White & Nerdy
"White & Nerdy" is the second single from "Weird Al" Yankovic's album Straight Outta Lynwood, which was released on September 26, 2006. It parodies the song "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone. The song both satirizes and celebrates nerd culture, as recited by the subject who cannot "roll with the gangstas" because he is "just too white and nerdy". It includes many references to activities stereotypically associated with nerds and white people, such as collecting comic books and action figures, playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), going to Renaissance Fairs, playing Minesweeper, riding a Segway, programming computers, writing his name on his underwear, unnecessarily wearing braces, using an ergonomic keyboard, reading Stephen Hawking, memorizing pi, editing Wikipedia, owning a fanny pack, watching Happy Days and Star Trek, making a “web page for his dog”, and eating "sandwiches with mayonnaise".
|"White & Nerdy"|
|Single by "Weird Al" Yankovic|
|from the album Straight Outta Lynwood|
|B-side||"Don't Download This Song"|
|Released||September 12, 2006|
|Recorded||July 22, 2006|
|Producer(s)||"Weird Al" Yankovic|
|"Weird Al" Yankovic singles chronology|
|Straight Outta Lynwood track listing|
The song was Yankovic's first Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hit and third top 40 hit, peaking at #9 after debuting at #28. It was certified platinum by the RIAA, the first Yankovic single to achieve this feat.
- "White & Nerdy" – 2:50
- "Don't Download This Song" – 3:54
Production and writingEdit
While Yankovic usually records his songs together with his band, the backing tracks for "White and Nerdy" were completely recorded by guitarist Jim West—who handled the synthesizer production—and Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz—who was tasked with recording the drums. The two musicians recorded their specific tracks at their home studios. The finished audio tracks were then brought to Westlake Studio in Los Angeles, California, where Yankovic added his rap vocals.
The single has an accompanying music video, which was recorded in high definition. The video, loosely parodying the video for Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" and following the song's lyrics, shows Yankovic, dressed as a stereotypical nerd with a buttoned-up polo shirt, dress slacks, and horn-rimmed glasses (see also Yuppie or Preppie), attempting to fit in with the "gangsters", but instead either scaring them away, causing them to flip him off (shown on the scene where Yankovic is riding on a Segway in the park), or to direct him away from their group and instead towards a herd of other nerds (shown when Yankovic is in a bowling alley). These scenes include shots that directly parody the "Ridin'" video, including similar outfits by both artists. Yankovic is seen at night dancing in front of a set of road flares arranged in the form of Pac-Man, similar to the shot of Chamillionaire in front of the figure of a lizard, his personal logo. Another repeated scene shows Yankovic along with Donny Osmond—the "whitest guy I could think of", according to Yankovic—dancing in front of the Schrödinger equation, mimicking shots of Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone from the "Ridin'" video. Yankovic had found Osmond to be eager to be in the video, having memorized the song before recording as well as having his various moves already figured out before filming. Whereas Chamillionaire's video ends with the artist throwing up "The H" which is a hand sign representing his hometown of Houston (sometimes mistaken as a gang sign) to the camera, "White & Nerdy" ends with Yankovic giving a mistaken version of the Vulcan salute (his thumb is against the side of his hand instead of perpendicular).
Further interspersed among these shots are additional shots of Yankovic demonstrating his "white and nerdy" life. One scene shows Yankovic vandalizing the Wikipedia page for Atlantic Records, replacing it with the words (in excessively large type and proportional-width rather than fixed-width) "YOU SUCK!", referencing his recent trouble with the company in getting permission to release "You're Pitiful", a parody of James Blunt's song "You're Beautiful". Fans of the video have replicated the action depicted in the video several times. The video shows a fictional Trivial Pursuit card, with questions that include the location of "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota", on what page Harry Potter would die in the next book, and the number of Wicket men there are on a 43-Man Squamish team. Yankovic is shown making a shady deal with a thug in a back alley to acquire a bootleg VHS copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special. When Yankovic is on his Myspace page in the video, 'White and Nerdy has 27 friends' can be seen at the top of the computer screen (Bill Gates, Napoleon Dynamite, Mr. Peabody, Albert Einstein, Screech, Frodo, Pee-Wee Herman, and Tom). This is a continuation of his usual trend of putting the number 27 somewhere in his videos. The mayonnaise Yankovic spreads on a sandwich in the video is labelled "Pest Foods" mayonnaise, parodying Best Foods mayonnaise. Also, when Yankovic says, "Even made a homepage for my dog, yo," the music video shows a website devoted to his dog, Foofie.
