"Amish Paradise" is a 1996 single by parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic. It is a parody of the hip hop song "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring L.V. (which itself is a reworking of the Stevie Wonder song "Pastime Paradise"). Featured on the album Bad Hair Day, it turns the original "Gangsta's Paradise", in which the narrator laments his dangerous way of life, on its head by presenting an Amish man praising his relatively plain and uncomplicated existence.
|Single by "Weird Al" Yankovic|
|from the album Bad Hair Day|
|B-side||"Everything You Know Is Wrong", "The Night Santa Went Crazy (Extra Gory Version)"|
|Released||March 12, 1996|
|Recorded||January 15, 1996 in Houston, Texas|
|Producer(s)||"Weird Al" Yankovic|
|"Weird Al" Yankovic singles chronology|
Although Yankovic traditionally secures permission from the artists he parodies (even though this is not legally required, as parodies are covered under fair use guidelines), and was told by his record label that Coolio had given permission, Coolio later claimed that he had not given such permission (and in fact publicly expressed disgust saying that Yankovic's parody "desecrated the song"). This created a minor controversy, as speculation surfaced that Coolio had actually given permission but later claimed he had not in the fear that allowing the parody would not be seen as "cool", or that Yankovic's record label had lied to Yankovic in the hopes that the song would become popular.
Yankovic later stated on VH1's Behind the Music that he had written a sincere letter of apology to Coolio, which was never returned, and that Coolio never complained when he received his royalty check from proceeds of the song. A series of photos taken at the XM Satellite Radio booth at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show suggests that Yankovic and Coolio had made amends.
On June 27, 2013 during an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit, Yankovic was asked "Is Coolio still upset about Amish Paradise?", to which Yankovic replied "Coolio's cool with me now. We ran into each other a few years ago and it's all water under the proverbial bridge." Coolio stated in a 2014 interview that the decision to refuse the parody at the time was "stupid" and wished that someone on his management had stopped him, and considers the final parody to be "funny".
The director of the music video for "Amish Paradise" was Weird Al himself. Weird Al has directed many of his music videos since 1986.
The music video for "Amish Paradise" is very similar to the "Gangsta's Paradise" music video, although several concepts have been parodied. These include:
- When Yankovic states that Amish shun electricity, several Amish stomp on electronic devices, such as vinyl records, CDs, floppy disks, laptops, telephones, and a Slim Whitman Songs I Love to Sing LP album. This is the second time Whitman was mocked by Weird Al after "Achy Breaky Song" in 1993.
- When Yankovic says he is up at 4:30 in the morning milking cows, he is shown milking a cow directly into a bowl of cereal instead of a milk pail. A box of corn flakes can be seen next to him. The Kellogg's brand name is covered.
- In the next scene, when Jebediah is "feeding the chickens" he is giving them pizza.
- The line "Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1699", is a not-so subtle jab at Prince and his song "1999". Prince is one of the very few artists in the music industry who, during his lifetime, consistently refused to give consent and endorsement for Weird Al to record parodies of his songs.
- When Weird Al is churning butter, a woman walks by, and he is seen churning faster in an arguably suggestive manner.
- When the man is sawing and checking his sundial watch (then realizing that it does not work because there are clouds in the sky), the man behind him is playing golf (the follow-through of which resembles the use of a scythe).
- When Weird Al sings, "We sell quilts at discount price," a wooden booth is shown selling quilts with a sign that says "OUR PRICES ART INSANE !!!" in a parody of Crazy Eddie advertisements.
- At one point Al is seen reading a fictitious Lancaster, Pennsylvania, newspaper, The Lancaster Times, with the headline "Much Butter Was Churned." This is a homage to the film Witness, which takes place in Lancaster County, home to perhaps the most well-known Amish communities, even including a town called Paradise.
- In one part, two boys are looking at a supposed "Amish Babes" porn magazine (the cover slogan says "Plow My Field!"), but in the centerfold, the woman is merely showing her leg up to her knee, insinuating that this is considered to be scandalous among the Amish.
- When the young Amish children are on Yankovic's knee, they each have a beard, even though they appear to be about 6 years old.
- Weird Al's face is seen, with him sweating more every time a close up is taken to mock how L.V. is sweating profusely in Coolio's video.
- When Yankovic states he's "scoring points for the afterlife", he takes off his hat to reveal a hairstyle very similar to that seen on the cover of his album Bad Hair Day. These are both parodies of Coolio's trademark hairstyle.
- On the back of the carriage just before the sign reading, "Welcome to Lancaster", there's a "bumper" sticker stating, "How am I driving?" Other signs are seen stating, among other things, "BE GOOD", "NO FUN", "SIN-FREE ZONE", and "Mind Your Manners".
- The man in white shirt and glasses attempting to use the vintage telephone, and in turn being coated with dust, is fashioned after a photograph of 1960s comedian Allan Sherman.
- The lyrics "No phone, no lights, no motorcar... not a single luxury. Like Robinson Crusoe, it's as primitive as can be" are originally from the closing theme song to Gilligan's Island.
- Near the very end, Yankovic is reaping crops with a scythe, then walking away from a barn while the animals move in reverse motion. For this effect, the scene was recorded normally while "Weird Al" walked backwards and lip synced the words backwards, so when the scene is shown backwards, he is walking forward and his lips are in sync with the song itself. This scene is a parody of the video for Enigma's "Return to Innocence"—a then-popular music video that prominently featured scenes of crops being reaped with a scythe and farm animals walking in reverse.
- The video features Florence Henderson in the role originally portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer. Reportedly, Henderson jumped at the chance to be featured in the parody, after seeing the Coolio video. Henderson sucked in her cheeks to make her appearance look closer to that of Pfeiffer's from "Gangster's Paradise".
- Weird Al's parents Nick and Mary Yankovic appear in the music video as Amish people.
- The video shows many aspects of regular Amish life, such as raising a barn (the scene directly parodies Witness). However, when the barn is raised, the frame falls towards Yankovic, who is standing where a gap in the frame is. Yankovic performed this stunt himself. He has acknowledged that this gag is a Buster Keaton homage as originally seen in the film Steamboat Bill, Jr.
- "Weird and COOLIO?!". Yank Blog. January 8, 2006. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
- happymaskmonster comments on I am “Weird Al” Yankovic – Ask Me Anything!
- Ozzi, Dan (April 28, 2014). "After All These Years, Coolio Still Lets His Nuts Hang". Vice. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- "Video Facts". weirdal.com. Archived from the original on 10 November 2006. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
- Reese, Doug (30 March 1996). "Directing Is Yankovic's "Paradise"". Billboard: 144. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
- Suskind, Alex (July 15, 2014). "The History Behind 12 Great Weird Al Videos". Vulture. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
- "Al with parents Mary and Nick Yankovic, who are seen throughout the "Amish Paradise" video". Thousand Oaks, CA. February 24, 1996.
- [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2002]
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)