parody "Born this Way" if I can cover "Yoda."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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