In addition to Osmond, there are other cameos in the video. Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key of MADtv appear in the blue 1967 Chevrolet Impala convertible at the beginning of the video, two "gangsters" who are scared away by Yankovic's nerdiness. The license plate on the Impala reads "OG4LIFE", a reference to Ice-T's 1991 album Original Gangster. Seth Green, whom Yankovic had known for some time, appears in front of a wall display of action figures. Green also provided a number of the props for the video. Judy Tenuta, a regular on The Weird Al Show who also previously appeared in "Headline News", appears as the woman who receives a surge protector as a present. Other actors were personally recruited by Yankovic through a post on his MySpace page, from which he received several interested extras that said they would appear for free.
The video was leaked onto YouTube on September 17, 2006, just one day before the planned official release date at 9 PM Pacific Time at AOL.com. Due to the leak, the premiere was canceled, and AOL silently slipped the video onto their website hours before the premiere was set to take place. VH1 started airing the video in "large rotation" on September 20, 2006, and it debuted at #5 on their Top 20 countdown. It is available to watch on Yankovic's MySpace page, as well as on several other video hosting sites and P2P theaters.
On November 2, 2006, Yankovic performed "White & Nerdy" live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. (He rode a Segway as he came on stage.) It was his first public live performance of the song; various background vocals from the original recording are played to allow him time to breathe during the fast-paced lyrics. Since then, however, his band has provided live background vocals. On December 3, he performed the song live at the VH1 "Big In '06" Awards. Since 2007, Yankovic has performed the song on each of his tours, entering the stage on a Segway and wearing his hoodie and bandana from the video rather than using his "nerd" look. His band members maintain the "nerdy" outfits.
Awards and accoladesEdit
The song became Yankovic's first career Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, a record 23 years after his first appearance on the Hot 100 chart with "Ricky" in 1983. It debuted at #28 on the Hot 100 (that week's "Hot Shot Debut"), and peaked at #9 the following week, beating his previous #12 peak for 1984's "Eat It". This was also his first Top 40 single since 1992's "Smells Like Nirvana". It peaked on the Hot Digital Songs chart at #5. Both the song and the music video reached #1 at the U.S. and Australian iTunes Store, and peaked at #1 on VH1's top 20 video countdown. Both "White & Nerdy" and Straight Outta Lynwood were certified gold, and later platinum, by the RIAA. This marks the first time any one of Yankovic's singles has been certified platinum.
Reaction from ChamillionaireEdit
Chamillionaire himself put "White & Nerdy" on his official MySpace page, and commented that he enjoys the parody. In an interview, he also stated he was pleasantly surprised by Yankovic's rapping ability, saying: "He's actually rapping pretty good on it, it's crazy ... I didn't know he could rap like that." According to Yankovic, Chamillionaire approached him on the red carpet after "Ridin'" won the Grammy award for Best Rap Song at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards, and thanked him for creating the parody, as, in Yankovic's words, he had "made it undeniable that ["Ridin'"] was the rap song of the year".
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"White & Nerdy" erupted on the Billboard singles charts at #28 (as the "Hot Shot Debut") and then rocketed to #9 the next week, making it Al's very first Top 10 single! Thanks, everybody, for giving Al his highest-charting album and single of all time!
- "Gold & Platinum Program / Searchable Database". RIAA. (search term: Nerdy)
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- Music video