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Album Review: Weird Al Yankovic – Mandatory Fun

3 min read

Who’s ready for some more fun presented by none other than Weird Al Yankovic? The parody king returns with his fourteenth studio album Mandatory Fun; but there are no leading singles as the singer launched an ‘8 Videos, 8 Days’ campaign, which is genially engaging for existing and new fans, thus eliminating suspense and keeping the world entertained throughout the week of release. Keeping up with his tradition of parodying tracks without any personal attacks on the original artists, who was under Al’s radar this time?

Weird Al Yankovic - Mandatory FunYankovic didn’t waste any time parodying Iggy Azalea’s Fancy, the album is introduced by Handy, the protagonist is a handyman not shy of gloating about his abilities; the accompanying video is in the typical Weird Al styled humour. Lame Claim To Fame is an original composition influenced by The Southern Culture on the Skids’ sound, it’s a name-dropping rock track obsessive on celebrity culture;  it was inevitable for Al to parody Lorde, Royals becomes Foil; the song plays on two different uses of aluminium foil, to preserve food for later consumption and as a protective hat for use by conspirators. The fun continues with the college sports-themed Sports Song, it almost lacks the classic Weird Al wit, but redeems itself with a catchy chant.

Word Crimes puts Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines to a more educational use, insisting that those who are not familiar with the proper use of grammar tighten up their misuse of the English language; the video for the parody was the second to be unveiled for the campaign. Al stylises the Foo Fighters in My Own Eyes, recalling unusual events having been witnessed by the protagonist; he’s no Dave Grohl, but he nails the band’s sound with ease. Hooray, another Polka medley! NOW That’s What I Call Polka! combines the tracks Al couldn’t manage to write a clever parody for into a 4 minute track of fun; Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus, Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People, Best Song Ever by One Direction and many more.

Crosby, Stills & Nash were the concept behind Mission Statement, a track that rattles off executive jargon and masterfully plays on the harmonic and melodic style of the influencing band; Radioactive by Imagine Dragons was re-imagined as Inactive, a spoof depicting a character who wastes their lives away doing, well, nothing! First World Problems is a The Pixies-esque track describing different first world problems such as not being able to fast forward the commercials during live TV or having to brush your teeth. Pharrel Williams was honoured to have been parodied by Weird Al, Happy was reinvented to become to Tacky, describing different actions that are on the tacky side; the video features guest appearances by Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet, voice actress Kristen Schaal and Jack Black. Al closes Mandatory Fun with one of his trademark long form songs, Jackson Park Express; it is a Cat Stevens inspired 9 minute track where the protagonist falls in love on the bus at first sight, which led to the imaginary events of a relationship unfolding.

At 54 years old and at the end of a 32 year-long recording contract, Weird Al Yankovic still has plenty in store with Mandatory Fun; and he has no plans on retiring from music anytime soon, so we can still expect some more fun from the parody king. The new album still carries the torch of Al tradition, his new original compositions almost flawlessly tap into the sound persona of the bands he sculpted them from and his parodies (written last to keep up with what’s hip) are as fresh and witty as always. The ‘8 Videos, 8 Days’ campaign is still running, thus far spawning videos for Tacky, Word Crimes, Foil, Handy, Sports Song and First World Problems; music clips also help keep the Weird Al magic alive. Mandatory Fun is an invigoratingly humorous listen, and you won’t be able to wait to hear more from Weird Al Yankovic in the coming years.