Unsolicited Musings On “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun

Mandatory Fun’s cover is funny, but not as funny as the fact we could go to war with North Korea over that James Franco movie

– my issues with late period Yank: he doesn’t scream as much as he used to, and rarely do any songs break mid-tempo (even the polka medley here speeds too safely); in Al’s defense, he’s creeping up on 55, and he went plenty nutso on his older albums

– I want to say the Lorde parody “Foil” should be longer to milk more out of the subject twist, but laborious college fight send-up “Sports Song” proves brevity is the soul of wit

– “Word Crimes” is disappointing because Al spends more time just shitting on the grammatically ignorant instead of trying to educate them; it’s very “get off my lawn,” but at least his heart’s in the right place

Mandatory Fun’s polka medley may be caught in second gear but it’s also plenty fun, as most of his medleys prove to be

– while I appreciate Al taking the piss out of Frank Black on his Pixies style parody “First World Problems,” the song itself is nowhere near as clever as the first world problem rap that mush-mouthed teen posted to YouTube a few years ago; this could be because mush-mouthed teen legit feels the struggle and Al is (generationally?) removed from that kinda thing

– a few of Mandatory Fun’s originals lean alt country, which makes one wonder what a non-weird Yank album would be like at this point; maybe like Wilco, with more references to boogers and socket wrenches?

– “Weird Al” has some major cajones calling out other people for being tacky (“Tacky”) when you consider the fact he’s worn nothing but Hawaiian shirts for his entire career

– overall, Mandatory Fun is limp; not one song is on par with classic Yank, and the album’s closing ballad “Jackson Park Express” (a tale of love and miscommunication on public transit) could be the least engaging song Al’s ever done; of course, it’s all lightyears better than whatever Dr. Elmo’s doing right now, and what do you want from a guy twenty-six years after “Stuck In A Closet With Vanna White?”

– this would be a great place to post a link to the interview I did with “Weird Al” in 2011 where he clears up that rumor about getting punched by Billy Joel’s wife; alas, evil forces have taken it offline

– yes, I am bragging that I interviewed “Weird Al”; career lulls aside, he’s still “Weird Al,” American comedy god, hero of my youth, the Gozer of parody

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