For someone who dresses so ridiculously, Lady Gaga sure takes herself seriously. So seriously, in fact, that she refused to give her blessing to Weird Al’s new single and parody of “Born This Way,” “Perform This Way.” Which is her right, sure, but she also insisted that he record the song before she made her decision — reading the lyrics wasn’t enough.
We send the lyrics to Lady Gaga and wait on figurative pins and needles for her to give us the go-ahead. After a few days, we get our answer: “She actually needs to hear it. Otherwise the answer is no.”Hmm. Well, this was mystifying to me. At this point she has the lyrics… and hopefully she is familiar with her own song… and the parody is basically her music… with my lyrics. It really shouldn’t be that hard to decide – based on having the lyrics right in front of you – whether or not you’d be “okay” with a parody. But, alas, we’d been given an ultimatum. If she didn’t hear it, she wouldn’t approve it.Okay then. I decided – based on my belief that people are basically good – to go through the trouble and considerable expense of actually recording the song. Now, I never do that – never. But because I was really excited about this parody, I decided I would faithfully jump through as many hoops as Gaga deemed necessary.
So after spending his own money to record the song — the sales of which were to be given to the Human Rights Campaign — she said no without any explanation. Al recounts the whole ordeal on his blog:Why did she then decide to say no after making him record the song? It isn’t clear. But it’s made shittier by the fact that Weird Al is donating all profits from this album to the Human Rights Campaign, and now his lead-off single and planned video are being scrapped.
My parodies have always fallen under what the courts call “fair use,” and this one was no different, legally allowing me to record and release it without permission. But it has always been my personal policy to get the consent of the original artist before including my parodies on any album, so of course I will respect Gaga’s wishes. However, given the circumstances, I have no problem with allowing people to hear it online, because I also have a personal policy not to completely waste my stinking time.
And here’s where Weird Al shows that he’s a class act: he doesn’t actually need her permission at all. Parody falls under fair use. He just has a personal rule where he doesn’t release stuff unless it has the original artist’s blessing.Good on you, Weird Al.