Amish Paradise

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"Amish Paradise"
Single by "Weird Al" Yankovic
from the album Bad Hair Day
B-side "Everything You Know Is Wrong", "The Night Santa Went Crazy (Extra Gory Version)"
Released March 12, 1996
Format CD, cassette
Recorded January 15, 1996 in Houston, Texas
Genre Comedy, gangsta rap, Comedy rap
Length 3:20
Label Scotti Brothers
Producer(s) "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic singles chronology
"Headline News"
(1994)
"Amish Paradise"
(1996)
"Gump"
(1996)
Bad Hair Day track listing
  1. "Amish Paradise"
  2. "Everything You Know Is Wrong"
  3. "Cavity Search
  4. "Callin' in Sick"
  5. "The Alternative Polka"
  6. "Since You've Been Gone"
  7. "Gump"
  8. "I'm So Sick of You"
  9. "Syndicated Inc."
  10. "I Remember Larry"
  11. "Phony Calls"
  12. "The Night Santa Went Crazy"

"Amish Paradise" is a 1996 single by parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic. It is a parody of the hip hop song "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring L.V. (which itself is a reworking of the Stevie Wonder song "Pastime Paradise"). Featured on the album Bad Hair Day, it turns the original "Gangsta's Paradise," in which the narrator laments his dangerous way of life, on its head by presenting an Amish man praising his relatively plain and uncomplicated existence.

Track listing[edit]

The following tracks are on the CD single.

  1. "Amish Paradise" – 3:20
  2. "Everything You Know Is Wrong" – 3:46
  3. "The Night Santa Went Crazy (Extra Gory Version)" – 3:59
  4. "Dare to Be Stupid (Instrumental)" – 3:25

The promo single only contains "Amish Paradise." The cassette single only contains "Amish Paradise" and "Everything You Know Is Wrong."

Controversy[edit]

Although Yankovic traditionally secures permission from the artists he parodies (even though this may not be legally required, as parodies are covered under fair use guidelines), and was told by his record label that Coolio had given permission, Coolio later claimed that he had not given such permission (and in fact publicly expressed disgust saying that Yankovic's parody "desecrated the song"). This created a minor controversy, as speculation surfaced that Coolio had actually given permission but later claimed he had not in the fear that allowing the parody would not be seen as "cool", or that Yankovic's record label had lied to Yankovic in the hopes that the song would become popular.[citation needed]

Yankovic later stated on VH1's Behind the Music that he had written a sincere letter of apology to Coolio which was never returned, and that Coolio never complained when he received his royalty check from proceeds of the song. A series of photos taken at the XM Satellite Radio booth at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show suggests that Yankovic and Coolio may have made amends.[1]

On June 27, 2013 during an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit, Yankovic was asked "Is Coolio still upset about Amish Paradise?", to which Yankovic replied "Coolio's cool with me now. We ran into each other a few years ago and it's all water under the proverbial bridge."[2]

Music video[edit]

The director of the music video for “Amish Paradise” was “Weird Al” himself. “Weird Al” has directed many of his music videos since 1986.[3]

The music video for "Amish Paradise" is very similar to the "Gangsta's Paradise" music video, although several concepts have been parodied. These include:

  • When Yankovic states that Amish shun electricity, several Amish stomp on electronic devices, such as CDs, floppy disks, laptops and a Slim Whitman LP album.
  • When Yankovic says he is up at 4:30 in the morning milking cows, he is shown milking a cow directly into a bowl of cereal instead of a milk pail. A box of corn flakes can be seen next to him. The Kellogg's brand name is covered.
  • In the next scene, when Jebediah is "feeding the chickens" he is giving them pizza.
  • The line "Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1699," is a not-so subtle jab at Prince and his song "1999". Prince is one of the very few artists in the music industry who has consistently refused to let Weird Al record parodies of his songs.
  • When Al is churning butter, a woman walks by, and he is seen churning faster in an arguably suggestive manner.
  • When the man is sawing and checking his sundial watch (on a cloudy day), the man behind him is playing golf (the follow-through of which resembles the use of a scythe).
  • When Al says "We sell quilts at discount price," a wooden booth is shown selling quilts, with a sign that says 'OUR PRICES ART INSANE!!!' in a parody of 'Crazy Eddie' advertisements.
  • At one point Al is seen reading a fake Lancaster, Pennsylvania, newspaper, with the headline "Much Butter Was Churned". This is a homage to the film Witness, which takes place in Lancaster County, home to perhaps the most well-known Amish communities.
  • In one part, two boys are looking at a supposed "Amish Babes" porn magazine (the cover slogan says "Plow My Field!"), but in the centerfold all the woman is showing is her leg up to her knee, insinuating that this is considered to be scandalous among the Amish.
  • When the young Amish children are on Yankovic's knee, they each have a beard, even though they appear to be about 6 years old.
  • Al's face is seen, with him sweating more every time a close up is taken to mock how L.V. is sweating profusely in Coolio's video.
  • When Yankovic states he's "scoring points for the afterlife," he takes off his hat to reveal a hairstyle very similar to that seen on the cover of his album Bad Hair Day. These are both parodies of Coolio's trademark hairstyle.
  • On the back of the carriage just before the sign reading, "Welcome to Lancaster," there's a "bumper" sticker stating, "How am I driving?" Other signs are seen saying among other things "BE GOOD", "NO FUN", "SIN-FREE ZONE", and "Mind Your Manners".
  • The man in white shirt and glasses attempting to use the vintage telephone (and in turn being coated with dust) is fashioned after a photograph of 1960s comedian Allan Sherman.
  • The lyrics "No phone, no lights, no motorcar - not a single luxury... like Robinson Crusoe, it's primitive as can be" are originally from the closing theme song to Gilligan's Island.
  • Near the very end, Yankovic is shown walking away from a barn while everything around him moves backwards in a rewinding fashion; for this effect, the scene was recorded normally while Weird Al lip syncs the words backwards, so when the scene is shown backwards, his lips sync with the song itself. The inspiration for this scene was the video for the rap group Pharcyde's "Drop", which was filmed in the same manner, and the backwards scene performed in the movie Top Secret!
  • The video features Florence Henderson in the role originally portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer. Reportedly, Henderson jumped at the chance to be featured in the parody, after seeing the Coolio video.[citation needed]
  • Al's parents Nick and Mary Yankovic are featured in the music video.[4]
  • The video shows many aspects of regular Amish life, such as raising a barn (the scene directly parodies Witness). However, when the barn is raised, the frame falls towards Yankovic, who is standing where a gap in the frame is. He has acknowledged that this gag is a Buster Keaton homage.[citation needed] Keaton performed this stunt in Steamboat Bill Jr.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 53
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales 22

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Weird and COOLIO?!". Yank Blog. January 8, 2006. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  2. ^ happymaskmonster comments on I am “Weird Al” Yankovic – Ask Me Anything!
  3. ^ "Video Facts". weirdal.com. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "Al with parents Mary and Nick Yankovic, who are seen throughout the "Amish Paradise" video". Thousand Oaks, CA. February 24, 1996. 

External links[edit]