Weird Al Yankovic, the king of the parody, has this month returned with his new album Mandatory Fun alongside a marketing campaign involving the release of a new video each day until
Weird Al Yankovic, the king of the parody, has this month returned with his new album Mandatory Fun alongside a marketing campaign involving the release of a new video each day until this past Monday.
Mandatory Fun is Weird Al’s first album since his 2011 release Alpocalypse and shows the American singer parodying more of the biggest songs of late including Robin Thicke’s controversial ‘Blurred Lines’ and Pharrell – the latter apparently said it was an “honour” to be approached by Weird Al.
How to be relevant?
In the modern day and age parody songs are two a penny. Video sharing sites such as YouTube have given free and easy access to parodies of songs almost as quick as they are released. So how does Weird Al attempt to stay relevant?
Al has a long process of picking which songs to parody, he doesn’t seem to just pick any song from the Top 40. He picks songs that have had enough exposure to make them worthy. ‘Blurred Lines,’ hit the headlines and spurred several parodies already, Weird Al’s parody though stays clear away from the original song and into the humorous world of grammar obsessives.
When asked on a Reddit ask me anything (AMA) if he had considered Frozen’s ‘Let It Go,’ Weird Al said that whilst he had considered it, there was another parody out there he liked enough to not carry on with his own so dropped it.
Weird Al’s long parodying career also seems to have made him a master of his art, his parodies, whilst keeping their original accordion-led charm, have managed to adapt to the 21st century. His time in the business has seen him grow as a performer and realise that marketing is as much a part of his art as the music.
It’s in the visuals
To coincide with Mandatory Fun, Weird Al has recorded eight videos to be released on his website. In the social media generation this will give him a step up, especially as Weird Al himself admitted in his AMA that he felt as though the album format was no longer best suited for his style.
These videos are not just mere parodies of the original or quickly whipped together. Weird Al’s videos and comedic style will set him above the rest. ‘Tacky,’ a one-shot video, sees Al running through a building wearing a series of “tacky” costumes.
No doubt the most stand-out ‘Word Crimes’ uses an animated style to show some of our biggest grammar pet hates. You can’t help but feel as though the more light-hearted approach suits the song considering how much anti-Thicke parodying has already been done.
Cream rises to the top
It’s safe to say that in his 30 years of being in the musical parodying business Weird Al Yankovic has established himself as one of the key figures, the top of his field. Musicians want to be parodied by him and rock legend Dave Grohl even once said he knew Nirvana made it when Weird Al parodied them.
So maybe the album format won’t be the future for Weird Al, it would not come as a surprise if Mandatory Fun was his last. He does though still have a place in the market, the name Weird Al Yankovic can still cause a stir in the world of social media. Maybe his future will lie more in singles, EPs or sticking to viral music videos.
My guess would be that while people won’t be running out to buy the newest Weird Al album, it’ll do well in terms of video views. There’s obviously a lot of time and effort gone into making it (seriously that Word Crimes video alone is insane) but hopefully the new viral web can help Weird Al’s top notch parodying and stylistic mimicry (such as in My Own Eyes) to continue.
What do you think of Weird Al’s latest paraodies? Let us know in the comments below!