Mandatory Fun is the fourteenth and final studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic, released in 2014 through RCA Records and Way Moby Records. It's the first comedy album to debut at #1 on the Billboard Album Charts since Allan Sherman's My Son, the Nut in 1963.
With this album, Al fulfilled his contract to his record label and announced that he would no longer be releasing studio albums. Feeling that the landscape of satire had changed so drastically with the internet, he realized that waiting to have a whole album's worth of songs wasn't practical when his material relied so much on relevance. He has since said that he will release all his future recordings through digital EPs and singles.
This was also Al's first album to utilize the Internet for promotion. A week before the album's official release, eight of the album's twelve tracks had music videos released, each on a different website.
- "Lame Claim to Fame"
- "Sports Song"
- "Word Crimes"note
- "My Own Eyes"
- "Now That's What I Call Polka!"
- "Mission Statement"
- "First World Problems"
- "Jackson Park Express"
Now that's what I call tropes!
- 419 Scam: In "Lame Claim to Fame", he claims that the email he got from the Nigerian prince certainly sounded legit.
- Affectionate Parody:
- "Handy" parodies "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX to tell the story of a particularly boastful handyman.
- "Foil" starts out as a food-based parody of "Royals" by Lorde, but veers into a Self-Parody of Al's own music, segueing away from food and into bizarre conspiracy theories.
- Robin Thicke's infamous "Blurred Lines" (featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I.) was spoofed as "Word Crimes," a song about grammar on the internet. Yankovic admitted to probably being the only person to make a "Blurred Lines" parody about grammar, since every other parody of the song he was aware of was about criticizing the original song's sexual overtones.
- "Inactive" parodies "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons to tell the tale of a spectacularly lazy person.
- "Tacky" spoofs Pharrell Williams' "Happy" to be about all kinds of tacky behavior. This even extends to the music video, which does the same "one continuous shot of celebrity guest stars lip-syncing the song" schtick as Pharrell's "24 Hours of Happy" publicity stunt.
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: The narrator in "Tacky" regularly likes to get drunk at the bank and take off his shirt, at least.
- Anal Probing: Mentioned in "Foil" as one of the things aliens can do, which can be avoided by wearing a foil hat.
- Asshole Victim: The jerk that Al plays in the video for "First World Problems" gets hit by a car by its end when he doesn't look where he's going, being so engrossed with his smartphone.
- Badass Boast:
- At the end of the "Word Crimes" video, we see "'Weird Al' Yankovic has a big dictionary."
- Meanwhile, "Handy" is just one long boast about the protagonist's Handyman skills.
- Bad Review Threat: The narrator of "Tacky" likes to threaten waiters with a bad Yelp review just for fun.
- Bathos: "Jackson Park Express" has a few examples of this:I gave her a penetrating stare, which could only mean"You are my answer, my answer to everything,
Which is why I'll probably do very poorly on the written part of my driver's test""I wanna ride dolphins with you in the moonlight
Until the staff at SeaWorld kicks us out"
- Bait-and-Switch: "Foil" sounds like one of Al's standard food-related parody songs until the Wham Line.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: The narrator of "My Own Eyes" saw a stripper kiss a duck behind a dumpster in Aruba.
- Bilingual Bonus: One of the images in the album's booklet has Al triumphantly holding a wrench in the style of old Chinese Communist posters. The Chinese text beneath him says, "I'm not wearing underwear".
- Brain Bleach: "My Own Eyes" is all about this, talking about things the singer wishes he could unsee.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "Tacky" goes on at length about stereotypically tacky clothing and behavior, but towards the end we hear "If I'm bitten by a zombie, I'm probably not telling you".
- Call-Back: "Lame Claim to Fame" consists entirely of Al name-dropping celebrities with whom he's had tangential encounters. Later on, in "Tacky," we get this line:Well, now I'm dropping names almost constantly
(That's what Kanye West keeps telling me)
- The Cameo:
- The video for "Foil" has Al hosting a cooking show which is directed by Patton Oswalt (who is also secretly one of The Reptilians). And then he's later sedated and taken away by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant.
- The video for "Tacky" brings together Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal, and Jack Black!
