Weird Al’s latest is refreshingly down-to-earth

Three longtime musicians recently released new albums, but leave it the parody maestro to be the one with the freshest, most enjoyable one.

Tom Petty sounds curmudgeonly — if not a bit predictable — on his 12th album “Hypnotic Eye,” and former Smiths’ singer Morrissey sounds as moody as ever on his 10th album “World Peace is None of Your Business.” However, “Weird Al” Yankovic ‘s 14th studio album sets itself apart as a positive breath of fresh air.

Weird Al released “Mandatory Fun” on July 15, and it proves he’s a musical chameleon. But along with effortlessly spanning several musical styles, Weird Al thrives on “Mandatory Fun” by making his humorous parodies oddly relatable. It’s not as much laugh-out-loud funny as it is humorously human.

Weird Al parodies several songs focused on famous, glamorous and luxurious lifestyles like Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and Lorde’s “Royals” — yes, the tracks are somewhat critical of opulent fame. However, Weird Al turns them both into something more relatable to everyday life.

Weird Al’s “Handy” is about the best ode to plumbers and handymen you’ll find. Like several conversations many of us have had, “Foil” starts about an everyday topic — preserving leftovers and mold — before unraveling into a tangent on conspiracies theories like aliens, the Illuminati and the New World order.

He takes Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and changes it into the oddly educational, grammar-focused “Word Crimes.”

Weird Al takes a direct, but humorous stab at people who never stop talking about lame connections to famous people on “Lame Claim to Fame,” a song modeled after Southern Culture on the Skids.

On “Tacky,” a parody of Pharrell William’s “Happy,” Weird Al lists several tacky things we’ve all experienced: “43 bumper stickers and a YOLO license plate” and “I Instagram every meal I’ve had.”

Along with his spot-on parodies of several pop hits, Weird Al also produces a polka collage of several popular hits, a college sports fight song parody, and several songs mimicking the styles of acts like the Pixies, The Foo Fighters and Cat Stevens.

“Jackson Park Express,” modeled after Stevens, is perhaps my favorite track on the album, as Weird Al starts with a seemingly romantic chance encounter on a bus and spirals into an increasingly awkward fantasy of terrible pickup lines.

While Weird Al’s latest may not receive the same acclaim as Petty or Morrissey’s new albums, “Mandatory Fun” is a refreshing reminder that musicians don’t always need to be moody and sullen to be successful. Several of the musicians parodied on the album approved of being parodied or even helped Weird Al on the musical style.

“Mandatory Fun”

By “Weird Al” Yankovic

4 out of 5 stars

Track listing

1. “Handy,” a parody of “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX

2. “Lame Claim to Fame,” a style parody of Southern Culture on the Skids

3. “Foil,” a parody of “Royals” by Lorde

4. “Sports Song,” a style parody of college football fight songs

5. “Word Crime,” a parody of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams

6. “My Own Eyes,” a style parody of Foo Fighters

7. “NOW That’s What I Call Polka!” a polka medley of several hit songs

8. “Mission Statement,” a style parody of Crosby, Stills & Nash

9. “Inactive,” a parody of “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons

10. “First World Problems,” a style parody of the Pixies

11. “Tacky,” a parody of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

12. “Jackson Park Express,” a style parody of Cat Stevens

 

Education

AHS celebrates the Class of 2024 with Friday night commencement

Education

‘… I like to help people’

Mower County

Congolese Musician Siama headlines 6th annual Fourth Avenue Fest in Austin

Agriculture

Five years of data reveal higher profitability for farms that are ag water quality certified

Education

CRC awards $12K in scholarships to local graduates

Education

In Your Community: Fire Department welcomes fire poster honorable mention

Mower County

In Your Community: Duplicate Bridge

Education

Education Briefs

News

Lab-grown meat isn’t on store shelves yet, but some states have already banned it

News

At 100, this vet says the ‘greatest generation’ moniker fits ‘because we saved the world’

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Convictions: May 20-27

News

Barred from combat, women working as codebreakers, cartographers and coxswains helped D-Day succeed

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Minneapolis police officer dies in ambush shooting that killed 2 others including suspected gunman

News

Guilty: Trump becomes first former U.S. president convicted of felony crimes

Business

Hormel Foods welcomes largest-ever class of inspired summer interns

Mower County

2024 Summer SURE Internship begins at The Hormel Institute

Mower County

Major archaeological survey is underway in Mower County

Education

Photos: Back to where it began. AHS seniors walk through Woodson Kindergarten

Agriculture

Farmers must kill 4.2 million chickens after bird flu hits Iowa egg farm

News

Jury deliberations begin in Donald Trump’s hush money criminal case

Mower County

Commissioners approve resolution using federal funds to replace county bridges

Mower County

Evolve wraps up successful season

Mower County

Young Eagles Flight Rally scheduled for June 8

Mower County

Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service offers paid training program