Grammarly Exclusive: Interview with “Weird Al” Yankovic

by • July 20, 2014

Weird Al, Mandatory Fun, Word Crimes, Grammarly

According to “Weird Al” Yankovic, it’s a good time “2 lern some grammer.”

Best-known for his musical parodies, Weird Al released a new album last week called Mandatory Fun. Our favorite song on the album, “Word Crimes,” is a parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and brings to light some of the most egregious grammar errors of all-time.

Intrigued (and a little bit in love), the Grammarly team reached out to Weird Al for an exclusive interview about the song and his thoughts on grammar. Read on for his responses!

Your use of meter is awesome. Is it ever tempting to stretch the rules of English grammar to better fit a parodied song?

Whenever possible, I try to use proper grammar in song lyrics; having said that, there is a long tradition of bad grammar in rock ‘n’ roll, and if it’s a choice between having a line that flows well and a line that’s technically “correct” – well, I often go with the former.

Why was writing a song about grammar important to you in Mandatory Fun? Is Word Crimes the most educational track you’ve ever made? 

People that know me (or have seen the grammar-related videos that I’ve posted on my YouTube channel) don’t doubt my credentials as a grammar nerd, so it was obviously a real joy to be able to vent about some of my pet peeves in a song parody.  “Word Crimes” is definitely ONE of my more educational songs, but I’ve had a few (including a song called “Pancreas” which supposedly has helped more than one struggling biology student pass a final exam).

Of the grammar errors mentioned in Word Crimes, which is your biggest pet peeve? Are there others that did not make the cut?

It’s hard to pick, but I will say… the literally/figuratively thing LITERALLY drives me crazy.  Other than that, I have the least amount of patience with people that still haven’t figured out the difference between “your” and “you’re.”  It’s always such sweet irony when someone tweets at me: “Your an idiot!”

Is there a grammar rule you don’t mind bending/breaking?

I’m not a stickler about ending a sentence with a preposition. I probably wouldn’t do it if I were writing an essay, but I think it’s fine when used in casual conversation.

Is there such thing as a “grammar myth?” For example, in the video you mention the split infinitive.

That’s another one that doesn’t bother me too much.  In fact, I purposely left a split infinitive at the end of my song (“Try your best to not drool”) to be ironic, and also to see how many online grammar pedants it would annoy.