Mandatory Fun – “Weird Al” Yankovic

MandatoryFunRelease Year: 2014

Rating: 8/10

As a child of the ’90s, I grew up with “Weird Al” Yankovic. I fondly remember his Michael Jackson parodies and often sang the words of his Nirvana cover whenever “Smells Like Teen Spirit” played. Considering the type of music he makes, it would’ve been so easy to only be relevant in the ’80s and stay there. But since he is a master of his craft he has been around for almost two decades if you can believe it. He’s back again with a really strong, really funny album that is sure to have something for everyone.

This album is for anyone who likes the music of popular songs like “Fancy” or “Royals,” but can’t stand the artists. Yankovic does such a great job of keeping the feel and vibe of the hits and putting his own spin on it. “Handy,” his version of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” is so catchy it’ll get stuck in your head just like the original. His word play and flow is really impressive here; guess he’s not that bad of a rapper. Who knew a song about carpentry could be so catchy. The style of “Lame Claim to Fame” may go over some listener’s heads, but it’s still humorous. Based off of Southern Culture on the Skids, this track mentions several lame and eye-rolling “celebrity encounters,” such as using the same napkin dispenser as Steve Carrell and puking next to Christian Slater in an elevator. What’s sad is we know there are people like this out there who are actually proud of those moments, but it only makes the song funnier.

The best track here has to be “Word Crimes.” This is for anyone who loves the music of “Blurred Lines,” but stand Robin Thicke. This one lays out several grammar rules and pokes fun at those who fail to follow them. When listening to it, you’ll think of those lists of Twitter and Facebook fails that contain atrocious spelling. It’s definitely a criticism on the effect internet and texting has had on our spelling and grammar. Another critical track is “First World Problems.” In the style of the Pixies, “Weird Al” complains about having too many groceries, forgetting his gardener’s name, and missing out on the breakfast special at his favorite restaurant. Again, it’s really funny and makes you realize how we all complain about stuff like this and just how dumb it really is.

While the album is pretty strong it does have some low points. “Sports Song” is the blandest track here. It’s great how it has the sound and feel of a genuine marching band number, but it’s not something you would casually listen to. It’s kind of humorous with its message of we rule, you suck, but it gets dull after a while. “Mission Statement” actually sounds like a Crosby, Stills, and Nash single, but it’s not as entertaining as the other tracks here. Perhaps if you’re a fan of the band you’ll love it, otherwise it’s best if you skip it. The same thing goes for “Jackson Park Express,” which is in the style of Cat Stevens. While there are some giggle worthy moments, the song is too long and easy to tune out.

On each LP, Yankovic does a track containing a medley of hits. It’s no different here. “NOW! That’s What I Call Polka!” features short covers of last year’s biggest hits, such as “Wrecking Ball,” “Timber,” “Somebody that I Used to Know,” “Get Lucky,” and “Gangnam Style” among others. The catch is he puts a polka spin on the tunes. This little collection is enjoyable and makes you wish he would do full covers of some of the songs. And if you were one of the many people who hated Pharrell’s “Happy,” then you may love “Weird Al’s” “Tacky.” Just like most of the other parodies, he keeps the groovy music and the catchy hook all while talking about glitter Uggs and Ed Hardy shirts. What’s great is he keeps mentioning clothing accessories that most agree are just awful. You’ll have a good time dancing while Yankovic sings about those awful croc shoes.

Overall, the album gets 8/10. The album is a lot of fun. Time and time again Yankovic shows off his impressive wordplay and his knack for making the most ordinary things, like foil, sound amazing. Whether you love him or hate him, he knows what he’s doing when it comes to parodies. It’s crazy to think he’s been doing this since the ’80s and making it look easy. Not only is he clever, he’s a smart businessman. He’s strategy of releasing eight videos to promote the new album has been effective since no one can stop talking about the videos he’s been releasing. He’s on his way to a number one album and I can’t complain.

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