You're Pitiful

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"You're Pitiful"
Single by "Weird Al" Yankovic
Released June 7, 2006
Format Digital Download
Recorded April 12, 2006
Genre Comedy rock, pop rock
Length 3:16
Writer(s) "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic singles chronology
"Pretty Fly for a Rabbi"
(1999)
"You're Pitiful"
(2006)
"Don't Download This Song"
(2006)

"You're Pitiful" is a parody of "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt written and recorded by American parody musician "Weird Al" Yankovic. It was released exclusively online in June 2006.

Synopsis[edit]

In the song, Yankovic describes the pitiful existence of a 42-year-old man who still lives with his mother and his life which involves, among other things, wearing a homemade Star Trek uniform and his job as a Slurpee machine operator, as well as playing Halo 2 while eating chips upon his bare chest.[1]

Recording and controversy[edit]

In early 2006, Yankovic began recording parody songs for his upcoming album Straight Outta Lynwood.[2] Yankovic initially approached James Blunt and asked if he could record a parody of his hit song "You're Beautiful". Blunt was receptive of the parody idea, and gave Yankovic permission; on April 12, 2006, began recording the song.[2][3] When Yankovic and his record company announced that Straight Outta Lynwood would be released on June 27, 2006, Atlantic Records contacted Yankovic and said that they did not want the parody to be released.[3]

Atlantic feared that "it was 'too early' in James' career for a parody, and [...] that focusing any more attention on 'Beautiful' at that point might lead to the perception of James as a 'one-hit wonder.'"[4] Yankovic found this particularly odd, because in his experience, it was generally artists who were more willing to not want parodies recorded, not record labels (as parody songs generate royalties, which in turn generate more revenue for the label). According to Yankovic, "They didn't say I couldn't do the parody... they just said they'd let me know 'when the time was right'."[4] As such, Yankovic and his record label postponed the album's release date and cancelled their upcoming tour. Finally, months later, Yankovic got a response from Atlantic: "The 'right' time, apparently, was 'never'."[4]

Yankovic had a policy of obtaining approval prior to releasing his parodies from the original artist's record company, but after a miscommunication surrounding "Amish Paradise", a parody of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise", he sought permission directly from the artist. Yankovic told NPR that this was the first time a record label has denied a release of one of his parodies.[3] Given that Blunt had given his blessing to record the parody, Yankovic noted that there was no way Atlantic could legally forbid the parody: "James Blunt could still let me put it on my album if he really wanted to, but he obviously doesn't want to alienate his own record company [...] and my label could release the parody without Atlantic's blessing, but they don't really want to go to war with another label over this."[3] In the end, Yankovic concluded that the issue was "more of a political matter than a legal matter".[3]

However, because Blunt himself had no issue with the parody, and because the parody had already been recorded, Yankovic decided to release it online as a free digital download.[5] "[I]f James Blunt himself were objecting," Yankovic told NPR, "I wouldn't even offer my parody for free on my Web site. But since it's a bunch of suits — who are actually going against their own artist's wishes — I have absolutely no problem with it."[3][5] The song was later officially mirrored on a number of "Weird Al" Yankovic fansites and blogs, including "Al-oholicsAnonymous", "WeirdAlForum", "WeirdAlStar", "WeirdAlShow", and "AllThingsYank".[5]

The digital single's cover art (spoofing the cover of Blunt's album Back to Bedlam) was the product of a fan named Aron Shay,[6] which had been submitted to the fansite "Al-oholicsAnonymous" as part of a calendar contest.[7] The image was later used on Yankovic's official MySpace page, and has since become the de facto cover art for the single.[8]

Aftermath[edit]

Still from "White & Nerdy", showing the vandalism of Atlantic Records' Wikipedia page

The video for Straight Outta Lynwood's second single, "White & Nerdy", depicts Yankovic taking revenge, of sorts, against Atlantic Records by vandalizing their Wikipedia article by blanking all text and replacing it with the words "YOU SUCK!" in large letters.[9] This particular revenge has since actually been repeatedly performed by online vandals. Yankovic has said that he does not approve of the vandalism, though he admits being amused by it.[10] In addition, the video also shows Yankovic viewing his MySpace page and for a split second, "You're Pitiful" is visible as his profile song.[11]

