Weird Al Yankovic fans can now breath a sigh of relief: “Mandatory Fun” has been released in entirety. No more waiting each day for the next song and music video to be dropped. Marking the end of his 32-year contract, “Mandatory Fun” wraps up Weird Al‘s album career with a hysterical wad of parodies.
“Handy” is a parody of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”. May of Weird Al’s hit songs have been presented as commercials, and “Handy” does just that. With a handy-man pleading for customers to “Let me glue dat, glue dat, and screw dat, screw dat,” he not only nails impersonating Azalea’s vocal subtleties, he also effectively delivers his handy-man message.
“Lame Claim to Fame” was not a direct parody, but more a parody of the style of Southern Culture on the Skids. The lyrics complain about name-dropping and people who mention several-degrees-of-separation from celebrities. The cowbell throughout is indeed necessary to convey the level of irritation these people provide.
One of the hit songs, “Foil” parodies Lorde’s “Royals”. Starting off as an instructional cooking show, praising the benefits of aluminum foil, it then segues mid-song into a darker topic (no spoiler here). Just try not to laugh when you realize what he’s singing about.
“Sports Song” pokes fun at every college fight song in existence. “We’re great / You suck!” sung to a marching band tune. Enough said.
Parodying Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, Weird Al’s “Word Crimes” takes one of the most controversial songs of the day and makes it about mundane grammar rules. Definitely a favorite for every English teacher, grammar-nazi, and editor in the world. If not, then “you might need to hire a cunning linguist”.
“My Own Eyes” is another that parodies the sound of a group rather than a specific song (in this case, the Foo Fighters). He starts listing all the absurd and disgusting things he’s seen with “my own eyes”. Such strange things as “old men dying from Bieber fever / a mime hacked to death with an imaginary cleaver”. The subject matter fits the style of the song, though.
In Weird Al’s case, it’s mandatory to include a polka tune. “NOW That’s What I Call Polka!” is a medley parodying lyrics from “Gangnam Style”, Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”, Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop”, and “Get Lucky” among others with Weird Al’s accordion and oomp-pah band.
Look out Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Mission Statement” states more directly than CSN&Y ever have about “leveraging core competencies”. Through CSN&Y harmonies and strummed guitars, Weird Al picks at whoever’s coined terms like “core competencies” and “value-added experience” into our daily vocab. Plus at the end when he suddenly goes Judy Blue Eyes on us.
Guess what the subject of “Inactive”, a parody of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive”, is? Lazy bones and couch potatoes. “I really hate this show (but) I can’t reach my remote control” “Don’t tag my toe / I’m still alive”. The slow-mo sounds of Radioactive are totally fitting here.
Now for “First World Problems” ala the Pixies. Another list of observations, only this time it’s about how spoiled rotten we’ve become in Western nations. Tsk tsk if you’ve actually said some of these things: “The thread count on these cotton sheets has got me itching / My house is so big, I can’t get WiFi in the kitchen / Uh, I had to buy something I didn’t even need just / so I could qualify for free shipping on Amazon”.
Perhaps an ode to himself, Weird Al’s “Tacky” parodies of Pharrell’s “Happy”. Classic list of unacceptable behaviors to a happy dance tune, and Weird Al is just the one to point it out. “I get drunk at the bank / and take off my shirt at least / I would live Tweet a funeral / take selfies with the deceased”.
The nine-minute long closer, “Jackson Park Express” is distinctly Cat Stevens’ style. Not a list, but a conversation between two passengers on a bus, they talk about everything from relationships, to intoxicating deodorants to wanting to wear the other person’s skin over your skin (“but not in a creepy way”). Well done, Weird Al, we’re uncomfortable now.
Weird Al fans, check out the FDRMX’s review of the “Tacky” music video here and our hit parade of the best Weird Al parodies of all time here. Listen to “Mandatory Fun” here, buy the album here and learn more here.