IHAO on ... Mandatory Fun

UHF is a great movie, by the way.  Go watch it.  ASAP.

If you'll indulge me for a few minutes, I'd love to talk about the effect "Weird Al" Yankovic has had on my life.  I distinctly remember the hoops I had to jump through to get a copy of Bad Hair Day in my possession.  That album wasn't the first I listened to Weird Al.  I remember distinctly listening to the TV Album and the Food Album, just a little bit, on church retreats.  I remember asking my parents to buy it.  They refused.  I am not sure why, maybe perceived evil intent or lack of respect because it was parody or because some Christian magazine talked about how these albums are bad for kids because it lead to sinful thoughts, or maybe just the cover, or the name "Weird Al" hitting them wrong.  I am not really sure.  But for some reason, I was absolutely not allowed to buy the CD, and they were not going to buy it for me either.

So I had to jump through hoops.  An older boy in the youth group had a copy of the Food Album and Bad Hair Day.  He knew I had listened to another kids copies, and talked to me about if I wanted them.  So being sneaky and just slightly rebellious, we hatched a plan to have me buy his copy of Bad Hair Day for ten dollars.  It wasn't an elaborate plan, and it was not particularly sneaky, but it certainly was an attempt to be both.  You see, I had to get the money, which I do not remember how I accomplished that, probably vacuuming or washing the car or something, and then meet him before youth group in the Fellowship Hall of our church while my mother was getting ready to teach children's choir.  We would do a hand-off just after the pizza line for dinner.  He was a nice guy, and it was successful.  Also, my dad saw all of it and absolutely didn't care.

Neither of my parents cared once it happened.  They even helped me buy the rest of his albums after that.  Dare to Be Stupid, Alapalooza, Running With Scissors.  I bought just about all of them.  And loved them.  I would listen to them on repeat nonstop as I did work or walked the dog or whatever.  I made plenty a fool of myself thinking I was cool because I loved these songs, singing them in public or performing them for church talent things.  They did not make me "cool" then, but then I cared about that kind of thing.  And now, I still lovingly have all four of those originals.  I dropped off buying them with the advent of the internet and youtube.

But Mandatory Fun is the exception!  This album is great.  Absolutely great.  For a LOT of reasons.  There are plenty of all the wonderful and fun things we love in a Weird Al album, with 5 complete parodies of the greatest pop hits of the past 3 years, 6 pastiches of unique sounding bands all with original jokes and content to go with the style parodies, and the traditional polka.  Weird Al is also making eight music videos to go online one a day for the eight days of the release.  Check them all out at Weird Al's website!

None of these songs lack on jokes, and all of them are excellently made.  My personal favorite has to be the album opener, "Handy" which is a parody of Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," with just a little bit of her verse from "Problem" thrown in.  It is magnificent, rolling 'Hardware Store" and "Couch Potato' all into one great song.  And ever joke just continues to grow and get better on me.  "#WordCrimes"' grammar-nazi action is fantabulous, "Mission Statement" is a fantastic jam, and "Jackson Park Express" is just the perfect joke and an amazing long-form story-song we've come accustomed to Al adding as the last track to the past four albums.

But none of that is what makes this album so good.  It is the album itself.  The musicality is spot on.  And the order is genius.  The album is perfect from beginning to end for listening pleasure.  It just flows from song to song, giving exactly the breather you need between parody and pastiche, between gross-out jokes and word play, between up tempo and cool chill.  The musical ability of everyone involved is fabulous, and this is the best album Weird Al has ever made from a pure sit-down-and-listen aspect.  No, this album's songs are not a collection of all his best songs, but how could they be in his long career?  But the state of the album is that every song is funny, every song sounds good, every song fits together perfectly, and there is not a single bomb.  On every other album of the Yankovic's, there has been one or two songs I've skipped on every listening.  They just aren't my cup of tea.  I either don't find them funny, want to get to the next song, or don't like the actual sound of them.    And Mandatory Fun completely avoids that problem.  And that alone deserves the highest praise, as very very few albums from any musician can boast that.

Go get this album.  Listen to his songs on youtube.  Share them on the tumblrs and facebooks.  Tweet if you must.  You absolutely cannot be disappointed.  Plus, it IS Mandatory.

I've been putting this at the bottom of all my reviews last week.  I'm putting together a second Ask Me Anything, and I need more questions.  So help me out, leave some questions in my ask box on Tumblr or in the comments here or on facebook or to my email or something.  Any question at all.  Everything and anything you want to ask will be answered, and the vast majority will be honest, and all will be entertaining.  Let's get this thing going, we only got half a month to do this thing!  WOOOOO!

IHAO on EVERYTHING, TOO on August 1st

No comments:

Post a Comment