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Like a Surgeon ("Weird Al" Yankovic song)

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Not to be confused with Like a Surgeon (Ciara song).
"Like a Surgeon"
"Weird Al" Yankovic dressed as a surgeon holding a chainsaw in his hand, flanked by a woman dressed like Madonna and wearing sunglasses, also in surgeon's uniform.
Single by "Weird Al" Yankovic
from the album Dare to Be Stupid
B-side "Slime Creatures from Outer Space"
Released June 4, 1985
Format
Recorded February 1985; Santa Monica Sound Records
(Santa Monica, California)
Genre
Length 3:27
Label Scotti Brothers
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Rick Derringer
"Weird Al" Yankovic singles chronology
"This Is the Life"
(1984)
"Like a Surgeon"
(1985)
"I Want a New Duck"
(1985)
Music video
"Like a Surgeon" on YouTube

"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 is a parody of "Like a Virgin" by Madonna. The single was issued as a 7", 12", and picture disc. A Parody of the pop song, 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 serving 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[edit]

The idea for "Like a Surgeon" arose immediately following the completion of his song "Yoda".[2] 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 encountering.[3] 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".[3] 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".[2]

Yankovic parodies the pop song[1] 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".[4] It contains "play-on-rhymes" from its original counterpart, and describes the singer noting that "his patients are dying before they can pay than the fact that they're dying at all".[5] Before the chorus, he also coos: "I'll pull his insides out, pull his insides out / And see what he ate".[6] 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.[7]

Reception[edit]

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."[8] Richard Stim, claimed in his book Music Law: How to Run Your Band's Business that "Like a Surgeon" was "an effective parody",[9] 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'".[10] 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."[11]

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.[12] It climbed the charts for eight weeks in mid 1985, before reaching its peak at number 47 for the week ending July 13, 1985.[13][14] On list compiling Yankovic's most successful releases, Billboard described "Like a Surgeon" as his third biggest hit single.[4] According to RPM, the single reached its peak of 37 on August 17 of the same year, becoming his second entry in Canada.[15] In Australia, it peaked at number 19, similarly his third highest peak in that country at the time.[16]

Promotion[edit]

The music video in set in a hospital.[17] 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, Yankovic and two dancers perform a routine that spoofs the video for "Lucky Star", a song from 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.[18]

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".[19] For the performance, he mocks Madonna's "Middle Eastern rendition" as shown in her 1991 documentary film Madonna: Truth or Dare.[19]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Dare to Be Stupid, Scotti Brothers.[23]

Recording
Personnel
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic – lead vocals, songwriting
  • Madonna – songwriting
  • Rick Derringer – production
  • Tom Kelly – composition
  • Tony Papa – engineer
  • Billy Steinberg – composition

Charts[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
Position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[16] 19
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[15] 37
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 47

Release history[edit]

On June 4, 1985, "Like a Surgeon" was released as a 7" single by Scotti Brothers Records,[24] while a 12" and picture disc would also be released in Mexico and Germany, respectively.[21][22]

Region Date Format Label
United States[24] June 4, 1985 7" Scotti Brothers
Germany[22] 1985 Picture disc
Mexico[21] 12" Epic

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rogers, Paul (July 2013). ""Weird Al" Yankovic – Hollywood Bowl". LA Weekly. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Yankovic, Alfred M. (December 2007). "Recording Dates". Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Cormier, Roger (July 21, 2014). "20 Weird And Not So Weird Facts About 'Weird Al' Yankovic and His Songs". Mental Floss. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Lipshutz, Jason (July 11, 2014). "'Weird Al' Yankovic's Top 10 Biggest Billboard Hits". Billboard. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  5. ^ Book, Ryan (February 9, 2015). "30 Years of 'Like A Virgin': Off Kilter Covers from Weird Al Yankovic, Sister Cristina Scuccia and More". Music Times. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  6. ^ Spin staff (July 16, 2014). ""Weird Al" Yankovic – "Like a Surgeon" (Dare to Be Stupid, 1985)". Spin. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  7. ^ Writer: Kuhn, Matt. Director: Fryman, Pamela (October 24, 2011). "Noretta". How I Met Your Mother. Season 7. CBS. 
  8. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. "Weird Al Yankovic – Dare to Be Stupid". AllMusic. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  9. ^ Stim, Richard (September 28, 2015). Music Law: How to Run Your Band's Business (illustrated ed.). Nolo. p. 192. ISBN 1-4133-2190-9. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  10. ^ Brewer, Bryan (1985). "Rockin' Comedy". Digital Audio and Compact Disc Review. WGE. 2 (1–6). Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  11. ^ Thelen, Christopher (September 2, 2001). "Dare To Be Stupid: "Weird Al" Yankovic". Daily Vault. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "Weird Al Yankovic – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Weird Al Yankovic. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  13. ^ "The Hot 100: The Week Of July 13, 1985". Billboard. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  14. ^ Bronson, Fred (July 20, 2002). "Chart Beat". Billboard. 114 (29): 4. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  15. ^ a b "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0563." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  16. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  17. ^ Sheffer, Stephen (July 17, 2014). "10 Of Weird Al's Best Parodies [Playlist]". WXRT. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  18. ^ ‹See Tfm›The "Weird Al" Yankovic Video Library (VHS Liner Notes). "Weird Al" Yankovic. United States: Scotti Brothers Records. 1992. 72392 75268-3. 
  19. ^ a b Rolling Stone staff (July 23, 2014). "Readers' Poll: The 10 Best 'Weird Al' Yankovic Videos". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  20. ^ ‹See Tfm›"Like a Surgeon" (7" Single Liner Notes). "Weird Al" Yankovic. United States: Scotti Brothers Records. 1985. ZS4 04937. 
  21. ^ a b c ‹See Tfm›"Like a Surgeon" (12" Vinyl Single Liner Notes). "Weird Al" Yankovic. Mexico: Epic Records. 1985. SCL 45058. 
  22. ^ a b c ‹See Tfm›"Like a Surgeon" (12" Single Liner Notes). "Weird Al" Yankovic. Germany: Scotti Brothers Records. 1985. 120-14-014. 
  23. ^ ‹See Tfm›Dare to Be Stupid (LP liner notes). "Weird Al" Yankovic. Scotti Bros. 1985. FZ 40033. 
  24. ^ a b "Like a Surgeon by "Weird Al" Yankovic". Second Hand Songs. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 

External links[edit]