Outdated? Cheesy? Overly satirical?
Outdated? Cheesy? Overly satirical? No longer the words to use to describe Weird Al Yankovic, whose new album Mandatory Fun has gone straight to the top of the Billboard 200 chart this week. The album is Weird Al’s first ever number one record on the chart in the three decades that he’s been recording, and it’s a well-deserved accolade.
King of Parodies
Despite the fact that comedy music has a poor history of success, Yankovic’s own style of cleverly crafted lyrics and political satire has always kept him at the top of the field. Tracks like ‘White & Nerdy’ made him a household name, and this album proves that Weird Al still knows his market more than thirty years later.
The twelve-track album is packed with clever spin offs on recent hit tracks, including ‘Tacky’ a parody of Pharrell’s ‘Happy,’ which mocks most of our bizarre, modern day obsessions like posting countless photos of our lunch on Instagram.
Then, there’s the brilliantly written ‘Word Crimes,’ a grammar Nazi’s dream theme tune that unleashes a tirade of grammatically correct sentences, all to the catchy tune of Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines.’
All twelve songs contain a signature combination of rapping and a catchy chorus, with standout lines like ‘that was sarcastic, ‘cause you write like a spastic,’ that are bound to stay fixed in your head and pop out at inopportune moments. It’s amusing, jokey, and has probably been embedded into many an office email this week, but shouldn’t be overlooked as a strong piece of song writing.
If anything, ‘Tacky’ is seriously questioning the way we collect Jack Daniels bottles for our mantelpieces and live-tweet the most serious of situations (funerals, seriously guys?). It’s a mix of mick taking and actual social commentary that keeps us intrigued enough to keep playing and sharing the tracks, and cements the popularity of Weird Al’s writing.
But, this is a guy that lives life to the full and has never taken himself too seriously, so won’t be asking you to do the same. It’s the perfect album to provoke conversation and laughter at a party, or keep you entertained during a top-down drive to the beach. Singing along guaranteed.
The modern day
The success of Mandatory Fun is undoubtedly down to the fact that Weird Al and his producers understand the digital age that we’re living in. As much as his style of parody has stayed the same, Yankovic’s means of releasing and promoting his material has developed as technology has.
In the lead-up to this album, Yankovic released several videos over the course of a few weeks, and was able to spread his music to a wider audience than ever before, laying the foundation for his no. 1 success.
The video for ‘Word Crimes’ attracted over 12 million views by playing to our obsession with lyric videos, as well as correcting people’s grammar, while the one-shot video for ‘Tacky’ boasted cameos from stars like Jack Black, and went viral instantly. More than anything, it shows that Weird Al gets us – we love YouTube and anything that creates a drum roll to an album release is sure to be a winner.
Even though he’s sitting on a number one album, Yankovic has maintained that this will probably be his last. Parody singles are only relevant while the original tracks are still being played, so Weird Al is only planning to release singles from now on. But, if his video campaign is anything to go on, he might just be paving the way for comedy music of the future.
Let us know what you think of Mandatory Fun in the comments below!