Monday, July 10, 2006


Mack Collier recently reported on an issue that arose on The Movie Blog wherein Paramount and its gestapo stepped in and shut down a blog for posting teaser pics for the upcoming Transformers movie. Even though the blogger was only trying to help promote it. Even though the pictures were removed upon request. Even though his blog has a million readers and was giving the movie all kinds of free publicity.

Fortunately for all of us, these heavy-handed tactics didn't stand, and Paramount ended up looking stupid, shuffling off with its tail between its legs and muttering something about it being a "mistake."

Guess after years and years of mis-management and boneheaded decisions, the entertaintainment companies are starting to figure this whole internet thing out and really get on the ball, right?

Maybe not so much.

This month's Bonehead Move Award goes to Atlantic Records.

We all know and love "Weird Al" Yankovic. He's a time-honored musical comedian, so much so that when people hear any song parody, they automatically attribute it to him (even if he didn't do it.) Through the years, he's been pop culture's biggest friend, advocate, and pundit. He's pointed out the silly and honored the not-so-silly.

His parodies have included songs like Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," The Knack's "My Sharona," and even Nelly's "Hot in Herre." And ever since his classic, "Eat It," he has done each and every one of them with the artist's blessing, with the exception of Coolio, who didn't appreciate "Amish Paradise." That lone stand-out turned out to be a miscommunication, and the problem was later resolved.

As Al completed recording on his latest parody, "You're Pitiful," a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful," he was comfortably preparing to include it on his newest album. James Blunt had given him permission, and he was set to go. You're probably way ahead of me at this point.

The heavy hands at Atlantic slammed down and said "no."

And here we sit, scratching our heads.

Let's weigh this out. Possible benefits to Atlantic for allowing Al, the most famous and respected parody master out there, to release his parody: (1.) More exposure for the original song. (2.) Fans of Al who had never heard the song before might become interested in the original song. It happens. I've seen it. (3.) More of your songs might be parodied in the future, followed by benefits 1 and 2 again.

Possible detriments to Atlantic with the release of this song: (1.) The Earth could stilll theoretically crash into the sun. (2.) Nothing.

Seriously, life on this planet will continue, and people will respirate just as normally today as they would with the release of the song. There would be absolutely NO financial ramifications to the detriment of the label. It isn't likely that fans of the song would be swayed to buy Al's version if they were forced to choose between the two. (Actually, Al fans generally buy both.)

If anything, it could keep James Blunt from being a one-hit wonder!

Let's make one thing clear here. Parodies are legally protected. Al doesn't ever HAVE to ask the artists or record labels to use their songs as parodies. Even now, he could publish "You're Pitiful" on his new CD without their blessing and he would be completely within his rights in the eyes of the law. Al, however, is first class all the way, and he does obtain permission (and therefore keeps good relationships with the artists. Quite a business guy, that Al.)

Al, genius that he is, has decided that rather than fighting a huge political battle, he is going to give Atlantic a tutorial on Internet Value 101. Since he had the blessing from James Blunt himself, he went ahead and posted the song on his website as a free download, as well as posting it on his myspace profile. Fans immediately pounced on it and ate it up. It has taken off virally, and fans are swapping it like wildfire. It has generated buzz around him, such that he's being interviewed in pieces for NPR (which also hosts a link to the free song.) All this comes at a perfect time for Al, as the release of his DVD, The Weird Al Show, looms near. His website has been abuzz with fans downloading the song and commenting about it. James Blunt has reaped the free publicity as well, with blogs all over the place praising him for allowing Al to do his parody and slamming Atlantic for their boneheaded decision.

Al understands the value of community. He understands giving fans what they want. He has been doing this since long before the internet was a twinkle in Al Gore's eye. And he's made sure his fans win this time by giving them something he had originally intended on selling, proving that (gasp) sometimes putting the music in people's hands can help you out on your album's street date! (I'm hearing echoes of 100 CDs for 100 Bloggers here.) Al wins, the fans win, the original artist wins.

Meanwhile, Atlantic just sits there, looking like the idiot once again.

Pardon me, as I go listen to the song again, Atlantic execs. I just want to hear it IN YO FACE one more time. If you haven't downloaded it, yet, please do so by right clicking this link and saving the file and show those Atlantic jerks what for.
image courtesy of People Weekly


At 11:36 PM, Blogger Tricia said...

Yeah, I read a little about this story elsewhere and I actually gained respect for Wierd Al when he noted that he would have been happy to comply if James Blunt had a problem with it himself but, upon finding James was cool and the suits that were the ones in a huff, he went ahead full steam. I swear these execs live in a bubble and surround themselves with Yes men so they never have to deal with the reality of it all. It's getting really old at this point.

At 4:46 AM, Blogger Bathroom Hippo said...

Let Pretzel boy Play!

I mean...

Let Yankovich Parody!

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Jordan said...

Stupid record companies.

Well said, JD. Who wouldn't the honor of being parodied. How does the saying go?

Imitation is the highest form of...

Free publicity! That's it, yeah.


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