Music Musings: Weird Al Mandates ‘Fun’ to Number 1

I was going start this post by waxing poetic about the eccentric genius that is Weird Al Yankovic and his over 30 years of dedicated musical satire, but ‘Never mind I give up’. Tis far better to start off with a series of Word Crimes, and then just Segway into an excerpt from Billboard.  If you’ve read my blog, you’re probably used to my run-on sentences anyway…

After more than 30 years on the charts, comedian-singer “Weird Al” Yankovic earns his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as “Mandatory Fun” debuts atop the list. The album is the first comedy set to top the chart since 1963, and logs the largest sales week for a comedy album since 1994.

“Mandatory Fun” was released July 15 through Way Moby and RCA Records, and sold 104,000 copies in the week ending July 20, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It was promoted by a well-receiveddaily viral video campaign that launched Monday, July 14. Starting with his parody of Pharrell’s “Happy,” Yankovic released eight music videos for the album through the week on various sites, like The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, Nerdist, College Humor and YouTube.

“Mandatory” is the first comedy album to top the Billboard 200 since Allan Sherman’s “My Son, the Nut” spent eight weeks at No. 1 beginning on the chart dated Aug. 31, 1963. A couple of comedy sets came close since then, including Steve Martin’s No. 2-peaking “A Wild and Crazy Guy” back in 1978 and a pair of No. 2 Cheech & Chong titles in the early 1970s.

Besides the ‘Happy’ parody, Yankovic also does his own unique versions of the Iggy Azalea hit ‘Fancy’, ‘Royals’ by Lorde and a host of other chart-toppers.

But behind all of the fun is also some serious business.  For the album, Weird Al deployed a novel marketing and production strategy. Here’s more on that from the New York Times

Because RCA did not provide any production budget, Mr. Yankovic said, the videos were paid for by various partner sites that brought their own audiences, like Nerdist, Funny or Die and College Humor. The gambit worked. Mr. Yankovic’s web stats exploded. On Wikipedia, for example, his profile has drawn 575,000 views so far this month, according to the music data-tracking firm Next Big Sound. On Spotify, Mr. Yankovic’s music was streamed 3,282,937 times around the world last week, up 785 percent from the week before.

In an era where record companies allocate a dwindling pool of resources and face immense pressure just to break even, Weird Al’s sponsorship model is one that has been quickly noticed.  So kudos to Mr. Yankovic for standing out and perhaps paving a new way for ‘serious artists’ to follow as well. This week, it is definitely he who has the last laugh.

Check out the video for Word Crimes below.

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