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The Top 25 Weezer Tracks

May 15, 2019 | Posted by David Hayter
Weezer

25 years ago this week Weezer dropped their iconic self-titled debut album, better known as The Blue Album. Full of great melodies, oozing in angst and distinctly the product of outsider/geek culture, Weezer instantly stood out from the crowd becoming a key influence for a legion of awkward bespectacled teens.

Of course Weezer thrived, not because of who they were or the traumas of Rivers Cuomo’s past (although that certainly helped), but because they wrote such brilliant pop songs and have, however inconsistently, continued to assault the charts to this very day.

So, in honor of their anniversary, we’re counting down Weezer’s Top 25 Tracks: one for every year since their debut dropped.

25. Keep Fishin’ [2002]

It was tough to pick anything off Maladriot. Despite both “Keep Fishin’” and “Dope Nose” being substantial singles, the mixing on this album is so cloth-eared and overbearing that it almost manages to extinguish any of Weezer’s charm. The key word of course being “almost”, because “Keep Fishin” contains a divine chorus that showcases Rivers at both his sweetest and cruellest (“It breaks my heart to see you hangin’ from your shelf”).

24. Perfect Situation [2005]

Rivers verges on self-parody with “Perfect Situation”. The wit and abstractions of old are gone, but he’s still chasing disinterested girls and slinking off alone. Luckily, while this effort might be painfully lacking in nuance, it is one of Weezer’s sharpest pop compositions. Every line is undeniably catchy. The verse is one upped by the chorus before a show stealingly beautiful bridge emerges. Rivers may be more of a craftsman than a genius these days, but let’s not forget, he is one hell of craftsman.

23. Why Bother? [1996]

The logical endpoint of Rivers’ self-destructive internal monologue, “Why Bother?” is bitterness incarnate: the moment when the white flag is raised and Weezer quit women once and for good. Ha! Who are we kidding? They couldn’t even last a single song! Rivers is a hopeless romantic with a rapacious libido: so this raucous rocker might be delusional in the extreme, but my god is catchy.

22. December [2002]

Trust Maladroit to get good at the end with this wailing lamentation. There’s no great trick or wit here, instead Rivers alights on a single sentiment (“Only love can easy the pain”) and lets it stew, until he’s garnered every last droplet of sweetness and ache.

21. Porks And Beans [2008]

“Everyone likes to dance to a happy song, with a catchy chorus and beat so they can sing along”. Rivers might have been dripping in irony, but that’s pretty much exactly what he delivers on “Pork and Beans”: a wonderful ode to breaking the rules of good taste in favor of true self-expression. Of course, there’s a not so subtly message to those fans and critics demanding a return of the Weezer of old: “I don’t care! Imma do the things I wanna do/I ain’t got a thing to prove to you”.

20. Knockdown Dragout [2001]

Romance is a serious business for Rivers Cuomo: in fact, it’s gruelling trench warfare waged, if your lucky, for an entire lifetime. The breezy lead guitar part provides a contrast to a head down vocal that does its best to disguise another set of irresistible melodies and a sneakily seductive key change.

19. Pink Triangle [1996]

“We were married in my mind, but married in my mind’s no good”. To the surprise of no one, Rivers Cuomo is very much in his own head. He’s a bit of paranoid obsessive, but for all his skittish distrust, he’s also the kind of guy to fall head over heels with a figment of his own imagination – and that’s an incredible dangerous combination. It’s the kind of thinking that leads you to fall in love with a lesbian or murder someone in cold blood – lucky Rivers has his music, eh?

18. L.A. Girlz [2016]

Even in his late 40s Rivers Cuomo is still perfectly capable of capturing the woes of an awkward teenage boy approaching the girl of the dreams (and being rejected over and over again). “L.A. Girlz” is a winsome delight, punctuated by a devastating chorus: “L.A. girls, please act your age/You treat me like I have the plague”. Of course, Rivers imposition that someone who isn’t interested him should be, is a touch crass, but it’s beautiful balanced by the last line, which confirms Rivers well meaning status: “Sweeten up your lemonade and meet me down at Tower 28”.

17. The Good Life [1996]

Who said Pinkerton lacked plausible lead singles? “The Good Life” is an absolute banger, with its swanky lounge lizard grooves soundtracking Rivers mental breakdown and eventual triumph over self pity. Somewhat unique in the indie rock cannon, “The Good Life” is a fist-punching and unashamedly nervous embrace of life from a depths of societal alienation.

