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I guess I just like liking things

mandatoryfunWeird Al’s 14th album was released in July of 2014. It was his first #1 album and it completed his contract after 32 years. There is much speculation that this will be his last album ever and that he’ll release singles here and there to keep up with quickly changing tides of pop culture, but there’s been no official word on that from Al himself. I personally hope that he does more albums, as an album format is a good format for Al’s mix of parodies and originals. I worry that we’ll lose his originals and pastiches if he sticks to singles, as singles would most likely be direct parodies. Time will tell, I suppose.

Here’s how the songs from Mandatory Fun rank for me:

12. My Own Eyes – I like the style of this one (yay, Foo Fighters!) but I think my appreciation of random wackiness diminishes as I get older.

11. Jackson Park Express – Here’s where most Al fans will disagree with me, as they’d rank this one much higher. I like the joke of the song – “falling in love” on the subway and ascribing meaning to every little thing that happens – but I just don’t enjoy listening to the song myself. I can appreciate the song’s quality, certainly.

10. Lame Claim to Fame – Al puts a name to this particular phenomenon and it’s catchy as all get out. Incidentally, my personal Lame Claim to Fame was getting a high five from Al himself.

9. Mission Statement – This one’s a spiritual successor to “The Check’s in the Mail” from Al’s first album. Part of the humor of this one is his use of the Crosby, Stills, & Nash style, since it’s about business and they were (are?) staunchly anti-business. I’m not a big fan of CS&N music in general, so this one suffers a little for me in that regard, but I do love the way Al sings “monetize our assets.”

8. Inactive – I can empathize with the main character of this song, even though I’m only, like, 30% of him.

7. First World Problems – I don’t know the Pixies well enough to have recognized this style, but it doesn’t matter much. All the little annoyances in life that show up as Facebook status updates are humorous…while at the same time guilt-inducing. Stop that, Al! I’m trying to laugh here!

6. Sports Song – My favorite thing about this is the wording. Phrases like “effectively articulate the points at hand” and “That theory’s backed by empirical evidence” amuse me greatly.

5. Now That’s What I Call Polka! – The polkas are always fun. For the UHF soundtrack Al did a Rolling Stones-only polka, and my secret (until now, I guess) wish is that some day he’ll do a Beatles-only one. That has nothing to do with this particular polka, but it’s something I wanted to put out there so the universe can return it to me.

4. Word Crimes – Never have so many English teachers rallied to Weird Al before! I couldn’t tell you how many teachers I saw post this to their walls. And, hey, it improves on the original song in a ton of ways, so that’s just gravy.

3. Foil – The first time I heard the original Lorde song I found it intriguing. The second time, it started to grate on me. There hasn’t been a third time because I turn it any time it’s on now. This version, though, I love.  It is the funniest song (to me) on the whole album. The first verse is fine, but when he takes the conspiracy turn for the second, it’s genius. The video for this one really makes it better.

2. Tacky – This one intrigues me. I can’t stand the original song at all, not even a little bit. I don’t know if it’s the pitch of Pharrell’s voice or what, but “Happy” grates on me like you wouldn’t believe. Al singing it, though (along with one of the most fun videos of all time), makes it okay, even enjoyable. It makes me wonder if I’d like a version of the original sung by Al.

1. Handy – I struggled long and hard between these top two songs. This one just barely won out because I like its original tune better.


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