Mandatory Fun

Attention, citizens! Your enjoyment is required, for Mandatory Fun has been released.

Funny thing about my taste in music. It’s been a moving target over the years. When I was younger, I primarily listened to classical music (a side-effect of my upbringing; that’s what my folks listened to, so that’s what I was exposed to). It wasn’t until junior high that I became really aware of other music. I’ve been a fan of heavy metal, swing music, oldies, Top 40 hits, a whole gamut. There’s only been two real constants: a disdain for anything that self-identifies as country…

And “Weird Al” Yankovic.

My first encounter with the Weird One was Polka Party. I didn’t know what he was parodying half the time, but I still loved it. From then on, I devoured his albums. Any time a new album came out, I had to have it.

That’s why this has been a pretty good week. Any week after Weird Al releases a new album is a good one. And Mandatory Fun is a worthy addition to the pantheon.

mandatory funFrom the parody of Pharrell Williams’s Happy (retitled “Tacky” with a simply phenomenal music video that kicked off an eight day run that just ended yesterday) to the rewriting of Lorde’s “Royals,” a tribute to the food-saving (and brainwave protecting) ability of Foil, Weird Al has done it again. Yes, some of the songs he’s parodying were hot last year and yes, some people might be a little faster in churning out parodies in our frenetic pop culture landscape, but there’s a reason why “Weird Al” has been the king of parody songs for so many decades.

But here’s the thing that most people forget: Al Yankovic doesn’t just do parodies. Yes, that’s what usually gets him his attention, but he also does great work with his own original music too.

Those songs are usually harder to judge. Some of them are obvious hits right away (for example, CNR) whereas others need time to grow on me (such as Skipper Dan). As of right now, my favorite original song on the new album is First World Problems, but that could change as time goes on.

Unless, of course, you count the polka.

I love Weird Al’s polkas. They’re actually the first thing I’ll listen to on any album, just to see what songs Al decided were worthy of inclusion. These can be such a delicious melange of pop culture, it just makes me smile. An NOW That’s What I Call Polka! is no exception. The moment I heard Al sing, “Opa Polka Style,” I knew we had another good one.

So what’s my point in all this?

I really like Weird Al.

I don’t know what the future is going to hold for “Weird Al” Yankovic and, from the interviews I’ve seen, he’s not too sure right now either. No matter what, though, I’ll be there, eagerly listening, for as long as he wants to make music.

I’ll leave you with two things.

The first is the music video for what I think is the best song on the album:

And a promise: on Thursday, I’ll resurrect one of my favorite posts from my old blog. Which one? Those of you who have been with me for a while can probably guess. For those who haven’t… well, come back Thursday morning. It will be a lot of fun.


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