The master is back. "First things first, Imma craftsman!" Those are "Weird Al's" first words on Mandatory Fun, as he mimics Iggy Azalea's hard hip-hop affect on "Fancy" for a song called "Handy" about someone who can fix anything in the world. In a sense, this is what Yankovic does with other people's inventions; he tweaks them hard enough so that they might just be a little bit better. As he hints at dropping out of the album game to concentrate on releasing topical singles, Yankovic goes out strong, mixing obvious send-ups of hit singles by Azalea, Robin Thicke, Imagine Dragons, Lorde and Pharrell with original "style parodies" (songs that sound vaguely like other artists or genres) for something sharp and hilarious.
Generally making fun of all of us (i.e. "Lame Claim to Fame," which owes something to Southern Culture on the Skids, "First World Problems," which is a nod to Pixies) rather than the specific artists he parodies, Yankovic throws some wicked jabs about interpersonal misbehaviour. Among the most pointed involve Pharrell. Arming the grammar police, "Word Crimes" is as catchy as "Blurred Lines," but way more educational, while "Tacky" takes the joy of "Happy" and reminds us, in a Larry David-esque way, about the "rules" that govern civilized society. Dollars to donuts, there's not one song or style here that "Weird Al" doesn't enhance with his sly social commentary or absurdity. All hail the weird king.
Read our recent Questionnaire with "Weird Al" Yankovic here. (RCA)