- Commissar Cap: One of the images for this album shows Al wearing a commissar cap.... while exposing his Goofy Print Underwear with his pants around his ankles.
- Conspiracy Theorist: The entire second verse of "Foil" talks about The Illuminati finally being primed for world domination, black helicopters coming from across the border, and the government's refusal to admit to faking the Moon landing. Just in case aliens get involved, he's got a Tinfoil Hat to protect him, and someday he'll prove there's one giant conspiracy. The part at the end of the video where Patton Oswalt removes his face to reveal a lizard head underneath is also a reference to the conspiracy theory about shape-changing reptilian aliens who've taken over society.Be aware! There's always someone that's watching you!
- Department of Redundancy Department:
- "Sports Song" can basically be summed up by saying we're great, you suck, you really suck, and in case you missed it, YOU SUCK.
- In "Jackson Park Express":I pointed to the side of my mouth, as a way of indicating
"Hey, I think you got something on the side of your mouth"
- Did Not Do the Bloody Research: "Word Crimes" caused a minor controversy due to the use of the line "You write like a spastic". Weird Al apologised on Twitter, saying he didn't know it was a slur.
- Don't Explain the Joke: In "Sports Song", among the Sophisticated as Hell trash talk, Al twice explains he isn't being literal:We're gonna kick your collective posterior
Of course you realize we're speaking figuratively
We're gonna grind up your guys into burger meat
Again, of course, we're speaking in the figurative sense
- Dressed to Oppress: The cover depicts Al as a comically serious dictator wearing a uniform including a Chest of Medals, a Badass Longcoat, and a baldric. Another image for the album shows him wearing a Commissar Cap as well.
- Eating the Eye Candy: In "Jackson Park Express":I glanced down at her shirt for a second, in a way that clearly implied... "I like your boobs!"
- Epic Rocking: "Jackson Park Express".
- Everybody Hates Mathematics: The narrator of "Jackson Park Express" considers trigonometry and prime numbers to be the greatest evils of the world.
- Everyone Hates Mimes: One of the lines in "My Own Eyes":I saw a mime get hacked to death. With an imaginary cleaver.
- Expospeak Gag: "Mission Statement" is a series of buzzwords and vaguely positive-sounding metaphors that all roughly translate to "we need to make more money".
- Face on the Cover: "Weird Al" in military dictator garb, parodying Soviet-era propaganda posters.
- First World Problems: The title of the song on this album, in which the singer complains about the most insignificant of such problems. Things like his apartment being so big he can't get Wi-Fi in the kitchen, or buying too much food to fit in his fridge.
- Facial Dialogue: "Jackson Park Express" is about the narrator seeing a woman on a bus. The song is nine minutes long, but describes the "conversations" taking place between a man and a woman discussing the hypothetical process of forming a romantic relationship, engaging in sexual activity, breaking up, and moving on with their lives. All this is implied to all take place over the course of a few minutes.
- ...and that it's all one-sided and all in the narrator's head (and the woman in question probably sees him as a creepy guy staring at her).
- Mixed in the middle of the absurd ones is staring at her chest to imply "I like your boobs".
- Fat Slob: "Inactive" is about a lazy slob who's completely given up on exercising and keeping himself healthy.
- Football Fight Song: "Sports Song" is done in the style of one."We're great, and you suck!"
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- At the beginning of "Word Crimes", a dictionary's pages are turning through the A's. The definition of "Accordion" has a picture of Al next to it. On a shot of a piece of homework paper, the homeroom teacher is listed as "Mrs. Krabappel". The Reddit user goes by the handle George Newman. On the graphic for the lyric "lost cause", which uses a promo graphic from Lost, the print next to the ABC logo reads "learn your ABCs, doofus" instead of the network slogan.
- After Al starts singing about The Illuminati in "Foil", there are a few red frames of Al's face looking the worse for wear.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": Mentioned in "Tacky".I would live-tweet a funeral
Take selfies with the deceased
- Genuine Human Hide: The protagonist of "Jackson Park Express" voices a desire to wear the object of his affection's skin like a costume..."I'd like to remove all your skin, and wear your skin, over my own skin... but not in a creepy way!"
