Five Things Weird Al Critiques in Mandatory Fun
As Robin Thicke's Paula plummets down the Billboard album charts faster than Chris Christy on a bungee cord, pop's prince of parody Weird Al Yankovic just scored his first chart topping release.
His new album Mandatory Fun is his best in years, and has spawned some stellar accompanying viral videos, a few of which rank as definite high points in the polka purveyor's almost 30 year career. The usual array of shrewd pastiches of other artist's works is there, however Weird Al's flexing of his satirical muscle has never been more impressive or needed. Our pop culture bubble has never been more plastic, flimsy, or vapid, and Weird Al's spoofs lance it spectacularly.
Here are some of the targets of Weird Al's spot on, good natured lampooning on Mandatory Fun.
5. Bad Grammar
This may not be the breakout hit from the album, but track "Word Crimes" does a wonderful job of addressing the bête noire of the age of the internet -- the regression of grammar. Yankovic's reworking of Robin Thick's misogynistic meanderings on last year's "Blurred Lines" into a meaningful and hilarious lesson on the proper use of the English language should be shown in every school, university, and Sarah Palin speechwriting meeting. He sings: "You'd better slow down/And use the right pronoun/Show the world you're no clown/Everybody wise up!"
The only one who is immune to Yankovic's lesson is of course, the Purple One... "You should never/Write words using numbers/Unless you're seven/Or your name is Prince." Let's hope Prince loosens up soon, and finally lets Weird Al take on one of his tunes.
4. Spoiled Rich
With a wink to Pixie's alt-rock classic "Debaser," track "First World Problems" shows Yankovic ribbing the whining of 2014's privileged youth, with lines like, "Tried to fast forward commercials/can't - I'm watching live T.V/I'm pretty sure the cookies in this airport lounge ain't gluten free/My barista didn't even bother to make a design in the foam on the top of my vanilla latte." Such a litany of complaints could otherwise be found on your average Facebook page and probably account for about 98% of human communication.
3. Name Droppers
Inspired musically by Southern Culture on the Skids' "Camel Walk," in "Lame Claim to Fame" Weird Al mocks our celebrity obsessed society, with a narrator who has done everything from used the same napkin as Steve Carrell at a Taco-Bell, to purchased a toaster from a guy who knows Brad Pitt. "I had a car that used to belong/To Cuba Gooding Jr.'s uncle/A friend of mine in high school/Had jury duty with Art Garfunkel."
The old adage is funny because it's true. I mean, I lived off a story that I thought Liv Tyler once glanced at me while walking her dog, though she was probably lost in thought, reminding herself that she needed to get more dog poop bags from the corner store.
2. Conspiracy Theorists
Patterned after Lorde's "Royals," Yankovic's "Foil" begins as an ode to the aluminum product: "I never seem to finish all my food/I always get a doggy bag from the waiter/So I just keep what's still unchewed/And I take it home, save it for later." However, the second verse gets into murkier waters when Yankovic highlight's foil's use as a protective hat against government agencies and U.F.O.s "Wear a hat that's foil lined/In case an alien's inclined/To probe your butt or read your mind."
1. Failed Fashionistas
"Tacky" is another standout as Weird Al takes on Pharrell Williams' omnipresent "Happy," while simultaneously mocking incongruous fashions and 21st century bad manners. For example, Al exclaims: "It might seem Tacky wearing jeans with plaid.../I Instagram every meal I've had" Sandals and socks, backwards sequined fanny packs and writing bad Yelp! reviews, nothing is off the table here. The hipster crowd, likely the butt of some of the joke here, should embrace this as an anthem.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.