It's official, Weird Al Yankovic’s latest album "Mandatory Fun" has catapulted the parody rock star to the top of Billboard's 200.
His career, much like his hair, has been long and lustrous, and his recent campaign to flood the internet with his awesomeness has paid off. Whether it has more to do with the popularity of parody rock or the recent popularity of geek culture, Weird Al’s release of 8 new videos in 8 days has him filling Facebook feeds and making headlines. Back when most people were still hiding their pocket protectors, Weird Al was letting his geek flag fly. When the iconic Dr. Demento spoke at Yankovic’s high school he jumped at the chance to show him what he had, giving him a cassette tape of his original and parody tunes he had recorded in his bedroom. Now, three decades later, Yankovic is the country’s most recognized and celebrated parody artist, inspiring a generation of parody rockers and YouTube sensations.
Yankovics “Mandatory Fun” is the first comedy album to reach number one since 1963, when Allan Sherman’s “My Son, the Nut” spent eight weeks at the top of the charts. Yankovic’s style points fun at modern American culture to the tune of popular music, and with a cultural love of self awareness, his style is more relevant now than it may have ever been before.
“Tacky”, sung to the tune of Pharrell’s popular song “Happy” was the first video released. The video features popular comedians Aisha Tyler, Jack Black, Eric Stonestreet, Margaret Cho and Kristen Schaal. Dripping with irony, the song is just as much an anthem as the original.
His songs “Word Crimes”, a parody of the 2013 Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines”, highlights the bane of many a geeks existence, the prevalence of improper grammar and spelling across social media. Yankovic added an error to the end of the songs for that extra dash of ironic humor.
The third of the 8 videos, a Lorde parody of the song “Royals”, entitled “Foil” covers the many uses of aluminum foil, from saving leftover to food to protecting your brain from unwanted mind probes.
DIY geeks will dig on ”Handy” as Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” becomes an homage to home improvement.
Tapping back into the social media hive mind, “First World Problems” spoofs the term made popular across Twitter, which was added to the Oxford Dictionary Online in 2012. The term is meant to point out the triviality of minor problems that people complain about online.
“Lame Claim to Fame” mocks the American obsession with fame and star status in true Yankovic fashion. The song makes reference to “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, a game cinephiles play to gauge their brush with stardom by how close the contact was to film star Kevin Bacon.
“Mission Statement” sung to “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills & Nash mocks absurd corporate buzzwords and phrases. The video is beautifully drawn out on a dry erase board in a nod to the cubicle-ridden subjected to the onslaught of “thought leadership.”
Band geeks and sports fan can appreciate Sports Song, an original song that lampoons overzealous sports enthusiasts.
“Mandatory Fun” may be the last traditional style album Al will make. In an interview with NPR he talks parody in the age of YouTube and how digital distribution has changed his goals.
““I think that digital distribution is more the way for me to go: putting out a single at a time, possibly two or three tracks or an EP. I don’t know that putting out 12 songs at once in this day and age is the best way for me to get my music out there, because if I’m waiting that long, chances are a lot of the material is going to be somewhat dated by the time it comes out.”
Though some may call it a comeback, he’s been here for years, and with “Mandatory Fun” it’s obvious that Weird Al is still the HGIC (Head Geek In Charge) of the parody scene.