- Grammar Nazi: The entirety of "Word Crimes" focuses specifically on this trope.
- Handyman: "Handy" is all about being one, though louder and less laid-back.I'm so handy
You already know
I'll fix your plumbing when your toilets overflow.
I'm so handy
I'll bring you up to code
When your dishwasher starts to explode!
- Happiness Is Mandatory: The album is titled "Mandatory Fun" and the cover art and affiliated artwork depict Al as a Comically Serious, Affably Evil dictator.
- Hypocritical Humor: In the video for "Word Crimes", a song about proper grammar, one of the degrees on the wall is a "Bachelor of Writing Good".note
- Two segments of the same song (the rap verse and the final chorus) contain split infinitives, left in by Al to deliberately annoy grammar wonks.That really makes me want to LITERALLY smack a crowbar upside your stupid head!
Try your best to not drool.
- Two segments of the same song (the rap verse and the final chorus) contain split infinitives, left in by Al to deliberately annoy grammar wonks.
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: In "Tacky", both described in the lyrics and worn in the video.
- In the Style of:
- Intimate Marks: The video for "Tacky" has Kristen Schaal living up to the title by wearing a black top with hot pink handprints over the breasts.
- Kitschy Local Commercial: The "Handy" video is done in this style, mainly by way of hammy acting and deliberately bad special effects.
- Last-Second Word Swap: At the end of the "Word Crimes" video:"Weird Al" Yankovic has a big dictionary.
- Letters 2 Numbers: The narrator tells the student in "Word Crimes" never to write words using numbers "unless you're seven... or your name is Prince".
- Longest Song Goes Last: The album ends with "Jackson Park Express" (9:05).
- Love at First Sight: The narrator in "Jackson Park Express" instantly falls in love with the woman who sits across from him on the bus.I knew we had a special connection the second I saw her smile.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Common on all Al's albums, this one included, but he's drawn special attention in interviews to "Mission Statement" — particularly how he's always wanted to do a song about corporate jargon, and he made it a Crosby, Stills & Nash parody because their expansive, folk-rock aesthetic is stylistically the complete opposite of big-business gobbledygook.
- MacGyvering: "Handy" is about a Mr. Fixit who mentions this particular skill by name.
- Medley: "Now That's What I Call Polka!" Songs featured, in order:
- "Too Fat Polka" by Arthur Godfrey
- "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus
- "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 & Shout" by will.i.am featuring Britney Spears
- "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra
- "Timber" by Pitbull featuring Kesha
- "Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAO
- "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
- "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
- "Mandatory Polka" by Al Yankovic
- The Men in Black: Two agents come and drug Al, then drag him off the stage at the end of the video in "Foil".
- Mood Whiplash: "Foil" starts out as a typical Lorde parody about food before suddenly taking a left turn into Conspiracy Theorist territory. The video emphasizes this, with a television director played by Patton Oswalt who reacts negatively to the new topic. He's in on the conspiracy.
- Nonverbal Miscommunication: "Jackson Park Express" is built on this trope, as the entire song is about a man on the bus who continuously misinterprets the nonverbal gestures of a woman passenger. Somehow he turns her unconscious twitches into an epic tale of Love at First Sight.
- The Oner: The "Tacky" music video. Which is an Homage to the song it's parodying, Pharrell's "Happy", as most of the segments of his "24 Hours of Happy" are Oners.
- Parody Assistance: Imagine Dragons assisted with the creation of "Inactive", a parody of their own song "Radioactive", to help reproduce as authentic a sound of the original as possible.
- Poe's Law: "Foil", if the YouTube comments are anything to go by.
- Precision F-Strike: An implied one appears in the liner notes to this album, which says "AFP appears courtesy of herself". Anyone familiar enough with Amanda Palmer should know what the F stands for.
- Record Producer: "Weird Al" Yankovic.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Appropriately enough, everyone appearing in the video for "Tacky," including two different awful outfits worn by Al.
- Not Al himself, but his music video for "Mission Statement", which combines every meaningless business platitude under the sun into a Crosby, Stills & Nash pastiche, features whiteboard art from TruScribe, a company famous for laboriously illustrating similar lectures and advertisements on behalf of economic firms and the like.
