NEW YORK – Comedy music icon Weird Al Yankovic returns with a 14th album full of his signature song parodies called “Mandatory Fun.” He talked to FOX 411 about the new tunes, how his career is now online, and while this may possibly be his last album, he won't be retiring.
FOX411: How do you usually choose which songs to parody?
Weird Al Yankovic: Usually I start with a target. I figure out which songs could be good candidates. Sometimes I’m driving the car and an idea will pop into my head, but that doesn’t happen too often. Usually it’s like ok, this would be a good song, now what can I do with it? Then I’ll make a list of possible ideas and I’ll go down the list… And then I’ll find one that I think yeah I could do something with that.
FOX411: Let’s talk the range on “Mandatory Fun” -- who made the cut, what artists…
Weird Al: There’s a parody of Pharrell Williams “Happy” called “Tacky”. I did my grammar song “Word Crimes” based off on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”. There’s a parody of Lorde’s song “Royals” where I talk all about the many uses of aluminum foil. There’s also parodies of Imagine Dragons, there’s a parody of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” called “Handy”. Then there’s the requisite polka medley “Now That’s What I call Polka” and a lot of other originals and pastiches, and a little bit of everything, it’s a very eclectic album.
FOX411: Let’s talk “Word Crimes”, a little commentary here, what annoys you most?
Weird Al: They all annoy me. I mean I’ve got a number of pet peeves. I’m a bit of a grammar nerd. It’s just been the rage beneath my skin all these years, I finally decided to let it come out and put it in a song. I mean if you look at my YouTube channel I’m giving out some videos of me driving around and correcting road signs. I change ‘Drive Slow’ to ‘Drive Slowly’ add the “ly” at the end. In the supermarket, “12 items or less” I change to “12 items or fewer”.
FOX411: “Tacky” looked like a fun video.
Weird Al: That was the most fun I’ve ever had on a video shoot. I got to work with some of my friends -- Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal, Eric Stonestreet, Aisha Tyler. It was a one shot video. One continuous long shot which was a little bit challenging because we did it at the Palace Theatre in downtown L.A. It starts off with me on a 5th floor fire escape and it ends with me on a street level and everybody else is doing their thing in-between. For every single take as soon as camera was off me, I had to run as fast as I can down 5 flights of stairs while changing my clothes so that I could be on camera at the end again. So I definitely got my exercise that day.
FOX411: How many takes then?
Weird Al: We did six completed takes and we used the last take.
FOX411: Talk about releasing these as part of the “8 Videos in 8 Days” strategy.
Weird Al: Well there’s no music television per say anymore. MTV still exists but it’s not really music television. The Internet, for my purposes at least, is the new MTV. I’m focusing all of my attention and all the marketing on the Internet. The Internet is very quick, it’s very ephemeral, it’s of the moment, things go viral and people talk about things for a day basically. It’s a 24 hour period where people ingest it and then move on to something else. So I figured I really wanted release week to be a big deal, to be an event, and I thought if I did 8 videos and just have a new video every single day I think that would make an impact because people would be talking about the album all week long.
FOX411: What is video or song to this day you get the most fan comments about?
Weird Al: You know there’s not one song. There are a lot of hits that fans seem to gravitate towards. In the live show, there are a number of moments, there a number of big hits, but it’s not like they’re waiting for one song and then ‘ok we’ve heard it we can go home now’… but you know, “White and Nerdy” and “Yoda” and “Amish Paradise”, “Smells like Nirvana”, “Fat”, there’s a lot of big fan favorites over the years. It sort of like depends on how old you are, my audience is multi-generational… so it’s like whatever was a big hit when they were 12 years old that’s their favorite one you know?
FOX411: Any artist go up to you and want their song parodied?
Weird Al: It happens from time to time, and again I don’t know how serious they are, they could be being polite or making conversation but they have said “Hey, why don’t you do one of my songs?”
FOX411: True this may be your last full-length album?
Weird Al: I’m not drawing the hard line in the sand. I’m not making any firm statements. I also want to stress I’m not retiring, this is not end of me and for better or worse I’m planning to continue doing music and videos and all that. But I think the album as an art form me has become antiquated because what I do is very topical and timely and I try to get myself out as soon as possible. If I have to wait until I have 12 songs to put out all at once, chances are not all of them will be topical and timely. So it makes more sense for me, I think going forward, to be more focused on releasing singles.
FOX411: So basically, just keep an eye on your YouTube page…
Weird Al: There you go.