Beck Denied Weird Al’s “Loser” Parody Back In The ‘90s
Beck did not want “Weird Al” Yankovic to turn his song into a joke. Back in the ’90s, when Beck first broke through with his out-of-nowhere hit “Loser,” Yankovic said that he wanted to parody the song. Yankovic doesn’t need to ask artists’ permission, since parodies are protected under the First Amendment, but he always does it as a courtesy, and Beck said no. Today, Beck says that he regrets the decision.
As Billboard reports, Beck has a podcast coming out as part of Audible’s Words + Music series. In his episode, which he’s called “Dear Life,” Beck tells some of the stories of his career. At SXSW this year, Beck mentioned that he had re-recorded new versions of his hits “Loser” and “Where It’s At,” and he did that for this podcast. Billboard has a clip of the first episode, and it features the re-recorded “Loser,” which now sounds considerably less ramshackle, as well as the story about “Weird Al” Yankovic. Beck says that Yankovic wanted to call the parody “Schmoozer.” Beck turned it down because he was afraid that he wasn’t being taken seriously.
In the clip, Beck has this to say:
I had a lot of people who were veterans in the business telling me at 20, 21, 22, “You should go back to school. You don’t really have the talent to do this. The songs, as they are, aren’t going to work. They’re too rough. They’re too raw. They’re not real songs. These are kind of, like, sort of hodgepodge ideas.” It wasn’t really taken seriously at all. And when it came out and it was popular, it still wasn’t taken that serious at all.
I mean, you can go back to the press of the day. I just remember myriad articles and headlines of “one-hit wonder joke band Beck,” “novelty act.” I remember there was a review in a big paper in LA once, and it was not a lot of kindness. I felt very dismissed and kind of, like, a bit of a footnote.
“Weird Al” Yankovic tried to do a parody of [“Loser”]. It was going to be called “Schmoozer,” which I regret denying him permission to do. It would’ve been an amazing video. I’m actually really sad that it didn’t happen.
The full Words + Music episode comes out tomorrow on Audible, and you can hear the clip at Billboard.