- His parody "Foil" sounds like a return to Al's old food-themed parodies. At first.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The lyrics of "Mission Statement" are strung together from all sorts of overly sophisticated corporate buzzwords which roughly translate to "We need to make more money."
- At one point, the video for "Word Crimes" shows some doodles including Pac-Man and Trogdor.
- There are also visual references to Doge and the "Get a brain, morans!" memes.
- There's also a grammar exam for Mrs. Krabappel's class.
- At the point of the song for "literacy's your mission", there's a visual reference to Mission: Impossible.
- Plus the visual reference for Lost at the section "you're a lost cause".
- The song "Tacky" includes the line "If I'm bitten by a zombie, I'm probably not telling you." In the video, Al accompanies this line with a dance move taken from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.
- One of the two handymen dancing in the backgrounds of the "Handy" music video wears Mario's red-overall-blue-dungarees combo.
- "Handy" has the line "I got ninety-nine problems but a switch ain't one!"
- At one point, the video for "Word Crimes" shows some doodles including Pac-Man and Trogdor.
- Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: In "Lame Claim to Fame", with six degrees, no less.I know a guy who knows a guy
Who knows a guy who knows a guy
Who knows a guy who knows Kevin Bacon.
- Sophisticated as Hell: "Sports Song" is a reimagining of the classic college fight song, except with lyrics that directly insult the opposing team. After giving a number of different wordy explanations of how much better the home team is than the visitors, it sums up the argument by repeating "We're great, and you suck!" Several times.Oh, and if somehow we are still failing
To effectively articulate the points at hand
Allow us now to summarize them in a manner
That your feeble brains can understand:
We’re great (We're great!)
And you suck (You suck!)
We're great (We're great!)
And you suck (You suck!) [etc.]
- Spiritual Successor: "Handy" is this to "Hardware Store", and more directly to the unreleased "I'll Repair for You."
- Stealth Parody: "Foil" is not just a parody of "Royals," it's also a Self-Parody of Al's food-themed parodies.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: A meta example; shortly after Al had finished recording "Mission Statement," Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash reached out to Al and requested that he do a parody of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." Al responded by playing a snippet of "Mission Statement" on the spot, and Nash seemed satisfied with the result.
- Subliminal Seduction: The video for "Foil" intercuts the line "Be aware" with single frame shots of Al covered in blood.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Used for a different purpose in "Word Crimes":You should never
Write words using numbers
Unless you're seven ...
Or your name is Prince
- Take That!:
- Tinfoil Hat: The second verse of "Foil" focuses around fashioning an aluminum foil hat to protect himself against thought control rays and psychotronic scanning.Wear a hat that's foil-lined
In case an alien's inclined
To probe your butt or read your mind
- Title-Only Chorus: "First World Problems."
- Toilet Humor: Al's version of "Scream and Shout"I want to scream (Suzanne Yankovic screams), and shout (HEY!) and let it all out (BLUGH!)
I want to scream (Suzanne screams again), and shout (HEY!) and let it out! (fart noise)
- Tomato Surprise: A minor one in "Jackson Park Express". The woman on the bus is assumed to have no anomalous features, and more than halfway into the (nine-minute) song:And I'm pretty sure she looked at me out of the corner [Beat] of her good eye.
- That's What I Call "X"!: "That’s What I Call Polka".
- Unsportsmanlike Gloating: "Sports Song" is essentially one long, preemptive parade of this, put into song.
- Wham Line: "Foil" sounds like one of Al's usual food parody songs until the second verse, when Al reveals it is a Self-Parody."By the way, I cracked the code."
- Word Salad Lyrics: Being a Foo Fighters parody, "My Own Eyes" employs this in the increasingly absurd events that the narrator claims to have witnessed.
- Your Mime Makes It Real: "My Own Eyes" gives us mimes being hacked to death by imaginary cleavers.
- Zombie Infectee: The narrator of "Tacky" informs us that, if he gets bitten by a zombie, he probably won't tell anyone.
The pervasion of fun exists except for the lack of fun.