November 2014: “Word Crimes” by “Weird Al” Yankovic

Meets National Core Arts Anchor Standards 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7



  • Perceive and analyze artistic work
  • Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
  • Organize and develop artistic ideas and work
  • Refine and complete artistic work
  • Develop and refine artistic work for presentation



  • CD (November 2014)
  • Piano or other classroom instrument


Play “Word Crimes” by “Weird Al” Yankovic (CD track 1)

Ask the students some questions to help them analyze the song.



What is the key signature? (G major.)

What are the different sections? (Intro, verse, chorus, bridge.)

All they all the same length? (All are 16 measures long except the intro, which is eight measures long.)

Does the chord progression behave differently in each section? (No, it’s the same throughout.)

What’s the harmonic rhythm—the rate at which the chords change? (Every four bars.)

If the music is so simple, then why doesn’t the song get boring? (Probably the biggest reason is the deft wordplay.)

Help students work on singing chromatic lower neighbors:

  • Play a random pair of notes on the piano—a major second apart melodically— and have the students sing the pitches.
  • Play the same pair again, but with the lower note situated a half step higher, then have the students sing the pair back to you.
  • Explain to the students that they’ve just sung a chromatic lower neighbor.
  • Repeat the whole process a handful of times.




  1. Using “Word Crimes” as an example, ask the students to come up with their own parodies of the pop songs of their choosing. If you can, help suggest topics that they can use in rewriting the lyrics that will tie into things they’re currently studying in other classes. Collect the students’ work, and if they’re amenable, have them sing their work before the class.



Did the students analyze the song with you?

Did they sing the song together?

Did they parody a popular song?