Friday, January 8, 2010

The Most Disappointing Band of the 2000s: Weezer

In the '90s, Weezer released two albums. One of those albums (The Blue Album) has since gone on to become a classic. There is good reason for that. The album has ten tracks, all tightly written, all very catchy, all capturing Weezer's (more specifically Rivers Cuomo) youthful energy coupled with inspired influences. "Buddy Holly", "Say It Ain't So", "The Sweater Song" are absolutely brilliant singles and the rest of the album never misses a beat.

"Pinkerton" was initially considered a disappointment upon release but has since gone on to achieve cult status. While I maintain that "Pinkerton" is weaker than their first album, it definitely has its fair share of classics. My only problem with "Pinkerton" is its amateurish songwriting. While some dig the confessional style of "Pinkerton," I always found to be a little too much. Lines like "Screw this crap I've had it" and basically all the lyrics of "Across the Sea" is kinda weird and creepy... don't you think? Read them over again. Seriously.

But nevertheless, "Pinkerton" is still a fine album! Unfortunately the press at the time hounded the band for Pinkerton. Rivers Cuomo seems to be a very sensitive guy so I imagine that he didn't take the criticism too well. And his subsequent actions regarding those criticisms, I feel, directly impacts that quality of Weezer's five albums that were released this decade.

Let's start off with "The Green Album." "The Green Album" is a very short album, doesn't even reach the 30 minute mark. It has some catchy songs, some memorable riffs, and "Island in the Sun" is actually quite brilliant. But overall, if you compare green to blue, you'll find that "The Green Album" feels awfully... safe. I'm talking Cold War era, mid-1950s safe. Like, any minute now, the sirens are gonna go off and we'll all have to hide under our desks for fear of nuclear war. The album just doesn't have the emotional punch of the first two albums. While it's still a decent album, its safeness is clearly a direct result of the criticisms that Pinkerton received. Unfortunately, in my opinion, "The Green Album" is the last good album Weezer has made. And after what I just said about the album, you can only imagine what I think about the subsequent four albums.

If the singles off "Maladroit" aren't bad enough, the main single off "Make Believe" is just plain insulting. It's insulting to anyone who has followed Weezer for more than a decade (at this point). But, let's go back to "Maladroit" for a second. It's not that "Dope Nose" is a bad song, it's just not a good single.

"Cheese smells so good
On a burnt piece of lamb (Say what?)
Fag of the year
Who could beat up your man"

What the hell is that? Rivers Cuomo of 1994 would have never written such awful lyrics. I know it's just ol' silly Rivers Cuomo talking, but damn... twenty-four years old Rivers Cuomo was a lot more witty and clever than 32 year old Rivers Cuomo. Unfortunately, this began a sad, sad trend in the life of Weezer. Look it over folks, each album that has been released by Weezer has suffered from immature, laughably bad lyrics. What happened? Why is Weezer, and more specifically Rivers Cuomo stuck in perpetual adolescence? Consider, for example, Pork and Beans:

"I'mma do the things that I wanna do
I ain't got a thing to prove to you
I'll eat my candy with the pork and beans
Excuse my manners if I make a scene
I ain't gonna wear the clothes that you like
I'm finally dandy with the me inside
One look in the mirror and I'm tickled pink
I don't give a hoot about what you think"

You'd expect something like this to be sung by a geeky 13 year old boy, not a 38-year old man. Rivers Cuomo is almost 40 years old. He has no business writing lyrics like this. Especially when he started his career as such a promising young songwriter. It's not that he's not allowed to be funny anymore, it's that he's simply not funny. He just sounds strange and awkward. It's like the past ten years, Rivers Cuomo has been trying to "make up for" the embarrassment that is "Pinkerton." Since then, he's never been able to capture the pure naked honesty and emotional purity of those songs. He's definitely never been able to write anything that comes close to "Only In Dreams." When I listen to "Only in Dreams" and "Holiday," I'm confused as to how badly Rivers's songwriting has become. Does it really have to be this way?

In order for Weezer to get better, Rivers Cuomo has to grow up and stop being so insecure. It's ok to pour your heart out in your songs still, Rivers.

And now, I leave you with some excerpts of Weezer lyrics that prove my point.

"I hope that I ain't freaking you out
You probably hear it all the time
I swear I ain't like those other boys
I'm a special kind

I would like to give a demonstration
Of what it is I do
I'll take you out to dinner at Palermo's
We'll split a cheese fondu"

I'm Your Daddy

"Me and JD chilling in the shack
Sharing Chiclets from the same pack
180-proof Vitamin Water
Energy flavor
Take us to your daughter
I want to see you pretty ladies on the dance floor (dance floor)
Put your hands up in the air like you don't care no more (we don't care no more)
We gonna hit the town tonight, we were born to rock"

Let it All Hang Out

"Put me in a special school
Cos I am such a fool
And I dont need a single book
To teach me how to read
Who needs stupid books?
They are for petty crooks"



I don't know why this sounds so much better...

"I've got posters on the wall
My favorite rock group KISS
I've got Ace Frehley
I've got Peter Criss
Waiting there for me
yes I do, I do"

But it does, it really does. It's inexplicable. Maybe it's that those lyrics (from the blue album) just come off more naturally than the lyrics I posted above. Maybe it's that they're not coming from a 37 year old man. Or maybe it's just that much more clever, yet simpler than the other lyrics. Every album since "Make Believe" sounds like Weezer trying to recapture the magic, yet simplicity that made their first album great. Unfortunately, they have failed. This is why they're the most disappointing band of the 2000s.

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