“Weird” Al Yankovic Demands ‘Mandatory Fun’ on his Latest Album

By on July 16, 2014

“Weird” Al Yankovic is back! Everyone’s all-time favorite song parodist’s latest tackles such heavy issues as world hunger, the economic disparity in the United States, and…oh, who am I kidding? It’s songs about the likes of aluminum foil, carpentry, sports, grammar, business meetings, tackiness and, but of course, Al’s favorite topic of choice: food.

Naturally, there are the parodies, which this time around, take aim at Iggy Azalea (“Handy,” a spoof of “Fancy”), Lorde (“Foil,” a spoof of “Royals”), Robin Thicke (“Word Crimes,” Al’s take on “Blurred Lines”), Imagine Dragons (“Inactive,” Al’s version of “Radioactive”), and Pharrell (“Tacky,” Al’s take on “Happy”). There are also stylistic parodies of bands like the Foo Fighters (“My Own Eyes”), the Pixies (“First World Problems”), Southern Culture on the Skids (“Lame Claim to Fame”), Crosby, Stills & Nash (“Mission Statement”) and Cat Stevens (the epic, near-ten minute “Jackson County Express,” this album’s “Albuquerque”). And, of course, it wouldn’t quite be the same if there weren’t a medley of current hits, done in Al’s signature polka style (“NOW That’s What I Call Polka!”)

Even better, Al has embarked on an ambitious project tying into the album, releasing eight videos for eight of the songs in eight days. So far, he’s released the fun “Tacky,” which appears to have been shot in one take and was filmed at the Palace Theater in LA, aka the place where “Big Lebowski” shot Julianne Moore’s apartment scenes. It features a host of funny cameos, as Aisha Tyler (“The Talk”), Margaret Cho (“Drop Dead Diva”), Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”), Kristen Schaal (“The Daily Show”) and Jack Black lip synch and dance around, a la Pharrell’s famously energetic video, only sillier.

There’s also an animated video from Jarrett Heather for “Word Crimes,” which adopts the kinetic typography style, which visually represents Al’s verbal chastening of people (for using bad grammar, improper word use, the wrong punctuation, etc.) in a clever way that should greatly appeal to all the English majors out there. Finally, there’s the video for “Foil,” made with the popular website “College Humor,” which features Al as the host of a cooking show, with cameos from stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt (Young Adult”), Tom Lennon (“Reno 911!”), and Robert Ben Garant (“Hell Baby”).

Yankovic has stated in interviews that this may well be his final official album release, not because he’s retiring, but because- in keeping with the fast-paced times we live in- he wants to be able release music on the fly, rather than having to wait until he has enough material for an entire album ready. That means Yankovic will likely be reverting to the singles or EP format, so as to better remain timely and get his spoofs out there in a quicker fashion.

Another reason is that, with online resources like YouTube and Vimeo at the ready, many people are beating Yankovic to the punch. For instance, most everyone figured Al’s satire of the inescapable “Let it Go,” from Disney’s massively-successful “Frozen” would be a given- and it was. Yankovic had indeed planned to do a “Star Trek: The Next Generation”-themed satire of the song called- what else?- “Make it So,” but had to abandon it when he discovered that someone else had already done just that.

By reverting to singles and the like, Yankovic will better be able to tackle material at a faster pace, and with “Fun” completing his current contract with RCA, he’s in a position to do just that. Until then, we have this latest blast of epic song parodies to digest, and it’s to his credit that “Fun” holds up favorably to past endeavors.

To be sure, it’s silly- you’d expect anything less? But it also more than lives up to its title of “Mandatory Fun,” with enough clever moments to warrant picking it up, even if some of the parodies are inevitably somewhat dated by now. Hopefully, his new proposed approach will take care of that in the future, but until then, the fun may not be mandatory, but you’ll have it just the same.

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About Mark Trammell

Mark Trammell is the resident entertainment critic at UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is also a Graduate Student and does a vid-cast movie review show. He is a life-long fan of films and has a pretty whacked-out, all-over-the-place movie collection that would give most sane people pause. He loves horror movies and Disney flicks and isn't entirely sure there is a difference. He one day hopes to put his money where his mouth is and inflict his own perverse vision on society, entirely so that he can tell people who ask: "If you think you can do better, why don't you make a movie yourself?" to shut up.
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