Off the Deep End

Off the Deep End
Studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic
Released April 14, 1992
Recorded June 1990 – January 1992
Genre Comedy, comedy rock, grunge, surf rock, pop rap, polka, hard rock, speed metal, pop, latin rap, ballad, noise rock, cacophony
Length 41:18
Label Scotti Brothers
Producer "Weird Al" Yankovic[1]
"Weird Al" Yankovic chronology
UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff
Off the Deep End
The Best of Yankovic
Singles from Off the Deep End
  1. "Smells Like Nirvana"
    Released: April 3, 1992[2]
  2. "You Don't Love Me Anymore"
    Released: June 19, 1992[3]
  3. "Taco Grande"
    Released: August 1992
  4. "The White Stuff"
    Released: 1992, deleted[4][5]
  5. "I Can't Watch This"
    Released: 1993, deleted[4][5]

Off the Deep End is the seventh studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic, released in 1992. This album was the first album self-produced by Yankovic, after six albums with Rick Derringer. Recorded between June 1990 and January 1992, the album was a follow-up to the unsuccessful soundtrack to Yankovic's 1989 film UHF. Off the Deep End and its lead single "Smells Like Nirvana" helped to revitalize Yankovic's career after a lull in the late 80s.

The musical styles on Off the Deep End are built around parodies and pastiches of pop and rock music of the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the newly arisen grunge movement. Half of the album is made up of parodies of Nirvana, MC Hammer, New Kids on the Block, Gerardo, and Milli Vanilli. The other half of the album is original material, featuring many "style parodies," or musical imitations of existing artists. These style parodies include imitations of specific artists like The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and Nick Lowe and Jonathan Richman.

Off the Deep End was met with mostly positive reviews and peaked at number seventeen on the Billboard 200. The album also produced one of Yankovic's most famous singles, "Smells Like Nirvana," a parody of Nirvana's major rock hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which peaked at number thirty-five on the Billboard Hot 100. This song was Yankovic's second-highest charting single after "Eat It" was released in 1984. The cover also parodies the cover of Nirvana's album, Nevermind. The original had a naked baby in the water with a dollar bill cast by a fishing rod, Yankovic's replaced the baby with a naked Yankovic, and the dollar bill by a donut. Off the Deep End was Yankovic's fourth Gold record, and went on to be certified Platinum for sales of over one million copies in the United States. In addition, the album was later nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording in 1993.




In 1989, Yankovic starred in a full-length feature film, co-written by himself and manager Jay Levey, and filmed in Tulsa, Oklahoma called UHF. A satire of the television and film industries, also starring Michael Richards, Fran Drescher, and Victoria Jackson, it brought floundering studio Orion their highest test scores since the movie RoboCop.[6] Although the movie made a little over six million domestically – out of a budget of five million – it was considered unsuccessful.[6]

Yankovic also released a quasi-soundtrack for the film in late 1989, entitled UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack And Other Stuff, which featured songs (and commercials) from the movie as well as new unrelated studio material from Yankovic. The album failed to be successful, charting at only 146 on The Billboard 200 and quickly falling off.[7] After the release of UHF, Yankovic returned to the studio to record his follow-up album.[8]


On June 6, 1990, recording for Off the Deep End officially began, with "Airline Amy".[8] These recording sessions marked the first time Yankovic self-produced his songs, after six albums with Rick Derringer.[1] By late 1990 five originals—"Airline Amy," "Trigger Happy", "When I Was Your Age", "You Don't Love Me Anymore", and "Waffle King"—were recorded.[8]

"You Don't Love Anymore" was one of the last original songs recorded during the 1990 sessions.[8] The song is written as a soft acoustic ballad. However, the lyrics are of a destructive—literally—relationship between Yankovic and an unnamed girl.[9] Although they were formerly in love, the "flames died down" and they are no longer passionate - in fact the girl hates Yankovic to such an extent that she repeatedly attempts to kill him. In 1992, when the album was finally released, Yankovic desired to release the song as a single.[10] His record record label, Scotti Brothers, allowed it under the stipulation that the music video be a parody of another music video.[10] And so "You Don't Love Me Anymore" was was released to radio on June 19, 1992.[3] While the song was an original composition, the video was a parody of "More Than Words" by Extreme.[10] Yankovic later explained that when the song was released, many people erroneously believed it was a parody of "More Than Words", and thus, Yankovic crafted the music video to be a parody of "More Than Words."[11] The single received moderate radio attention, which surprised Yankovic.[9] He later stated, "[Radio stations] usually just go for the parodies."[9]

