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“Weird Al” Yankovic, Mandatory Fun July 24, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Media, Music, Personal, Technology, Video.
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WeirdAlYankovic_MandatoryFun
Album cover scan

My CD copy of Mandatory Fun by “Weird Al” Yankovic arrived in the mail on Wednesday afternoon.  After ripping the tracks to my computer, I listened intently to all of them, following along with the lyrics in the liner notes.   There are 12 songs on the album: a mix of parodies, original compositions, and a medley.

I usually listen to contemporary jazz and jazz fusion, especially if there aren’t vocals.  So, you may be wondering why I would own a “Weird Al” Yankovic album.  I’ve admired “Weird Al” for years, dating back to Bad Hair Day, which my sister Lauren received back in 1996.  And since I’m not into mainstream pop and rock, Al’s parodies are as close I choose to get.

Here are my three favorite original compositions on Mandatory Fun:

  • “Mission Statement,” a Crosby, Stills and Nash pastiche a la “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and “Carry On,” filled with corporate gobbledygook and cliches (i.e. “synergy!”)
  • “Lame Claim to Fame,” an homage to Southern Culture on the Skids, wherein a man shares his tangential connections to celebrities

I can relate to the line about having the same birthday.  I share my birthday with several public figures.  Off the top of my head, there’s Lorne Michaels, Danny DeVito, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).  There are others.  I don’t consider this my lame claim to fame.  It’s a series of prideful coincidences.  My lame claims to fame are my radio shows, photo recaps of events I attend, and occasional reviews like this.  (That was self-deprecation.)

  • “Sports Song,” a deeply honest fight song that lays out what the opponent is in for

As for the parodies, my three favorites are:

  • “Word Crimes,” a parody of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, which includes verses on the misuse of “I couldn’t care less” and “it’s”

Listen for the intentionally-placed split infinitive.  I loved the time-compressed definition of “contraction.”

  • “Handy,” which parodies “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea, a nearly three-minute handyman commercial

What can’t he do?

  • “Foil,” a parody of “Royals” by Lorde, which describes two uses for aluminum foil: to store leftover food and as a hat for conspiracy theorists to block governmental mind control

I laughed my way through the conspiracy theory part.

There are video equivalents to each of my favorites:

“Mission Statement”:

“Lame Claim to Fame”:

“Sports Song”

“Word Crimes”:

“Handy”

“Foil”:

A “Weird Al” album wouldn’t be complete without an accordion-driven polka medley.  The one on Mandatory Fun – “NOW That’s What I Call Polka!” – was superb.  These medleys are the second way I prefer to hear mainstream pop and rock.  (The third way is through covers by jazz artists.)  The segues between lyrical excerpts were seamless.  And I got a kick out of the sound effects and spoken interjections.

Facebook deserves credit for motivating me into buying Mandatory Fun.  If the first video from the album, “Tacky,” hadn’t been trending last Monday, I wouldn’t have seen that video or the seven videos that followed.  I wouldn’t have listened to excerpts on Amazon.  I wouldn’t have bought the album at all.  But I bought it, I listened to it at least once, and I’ve shared my review.

I hope I haven’t written “like a spastic,” and that you’ll forgive my Oxford commas.

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