Weezer: The Best WORST Band Ever!

Hey what’s up you guys! Marty Schwartz here! I have something on my mind I want to share
with you. Just imagine. It’s 1997, you’ve barely
put on your overalls, your snapback hat is just lightly on top of your dome, and you’re
about to put your favorite CD in your discman. When all of a sudden, POOF! 2019 Marty Schwartz
is in front of you, not to warn you about any future wars or impending danger, but to
tell you that in the future, Weezer has become one of the most disliked bands in the world!!! This would certainly be a surprise, given
that The Blue Album and Pinkerton are two of the greatest rock records of the 90’s,
but since all of you (gesture to the camera) are in the future with me and have lived though
to “Beverly Hills,” “Pork and Beans,” and “I’m Your Daddy,”, you know the
sad truth. To understand why Weezer fell from grace as
one of the greatest bands of the 90’s all the way down to one of the most divisive in
history, you first have to understand one simple fact: Weezer had been trolling us for
almost two decades! Don’t believe me?? Let’s start from the
beginning. The success of their self titled debut surprised
all the members of the group, especially the band’s frontman. Rivers found the tracks
from their first record “simplistic and silly” and vowed to compose more complex
music for their next album. But this task proved to be quite a challenge. After abandoning
several different concepts for their sophomore release, and having surgery on his leg, Cuomo
enrolled at Harvard University to study classical composition. While at Harvard, he grew a beard, walked
with a cane due to his surgery, and invested heavily in his studies, hoping this experience
would challenge him creatively. He later joked about meeting students wearing Weezer shirts
that had no idea who he was. Despite this drastic change of scene, Cuomo’s feelings
of isolation and rejection drove him to write darker and less playful music. Only two semesters before finishing his degree
at Harvard, Rivers’ desires to reunite his old band outweighed his desire to finish school,
so he dropped out early and literally put the old band back together — three years
after their first major success. He and the group then dove head first into
their second effort, Pinkerton. They recorded many of Cuomo’s songs that dealt with the
negative feelings he had while studying at Harvard, including “Why Bother?,” “Tired
of Sex, and “El Scorcho” Even though Pinkerton was more in line with
the type of music the band wanted to produce, it was a commercial failure. Only later did
it receive the critical acclaim that it now has. This release prompted the band to take
a hiatus where Cuomo continued to battle his feelings of isolation and depression. It took 5 years for the band to reunite and
go back to their roots with “The Green Album.” Though it was more commercially successful,
it didn’t have the same organic sound of their debut. It seemed more analytical and
formulaic — like they were trying to make a pop album. Many of the tunes were around
two and a half minutes and contained a guitar solo in the middle that simply mimicked the
song’s melodic hook. This is when Weezer really started to go off
the rails. Since the early 2000’s, the band has put out several records, each one seemingly
more disappointing than the last, including Make Believe, The Red Album, and Hurley. These
albums come off as formulaic, are laced with cynicism, and it just seems like the band
knows that all this work is derivative. That is why I submit that Weezer, and especially
Rivers, has been playing a longform, ironic joke on us all. Pinkerton paints a pretty vivid picture of
Cuomo’s disillusionment with the rock’n’roll lifestyle, and is clearly the band’s most
honest album to date. It’s hard to imagine a world where this band can artistically go
back to their roots after putting out an album like that. After the commercial failure of Pinkerton
and the commercial success of the Green Album that succeeded it, it seems like Cuomo is
saying to us through his music, “OK then, if THIS is the music you want… then this
is what you’re going to get.” In my view, this is why Weezer continues to
put out song after song that contains the most juvenile lyrics sitting atop the laziest,
poppy hooks they can come up with. And the morbid curiosity around what they’ll do
next has created an indestructible band that continues to sell out shows and move a decent
amount of records. It’s almost like Weezer is seeing how much
they can debase themselves before people will stop buying their records. And like a modern
day Bialystock and Bloom, it seems that the further they go, the more attention they get.
Even now, their newest efforts seem to be outright comical and speak to this sentiment
pretty directly. Their song “Back to the Shack” seems to be poking fun of the fans
that they’ve lost after the millenium. Now, Weezer is not the only band to partake
in the long tradition of musical trolling. Early in his career, Frank Zappa was told
that, in order to be successful, he couldn’t solely produce instrumental music. He HAD
to write lyrics and give his songs an accessible structure, which is how we ended up with “Ruben
and the Jets”, “Freak Out”, and most notably “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow.”
In my view, Weezer’s “Pork and Beans” somewhat emulates the vibes from Zappa’s
album “We’re Only in it for the Money.” These songs were intentional. They were meant
to mock the musical moment of the time. I believe that Weezer’s music from the last
few years accomplishes the same goal, culminating in “The Teal Album” — a novel group
of farcical covers, and “The Black Album”, which could probably snag a “Best Comedy
Album” Grammy, if it was nominated in that category. Weezer certainly takes the cake for gaming
the music business for the longest period of time, but I believe the ultimate modern
musical troll is Lady Gaga. Her career is almost Weezer in reverse. Before I continue, I will say Fame Monster
era Lady Gaga produced some pretty catchy tunes, BUT they were unapologetic, self-referential
pop songs. Even the way she presented herself in public seemed to make fun of the ludicrous
culture that surrounded pop music at the time. I mean, c’mon. Her album was called “The
Fame Monster!” Only now is Lady Gaga producing music and
partaking in projects that truly showcase her incredible talent as a musician — much
like how the early Weezer albums showcased Cuomo’s talent. And sure — Zappa, Weezer,
and Gaga are certainly strange bedfellows, but the thread that connects them is musical
satire, which is possibly the most unnoticed ruse our culture has ever seen. With traditional satirists, think The Office’s
David Brent, Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert, or Late Show’s David Letterman, you know
what’s going on, and that’s why it’s funny. But with a group like Weezer, it’s
much harder to nail down. I encourage you to listen to Weezer’s music,
especially their newer work, with this in mind. If you can find the irony in it and
understand that they’re shamelessly lampooning the musical moment in the 90’s that made
them famous, I bet you’ll find their later work more enjoyable. Do you still buy Weezer albums? Have I got
it all wrong? “I’d hate for the kids to think I’ve lost my cool!” Let me know
in the comments below, and while you’re down there don’t forget to like and subscribe.
Thanks for supporting Marty Music, and we’ll see you again soon!