‘Eat It’ parody by ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic
March 23, 1984: Comedian “Weird” Al Yankovic has a hit with “Eat It,” a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
Staff writer Dennis Hunt reported in the April 5, 1984, Los Angeles Times:
Musically, “Eat It” copies “Beat It” note for note. The comedy springs from Yankovic’s straining, barely on-key vocals and his wacky lyrics that focus on his favorite fetish — food.
“I write a lot of songs about food because to me food is funny,” he explains. “But that’s because my mind is warped.” He responds to this self-deprecation with another belly laugh.
Even funnier than the single is Yankovic’s “Eat It” video, an uproarious sendup of Jackson’s famed “Beat It” video, featuring the klutzy Yankovic mimicking the graceful Jackson in that ballet of a gang fight. After “Eat It,” it’s impossible to take the Jackson single or video seriously. Given the obvious danger that “Eat It” might forever damage the image of Jackson’s original song, it’s surprising that he consented to the parody. But, Yankovic reports, getting the superstar’s permission was remarkably easy.
“I never thought he’d give the OK, just because of who he is. Let’s face it, he doesn’t need this. I never thought he’d find time to read my lyrics. I haven’t yet talked to him personally. We went through the people you have to go through to get to him.
“First, I gave him the basic concept, and he said it was a good idea and wanted to see the lyrics. I sent him the lyrics and he liked them and gave his OK. He gets royalties from this. Imagine that, Michael Jackson making money off me. Now maybe he can afford to buy that other glove.”…
This portrait by former staff photographer Marsha Traeger accompanied Hunt’s article in the April 5, 1984, Los Angeles Times Calendar section.
“Eat It” peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 14, 1984. Link to “Eat It” video on YouTube.
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