In 2009, while compiling the tracklisting for his then-upcoming greatest hits album The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic, Blunt and his company were once again approached by Yankovic; this time, however, Yankovic was hoping that they would allow the long-shelved parody to be released on the compilation record. The request was denied, and Yankovic later tweeted: "In case you were hoping for 'You're Pitiful' to be included on my Essentials collection, sorry, this just in from Blunt's manager: 'Thanks for your email, but both James and I will never approve this parody to be released on any label.'"[12] In April 2011, Blunt discussed Yankovic and the parody with Seattle Post-Intelligencer, saying:

I'm a fan of his, particularly the earliest stuff he did, though he got his notoriety and his fame for what were genius moments along the way, and they were really exciting. And for me, I've only been flattered by parodies of my own songs. There are some great ones out there. I have absolutely no problem with Al. I think it's a huge compliment for what he's done. At the same time, it's generally not my favorite of the parodies. I think it was a safe one. It wasn't as exciting as some others. There's one really special one which you should look up by a guy called Tom Gleeson, and it's just really clever. And for me, that was a more exciting one.[13]

In mid-2016, while preparing to release his career-spanning box set Squeeze Box, Yankovic once again reached out to Blunt to see if in the seven years he had changed his mind. Once again, however, Yankovic was denied permission to release the song, and he tweeted: "Sadly, [James Blunt] won’t let me include 'You’re Pitiful' on my box set."[14]

Live performances[edit]

On the concert tour for Straight Outta Lynwood, Yankovic performed the song initially wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and progressively removing clothing to reveal different layers underneath (as Blunt does in the video for "You're Beautiful"). The penultimate T-shirt revealed says "Atlantic Records Sucks".[15] During his 2010 Tour, this shirt was modified from the original, stating "Atlantic Records STILL Sucks".[16] The final T-shirt is the face of SpongeBob SquarePants. Yankovic then removed his pants to reveal boxer shorts with red hearts, a pink tutu, and fishnet stockings.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Weird Al, your 'Pitiful's' fun, it's true. But it's not alone". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. June 22, 2006. p. E1. 
  2. ^ a b ""Weird Al" Yankovic: Recording Dates". WeirdAl.com. Archived from the original on September 13, 2006. Retrieved September 15, 2006. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Thompson, Stephen (June 13, 2006). "Free 'Weird Al' Yankovic!". Mixed Signals. National Public Radio. Retrieved September 22, 2006. 
  4. ^ a b c Skaggs, Austin (September 19, 2006). "Weird Al Yankovic Dishes on James Blunt, Discusses His Role as the Whitest, Nerdiest Rock Star Ever". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Yankovic, "Weird Al" (June 2006). "'Weird Al' Yankovic – The Official Website". WeirdAl.com. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  6. ^ Shay, Aron (2007). "2-D Art". UFOTofu. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Desktop Calendars 2006". Al-oholicsanonymous.com. 2006. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  8. ^ For such an example, see: "You'r Pitiful". WeirdAl.com. 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  9. ^ Yankovic, "Weird Al" (2006). "Weird Al" Yankovic – White & Nerdy (Official Video) (video). Volcano Records. Event occurs at 1:49–1:50. 
  10. ^ Adams, Cameron (October 5, 2006). "Weird Al Yankovic". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. 
  11. ^ Yankovic, "Weird Al" (2006). "Weird Al" Yankovic – White & Nerdy (Official Video) (video). Volcano Records. Event occurs at 0:49. 
  12. ^ Minaya, Marcell (July 27, 2009). "Blunt Rejects Yankovic's Song Parody". Digital Spy. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  13. ^ Perry, Clayton (April 26, 2011). "Interview: James Blunt – Singer, Songwriter and Producer". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  14. ^ Yankovic, "Weird Al" (September 14, 2016). "Sadly, @JamesBlunt won't let me include "You're Pitiful" on my box set. So you'll just have to download it for FREE". Twitter. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  15. ^ a b Nique. "You're Pitiful Live Performance at OC Fair." (video). YouTube. Retrieved November 4, 2007. 
  16. ^ "Snuva" (March 25, 2011). "You're Pitiful". Flickr. Retrieved September 16, 2016. 

External links[edit]