With Nerdist’s “All About That Base” seemingly locking up the title of best “Star Wars” song parody of the year, I thought it’d be a good time to look at the best entries in this subgenre that has exploded in the last decade thanks to YouTube.
Before YouTube, you could count the great “Star Wars” song parodies on one hand and still have two fingers left over. They are, of course, Richard Cheese’s “Star Wars Cantina” and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s one-two punch of “Yoda” and “The Saga Begins.” But it even when Yankovic’s second “Star Wars” parody dominated MTV and VH1 in 1999, a list like I’m attempting here couldn’t go much beyond those three entries.
That changed soon after the prequels wrapped in 2005, as YouTube burgeoned with parodies (pop songs given “Star Wars” lyrics), not to mention original “Star Wars”-inspired songs and non-“Star Wars” songs given new meaning with “Star Wars” clips.
Today, the problem is not filling out the list of the top 10 “Star Wars” parody songs of all time; it’s paring it down to 10. But “Do or do not, there is no try,” right? I considered the cleverness of the lyrics and the quality of the vocals and videos in compiling my rankings.
10. “Wrecking Maul” (2014), by Randy Turnbow, to the tune of “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus – In a timely tune considering Maul returned to “The Clone Wars” in recent years, the artist imagines the Sith apprentice being scorned by George Lucas in the scripting process (“I sure had a laugh/Cutting you in half/That’s what I had to do”). The video is only passable (and don’t worry, Maul’s not really nude), but the facial makeup and vocals are good. (Honorable mention: Speaking of “Episode I” parodies, you’d think there’d be a good “Otah Gunga Style” riffing on Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” No such luck, although this Funny or Die clip took a truncated stab at it.)
9. “Star Wars Theme Song with Lyrics” (2009), by Golden Tusk, to the tune of “Star Wars Main Title” by John Williams – The artist lyrically tells the classic trilogy story to the tune of the orchestral theme, and it works as beautifully as the “Saturday Night Live” skit that added lyrics to “Roundball Rock.” The feat is especially impressive when the singer crams words into the faster segments of the piece. (Honorable mention: Corey Vidal and Moosebutter’s “Star Wars (John Williams is the Man),” from 2008, features the “Star Wars” story sung to the tune of several Williams movie themes.)
8. “Star Wars Cantina” (1996), by Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, to the tune of “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow – The sound clips from the movie are a nice touch in this now ubiquitous classic that tells the original trilogy story. It got a lot of radio play during the 1997 Special Edition releases.
7. “We Didn’t Start the Star Wars” (2007), by Mikey Squirrel, to the tune of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel – I would rank this one higher, except for the mediocre vocals. The peppering of Expanded Universe items into the list is a neat touch, and the video is fun to watch with the dancing clips from the films and photos for each entry.
6. “Yoda” (1985), by “Weird Al” Yankovic, to the tune of “Lola” by The Kinks – A few bars of the tune will have almost everyone, even non-fans, breaking into the lyrics of “Yoda,” not “Lola” – much to The Kinks’ annoyance, no doubt. I don’t think that can be said for any other “Star Wars” parody song. It’s far and away the best parody song from the saga’s original heyday.
5. “All About That Base” (2014), by Nerdist, to the tune of “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor – It’s too bad that the sexy Nerdist girls are Imperials. But for parody purposes, I can’t blame them, as “no rebels” substitutes perfectly for Trainor’s “no treble.” Like the original a few months back, this parody is all over the web at the moment.
4. “Galactic Empire State of Mind” (2010), by College Humor, to the tune of “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z – With the clever rapping by Darth Vader and epic vocals by the Leia-garbed chorus singer, this one unveils new lyrical treasures on each listen. Weak sauce on the Ewok costumes, though.
3. “The Saga Begins” (1999), by “Weird Al” Yankovic, to the tune of “American Pie” by Don McLean – This is the gold standard of “Star Wars” parody songs as it tells the “Phantom Menace” tale straight-up from Obi-Wan’s perspective while still managing to be hilarious (“But we escaped from that gas/And met Jar Jar and Boss Nass”). My only complaint is with the music video, which uses knock-off masks and costumes. (Honorable mention: 1988’s “I Think I’m a Clone Now” could almost qualify as a third “Weird Al” “Star Wars” song with some “Attack of the Clones” footage thrown behind it, as this video demonstrates.)
2. “Moves Like Jabba” (2011), by Break Originals, to the tune of “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 – In addition to snort-worthy lyrics (“He’s got big boobs like Jabba”), the music video is brilliant. It makes Jabba look like he’s dancing and smoothly intersperses film clips with new costumed dancers. (Honorable mention: MADtv did their own animated take on this tune.)
1. “Midichlorian Rhapsody” (2010), by Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff, to the tune of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen – The lyrics beautifully — and humorously (“Jar Jar … I sometimes wish you’d never been born at all!”) — tell the prequel saga from Anakin’s perspective. While using movie clips might seem lazier than making an original video, it is the right choice here, as the scenes add power to the song, and vice versa – for example, the music gets aggressive as Anakin slips to the dark side. More than just a joke, this song brings a tear to my eye. And yes, that is the same Maya Bohnhoff who has co-written “Star Wars” novels with Michael Reaves! (Honorable mentions: “Bohemian Rhapsody: Star Wars Edition,” a 2013 effort by UAT Digital Video, focuses on the events in Jabba’s palace. And if you want more from the Bohnhoffs, check out the Jimmy Buffett riff “Wastin’ Away Again on Tatooine.”)
What are your favorite “Star Wars” song parodies? Share your list in the comment threads.