One of the original songs recorded in the 1990 sessions was "Waffle King."[8] However, when Yankovic resumed recording in 1992, he recorded a new original called "I Was Only Kidding."[8] Originally, "Waffle King" was supposed to appear on Off the Deep End.[12] However, by the time the recording of the parodies for this album began, Al had written all the original songs that were to appear on his next album, Alapalooza.[12] Because he was concerned that one of the jokes from the song "I Was Only Kidding" might be dated by the time his next album would finally be released—a line that references the movie Wayne's World: "I really love you – not!"—Yankovic included "I Was Only Kidding" on Off the Deep End in place of "Waffle King". "Waffle King" was instead used as the b-side of the Smells Like Nirvana single[12] and would later resurface on Alapalooza.[12]

The album also contains a hidden track at the end called "Bite Me."[6] The song appears after 10 minutes of silence following "You Don't Love Me Anymore.[6] According to Yankovic, the song was supposed to "come on [...] and scare you to death"[6] Later pressings of Off the Deep End by Volcano and pressings outside of the USA took away the hidden track and silence.[13] The track is a nod to Nirvana; certain pressings of Nevermind featured a hidden track entitled "Endless, Nameless".[14]

Parodies and polka

After recording the first batch of originals in 1990, Yankovic switched to the parodies. At the time, only three parodies had been envisioned. Two of them, the cookie-inspired New Kids on the Block parody, "The White Stuff", and the television-infused MC Hammer parody "I Can't Watch This" were later released as singles, but were deleted by the record company at the last second.[4][5] Several cartons of the CDs were discovered by Yankovic and his drummer, Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, and have since become collector's items.[4][5] "The Plumbing Song," a dual parody of Milli Vanilli's hit singles "Baby Don't Forget My Number" and "Blame It on the Rain" was also recorded. Yankovic later described the parody as "redundant,"[15] a reference to lip-synching scandal that effectively destroyed the band.[15]

Yankovic waited for almost two years for the next "big thing" to emerge. "I don't have any really good reason why it took so long other than the fact that I was waiting for Michael Jackson's new album to come out," Yankovic opined.[15] Unfortunately for Yankovic, the new album hit several snags. On November 26, 1991, Michael Jackson's new album, Dangerous was released. After hearing the hit single "Black or White," Yankovic approached Jackson about a potential parody entitled "Snack All Night." Although Jackson was a big supporter of Yankovic's work, he felt that a parody might damage the song's true message.[15] Jackson told Yankovic that he could, if he wanted to, parody another song off his then recently released album, but just not "Black or White".[15]

Nirvana felt that they had "made it" when Yankovic parodied "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (1992, P.B. Rage)

Yankovic soon turned his attention in another direction. Guns N' Roses had just released a version of Wings's 70's hit "Live and Let Die".[16] Yankovic approached Paul McCartney, leader of Wings, about a parody idea entitled "Chicken Pot Pie."[17] Paul McCartney, another supporter of Yankovic's work, earnestly wanted Yankovic to do a parody of one of his songs, but when asked about a parody of "Live and Let Die", he begrudgingly refused, due to the fact that, as a vegetarian, he couldn't condone the eating of animal flesh.[17] Yankovic, a fellow vegetarian, has stated that he respects McCartney's decision.[17]

It was around this time that Nirvana's Nevermind was making waves in the rock and pop scene. As the popularity of 80's pop gave way to alternative rock, Yankovic decided it was time to record a parody of the Seattle-based band's huge hit single "Smells Like Teen Spirit".[9] Yankovic later said, "I wanted to make sure that when I came back after that long hiatus, it was with something strong, and it wasn't until Nirvana that I felt I had a real contender."[9] To secure permission for the parody, Yankovic desired to approve it with Kurt Cobain.[9] After learning that Nirvana was to perform on Saturday Night Live, he called up his UHF co-star, Victoria Jackson, at the time a regular cast member of the show.[9] Jackson got Cobain on the phone so that Yankovic could make his request. Cobain agreed, although asking if the new parody was "going to be a song about food?"[9] Yankovic responded, "No, it's going to be a song about how no one can understand your lyrics."[9] After receiving permission, Yankovic wrote and recorded "Smells Like Nirvana" January 27, 1992.[8]

In addition to "Smells Like Nirvana," Off the Deep End parodies the famous cover of Nirvana's album Nevermind, which depicts an infant in the deep end of a pool chasing after a dollar bill on a hook and line.[18] The Off the Deep End cover shows Yankovic in the baby's place apparently chasing after a doughnut on a string. The CD, liner notes, and artwork continue the parody of Nirvana's album, borrowing the same blue, wave-light graphics from the printed surface of Nevermind.[18][19]

