Weird Al Yankovic
  • Courtesy of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Facebook page
  • “Weird Al” Yankovic

“Weird Al” Yankovic has been part of my pop-music vernacular since before I knew pop music had its own language. Yankovic’s irreverent, good-natured spoofs of hit singles felt both silly and subversive to me. I didn’t fully understand the originals before Yankovic interpreted them, and though I probably didn’t get every joke he threw in certain tracks till years later, his fun-house-mirror version of pop made sense to me as a child—and felt like something I could claim as my own. I’m clearly not the only person who has felt this way, which can partially explain why the legacy of this amiable, polka-loving prankster has endured.

Last year’s Mandatory Fun landed on the top of the Billboard 200, a first for Yankovic, which, yes, says more about the state of the music industry than Yankovic’s career—but it’s still a sign people are seeking out his music. On Saturday he headlines a sold-out show at the Chicago Theatre. If you couldn’t get tickets, I recommend driving up to Milwaukee to see him play Summerfest on the Fourth of July, which brings me to today’s 12 O’Clock Track: “Girls Just Want to Have Lunch,” a twist on Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

I didn’t pick the tune because it’s a favorite of mine—Yankovic didn’t seem to like it all that much, and in a Q&A on his website he said the label demanded he make the song in order to release the album it appeared on, 1985’s Dare to Be Stupid. I picked “Girls Just Want to Have Lunch” because it reminds me of Yankovic’s ability to reshape someone else’s work so well that it’s his version that comes to mind first and foremost. I remember one Fourth of July in my youth, watching the neighborhood fireworks with my family and hearing Lauper’s smash single come blaring out of a PA system and hoping it’d be Yankovic’s song. Take a listen to “Girls Just Want to Have Lunch” below, perhaps while biting into a Twinkie wiener sandwich.