Three years ago, Alpocalypse dropped onto the world. Listening to the record, I couldn’t help but feel “Weird Al” had lost some of his strength. I attributed this from hearing most of the songs via YouTube before the album even released, but I, along with a lot of his fanbase, felt that Mr. Yankovic was not what he used to be. Speaking in terms of quality, Alpocalypse had its moments but ultimately was not a great addition to Al’s library.
Well those issues are put to rest with Mandatory Fun, “Weird Al’s” latest. The first track parodies “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. Titled “Handy,” the song immediately has its main star stating he’s back and here to rock your socks off with the gut busting lines we all love to hear. Referencing all the things he can wield/items he can fix, Al proudly states:
“Or maybe your I’ll just rewire your house for fun/I got 99 problems but a switch ain’t one.”
Brilliant and off to a great start, “Handy” leads the way of severely strong parodies and some original tracks that are really good. Following the opening, “Lame Claim to Fame” details celebrities known indirectly and it is pretty fun. Next up is “Foil,” which makes Lorde’s “Royals” WAY more bearable (I can’t stand the original) and in common Al fashion, references food. Classic.
“Sports Song” is an enjoyable tune that basically every athletic team or fan can use to put down their opponent or their supporters. If it isn’t used at some sort of sporting event in the next year, I’ll be really surprised.
The best song on the album, however, has to be “Word Crimes” (parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”), in which Yankovic destroys social media users who refuse to be grammatically accurate. He also calls out people who substitute symbols and numbers in places where it becomes obnoxious. Al takes Thicke’s infectious beat and makes English majors everywhere grin from ear to ear. The song is genius.
“My Own Eyes” details the narrator seeing stuff that is so insane he can’t believe it, and kind of has a Foo Fighters edge to it, so therefore it’s a favorite. The combo of the parody king and the sound of Foo is perfection to this fan of both artists.
Lacking a pure polka track this album does not. “Now That’s What I call Polka!” is definitely a good time, as it takes on Daft Punk, Miley Cyrus, Psy, Foster the People, and a few others. The polka parodies never fail to bring a smile to my face, and this one follows suit.
“Mission Statement” is alright, definitely not the best on the record. “Inactive” thankfully makes up for that error, as the mocking of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” tells a tale of a ridiculously lazy person and it is hilarious picturing the character Al sings about. “First World Problems” details how the simplest things in life become issues, and if you have ever said “first world problems” during any day of your existence (hint: you have), then you’ll enjoy it, as I did.
Pharrell’s “Happy” is so catchy that “Weird Al’ would’ve been silly not to parody it. Well he did, and apparently he points me out as “Tacky,” because damn, I do love taking Instagram pictures of my food. Oh well, once again, the parody is spot on and great, ending a string of awesome mockeries this album delivers.
Normally, at the end of Yankovic’s albums, there is lengthy track that plays on for a while, and tells an epic story. Here, “Jackson Park Express” is the saga of a man, a woman and implied body language/gestures. This is where “Weird Al” proves his weird in full form, as he just goes on and on about something so trivial, but he makes it so entertaining that you can’t help to hang onto every word. The tune ends Mandatory Fun going out on a high note.
This is leaps and bounds better than “Weird Al’s” last outing. Mandatory Fun is a title used wisely; this album leaves you no choice but to enjoy it, but it’s because it’s so good, so entertaining, and yes, so fun. The parodies are strong and hilarious, and most of the original tunes are solid, save for like one. 3 years was a long time to wait, but it was worth it; I should’ve never ever doubted the accordion touting legend a day in my life.
Logan J. Fowler is a senior writer and video game editor on Po-Break.com. He contributes his thoughts every week for Trailer Tuesday and has his own column called “A Link to the Past.” Logan’s “kid at heart” nature has led to his discussion about pop culture that many geeks love to talk about, including superheroes, Super Mario Bros., Pixar, and Muppets, amongst other things. In addition, one of his first pieces for the site, “Top Ten Comic Book Movies,” was picked as a “Freshly Pressed” piece by WordPress and remains one of the site’s most well-read articles. Currently, Logan works as a Special Education Instructional Assistant at Roosevelt School in Manville NJ. At the present moment, he is enrolled in Rutgers Online courses, pursuing a Teacher of Student with Disabilities certification. He graduated from Wagner College in 2005 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and in 2007 with a Master of Science in Education Degree in Birth-6th Grade Literacy. Also many of Logan’s friends have said that he moonlights as Spider-Man but this is so not true. Wait, are those police sirens I’m hearing?! Gotta go! -thwipp-