Weird Al Yankovic has done what once seemed impossible — taken the top spot on Billboard 200 as the number one album of the week. His latest release, Mandatory Fun, has given the 54-year-old his first #1 in his 35-year career. The parody musician has released 14 albums of varying success, but his final album for RCA has sold the most first-week copies for a comedy album in nearly 60 years (Allan Sherman’s My Son, the Nut).
Mandatory Fun, which contains Weird Al’s classic model of fractured versions of popular song lyrics sold nearly 105,000 albums for the week. His latest offering was self produced, and all the videos attached to the release were funded by sources other than RCA. Expectations were low for what is possibly Weird Al’s final studio album of his career.
Weird Al Defies the Odds, Wins the Week
It’s official. MANDATORY FUN enters the Billboard album chart this week at #1. Wow. WOW.
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 23, 2014
Industry insiders expected Jason Mraz’s new album Yes! would win the week, but Weird Al, the career underdog, received love from his long-time fans and those just now discovering him. Even though this may be his final studio album, all is not lost for parody lovers.
“I hate to draw lines in the sand and say this is absolutely the last album, but it sure looks that way,” Weird Al said in a recent AP interview. “It’s the end of my record deal. I’ve been under contract since 1982 and I just kind of feel like especially with the kind of music that I do, the album format isn’t the best way to deliver that music… I’m going to try to jump on new hits and new trends as soon as I can and try to be a little bit more competitive with everybody else in the world on YouTube.”
So it appears the maestro of silly music will make a smooth transition into the current music and comedy landscape. Many of the most popular YouTube comedians and parody musicians can thank Weird Al for paving the way for their work. With hit songs from the 80s and 90s, including “Eat It” (Michael Jackson, “Beat It”), “Like a Surgeon” (Madonna, “Like a Virgin”) and “Amish Paradise” (Coolio, “Gangsta’s Paradise”), Weird Al has gained a solid reputation among his fellow musicians and funny people.
Pharrell Williams considers it an honor for his megahit, “Happy,” to be reimagined as “Tacky” for Mandatory Fun. Weird Al has experienced public frustration from some artists, as well. The Red Hot Chili Peppers considered Al’s parody of “Give it Away” called “Bedrock Anthem (Yabba Dabba Doo Now),” to be lazy. It will be interested to see if hit makers Lorde, Iggy Azalea and Robin Thicke will go the way of Pharrell or Flea (bassist for the Chili Peppers).