Review: Weird Al – Mandatory Fun

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For a parody artist to succeed in the music industry is a genuine feat. Even before the rise of the internet, pop music has always moved in such fast waters as to keep parodies from gaining popularity distinct of novelty. This is where the brilliance of an artist like Weird Al truly shows itself. While best known for his direct parodies like “Eat It” or “Smells Like Nirvana,” Yankovic shines brightest on his original songs. Songs like Alpocalypse’s “CNR” and “Craigslist” (stylistic parodies of the White Stripes and the Doors, respectively) showcase his ability as a gifted songwriter in his own right, a talent he flaunts in perfect form on his latest album, Mandatory Fun, with hilarious send-ups of artists like Cat Stevens and the Pixies.

Of course, though the stylistic satires and polka medleys (this time featuring Miley Cyrus, Daft Punk, Pitbull and One Direction, among others) may be his creative high points, it’s his parodies of pop songs that are his bread and butter, and they are in no short supply here. Songs like his parodies of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Lorde’s “Royals” shine not just for the absurdity of their premises but for their subtle decrying of their performer’s personalities and… “idiosyncrasies,” we’ll call them. Thicke’s sliminess is no secret and to turn his song from degrading women to demoralizing poor grammar is funny enough on its own, but “Foil” works even better for poking fun at Lorde’s batshit conspiracy theories.

As with any of his albums, Yankovic’s greatest talent is pushed aside in the form of his original songs. Had he never joined the parody game he could easily have been a high-profile songwriter for any number of artists. From his clowning on the Foo Fighters faux-uplifting radio rock on “My Own Eyes” to the meandering soft-rock balladry of his Cat Stevens soundalike “Jackson Park Express,” Yankovic has an ear for musical tropes and if there’s one complaint to be made about Mandatory Fun, it’s that his own skill is often short-changed for the big-ticket items, the pop song parodies.

It’s this imbalance of material that holds Mandatory Fun from reaching the heights of his previous albums like 1985’s Dare to Be Stupid. While the singles and their accompanying videos have been entertaining enough in their own rights, his original songs have the potential for much more lasting power. The dearth of original material is disappointing but overall the album is solid and the jokes funny, and at 45 minutes it’s easily digestible as a whole without wearing the listener down.

1 / 5 FLUSHES

Mandatory Fun is out now on RCA Records.

  • Metaphysical Anus

    It’s nice that you guys have an unique rating system.

    • SMOHLG

      It’s nice that you’re so nice.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        I’m nice? Well, you learn something new every day.

        • SMOHLG

          Well, as nice as a metaphysical anus can be… I guess.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            No no no! The metaphysical anus. There is only one of me, but I’m everyone’s anus.

          • SMOHLG

            Well, that was rude of me.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I forgive you. Just avoid hemorrhoids.

          • Drewcifer

            Every time I read your name I think of this, so Thank you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uau-nAmULU8

  • I’ve only given it one spin, but so far my favorite is the “Fancy” parody.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0shG9zC6oU

    • Not sure why, but I completely lost it at “Se habla espanol”

      And wow, I know black don’t crack, but apparently neither does hebrew. He’s gotta be in his 50s by now and shows no sign of it

      • W.

        According to wiki, he’s 54.

        • RIght though, and you can only really tell he’s over 35 because his face has gotten somewhat thinner. definitely looking good for 54

    • I can finally listen to this tune without feeling completely ashamed! Thank you Weird Al!

    • Between The Buried & Smee

      His facial expressions are perfect.

  • Anthrallica

    We were just talking about this in Flush Friday…I’ve been listening to Weird Al since “In 3-D” and he has never disappointed me.

  • Stockhausen

    Nice review! I’ve only heard Foil and Word Crimes, but both were awesome and I need to get the whole album.

    • The real question: WHEN WILL HE MAKE ANOTHER MOVIE.

      • SMOHLG

        Anyone else watch his TV show as a kid???

        • Anthrallica

          What channel was that on?

          • SMOHLG

            I can’t remember that shit! It definitely one of the basic channels.

