Weird Al’s new album

“Weird Al” Yankovic, a man commonly associated with the word “parody,” recently released his 14th studio album, entitled “Mandatory Fun.” It debuted at the number one slot on Billboard;  it is the first comedy album to do so in over 50 years. The record’s success is largely due to Yankovic’s saturation of the Internet with self-promotion and his general immersion into social media in recent years.
My first encounter with YouTube was Yankovic’s music video for his song “Amish Paradise.” I sometimes still find myself singing Al’s version of the tune now, years later. Yankovic was a name revered amongst the gang of hooligans which I ran with in elementary school, and his humor still manages to entertain me now.
It is sad for me to say, but the simple absurdity with which Yankovic approached song-writing in the past has been undermined by the same detached cynicism which seems to prevail in popular culture.  Put simply, his humor has dried, developing uncomfortable edges in the process. Some things he sings about on “Mandatory Fun” were disgusting and out of place, such as a lyric comparing sex to a parasitic infection. My ultimate diagnosis is that he has spent too much time on social media. In the videos, there were Twitter hashtags and references to Reddit. The worst song on the album was certainly “First World Problems.” Not only was the music repetitive, but the entire premise failed to entertain me whatsoever.
To promote “Mandatory Fun,” Yankovic produced eight videos covering two-thirds of  the album. He released one a day between July 14 and 21. This was an varied batch of videos. Some were genuinely entertaining, but others were blatantly rushed and lazy. I will say first that my favorite of these was the video for “Foil,” which was also the only tune that managed to make me laugh out loud. Although his song-writing seems to have dulled, Al’s delivery and facial expressions are still prime.
Three of the videos were stale cartoons that looked like they had been produced in Adobe Flash, featuring a minimum of the human touch which made his past cartoons, such as “Jurassic Park” and “Don’t Download This Song,”  so visually appealing.
In my opinion, the worst of the videos was “Handy,” which appeared to have been shot entirely in front of a green screen. This may have been done with some kind of stylistic vision, but I felt the entire thing fell flat.
It is very hard for me to completely dismiss the album. Maybe this is only because Yankovic’s voice is burned into my childhood memories and associated with good times, but the man seems to genuinely be interested in entertaining his audience. With the new opportunities for him to promote his work, Yankovic’s vision has changed with the times. Ease of communication through websites such as  Twitter has allowed him to quickly contact those he chooses to colaborate with, a group which has also been effected by this change.
“Mandatory Fun” was worth a listen, and I put in my time as a fan of the man, but I don’t see myself seeking out any of the album’s tracks the next time I wish to hear Yankovic’s sultry voicebox vibrating.