Weird Al Yankovic has used a simple gimmick — parodies of popular songs, interspersed with polka medleys — and parlayed it into a career of astonishing success and longevity. Yankovic, who turns 60 this year, has had an active career since 1976, which has included 14 studio albums and the cult movie UHF. His most recent album, 2014’s Mandatory Fun, was the first in his career to reach No. 1 on the album chart.
Yankovic is now a revered celebrity, receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; he’s also been name-checked as a major songwriting influence by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Then, just before New Year’s Eve, Yankovic promised not to destroy the world.
The setup was a tweet by political journalist Matthew Yglesias of Vox, noting that “the extent to which the smart set in Silicon Valley is worrying about weird AI apocalypse scenarios rather than climate/energy problems is really remarkable.” Yglesias’ tweet referenced “Weird AI,” as in artificial intelligence, but Twitter’s font made the “I” look like a lower case “l,” and “Weird AI” look like “Weird Al.”
Yankovic then quote-tweeted Yglesias and promised, “Hey you guys. Don’t worry, we’re cool. I pinky swear I won’t destroy the world.” Yankovic followed up that tweet with a funny illustration of himself in an apocalypse scenario, complete with horses and swords.
Weird Al has 5.16 million Twitter followers; the tweet was tweeted over 4,000 times and liked over 27,000 times.
Hey you guys. Don't worry, we're cool. I pinky swear I won't destroy the world. https://t.co/IX4AYAkRuw— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) December 30, 2018
There’s no reason to doubt Yankovic’s sincerity, although he did release an album called Alpocalyse in 2011, which was the source of the second image.
In the replies, one respondent suggested that Yankovic name his next album Alpolkalypse Now, and open it with a klezmer parody of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.”
Yglesias’ tweet was in reference to the worry that Silicon Valley bigwigs have about machines taking over the world, as well as various nanotechnology-based scenarios, such as the “Grey goo problem,” as opposed to more immediate problems such as climate change.
This is not the first viral tweet for which Yankovic has been responsible. In November of 2017, he tweeted the document from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office showing that he now owns the trademark for the name “Weird Al.”
“If you really feel compelled to insult Franken, Sharpton, Gore, Roker, or Pacino…,” Yankovic wrote in the tweet. “PLEASE CHOOSE A DIFFERENT NICKNAME.
Yankovic plans to embark on a nationwide tour throughout 2019.