        • I didn’t know he had a show!?!?!

          • Anthrallica

            IMDB says 1997…I don’t remember it either. I remember the theme song only because he put it on one of his albums.

          • Christian Molenaar

            My favorite part of the show was his interviews. He’d take footage of real interviews with Snoop, Jessica Simpson, Ozzy, etc. and recreate the backgrounds and add his own questions.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQd9jWYZky0
            When I first saw him live he would do this inbetween songs during his costume changes but I don’t think he does anymore.

          • Christian Molenaar
        • Guest
        • PartySmasher
        • JWG

          Have the Shout Factory DVD set. Nearly wore it out.

      • wheel… of…. fish!

    • EsusMoose

      I’m a sucker for the polka medleys so that will probably get a few plays

    • JWG

      First video “Tacky”. I was sold right then and there.

      Though said video answers the question nobody asked of what does Jack Black look like twerking. That might be one step too far for most people.

  • Steve Smithwick

    For those who are interested, Jezebel has compiled all of the videos he released this week at this link: http://jezebel.com/here-are-all-the-songs-weird-al-unleashed-on-us-this-we-1607303958

  • LAMENTATIONS OF THE WOMEN

    I’m give this 2/5 flushes for the sole reason of no double bass drums, 8 string guitars, and triple recitifier amps

    • Rizzle01

      Sheeeiit!

  • PartySmasher

    Definitely not his catchiest album but a Weird Al’s always fun either way.

  • “Foil” is great. Weird Al never disappoints

  • SMOHLG

    Weird Al’s “The Food Album” was my very first CD ever. #SMOHLGfacts

    • Is it an acronym or are you just very adamant about your identity?

      • SMOHLG

        Are you where fun goes to die?

        • undoubtedly. I was just curious though. I didn’t realise my question would put a damper on your good times. oops

          • SMOHLG

            Well, for starters, I forgive you, ‘cuz thats what we’re all about here. Next, if you really are curious, I’ll just go ahead and explain the joke. #SMOHLGfacts is just my sad attempt at sarcasm and self-depreciating humor in relation to the #Axfacts posted @Metalsucks. It was kind of my way of being all like “I’m hard and trve, but deep down it all started with Weird Al.” Now it really doesn’t seem funny, but Deputy Dipshit up-voted me..

          • haha. I didn’t mean the joke as a whole, just your username. I got the whole “#AxFacts” reference.

          • SMOHLG

            Oh. Damn it. This is why I don’t have friends. Are you in the ‘Reason Honor & Respect Crew’ on Facebook? SMOHLG is my first and middle initial followed by the first four letters of my last name.

          • No, I’m not in the crew. Barely get on facebook as is. I’m really bad at keeping in touch with people (via being boring and never having anything new to talk about) so I don’t really have any purpose for it. Too reluctant to de-activate though.

            That’s an interesting combination of letters in your last name, though. Do you mind my asking where your family’s from, historically?

          • SMOHLG

            Swedish. My great, great, great, great grandfathers name was Olaf, which is pretty metal.

          • Drewcifer

            I’m still reading it Like “Smaug” that badass windy man. You know, the long mover from the Hobbit.

    • Christian Molenaar

      My cousin introduced my family to Weird Al on a visit when I was really young and “Eat It” and “Fat” are two of the earliest songs I remember hearing (Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song was the first). Somewhere I probably still have the VHS I used to tape the videos off MTV, lol.

      • SMOHLG

        It’s funny you mention the Zep, because after the food album, the second CD I ever owned was Led Zeppelin s/t.

        • Christian Molenaar

          haha! They’re my mom’s favorite band so I heard a lot of them growing up and they’re still a band I hold close.

      • taping videos off MTV was my childhood. ah, the good old days

      • Between The Buried & Smee

        Usually I hear the Weird Al version before I hear the original.

    • me too!!! i know we already discussed this, but i’m so excited i’ll say it again

      • SMOHLG

        Shit, that’s right. I forgot about that!

  • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

    MS refugee checking in. Hope you don’t mind chronic lurkers as well…it’s awful lonely at MS now and this site is really nice.

    Glad to see we already have articles that MS wouldn’t touch. Also not going to miss “You Will Never Believe This New DBZ!” Etc.

    Hail the flush!

    • Anthrallica

      Refugee, huh? You ride over in the back of Valiant Thor’s equipment trailer too?

      • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

        In a feeble attempt to end the constant disappointment I felt from Axl and Vince’s articles, I flushed myself down the nearest toilet I could find.

        Turns out the plumbing system ended here, in an amazing and pleasant coincidence.

        • WELCOME, NEWCOMER.

          • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

            Thank you Masterlord, it’s lovely to be here.

          • SMOHLG

            ONE OF US
            ONE OF US

    • Sight Vnseen

      Seems like a bunch of us were lurkers. Glad I’m not alone on this. Got me to create a disqus account.

      • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

        It’s hard to believe such a mediocre blog spawned one of the best communities that I’ve seen online. Must have been the unified hate that brought everyone together.

        Big thanks to whoever got this up and running.

        • Sight Vnseen

          Pretty amazing. Thank Joe.

          • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

            Of course the second I posted that, Joe posted his own thank you.

            Worth repeating though – THANKS JOE!

        • @joethrashnkill:disqus can be thanked for most of it.
          Welcome to our community! I think it started out as hate, then we all discovered that we’re just regular people and started getting along. There’s an FB page too!

          • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

            Hehe I actually meant the hate being radiated towards the MS writers, not amongst the revenue….I mean….users.

            (Un)fortunately I shut my Facebook down years ago and have no reason to reactivate. This will certainly do 🙂

          • Ellipsis

            I imagine that’s how the Sith started as well…

      • Ellipsis

        Same here…

    • Stockhausen

      I friggin’ love your name.

      • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

        Thank you kind sir 😀 I’m one of those weirdos who enjoys TGM more than Colors, Fossil Genera being one of my all time favorite tracks.

        Here’s to hoping for some more excellent BTBAM studio footage later in the year. Hard to say if they’ll squeeze in a release this year but Satan knows I wouldn’t say no.

        • Stockhausen

          I’m with you man, I definitely put TGM above Colors. I absolutely love the diversity in that album, I really can’t fathom why it didn’t get the acclaim that Colors did (I’m a fanboy though, so I’m sure my opinion is biased). I can’t wait for that Parallax studio DVD!

          • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

            Oh man I totally forgot about the DVD. Any clue when that’s being released? Cannot wait for a live rendition of Extremophile Elite and Bloom as well. Fan shot videos don’t do them justice.

            I also dunno why TGM gets so much shit. I’m a fanboy too, I’ll admit, but I’m also a sucker for acoustic/ambient driven downtime during heavy songs, and Disease, Injury, Madness just crushes that particular obsession.

            The only real complaint I have is the guest vocals in Swim, but it’s only what, 15 seconds worth if that? Not a deal breaker at all, especially when you get that first taste of the chorus.

            Okay, done totally fanboying for now.

  • Matt Stewart

    Lurked on MS for a while, never commented, saw this link and decided what the he’ll. Cool site.

    • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

      I’m guessing you’re on mobile right now too 😉

      Damn you, autocorrect!

      • JWG

        I’ve tried this site on mobile already (iOS… yes I know), and for whatever reason the Disqus section cuts off after the third line.

        I suspect a framing issue with Safari, but also that it’s Disqus fault.

        • It appears to be my fault. Fixing it is my weekend project.

        • If you didn’t see it on a separate post today, there is a janky workaround – just turn your phone around to landscape mode. Should all be visible.

    • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

      dat purplish pink comic sans doe.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        I didn’t know that Ann Coulter has a flaccid penis.

        • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

          To quoteth the great Metaphysical Anus: “Well, you learn something new every day.”

          • Metaphysical Anus

            That name seem familiar. Where have I heard it.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            That name seem familiar. Where have I heard it?

