Sound — 8
"Weird Al" has been doing what he does for a nice long time now, beginning with his first release in 1982, which was self-titled and parodied such songs as "Another One Bites the Dust" ("Another One Rides the Bus") and "My Sharona" ("My Bologna"). "Weird Al" was initially dismissed by the media, critics, and even listeners as a temporary novelty artist, but over the years he has proven that he has what it takes to own his fame and success. "Mandatory Fun" is Weird Al's fourteenth studio album, with 12 tracks that clocks in at approximately forty-five minutes. Weird Al is using a unique strategy for promoting this release, which includes not announcing a single from the album, and also starting on the release date releasing a new music video from the album every day for eight days. As usual, the album parodies some of the biggest pop hits of the past year or so.
The album opens up with "Handy," which is a parody of "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea, by singing about how much of a handyman he is, and he has the skills to fix your plumbing or appliances. "Lame Claim to Fame" is the second track on the album, which I know is supposed to be a style parody but I can't figure out who it is - but there is a lot of cowbell in there. "Foil" is up next, which is a parody of "Royals" by Lorde, which finds Weird Al singing about how he likes to use aluminum foil - both to keep his food fresh and also to make hats to keep the aliens and Illuminati out of his business. "Sports Song" is a parody of the old sports song "Fight Fight Fight." "Word Crimes" is a parody of "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, and finds Weird Al singing about learning correct grammar so people will quit making fun of you online. "My Own Eyes" seems like it is a style parody of the Foo Fighters, which I'm basing off of the little melody. "NOW That's What I Call Polka!" is a polka medley of several parodies - it starts out with "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus, then "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster The People, "Best Song Ever" by One Direction, "Gangnam Style" by Psy, "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen, "Scream and Shout" by Will.i.am and Britney Spears, and that gets you about halfway through the medley. "Mission Statement" is up next, and while this is the only style parody I knew right off, it seems it is also pretty much common knowledge online - this is a style parody of Crosby, Stills & Nash which lyrically explores a corporate entities mission statement. "Inactive" is next, and is a parody of "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons and has Weird Al singing about someone who's become so lazy that they don't bother to wipe the Cheeto dust off of themselves after they wake up and can't reach the remote to change the channel on the television. "First World Problems" is another style parody, and I'm guessing on this one that it is possibly a style parody of the Pixies. "Tacky" is a parody of "Happy" by Pharrel Williams with Weird Al celebrating being tacky, both by having no sense of style and being socially crass. "Jackson Park Express" is a style parody of Cat Stevens, and is also Weird Al's obligatory "love song," as he always seems to include one on each album. That closes out the album, and honestly, I'm pretty impressed. I liked it better than "Alpocalypse."
Lyrics — 8
"Weird Al" does what he does with vocals, and he can sing pretty good when that is what he's going for, though he mostly is going for sounding funny than actually sounding good. Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls provides backing vocals on "First World Problems," and does a fair job of sounding like Kim Deal. The lyrics on the album are hilarious, as usual. As an example of some of my favorite lyrics on the album, from the track "Foil" you have the following: "Oh by the way I cracked the code/ I figured out the shadow war/ and the Illuminati know that they're finally primed for world domination/ so you got black helicopters coming cross the border/ puppet masters for the new world order/ be aware there is always someone that's watching you/ and still the government won't admit they faked the whole moon landing/ thought control raised psychic something standing/ don't mind that/ I'm protected because I made this hat/ from aluminum foil/ Foil." So, yeah, I didn't get every word right, but you get the general gist of the lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been a fan of Weird Al for a long time now, and I think that some people don't get what he does or can't appreciate it for whatever reason - maybe they take themselves too seriously. The album measures pretty well against his recent releases, and I can't really find anything to complain about. I feel like the direct parodies he did are pretty much the ones I expected to hear from him and they all make sense. I like that he did a style parody of the Pixies and Foo Fighters, as they are two of my favorite bands right at this moment. My favorite songs on the album would actually have to be those two style parodies - "My Own Eyes" and "First World Problems." My favorite song of his direct parodies would have to "Foil" because the lyrics are just genius.