Make a Parody Song

Sheet music and guitar

Fans of musical parodies might find themselves wondering how to make a parody song. Parody songs need to do more than just make listeners want to sing along. They also need to make listeners laugh - and although that may sound like a challenge, it can be easier than you think to uncover your inner parodist.

Anatomy of a Parody Song

The first step in figuring out how to make a parody song is to understand what makes good parodies click. There are two different ways to approach parody songwriting:

  1. Base your parody on an existing popular song - This method is by far the more common approach to writing parody tracks. You take a song that gets tons of airplay and has made a real impact on popular culture, and you tweak it in a way that either mocks the original track or simply borrows from the melody of the original track to write lyrical satire of a completely new topic.
  2. Write an independent parody - If there is a topic you want to satirize, you can write an original song that parodies a public figure, event, or trend in popular culture.

The approach you decide on will have significant impact on the method you use to craft your parody masterpiece.

How to Make a Parody Song

If you have decided to create an original parody track, then you approach it just as you would approach writing any other song. Create the music and write the lyrics - the only difference is that you will pay close attention to making sure the lyrics are designed to get a laugh.

If you have decided to go the more popular route and base your parody on an original track, follow these steps:

Choose Your Target

First things first - which song are you going to parody? Be sure to choose a well known song so your parody will have an impact on the largest possible audience. Part of the joke is the difference between the original and your version, so you want the widest group of listeners possible to get your point of reference.

Choose Your Approach

Will your lyrics specifically parody the content of the original song, or will it simply borrow elements of the song to mock a different subject? Using examples from the one of the best known song parodists, Weird Al Yankovic, will your song be like Amish Paradise, which parodied the content of the Coolio song Gangsta Paradise, or will it be more like Eat It, which borrowed the music and melody of the Michael Jackson song Beat It to make fun of overeating?

Write Your Lyrics

If you are going to stick to the melody of the original track, no matter which approach you are taking with your lyrics, the easiest method is simply to go through and rewrite the song line by line. Try to stick with the rhyme structure of the original song - it will help you fit your words in seamlessly with the original track.

Record Your Parody

Recording is where things can get kind of tricky. You can find a karaoke version of the original and record your vocals over it using a computer based music recording software programs. Alternatively, you can work with a band to recreate the original music, using the same type of recording software program to record both vocals and music. The first option is cheaper but the second may produce better quality.

The Small Print about Parodies

Once your song is recorded, you're ready to promote it to listeners and maybe even sell a few copies. Although there are many avenues for selling your own music online, before you sell a parody song, you have to deal with permission. You need the OK of the songwriter and the owner of the master before you can proceed. This permission comes in the form of a license, and you need one from everyone who owns a stake in the song.

You can get permission from the songwriter by approaching the publisher - search BMI, ASCAP and SESAC databases to locate the correct publisher. You must also approach the label or artist - whoever owns the master - for permission. Start with the website of the label that released the original song to track down the owner of the master.

If you're just recording your parody for fun, however, feel free to share it with your friends and revel in your songwriting prowess.

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Make a Parody Song