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"Weird Al" Yankovic's "Mandatory Fun" Reviewed

Not mandatory and should be more fun

Not mandatory and should be more fun

In 2011 weird Al was pushing  Alpocalypse, a better album than Mandatory Fun and at the Beacon Theater played two hours straight of low stage value but always pleasant rock and roll parody (my review here) with one highlight, “Craig’s List” a devastating Doors take down with one Ray Manzarek on keyboards and climaxing with “Yoda”.

Three years later here is more of the same but it isn’t quite as good, “Handy” (a “Fancy” parody) and “Foil” (that would be “Royals”) are as smart and weird, playing off modern sounds very well, copies so up to date it is easy to forget he has time travelled here from back in the 1980s and perhaps more amazing, is completely comfortable with all modern idioms. “word Crimes” -a terrific take off on “Blurred Lines” and bad grammar. “Tacky” dragged me till I saw the video where the Pharrel take off comes into its own. And perhaps best off all “Jackson Park Highway”, a brilliant original take on Cat Stevens circa Buddha And The Chocolate Box: a superb take that if it wasn’t so funny could be played straight.

But the rest of the album doesn’t make it at all. Perhaps the problem is that if you don’t like what weird Al is making fun of how can you like the song he is playing? This goes doubly for the painful “With My Own Eyes” and while “Mission Statement” with its “Carry On” opening and CSN harmonies, should work very well, but the song isn’t good enough.

Still, there is a saving grace, the always wonderful polka medley, this time with “Wrecking Ball” and “Pumped Up Kicks”  and, er, “Call Me Maybe”… what fun!

It is just a shame the album isn’t a little better, it flounders on the rock of Pixieish “First World Problems”

Grade: B

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