“Mandatory Fun” proves “Weird Al” is still King of Pop Parody

"Weird Al" Yankovic returns with his new album, "Mandatory Fun." (x)

“Weird Al” Yankovic returns with his new album, “Mandatory Fun.” (x)

For the past 32 years, “Weird Al” Yankovic has been tickling our funny bone with his silly songs and parodies. His new album, “Mandatory Fun,” was released last week and debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart. It’s his last album in his recording contract and his first to hit number one. From Michael Jackson to Madonna, Al has spoofed some of the greatest in pop music. With his new album, Al proves that he’s just as relevant today.

There are, however, many challenges Al faces today that he didn’t have to think about when he first started out. With the rise of YouTube and iTunes, parody songs and videos are pretty common these days. From Bart Baker to The Key of Awesome, Al suddenly has competition that weren’t there in the eighties and nineties. This forces Al to be more unique with his ideas and think of things that nobody else has done. It’s something Al pulls off with ease on this new album.

Most YouTube parodies touch on the controversy surrounding that particular artist or song. It’s a theme Al himself played with in “Smells Like Nirvana” (his parody of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) in the nineties. However, Al was smart enough to not repeat the same formula for his new album. The best example of this is “Word Crimes” (Al’s parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”), where he educates listeners on proper grammar usage. Not only does it refuse to mention the original artist or song, but its theme is very relevant in a time where everyone quickly gets their thoughts out in 140 characters or less. Its music video has become an internet hit, gaining over 10 million views on YouTube.

Al also spoofs Iggy Azalea’s song “Fancy” and turns it into “Handy,” a song about a handy man. Another parody that has got people talking is “Foil” (a parody of “Royals” by Lorde), with its talk of aluminum foil’s many uses and creepy conspiracy theories. Al also parodies Pharrell’s “Happy” and makes “Tacky,” about all the tacky things people do, from Instagramming their meals to taking selfies at funerals. This album also includes Al’s trademark polka medly, where he sings many current hits polka style. This time around he sings Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and many others. It’s always the highlight of a “Weird Al” album and it certainly lives up to the expectations this time.

The album also features many “style parodies,” which are original songs done in the style of a particular genre, artist or band. This album includes a dead-on style parody of Foo Fighters called “My Own Eyes” and a marching band fight song called “Sports Song.” The latter of which is one you should probably refrain from playing at actual sporting events. However, out of all these style parodies come the album’s only dud. It’s a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young style parody called “Mission Statement.” While it succeeds at imitating the original band, the humor of the song is hard to find.

All in all, this album is a brilliant addition to what has been a remarkable set of studio albums by the King of Pop Parody. While it isn’t among his strongest albums like “Running with Scissors” or “Straight Outta Lynwood,” it is a fun listen from start to finish. Al chose the right songs to parody and came up with unique ideas to match. With a tour planned for next year, Al has said that he only plans to release digital singles from now on, in order to release a parody when the original song is still relevant. Whatever he does, one thing’s for sure, the world hasn’t heard the last from “Weird Al” Yankovic.

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