Weird Al was pretty popular in the 90’s for creating relevant parodies on the fly, and doing them well enough where the spoof songs would out-rank the original and no one thought twice about it. The problem with any form of spoof media is that eventually people get bored and stop listening. It happened to Saturday Night Live, it happened to Richard Cheese, and it even happened to the proclaimed master himself; Weird Al.
In the last week I’m sure you’ve heard the infamous “he’s back” or some ignorant statement implying he ever stopped making music which is completely untrue. He’s released three albums since his chart-topping “Running With Scissors” in 1999; all of which have been 3 years apart including his newly released “Mandatory Fun” (July 15th). So the real question here is how did he take over the spotlight this time? Something he hasn’t really managed to do since 1999? Well the answer is both easy and complicated; he used the internet’s disadvantages and advantages collectively.
On July 14th (one day before his album released) he stealthily released a music video for his song “Tacky” which alone has so many notes. It was the video that kicked off and announced his #8videos8days project, it was released on Nerdist.com exclusively, it parodies Pharrell’s “Happy”, and the video features Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal, Jack Black; all while mocking society’s hipster-esk appearance and not giving a damn about it. This gave a lot of media news sites to talk/write about, meaning everyone had an excuse to write an article about it. Every online-outlet including Mashable, The Verge, and more was greatly impressed and ready to promote the video. So on top of the internet going wild for this video, he had Nerdist (114k folkowers) doing most of the promotion. Already brilliant.
The next day; July 15th he released a new video for “Word Crimes” himself through YouTube. Although the video didn’t get extra promotion by an exclusive website release it didn’t need it in anyway whatsoever. All he had to do was release a song that everyone who runs a site loves to hate; terrible punctuational / linguistic skills. This left room for every elitist blogger in the world to question themselves and brag on the internet by sharing the video. Although I’m personally subject to half of the errors mentioned in the song, I’m the only one in the world admitting it. The people who weren’t Grammar Nazis were too busy sharing the video because he made Robin Thicke look even more awful by actually making a good song out of “Blurred Lines”.
Then on July 16th came the video for “Foil” (my personal favorite) through College Humor which aloud more promotion through them. In this song Weird Al tackled Lorde’s “Royal” (my most hated song possibly ever) with a great song about both storing food and the Illuminati. Where Al shined was the intelligence in the lyrics with both food storing science and a comedy take on the world’s biggest conspiracy. Weird Al gave the song a rhyming scheme and a vivid vocabulary; something the original had none of. All the while letting my favorite comedian Patton Oswalt plus Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant (of Reno 911!) star in unspoken roles.By now the internet had more ammunition to keep itself busy for the rest of the year but that didn’t stop there.
July 17th brought “Handy” on Yahoo Screen (Off subject: Community’s new home!); turning Iggy Azale’s “Fancy” into a tradesman masterpiece. July 18th brought “Sports Song” through Funny Or Die mocking our love for local sports across the board. July 19th brought us “First World Problems” through PopCrush mocking everything in one go. July 20th was his only second self-release with “Lame Claim To Fame“. July 21st brought us “Mission Statement” through Speakeasy and brought a weird take on corporations through a Crosby, Stills, & Nash jam.
So on top of compiling a triple-A album of relevant parodies, he not only mocked our love of stupidity on the internet but also used the internet’s stupidity against us. I’ve honestly loved many of Weird Al’s parodies, but I’ve never been so obsessed with how meta he could be until this week. This could be the most extreme thing any comedian has done without even trying. Sure each of his videos are trending daily, but really the whole promotion for his new album “Mandatory Fun” needs to be appreciated for what it is. A masterpiece.