  • Kazz

    I haven’t gotten around to listening to the whole thing yet, but the songs he’s released so far are mostly top-notch. “Tacky” has been my favorite but “Foil” is also great. I also agree that some of his best work are his originals. “I remember Larry”, “Dare to be Stupid”, “One More Minute”… the list goes on. It’s great that he’s still around and having so much success this long into his career.

    • Christian Molenaar

      Hearing Dare to Be Stupid in the original Transformers movie = my childhood completed

      • KJM

        That movie was great! I even saw it in a theater.

  • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

    ………

    • Metaphysical Anus

    • The Satan ov Hell

      At last!

  • FeelTheDarkness
    • heeeeey man, that’s something we used to do on MS cause the articles were dumb. here they’re quality!

      • Between The Buried & Smee

        It doesn’t feel normal going to a metal website I actually like.

    • Cock of Steele

      Best comment of that on youtube “It sounds like OM with guitars” Reply: “That’s because OM was SLEEP without guitars”

  • KJM

    First place I remember hearing Weird Al was the Dr Demento radio show. WCOZ 94.5 Boston used to broadcast it on Sunday nights from 10-12.

    • Between The Buried & Smee
      • KJM

        We come in peace shoot to kill shoot to kill…

        The annoying thing was that WBCN had their “Heavy Metal From Hell” show on at the same time. You had to keep tuning back and forth so you wouldn’t miss anything good.

  • The Oneironaut

    So, this is where the party moved to, I’m glad! I rarely ever make comments but you guys were the reason I liked MS. Btw this album cover reminds me a bit of Witcherys last album cover lol

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      love this witchery promo shot. Yes, i can tie a nude/semi nude woman into any thread. It’s a gift.

      • Hahaha! As long as we keep it PG-13, we are solid.

      • The Oneironaut

        LOL aaahhh Connan, never disapoints. Looks more like something from Akercocke though

        • The Oneironaut

          And by connan I really mean Conan!

  • geddy

    If ol’ Weird hits the road for a farewell tour, it will be the pixi-glass straw that fully breaks my semi-coherent faith in man’s word!!! Don’t do it, Al – don’t you fuck with us like so many other travelin’ entertainer type folks have! DON’T DO IT!

    “Weird Al Yankovic says he might not make any more albums”.
    http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/weird-al-yankovic-says-he-might-not-make-any-more-albums-1.1921295

    • I heard that he’s going to focus on only releasing singles for the foreseeable future. I don’t think he’s hanging it up just yet!

      • geddy

        Yes. Relief – it’s mine…MINE!

    • Christian Molenaar

      I meant to touch on this in the review but forgot. This is his last album as a collection of his songs but he’s going to continue releasing his music as singles or EPs. For a dude who’s been in the industry for over three decades, he’s got some enlightened views on digital distribution and I think it’s a smart move to put out the parodies close to the release of the original songs. Call it “piggybacking” or whatever but I think he stands a better chance of staying in the public eye that way.

  • Mloclam McCoy Nomdnih

    Don’t be too hard on him. He makes music parodies based off current popular music meaning the guy had very little to work with this time around.

    • Christian Molenaar

      I think you may have misunderstood the rating system. 1/5 flushes is equivalent to 4/5 stars.

      • Mloclam McCoy Nomdnih

        Ooo

  • Huggy Bear OH YEAH

    wasn’t the whole Lorde thing a hoax, shouldn’t a detractor of such a standpoint be aware that it was, shouldn’t a proponent of such a standpoint be aware that it was even more acutely, should I even comment since it’s just a waste of time anyway, should you even bother reading or replying and oh why can’t we be friends and conspiracy theories true, at least making the world simpler?

    • Christian Molenaar

      It’s possible it’s not true, I didn’t really pay that much attention. Maybe we can be friends.

  • Pls come back to my website!! 🙂

    love, Axl

  • Drewcifer

    I really can’t get over how much I love the closer “Jackson Park Express.” I’ve been trying all week to properly explain the phenomenon of Weird Al to my younger brother, but I’ve mostly just been taking the Brian Posehn route.