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Legendary parody musician “Weird Al” Yankovic has a well-known policy of asking for the blessing of the artists he spoofs, despite not being legally required to do so. Only “two to three percent” have ever said no—and now we can add James Blunt to that list. Remember James Blunt?
Blunt, the singer who’s known for “You’re Beautiful” despite apologizing for its very existence, apparently told Weird Al to leave his spoof “You’re Pitiful” off of an upcoming box set.
But Al wasn’t having it. He called out Blunt on Twitter and released “You’re Pitiful” as a free download. Did Weird Al own Blunt here, or did Blunt own himself? Seems like a classic case of the Streisand Effect, where an attempt to suppress something only calls more attention to it.
This is just the latest twist in the long and strange saga of “You’re Pitiful.” It was originally recorded in 2006 for Al’s Straight Outta Lynwood, but “permission was revoked” at the last minute, according to Al’s website.
At the time, Al explained that Atlantic Records had asked him to wait until Blunt had established himself as more than a one-hit wonder. So, forever?
After delaying his album for thre months in hopes of releasing the song, Al finally got the “no” from Atlantic, despite Blunt being okay with the song.
“I have absolutely no problem with Al. I think it’s a huge compliment for what he’s done,” Blunt said, although he added that he felt the parody was “safe” and “not my favorite.”
So Al, incensed at Atlantic for jerking him around, released “You’re Pitiful” on MySpace, the major music platform of the day. It got even more attention that it would have on the album.
A decade later, history is repeating itself. This time, though, it seems to be Blunt himself who objected to the release. Seems strange, because James Blunt has said he doesn’t take himself or that song very seriously.
Blunt hasn’t tweeted about it yet, but his Twitter account is actually quite good. He spends most of his tweets being self-deprecating, reminding everyone that his name is Cockney rhyming slang for the c-word, and responding to haters by reminding them how rich and successful he is.
Seems like he still hasn’t gotten over being known for a song he felt was “force-fed down people’s throats.”
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.