‘Weird Al’ Yankovic: The Great American Novelty Song
by Bill Bower
Copyright 2005, Bill Bower
The original version of this article appeared in the October/November 2001 issue of The American Journal of Physical Education, in the article “Why It’s Best to Sing a Song from a Play or Movie That’s Already Written” by Carol Rizzo, as part of a larger discussion of the novelties sung in movie musicals. Copyright 2005, The American Journal of Physical Education.
On Wednesday, February 2, 1999, an estimated 20 million people were tuning in to watch a musical from a play or a movie that had already been written. This was no Broadway musical. The audience of the day, the annual Grammy for best pop or rock song was attending an hour-long special (The Oscars). It was the annual celebration of American music in a special setting.
For the past 20 years, The Oscars have been held on a single day (although the ceremony has not been aired live; the Academy Award shows on NBC and CBS are shown on tape delay). The show is broadcast to an estimated 400 million people worldwide, and has grown to be the second largest television event in the world.
The ceremony began with a speech from former President of the United States Jimmy Carter, who was honored before a record number of members of the Academy. Two years earlier, during his time as president, Carter had asked former Academy president and director of music Jack Josephson to introduce a special Academy Award for “The Year of the U.S.A.” The introduction was a tribute to America and President Carter, and a plea for music to keep America moving forward.
On that Sunday morning, The Oscars were a television extravaganza. It was the first of five consecutive year-round telecasts that have earned The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences its reputation as a premier entertainment organization.
In the 20 years since the broadcast of the first Oscars, the Academy has become the “lone voice for the common man,” and in the last decade or so,