Everyone knows Weird Al Yankovic. I mean, who could possibly forget “Amish Paradise”?
But recently, Weird Al enjoyed a massive success that surpassed any of his past albums. His latest album, “Mandatory Fun,” entered the charts at No. 1 — the first time ever for him. (Watch him get the happy news here!)
And for good reason. His album is full of clever gems, like “Foil” (a parody of “Royals” by Lorde), “Tacky” (“Happy” by Pharrell Williams), and — my personal favorite — “Word Crimes” (“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke).
In fact, this weird dude can teach us quite a bit about success, starting with these 10 things:
1. Success doesn’t always happen right away
Weird Al was totally blown away by the success of this latest album. After all, he had been doing this for years, and he hadn’t received nearly this much attention before.
It just goes to show that sometimes, success doesn’t come right away. You have to work at it long and hard to get where you want to be. But it will totally pay off.
2. Be bold
If there’s one thing Weird Al certainly is, it’s bold. I mean, look at that costume.
But he’s bold in more ways than one. To get Iggy Azalea’s permission to do a parody of “Fancy,” he attended one of her concerts and waited backstage.
According to Billboard, Weird Al explained, “I talked to her as she was literally walking offstage. I introduced myself, ‘Hi, I’m Weird Al Yankovic, and I would love to do a parody of “Fancy.”‘ The next morning, I was in the studio recording.”
Sometimes, you just have to put yourself out there. You just might get exactly what you were hoping for.
3. Be persistent
Weird Al was set on doing a parody of Pharrell’s “Happy” — but he couldn’t get a hold of his contacts. But he didn’t stop there. He actually found Pharrell’s personal e-mail (in a way that he didn’t want to divulge, apparently), and he asked him himself. Pharrell “couldn’t have been nicer about it” and was happy to give him permission.
If Plan A doesn’t work, try Plan B through Z. You can do anything you set your mind to.
4. Always be the good guy
Speaking of permission … did you know Weird Al doesn’t even need the permission of artists? He could technically just do parodies of them without even contacting them. But he still asks permission. And as a result, many of the artists not only give him permission, but express how happy they are that he’s covering their stuff.
Respect other people, and they will be willing to help you out.
5. Let the haters hate
When asked about bad feedback and negative responses, Weird Al explained that he was sometimes a little hurt by it, but he knew that it’s inevitable. “I’ve got so many other people on Twitter that are extremely positive, so it more than balances it out,” he said.
The more successful you are, the more criticism you’ll get. If it’s constructive, use it. If it’s not, well, screw it.
6. Be flexible
After all this success, Weird Al probably won’t come out with another album.
I know, right? But the reason isn’t because he’s quitting. It’s because he’s decided that the album form doesn’t lend itself well to his parodies, so he’s going to start utilizing YouTube.
Don’t just stick to what you’ve always done. Even after you’ve had success, you need to constantly think about how you can do better next time. Be flexible with the times!
7. Love what you do
Weird Al loves being weird. He’s actually making a living off being weird, because hey — he’s good at it.
Love what you do, and you’ll make it unique and all your own. You won’t be truly successful if you aren’t happy doing what you’re doing.
8. Be yourself
If there’s one thing Weird Al can teach us, it’s to be yourself.
I mean, it pretty much goes without saying.
9. Don’t trample others on your way
Weird Al’s parodies are never cruel or derogatory. That’s because he doesn’t believe in making fun of others. “I’m a fan, like everybody else,” he explained. “When I do these parodies, it’s not meant to mock people … It’s an homage. … I don’t think you need to be hurtful to be funny.”
You can gain success without damaging others (even Stephenie Meyer). Don’t become so obsessed with getting to the top that you forget this crucial fact.
10. Vulgar doesn’t always win
You don’t need to be crude to be a star. Weird Al never swears. In fact, he does awesome things instead, like this:
… and that’s why we love him.
Featured photo credit: Mary Rehak via flickr.com