Sunday, July 20, 2014

“Weird Al” Yankovic – Mandatory Fun

This week (July 15th), “Weird Al” Yankovic released his fourteenth studio album Mandatory Fun. The album quickly shot to the number one spot on iTunes. As always, there is a healthy balance between parodies of previous hit songs by other artists and his own original compositions done in the style of particular artists.

First up is “Handy”, a Home Improvement commercial inspired parody of Iggy Azalea’s 2014 hit “Fancy” that featured Charli XCX. The video shows a lot of zaniness to it.

“Lame Claim to Fame” is an original done in the style of Southern Culture on the Skids, a Chapel Hill NC rock band I surprisingly know very little about (been too long not living in Raleigh – I lost touch with that music scene). This name-dropping tune is fun.

Next up is “Foil”, the weirdly twisted parody of Lorde’s 2013 hit “Royals”. I really like how this one does a complete one-eight turn – very fun. You have to check out the video for this one.

“Sports Song”, a send up of college sports teams’ fight songs, kind of falls flat for me. I guess it is because I went to a college whose biggest sport was hockey; they don’t have marching bands for hockey.

The best track of the album, for me, is hands down “Word Crimes”. This Schoolhouse Rock like send up of Robin Thicke’s 2013 dance hit “Blurred Crimes” is perfect.

Next, Al takes on the Foo Fighters with an original song “My Own Eyes” in their style. The band really rocks this one out with alternative awesomeness.

Another fun favorite of Al’s albums are his polka medleys, and this time he takes current hits on with “NOW That’s What I Call Polka!”, named after the popular K-Tel like album series that had been going for the past few decades.

“Mission Statement” is another original, this time done in the style of Crosby Stills and Nash. Again, another interesting style choice, especially going with a band that a lot of younger fans would not know. But doing that does balance out the more topical tracks that he parodies. Call it musical balance. As for the lyrical subject matter, this one sounds like every company mission statement I’ve ever heard – for good or for ill. LOL

Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” gets parodied with “Inactive”, an ode to couch potatoes.

Al next does an original in the style of the Pixies with “First World Problems”, a commentary on the popular meme and Twitter hashtag label. Again, the band does a fantastic job on the style here.

Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” from the film Despicable Me 2 was all over this past year. So, Al jumps on its up-beat rhythm for his parody “Tacky”. Even the video, which features a number of comedy guests, is done up in a similar style to Pharrell’s own.

The album closes with the epic nine minute long “Jackson Park Express”, a style send up of Cat Stevens. This one has a super 70’s sound to it.

As most followers of the blog know, my music tastes swing to older stuff (from the 60’s to the 90’s). However, having an eighteen year old son who always changes the Sirius XM channels in my van to “Hits 1” whenever he rides with me, I am familiar with a bit of today’s music. Luckily, “Weird Al” always choses the best of the best to parody, so I knew the original songs done here on Mandatory Fun. It always makes the parody more enjoyable when you know the original.

This record completes Al’s record contract with a major label, and that is great news for long-time fans like me. His album prior to this was in 2011, and three years was a long wait. I predict we’ll be seeing more output from him in the future as he will be free to release tracks in a more timely fashion.

If you like music to be fun, this is one you need to check out. As part of the promotional push, Al released a video a day for eight days over on his website (click here).

For more of my “Weird Al” reviews, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Have been telling everyone I how much I like this album for the past couple of weeks now - I got an early copy. For whatever reason, it is so much better than Alpocolypse.

My faves are "Word Crimes", "Handy" and "Tacky". The polka medley was a little weak for my tastes, though.

Al also made a surprise appearance on Drunk History recently, playing Hitler.