UPDATE #2 (5:48pm): Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times reports on Twitter: “BREAKING! Weird @alyankovic’s manager tells me @ladygaga has now given permission for “Perform This Way” to be included on his album.” Score one for the nerds (like us)!
UPDATE (5:35pm): To quote The Dude (which is entirely appropriate on 4/20), “New s**t has come to light, man!” After the jump, we’ll explain how this whole situation might (or might not!) be one big misunderstanding…
“Weird Al” Yankovic has a new album nearly ready. All that’s missing is a lead single, and he thought he had it—“Perform This Way,” a parody of “Born This Way” that focuses on Lady Gaga herself (like, for example, her sometimes extravagant sartorial choices):
But, to make a long story short, Gaga said no. So why has Weird Al posted the song online anyway?
Yankovic has taken to his blog to explain that the song would not even have been recorded if not for the demands of the Haus of Gaga. “It has always been my personal policy to get the consent of the original artist before including my parodies on any album” despite the protection of fair use, he writes. But, according to Yankovic, even after he submitted a lyric sheet, the Gaga camp made the unprecedented demand that Mother Monster would need to hear the recorded and mastered single before she would approve the parody—and then denied him permission after he went through the time, effort, and expense of recording the song, which is his justification for releasing the song at all.
The kicker? According to Yankovic, out of respect for the original song’s message, all proceeds from the single and video would have been donated to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. “A conventional release for the song and video would have also raised a nice chunk of change for the HRC—an organization which I have to assume Gaga supports,” Yankovic writes. “Hopefully, if fans enjoy hearing the song online, they’ll make a donation anyway.”
Yankovic has gotten in hot water over his parodies before. His tendency of contacting artists directly for permission didn’t become policy until 1996, when Coolio expressed dismay over “Amish Paradise” despite alleged assurances from his label that he’d given permission. And Atlantic threatened legal action over “You’re Pitiful.” James Blunt was quick to distance himself from the label in that case—his only complaint about the “You’re Beautiful” parody was that it was not funny enough, he told VH1 in a January interview. Blunt instead recommended Australian comedian Tom Gleeson‘s take on his single.
UPDATE (5:35pm): TMZ is reporting that Lady Gaga did not actually block this song and that it’s all one big miscommunication. A source close to Gaga told them that “There must have been a misunderstanding because [Gaga] is in no way trying to block the release of the parody,” and then added, “She’s a huge Weird Al fan.” Who’s zoomin’ who? We’ll keep you posted!
[HT: Sound of the City]