After "Smells Like Nirvana," Yankovic recorded "Taco Grande," a Mexican food-themed parody of Gerardo's "Rico Suave."[8] The latter features a cameo appearance from comedian Cheech Marin.[9] Originally, Yankovic had wanted Marin to rap in Spanish, but it turned out that Marin knew only some basic Spanish. However, a bi-lingual secretary translated what Yankovic wanted him to say from English in to Spanish and Marin read the resulting rap phonetically.[9]

One of the last songs to be recorded for the album was the obligatory polka medley, "Polka Your Eyes Out."[8] Yankovic had already performed the medley at Dr. Demento's 20th Anniversary Special on the Comedy Central before the album had been released.[9]


Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[20]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[21]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5 stars[22]
The Daily Vault (B-)[23]

Critical response to Off the Deep End was generally positive. Many critics praised not only Yankovic's parodies, but also his originals. Barry Weber, of Allmusic, wrote, "In addition to re-establishing his satirical craftsmanship, Deep End showcases some of Yankovic's best originals ever; "Trigger Happy," "When I Was Your Age," and "You Don't Love Me Anymore" prove to be the album's greatest songs."[20] Christopher Thelen, of the Daily Vault, wrote, "In fact, it's strange to admit, but the originals on Off The Deep End actually are, at times, stronger than the parodies."[23] In The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Off the Deep End was awarded 3.5 stars out of 5, describing the album as averaging between good and excellent.[21] In addition, Off the Deep End was also named the Best Selling Comedy Recording in 1992 by NARM.[7]

The music video for "Smells Like Nirvana", achieved similar praise. Spy Magazine named the video "Video Of The Year" in 1993,[7] Rolling Stone ranked it as #68 on their list of the Top 100 Videos of All Time,[7] and it was nominated for the MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Performance in 1992.[7] At the 35th Grammy Awards in 1993, Off the Deep End was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.[7] However, the album lost to Peter Schickele's Music for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion.[24]

Commercial performance

Off the Deep End was released April 1992, and up to that point, became Yankovic's best selling album. On June 17, 1992, Off the Deep End was certified gold.[25] On January 25, 2006, the album was certified platinum.[25] The album's lead-off single, "Smells Like Nirvana" was a hit on the Billboard Hot 100, charting at number 35.[7][26] It also charted on Hot 100 Singles Sales at number 12[27] and the U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart at number 35.[26] Both the album and hit single helped propel Yankovic into the 1990s.[20]

Track listing

  1. "Smells Like Nirvana" (orig. Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, arr. "Weird Al" Yankovic)[28] – 3:42
  2. "Trigger Happy" (Yankovic)[28] – 3:46
  3. "I Can't Watch This" (orig. MC Hammer, Rick James, Alonzo Miller, arr. Yankovic)[28] – 3:31
  4. "Polka Your Eyes Out" (Polka medley, arr. Yankovic) – 3:50
  5. "I Was Only Kidding" (Yankovic)[28] – 3:31
  6. "The White Stuff" (orig. Maurice Starr, arr. Yankovic)[28] – 2:43
  7. "When I Was Your Age" (Yankovic)[28] – 4:35
    • Original
  8. "Taco Grande" (orig. Christian Carlos Warren, Gerardo Mejia, Alberto Slezynger, and Rosa Soy, arr. Yankovic)[28] – 3:44
  9. "Airline Amy" (Yankovic)[28] – 3:50
  10. "The Plumbing Song" (orig. Frank Farian, B. Nail, Diane Warren, arr. Yankovic)[28] – 4:08
  11. "You Don't Love Me Anymore" (Yankovic)[28] – 4:00
  12. "Bite Me" (Yankovic) – 0:06
    • Inspired by Nirvana's hidden track on Nevermind, "Endless, Nameless"[33]

Credits and personnel

Band members and production[1][28][34]
Other personnel[1][23][28][34]
  • Brad Buxer – synthesizer
  • Alisa Curran – background vocals, "The Plumbing Song"
  • Jim Haas – background vocals, "Trigger Happy"
  • Tommy Johnson – tuba
  • Jon Joyce – background vocals, "Trigger Happy"
  • Warren Luening – trumpet
  • Cheech Marin – vocals on "Taco Grande"
  • Gene Morford – background vocals, "Trigger Happy"
  • Peggy Newman – background vocals, "The Plumbing Song"
  • Joel Peskin – clarinet
  • Carmen Twillie – background vocals
  • Julia Waters, Luther Waters, Maxine Waters, Oren Waters – background vocals
  • Jerry Whitman – background vocals, "Trigger Happy"
  • Natasha Neece - background vocals, "The Plumbing Song"
  • Samantha Kaye - background vocals, "The Plumbing Song"

