Like a Surgeon ("Weird Al" Yankovic song)
|"Like a Surgeon"|
|Single by "Weird Al" Yankovic|
|from the album Dare to Be Stupid|
|B-side||"Slime Creatures from Outer Space"|
|Released||June 4, 1985|
February 1985; Santa Monica Sound Records|
(Santa Monica, California)
|"Weird Al" Yankovic singles chronology|
"Like a Surgeon" is a song recorded by "Weird Al" Yankovic that appears on his third studio album, Dare to Be Stupid (1985). It was released as the album's second single on June 4, 1985, by Scotti Brothers Records. It was issued as a 7", 12", and picture disc. A parody of the pop song "Like a Virgin" by Madonna, its lyrics describe a hospital environment, with the same melody as Madonna's original counterpart. The track was written by Yankovic and Madonna, with the latter coming up with the parody's title, an act Yankovic generally discourages. Rick Derringer served as the executive producer.
"Like a Surgeon" was well received by music critics, who praised Yankovic's take on Madonna's single. Another critic called it "as good" as "Like a Virgin". In the United States, it peaked at number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his fifth entry in that country at the time. It also peaked in the top forty of Australia and Canada, with the former peaking at number 19. For live performances of the recording, Yankovic further borrowed elements from Madonna's renditions, singing live in a hospital surrounding, sporting similar outfits and costumes.
Writing and development
The idea for "Like a Surgeon" arose immediately following the completion of his song "Yoda". Although Yankovic generally did not use parody ideas from other musicians, Madonna was partly involved during the writing process of the track. An acquaintance of the singer suggested the idea while with Madonna, noting that it would not take long for Weird Al to satirize her 1984 hit single "Like a Virgin". The acquaintance was a mutual friend of Jay Levey, Yankovic's manager, and brought the idea up to him following the encounter. This is the only known time that Yankovic has obtained an idea directly from the original artist, as he "openly discourages people from giving him parody ideas". It was recorded alongside other singles in February 1985: "I Want a New Duck" and "Hooked on Polkas", and album track "Girls Just Want to Have Lunch".
Yankovic parodies the pop song by speaking from the point of view of a new surgeon, singing lines: "Like a surgeon / Cuttin' for the very first time / Like a surgeon / Organ transplants are my line". It contains "play-on-rhymes" from its original counterpart, and describes the singer noting that "he's more bothered by the fact that his patients are dying before they can pay than the fact that they're dying at all". Before the chorus, he also coos: "I'll pull his insides out, pull his insides out / And see what he ate". The creation of the song was parodied in the show How I Met Your Mother. In one episode, lead character Ted Mosby gave "Weird Al" the idea to the song after sending him a fan letter when he was 8 years old.
Critical reception for "Like a Surgeon" was generally positive. In Eugene Chadbourne's AllMusic album review for Dare to Be Stupid, he congratulated Yankovic for "perhaps his best parody ever, the brilliant and cutting 'Like a Surgeon'". Chadbourne continued: "Turning the tacky Madonna hit inside out and upside down, Yankovic comes up with a hilarious satire of the medical profession." Richard Stim, claimed in his book Music Law: How to Run Your Band's Business that "Like a Surgeon" was "an effective parody", while Bryan Brewer from the Digital Audio and Compact Disc Review called it "as good on CD as the original, digitally recorded 'Like a Virgin'". Christopher Thelen of Daily Vault didn't find it up to par with the singer's previous parodies; however, Thelen stated: "but since I've developed a healthy distrust of the medical community, I appreciate the somewhat biting sarcasm that Yankovic works in."
Commercially, the single became one of Yankovic's more well-known works. In the United States, it became his fifth entry on the Billboard Hot 100, and highest since "Eat It"'s peak of number 12 in 1984. It climbed the charts for eight weeks in mid 1985, before reaching its peak at number 47 for the week ending July 13, 1985. On list compiling Yankovic's most successful releases, Billboard described "Like a Surgeon" as his third biggest hit single. According to RPM, the single reached its peak of 37 on August 17 of the same year, becoming his second entry in Canada. In Australia, it peaked at number 19, similarly his third highest peak in that country at the time.
The music video is set in a hospital. It parodies several elements of the promotional video for "Like a Virgin", famously set in Venice; Yankovic singing on a moving gurney references Madonna on a canal boat, and both videos feature a lion at the beginning. During one scene, a Madonna wannabe is sitting in a corner filing her nails. At the end of the "Like a Surgeon" music video, dance moves and scene changes spoof the video for Madonna's "Burning Up", then Yankovic and two dancers perform a routine that spoofs the video for "Lucky Star". Both songs appear on Madonna's first album. The video also includes the famous PA announcement from The Three Stooges ("Paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard"). The visual would later be included on Yankovic's 1992 video album The "Weird Al" Yankovic Video Library.
The singer has performed "Like a Surgeon" at several of his concert tours. A staff member from Rolling Stone called the renditions a "key part of Yankovic's live show[s] for decades". For the performance, he mocks Madonna's "Middle Eastern rendition" as shown in her 1991 documentary film Madonna: Truth or Dare.
Track listing and formats
Credits and personnel
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Dare to Be Stupid, Scotti Brothers.
- Recorded at Santa Monica Sound Records, Santa Monica, California
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||19|
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)||37|
|US Billboard Hot 100||47|
|United States||June 4, 1985||7"||Scotti Brothers|
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