“Weird Al” Yankovic has been around the music scene long enough for fans to no longer be surprised when he nails parody after parody of the popular music at the time. Since the late 1970’s, Yankovic has been producing hit after hit, and after 35 years, he never fails to bring a new take to his music. From Madonna to Eminem, Billy Joel to Lady Gaga, “Weird Al” has shown his comedic talents across all genres and all generations. His latest album, Mandatory Fun, released today, though the music video for Tacky, Yankovic’s parody of Happy by Pharrell Williams, was released yesterday and has since gone viral.
When “Weird Al” began his music career, his parodies were met with some resistance. Many artists thought the parodies Al made were created with the intention of mocking their songs. Despite this, Yankovic continued to ask permission from singer of the parodied song before releasing his parody, a practice he continues today. Today, many artists see a “Weird Al” parody as a badge of honor, a sign that they have truly “made it”. After Chamillionaire won a Grammy for Best Rap Song with his song Ridin, he met with Yankovic backstage and thanked him for making the parody White & Nerdy, claiming that his parody was “a big reason” why he won, because Al “made it undeniable that my song was the rap song of the year.”
In his new album, Mandatory Fun, Al holds back no punches. In addition to Pharrell Williams, “Weird Al” also parodies Robin Thicke, Imagine Dragons, and Robin Thicke, whose song Blurred Lines is transformed into Word Crimes, another Yankovic commentary on the increasingly poor grammar being exhibited in today’s society. Between albums, Yankovic hit YouTube for a series of videos that had him correct the poor grammar he saw in everyday life as a “public service.”
“Weird Al” also parodies the style of many artists in his new album, both the older and newer and generation. The styles of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Cat Stevens stand out as something older fans may recognize, while the radio earworms Call Me Maybe and Gangnam Style take a spot on NOW That’s What I Call Polka!, the traditional polka song that Yankovic puts on every album.
In order to promote his new album, “Weird Al” is releasing a eight new music videos in eight days. The first one, for the song Tacky, was released yesterday and quickly hit viral fame. Featuring Yankovic and many of his comedian friends, including Kristian Schaal, Aisha Taylor, and Jack Black (who steals the show with his sequined fanny pack worn backwards), the video shows off the unique dance moves and blinding wardrobe design that fit perfectly with the song, which includes lyrics like “43 bumper stickers and a YOLO license plate” and “never let you forget a favor I’ve done for you. If you’re OK with that, you just might be tacky too.”
“I wanted to really do what is ostensibly my last album with a big splash. I wanted the first week to be big; I wanted every single day of release week to be an event. I wanted a video to go viral for an entire day and have people talking about that video, and then the next day they’re talking about a new video. I just thought that would be a really fun way to do it, to make a big deal out of release week,” said Yankovic.
If Mandatory Fun is the last album the music world will see from “Weird Al” Yankovic, it is certainly one that the comedic artist can be proud of.
Opinion by Jonathan Gardner