It’s been three years since his thirteenth album – 2011’s Alpocalypse – and the prince of parodies has finally returned. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s newest album Mandatory Fun certainly lives up to my expectations with a mix of parodies, original songs and a trademark polka medley. After building hype for weeks by posting cryptic “transmission” videos, Yankovic has been driving fans crazy wondering what popular songs he’ll give his special treatment this time. As far as parodies go, the lucky few are Iggy Azalea (“Fancy” becomes “Handy”); Lorde (“Royals” becomes “Foil); Robin Thicke (“Blurred Lines” becomes “Word Crimes”); Imagine Dragons (“Radioactive” becomes “Inactive”) and Pharrell Williams (“Happy” becomes “Tacky.”) One of my favorites is certainly “Word Crimes” for turning the shameless original into an in-depth grammar lesson that the Internet as a whole really needs to listen to. The lyrics are great even though I’m sick of the original song, and the same can be said for “Tacky.” It’s a hilarious ode to people who act in various tasteless ways to make up “tackiness,” from taking funeral selfies to hogging entire bowls of candy.
I have a few favorite original songs as well. One is “My Own Eyes,” which copies the Foo Fighters’ soaring style to tell accounts of seeing various bizarre, “can’t un-see” sights. Another is “First World Problems,” serving as a great imitation of the Pixies (whom Al is friends with) to make fun of rich, privileged people complaining about minor inconveniences exclusive to them. Finally, there’s the Weird Al trademark that’s always something I look forward to: the polka medley. “NOW That’s What I Call Polka!” takes a pretty short list of popular songs (by Yankovic’s usual standards) and again turns the snippets into an exciting polka medley. It starts with Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” and ends with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” with quite a mix in between. It’s not my favorite of his medleys, but it’s not fair to fault him when many contemporary songs aren’t that good. Overall, I think that Mandatory Fun is a solid album with enough great songs to even top Alpocalypse.