Weird Al: Off The Deep End

The Story Behind “The Plumbing Song”

What do drain cleaning in Utah, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Milli Vanilli all have in common? “The Plumbing Song,” that’s what.

Let’s face it – there just aren’t many songs out there devoted to fixing drains, toilets and other essential household appliances. But at least there’s one by “Weird Al” Yankovic – without question one of the most unique music artists of all time and easily the most famous parody Weird Al: Off The Deep Endartist. Yankovic was first inspired to be a comedy musician by his idol, Dr. Demento in the 1970s. Originally, Yankovic was known as an accordion player, but has since moved on to fronting a full-blown band.

It might’ve taken him more than 30 years, but with 2014’s “Mandatory Fun,” Yankovic released his first album to reach the pinnacle of the Billboard Charts. But he’s been a favorite cult singer since the ‘80s. Back in 1992, he borrowed melodies from disgraced Grammy winners Milli Vanilli for one of his signature satires. “The Plumbing Song” melds two altered versions of Milli Vanilli hits, “Blame It On the Rain” and “Baby Don’t Forget My Number.”

Though remembered mainly for being exposed as lip syncers – meaning they didn’t technically sing any of their own songs – it’s worth noting that Milli Vanilli’s 1989 album, “Girl You Knew It’s True,” went platinum six times over. You’ve got to give them credit for being exceptionally good fakers. Tragically, half of the infamous pop duo, Rob Pilatus, succumbed to substance abuse issues in 1998, shortly before the slated release of “Back and in Attack,” the first record he and co-frontman Fab Morvan actually sang on.

As for Yankovic’s parody, it isn’t the most well known song on 1992’s “Off The Deep End.” That particular distinction goes to “Smells Like Nirvana,” a sendup of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” by the now-mythic rock institution, Nirvana. But one could argue that “The Plumbing Song” could’ve been a bigger hit if Yankovic had given the craft of plumbing the degree of reverence it deserves. His references to making “service calls in overalls,” and calling up the “man with a monkey wrench,” arguably reduces plumbers to a goofy stereotype. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t honor the importance of qualified expert plumbers to fix gummed up sinks. Yankovic sings, “When I flush the john and your shower goes on,” he correctly observes that it’s time to call the best local plumber.

If listening to “The Plumbing Song” reminds you of a major drain cleaning task you’re unable to fix yourself or any other pipes that need unplugging or mending around your home, take Yankovik’s advice and dial up Captain Plumbing for your household plumping repair needs.

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