Album: Weird Al Yankovic in 3-D (1984)
Charted: 36 12
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  • The breakout hit for Weird Al Yankovic, this song covers one of his favorite topics: food.

    A parody of "Beat It" by Michael Jackson, the song is about a fussy eater who needs to work on his table manners.

    It originated as part of the "Fabulous Food Medley" that Yankovic would perform at his shows. The "Eat It" bit got a huge reaction, so Al started working on a full song. His record company sent Jackson the first chorus, and Jackson was receptive (Yankovic doesn't need permission to do a parody, but always asks). Al finished the song, Jackson approved it, and the song quickly rose up the charts, making #12 in the US and #1 in Australia.

    Getting Jackson's approval was a huge coup for Yankovic, since the Thriller album had just started its descent and Jackson was a phenomenon.
  • Eddie Van Halen did the guitar solo on "Beat It," posing a problem for this parody, since few guitarists could approximate Eddie's sound. The task fell to Yankovic's producer, Rick Derringer, who did the solo on "Eat It." Derringer, who had a solo hit with "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo," had the chops to pull it off.
  • The video for the song is a shot-for-shot parody of "Beat It." They wanted to use the same sets, but those had been taken down so Al's team had to re-create them. It took them two days to shoot the clip, and when it was released to MTV, the network put it in hot rotation, where it became one of their most popular videos.

    Al delighted in the idea of pulling a bait-and-switch on Jackson's fans. He told Rolling Stone, "I just thought it would be funny to fool people into thinking they were watching the Michael Jackson video, and then all of a sudden - hey, where did that rubber chicken come from?"
  • On BBC 3's 100 Most Annoying Songs, Weird Al Yankovic said: "I was very surprised to get permission from Michael Jackson, this is 1984 when I did 'Eat It,' when Michael was the King of Pop. We sent him a request, can we do a parody of your song and call it 'Eat It?' We thought we'd never hear back, it took a few weeks but we heard back and he said 'yeah that's fine.'"

    In an interview with the Metro newspaper August 1, 2003 Yankovic added: "He was the first megastar to give his blessing. When he let me do 'Eat It,' it raised the bar. I could then phone people who said 'no' and say: 'Well, Michael Jackson doesn't have a problem.'"

    One such artist was Survivor, who granted Al permission to parody their song "Eye of the Tiger." That song's co-writer, Jim Peterik, told us: "I'm going, 'Okay, if Michael Jackson can approve it, I think I can, too.'"
  • This was a huge hit for Weird Al, whose biggest chart success to that point was "Ricky" (his parody of Toni Basil's "Mickey"), which made #63 US in 1983. It earned him a huge following beyond the Dr. Demento crowd, thanks in part to the video, which MTV put in rotation. Al had an even bigger hit in 2006 with "White & Nerdy," which came out in the dawn of the YouTube era, going viral with its video.
  • Michael Jackson got a songwriting credit on this, since he wrote "Beat It." "Perhaps he'll be able to afford the other glove now," Yankovic quipped at the time.

    In 1984, Jackson also hit the charts as a songwriter for "State Of Shock" (The Jacksons with Mick Jagger), his solo hit "Thriller," and "Centipede" by Rebbie Jackson. As a guest vocalist, he charted that year with the Rockwell song "Somebody's Watching Me."
  • After Jackson released his album Bad in 1987, Al did another food-themed parody, roasting the title track with "Fat."
  • As Yankovic points out, "Beat It" was rife for parody. "'Eat It' is not that clever a variation on 'Beat It'," he told Entertainment Weekly. "It's probably the most obvious pun."

    Al explained that in the YouTube era, many parodies of Jackson's song would have appeared online before he got to it.
  • This won the 1984 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording.
  • In light of child abuse allegations put forth against Michael Jackson in HBO's Leaving Neverland documentary, Weird Al stopped performing this song and his other Jackson parody, "Fat."
  • While interviewing Yankovic for her book Weird Al: Seriously, author Lily Hirsch asked the funny man if he used food as a symbol for comfort or commonality. "I don't even know what the real answer is," he responded. "I've got so many joke answers to that question... I've been a starving artist for so long that I've been obsessed with it." On further reflection, he noted that food is "universal subject matter," saying, "It's one of those things that everybody can relate to."

Comments: 5

  • Siahara Shyne Carter from United StatesI love Eggs ::-D lol Yea his lyrics have possibilities that Someone will snatch it, and Use it as thier Baby's name like BELLIE JEAN hahaha. Just kidding
  • Shadow from Depression, VaI think Weird Al should do a parody of Jackson's song "Billie Jean". I've actually come up with a few lyrics. Not putting them on here due to the fact that someone might steal my ideas. This song rocks :D
  • Karen from Manchester, NhWeird Al can do no wrong!
  • Jena from Bonner Springs, KsThe video is hilarious...I love the part where the guitarist blow up at the end of the guitar solo.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaThis was Weird Al's breakthrough where he became a household name. For a month, this was the hottest trendiest thing on the music scene.
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