Over the last week fans of the accordion-wielding, Polka-powered musical god of parody that isweird-al-yankovic-mandatory-fun-album-cover “Weird Al” Yankovic were treated to the release of eight new music videos, one video per day, in celebration of Yankovic’s 14th studio album, Mandatory Fun. The videos debuted on different outlets across the internet and showed that Weird Al is still the king of musical comedy as his parodies and pastiches invoke as much laughter as they do bits of social commentary.

The first video released was “Tacky“, a parody of Pharrell’s monster hit “Happy”, followed by “Word Crimes“, a parody of Robin Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I.’s “Blurred Lines”, “Foil“, a parody of “Royals” by Lorde, “First World Problems“, a tribute to the Pixies, “Handy“, a parody of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”, “Sports Song“, a parody of college fight songs, “Lame Claim to Fame“, a tribute to Southern Culture on the Skids, and “Mission Statement” a tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and possibly Young.

In order to maintain the uniqueness of his songs, Weird Al made sure the videos were just as engaging, making more traditional music videos with the help of some celebrity guests and procuring the talents of animators for others. The animated videos specifically serve the purpose of bringing the songs to life in ways that live action would’ve faltered. For example, “Word Crimes”, an admonishment of the grammatical errors, syntax, and text speak that’s invaded our virtual lexicon, incorporates hilarious visual elements to point out just how lackadaisical we’ve gotten in our ability to write simple sentences while also incorporating the ridiculous flashing hashtags from Word Crimesthe source video. Even though “Blurred Lines” was released last year, Weird Al still manages to make the song relevent despite the gap between when the song was deemed a hit and the more current parodies on the album.

The inclusion of songs parodying hits like “Blurred Lines”, “Royals”, and “Radioactive”, though, shows the pitfalls of creating studio albums based in musical comedy. Now more than ever music and comedy have become mediums where relevancy is based in moments rather than the long-term. This is due in part to social media and our massive cultural Attention Deficit Disorder. A YouTube video or an article may get heavy rotation one day and, suddenly, the next day we’ve moved on to the next cat video or BuzzFeed quiz. We consume media as quickly as it’s produced and just as quickly discard it for the next shiny thing that comes our way. So one can imagine that crafting an entire album of parody songs is difficult when you have to pay attention to the Billboard charts for the hits you can work with as well as keep as up-to-date as possible. Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” is the most current songweirdal referenced on Mandatory Fun, released in February of this year, and the inclusion of its comedic twin, “Handy”, on the album was more about having a song that was a current hit, which shows in comparison to the other eleven songs that were given more time and production value.

The album, however, doesn’t suffer when it comes to the timeliness of its songs. Yankovic, his band that still consists of Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, Steve Jay, and Jim West, as well as the marketing team behind Mandatory Fun were smart in utilizing social media to launch the album via the eight videos. Not only did the videos individually saturate the internet, but the combined efforts and instant visibility of eight videos in a row catapulted Mandatory Fun into the #1 spot on Billboard, the first time in Weird Al’s 30 year career that one of his albums has charted so high in its debut week. And while there is some level of nostalgia surrounding Weird Al, there’s also genuine love and interest for the man behind the accordion and which songs he’ll tackle next. What Mandatory Fun’s marketing shows is how essential social media has become to the music industry and Weird Al as an artist.

tackyMandatory Fun has been confirmed to be Weird Al’s last traditional studio album with RCA Records, which is probably for the best if Yankovic plans to stick around. On a recent episode of Comedy Bang Bang, Yankovic was very candid about the fact that he’d rather have the freedom to produce a parody video or song around the same time the hit comes out as opposed to waiting and compiling songs for an album that can take up to two years to produce and distribute. With his plans to go completely digital, Weird Al will be able to create and distribute his work instantaneously, similar to the South Park method of animation production.

What does this mean for the viewing and listening audience? Simply this: more Weird Al!

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