Sunday 10 July 2011

What NDP organisers can learn from Weird Al Yankovic

Dear National Day Parade (NDP) organisers,

In light of last week’s controversy surrounding the Fun Pack Song (an unauthorised parody of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance), I recommend that the creative director for next year’s NDP be Weird Al Yankovic.

The veteran parodist’s latest album, Alpocalypse – the highest charting US hit of his 30-year career – features a parody of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way called Perform This Way.

If you want a song parody, this is the guy who knows how to do it right.

Although he was made to jump through hoops to get Lady Gaga’s approval to release Perform This Way, Yankovic was ready to drop the song from his album after her manager said no. Eventually, Lady Gaga herself said yes.

You, on the other hand, changed the lyrics to Bad Romance without asking permission. Talk about Singaporeans being ungracious.

Even Dick Lee was appalled.

Sure, Lady Gaga, who happened to be in Singapore last week, eventually said "it's great", but this was after the fact.

Even though Yankovic is not legally required to do so (he claims “fair use”), he still makes it his personal policy to ask permission from the artistes he’s parodying as a courtesy (heard of it?), despite being the mega-superstar that he is.

Who do you have? Beatrice Chia-Richmond (your creative director)? Haresh Sharma (your lyricist)?

I’ve seen Weird Al Yankovic in concert. I own the Weird Al Yankovic boxed set. I’m one of Weird Al Yankovic’s 2 million Twitter followers.

Beatrice Chia-Richmond is no Weird Al Yankovic (even though she has a three-word name like Weird Al Yankovic).

Neither is Haresh Sharma. Yanked out of the NDP, his Fun Pack Song appears to have reached an unnecessary stage.

Also, if you want a song about biscuits, sweets and “kopi-o-o-o-o-o” (did I get the number of “o”s right?), Yankovic is the perfect choice since he specialises in food lyrics.

He turned Michael Jackson's Beat It into Eat It, The Knack's My Sharona into My Bologna and La Bamba into Lasagna.

Admittedly, Yankovic may not be Singaporean enough for the NDP, but he has mentioned Singapore before in his 1994 song Headline News, a parody of Crash Test Dummies' Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm (did I get the number of “m”s right?), where he sang about "this kid who took a trip to Singapore and brought along his spray paint".

Ha! A Michael Fay reference. How 90s.

Worst comes to worst, if Yankovic isn't available for next year's NDP, you can always get Mr Brown.

Best regards,
S M Ong

- Published in The New Paper, 10 July 2011