Imagine this: You have a career in Rock & Roll spanning over three decades. You've sold 12 million albums, give or take (official website). You've sold out arenas, and your concerts are considered epic masterpieces (Rolling Stone). Your backup band, known for their musical versatility, are some of the best musicians in the world (BBC). You've won three Grammys, and had multiple Grammy nominations (Grammy.com). But as far as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is concerned, you're a non-entity.
That's right: 'Weird Al' Yankovic, despite his incomparable musical résumé, is not a member of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame (hereafter referred to as "The Hall"). And this is a travesty that needs to be remedied.
Related: Despite His Consistent, Crazy Parodies, 'Weird Al' Yankovic Still Relevant As The Good Ol' Days (Inquisitr)
According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's own website, an artist must have a career spanning at least 25 years prior to induction. Also:
We shall consider factors such as an artist's musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.
1. A career spanning at least 25 years: Check. According to Rolling Stone, Weird Al's first single to gain national attention was "My Bologna," a parody of The Knack's "My Sharona," that premiered on the Dr. Demento Show in 1979. That's actually 35 years, but who's counting?
2. Musical influence on other artists: Check. Now you're probably thinking, "How can a guy whose entire career is built on spoofing other artists be an influence?" Well, here's how: according to Dave Grohl of Nirvana (themselves members of The Hall), the group realized they'd "made it" when Weird Al parodied them (11 Points). And Chamillionaire credits Weird Al's parody of his song "Riding Dirty" as part of the reason he got enough visibility to win a Grammy. In other words, a Weird Al parody can most certainly help your career.
3. Length and depth of career, body of work, innovation, blah blah blah. Check, check, and check. Consider this: if a Dr. Demento-era novelty act can turn his 15 minutes into 35 years, how is that anything but a lengthy and deep career? Body of work? Sure, his act is mostly parodies of existing songs, but he's also recorded several original songs, as well as what he calls "style parodies."
His music videos are themselves parodies of the original artists' videos, meaning he excels not just in music, but in visual art. And he's got a couple of movie credits. And as for innovation: If turning an accordion into a rock instrument doesn't count as innovation, there's also the fact that Weird Al saw the music industry changing in ways that could potentially harm him (namely, file-sharing, instant downloads, and the digitization of music) and instead of going all Metallica and getting upset about it, he changed his business model. Weird Al's current method of releasing a song per day on YouTube isn't a publicity stunt, it's shrewd marketing.
So why isn't Weird Al in the Hall of Fame? That's difficult to say, but the most obvious explanation is that The Hall simply doesn't want to take a parody act seriously. Either that, or The Hall doesn't think Weird Al meets its lofty musical standards - standards that have, apparently, been met by the likes of ABBA, ZZ Top, and The Bee Gees.
For his part, Weird Al has mostly taken the issue in stride, choosing instead to take pride in the fact that fans are creating petitions to shame The Hall into inducting him. Last year he told Chicago Now:
Well, you know, certainly, I'd be highly flattered. But just the fact that the fans care so much and they put so much time and effort into trying to make that happen – that to me already is a huge reward. Of course, yes, I'd be very honored… but I'm not holding my breath. Just to know that I have those kind of fans out there means the world to me.
Image source: The Atlantic