Mandatory Fun

I’m sorry everyone.  The new “Weird Al” Yankovic album came out today, so I can’t do anything except listen to it.  I certainly can’t write any blog posts.  But, since you are probably too busy also listening to “Mandatory Fun” to read any blog posts, it’s possible that you won’t notice.  You are listening to it, right?  Right.  I thought so.  It’s pretty good, no?  I have to say though, that my opinions have changed and my expectations were wrong.  Things I thought would be the best, were not as favorite as I suspected, and things I thought would be lame, were awesome.  Plus, my opinions keep evolving the more I listen.  “Weird Al” is like the delicate bouquet of a fine wine.  I mean, probably.  I don’t drink, so I really wouldn’t know.

Handy,  which is the first single on there, is a parody of “Fancy,” quite possibly the worst song ever created by anyone anywhere, so I figured I would not like it so much.  And at first listen, it sounded too much like Al’s classic Milli Vanilli parody mash-up “The Plumbing Song” to me.  But actually, the more I listen to it, the better I like it.  It’s certainly better than the original song anyway.

Lame Claim to Fame I figured would be about some Kardashians or something, but it isn’t.  I was happily surprised by this one, and it is easily one of my favorite tracks.  I know that it is a style parody of the band Southern Culture on the Skids, which I know almost nothing about, but I am kind of getting into them now.  You should check out “Camel Walk” if you like this song.  And you probably do, because it is awesome.

One song I thought I would especially dislike was Foil.  It is a parody of “Royals” by Lorde, and while I do not hate that song, it was never my super favorite.  Plus, the idea of a song about foil seemed ridiculous.  I know Al does food parodies all the time, but this seemed like a really stupid idea.  I was wrong.  This is my favorite parody of the album.  There are 5 parody songs, and I now know that I will listen to this one more than any other.  The second verse took me by surprise, and it’s just brilliant.  You know.  For a song about aluminum foil.

Sports Song is a style parody of a college fight song, which was not what I was expecting at all.  From the title I was thinking Jock Jamz, or stadium rock, or something.  But again, I love this one.  The first time I heard it I thought it was okay, but the more I listen, the more I appreciate it.  I can really hear the Tom Lehrer influence here (and I love Tom Lehrer!), and I always enjoy when Al deviates from the strictly pop stuff and branches out into the wider realms of music.  Is it too much to hope for an opera-style song sometime?  Or a great choral work parody?  Can we start a change.org petition to get a Weird Al Gilbert and Sullivan homage?

Word Crimes is, I would have to say, the one I thought would be my hands down favorite song of the album.  It takes a catchy tune with terrible lyrics, and replaces those lyrics with words about proper grammar.  How could that not be my favorite song?!  And yet, something about it just didn’t click with me I guess.  I mean, I like it.  I will listen to it many, many times.  But for some unknown reason, it just didn’t come out as superlative as I had hoped.  It is only my second favorite parody.  What a let down.  Maybe my expectations were too high.  Or maybe “Blurred Lines” just wasn’t a good song after all.

My Own Eyes is a song in the style of a Foo Fighters song, and I hope I don’t lose any street cred here when I say that I have never been into the Foo Fighters.  I mean, some of their stuff is okay, but it just isn’t to my taste.  And this song, which is kind of one grossish, nonsensical gag after another, is probably the one I will skip the most, especially with my kids around.  Not that I always mind weird, gross, nonsense.  But the more I listen to this one, the more I am like, meh.

Luckily we get to move right into NOW! That’s What I Call Polka, which is one of the strongest polka medleys that Al has ever done.  I will address the elephant in the room right away.  Yes, it is too short.  There are really only 11 songs (plus a classic polka) included, and he spends way too much time on the first and last ones.  That being said, the transitions are flawless and his loving reworking of each song really sets this one apart.  In some of the previous polkas, the joke has just been that he is mashing songs together and playing accordion, which is hilarious on its own, but this new track is full of funny moments and extra jokes, from the Jerry Lewis style “Sexy LA-dy!” to the sublime fart noise after “Scream and shout and let it out.”  I can’t think of a polka I have enjoyed more than this one, and if he had only added another song or two, and said “Get Lucky” half as many times, it would probably be my favorite song ever of all time life.  That’s how close to heavenly perfection this song is.

Speaking of perfection, I didn’t appreciate on first listen just how perfect the combination of corporate jargon and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young would be in Mission Statement.  At first listen, I thought it was boring and I would likely be skipping it frequently.  And then I listened again.  And again.  And again.  It just gets more perfect every time.  I think you probably ought to be high when you listen to it, but it really is a psychedelic masterpiece.  Give this one a few listens.

Inactive is a parody of “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons.  I never though that the original was all so fabulous; I far preferred “It’s Time.”  But that’s just me.  There are some good fat jokes in here I guess, but again I felt like he was retreading the same water he had been in before, so this one is at the bottom of my list of the parodies.  Not horrible, but just not my favorite, and it seems to be mixed a little bass-heavy or something.  I don’t know.  I’ve skipped this one a few times as well.

First World Problems  is a style parody of The Pixies, and it does a pretty good job of it.  This is another one that I like more and more.  The problem, I guess, is that so many other people have done comedy bits and songs about this subject, that it already seems slightly dated.  Al has said that this will probably be his last traditional album release, since the years it takes to research and parody all of those styles and artists often mean that other people beat him to the punch with jokes and ideas.  In this immediate, online world, it makes more sense to put out an EP with a few songs, and do it more frequently, especially in the field of topical comedy and pop culture commentary.  If this song had come out a year ago: home run!

Have you all seen the video for Tacky yet?  I hope so.  It is awesome.  I love the song “Happy,” even if it is, at this point, inescapable.  I even did my own parody of it!  Remember?!  This song I thought was pretty good, but really the video makes it for me.  Listening to it on its own, I like it.  Watching the video, I love it.

Finally, we come to last track on the album, the 9 minute Cat Stevens pastiche, Jackson Park Express.  I also cannot really let my kids listen to this one, but I do love it.  At such a lengthy running time, there are a few things in there that are not to my taste perhaps, but also plenty of moments that had me laughing out loud.  I would listen to this one more, except I don’t have that kind of time.  Who has nine minutes anymore these days?!

Well, anyway, sorry I can’t write anything for you today.  I’m going to go back to listening to Weird Al.  But feel free to let me know what you think of the album too.  I know you pre-ordered it, like me.

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Posted in Parody, Weird Al.

2 Comments

  1. PRE-ORDER AWAITS ME AT HOME. The morning is dragging while I wait for Video number 2 (#8videos8days), and I can’t wait to listen! Ahhhh! Great non-spoilery review. I am excited to see how our notes compare on this album…

  2. Pingback: Nerdwatching at the “Weird Al” Yankovic Concert | Tenor Dad

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