Charts and certifications


Chart Peak
US Billboard 200[7] 17


Country Certification
(sales thresholds)
United States Platinum[25]


Year Song Peak positions

Top 40

1992 "Smells Like Nirvana" 35 58


  1. ^ a b c d "Off the Deep End - Weird Al Yankovic - CD -". Aliso Viejo, California, USA: Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  2. ^ "allmusic ((( Smells Like Nirvana > Overview )))". Retrieved 09/12/2010. 
  3. ^ a b "allmusic ((( You Don't Love Me Anymore > Overview )))". Retrieved 09/12/2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d ""Weird Al" Yankovic: Rare Items – I Can't Watch This". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. 
  5. ^ a b c d ""Weird Al" Yankovic: Rare Items – The White Stuff". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Yankovic, Alfred M. (May 1999). ""Ask Al" Q&As for May, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Yankovic, Alfred M. (2003). "Awards". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2008-12-11. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Yankovic, Alfred M. (December 2007). "Recording Dates". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hansen, Barret (1994). Album notes for Permanent Record: Al in the Box by "Weird Al" Yankovic [liner]. California, USA: Scotti Brothers Records.
  10. ^ a b c Rabin, Nathan. "Set List “Weird Al” Yankovic". The AV Club.,58244/. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Harrington, Richard (1992/06/26). "Weird Al in Parody Paradise; He's Hit a Nirvana With His Latest and He's Bringing It Here". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2001/02/08. Retrieved 2010/06/27. 
  12. ^ a b c d Yankovic, Alfred M. (March/April 1996). ""Ask Al" Q&As for March/April, 1996". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  13. ^ Yankovic, Alfred M. (June 1999). ""Ask Al" Q&As for June, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  14. ^ Berkenstadt, Jim; Cross, Charles. Classic Rock Albums: Nevermind. Schirmer, 1998. ISBN 0-02-864775-0
  15. ^ a b c d e Yankovic, "Weird Al" (1992). Interview with Dr. Demento. Retrieved 2010/06/26. 
  16. ^ Khanna, Vish. ""Weird Al" Yankovic Alpocalypse Now… and Then". Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  17. ^ a b c Welch, Matthew (1997), ""Weird Al" Yankovic", Icon magazine: 95,, retrieved 2010/06/26 
  18. ^ a b "Nirvana – Nevermind/ Images". Discogs. Portland, Oregon, USA: Zink Media, Inc.. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  19. ^ ""Weird Al" Yankovic – Off The Deep End/ Images". Discogs. Portland, Oregon, USA: Zink Media, Inc.. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  20. ^ a b c Weber, Barry. "allmusic ((( Off the Deep End > Review )))". Retrieved 07/10/2010. 
  21. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 893. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  22. ^ "Weird Al Yankovic – Off the Deep End". 02/02/2001. Retrieved 07/10/2010. 
  23. ^ a b c Thelen, Christopher (1999/11/12). "Off The Deep End". Daily Vault. Retrieved 2010/06/26. 
  24. ^ "Grammy Award Winners – Peter Schickele in 1992". The Recording Academy. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  25. ^ a b c "Gold & Platinum – Search Results: "Weird Al" Yankovic". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2010/06/26. 
  26. ^ a b "allmusic ((( Weird Al Yankovic > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Retrieved 09/12/2010. 
  27. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books. pp. 691. Retrieved 2010/06/26. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r (1992) Album notes for Off the Deep End by "Weird Al" Yankovic [liner]. Scotti Bros. Records.
  29. ^ Yankovic, Alfred M. (March 1999). ""Ask Al" Q&As for March, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  30. ^ Yankovic, Alfred M. (June 2006). ""Ask Al" Q&As for June, 2006". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  31. ^ Yankovic, Alfred M. (March/April 2006). ""Ask Al" Q&As for March/April, 2006". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  32. ^ Jay Levey, "Weird Al" Yankoviv (2003) [DVD 2003]. "Weird Al" Yankovic: The Ultimate Video Collection (Liner notes). Volcano Entertainment. 82876-53727-9. 
  33. ^ Yankovic, Alfred M. (January/February 1998). ""Ask Al" Q&As for January/February, 1998". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  34. ^ a b "The Players". Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  35. ^ "UK Singles - 1952-2010 )))". Polyhex. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 

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