16. The World Has Turned And Left Me Here [1994]

“I talked for hours to your wallet photograph and you just listened/You laughed, enchanted by my intellect, or maybe you didn’t”. Those devastating lines are delivered with a beautiful melody that knowing recalls McCartney in his pomp. Rivers is pulling back the curtain on the darker, more possessive side of his mind that would inform Pinkerton. He’s been rejected, but he cannot let go.

15. (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To [2009]

Weezer have accomplished so much over the years, but with the notable exception of “Buddy Holly”, Weezer have never really made us dance. Well that’s where “…I Want You To” comes in. This sweet skipping onslaught of peppy percussion and acoustic delicacy is a late career delight, perfect for cutting loose and pulverising the dancefloor with the one you love.

14. El Scorcho [1996]

Rivers disastrous Harvard freshman year brought us the sex starved depravity of Pinkteron, but it also brought us the strange sweetness of “El Scorcho”. It might be sung with all the control of an inmate at an insane asylum, but these snapshots of Rivers quest for a half-Japanese cellist remain endearing. She hasn’t heard of Green Day, she loves ECW, but he’s falling for her all the same and his seduction proves both charmingly naïve and deeply creepy (“I think I’d be good for you, And you would be good for me”).

13. Undone – The Sweater Song [1994]

The first song Weezer ever wrote and the first single off their debut album, “Undone – The Sweater Song” might be a droning homage to The Velvet Underground, but in truth its an early indicator of Weezer’s potential. Big cascading chords and a number of subtly stacked hooks grab attention in the foreground as Rivers pens a universal ode to anxiety and coming undone.

12. Island In The Sun [2001]

Rivers earned this. After the trauma of Pinkerton, he deserved this very literal moment in the sun. A work of divine relaxation and soft summer vibes, “Island In The Sun” is a delight: simple, pure and sweet.

11. No Other One [1996]

Pinkerton’s brilliance lies in its absolute rejection of artifice. Weezer can be clever and cute, but not here. There lyrics are direct, vulnerable, free from irony and any face saving affectation. The shock revelation should be that Rivers is dating a drug addict and a cheat, but instead “No Other One’s” most powerful moment is the pitiful realization that: “She’s all I’ve got/And I Don’t Wanna Be Alone”.

10. In The Garage [1994]

B-E-V-E-R-L-Y H-I-L-L-S ! ! ! Who could ever have imagined Rivers Cuomo would be screaming those inane words surrounded by models, when he was holed up in his garage clutching his dungeon master’s guide and starring dreamingly at his poster of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. Well he made it, but we should never forget Weezer’s origin story. They were the “losers” finding solace in their comic books, boardgames and rock music: they were awkward, at times unlikeable, outsiders. Ironically, today, when Avengers Endgame and Game Of Thrones rule the roost and you can happily play D&D at any number of artisanal boardgame cafes, they’d be painfully normative. Proof that deep, heartfelt connections are forged between a band and their audience in a specific time and place – context is always king.

 

9. Do You Wanna Get High? [2016]

Hang on a minute; I thought the growling, fidgety, over-anxious Weezer was supposed to be dead and buried? Well apparently not. The White Album was very much Rivers Indian summer and “Do You Wanna Get High?” is proof, if anyone needed it, that he could write another Pinkerton or Blue Album if he so chose. The melodies are divine, the romantic naivety has returned and brought the crash and crunch of old along with it. “Do You Wanna Get High?” might be a exercise in nostalgia at this point, but who could possibly care?

8. Tired Of Sex [1996]

One of the great albums openers of the 90s alternative rock era, “Tired Of Sex” is a perfect tone setter with its squealing guitars and depraved howling chorus. Pinkteron had arrived and Weezer had changed. Rivers was going to open up and reveal a craven darkness and sardonic want that would overwhelm his psyche and leave him down on his knees. Explosions of raw angst don’t get better than this disdainful eye roll in the face of a legion of groupies.

7. Hash Pipe [2001]

In the wake of Pinkerton’s commercial failure Rivers had decided to put his guard back up, that might have meant an end to the terrifying intimacy of old, but it certainly didn’t lead to an end of anxiety. On this raw romper stomper, Rivers finds his inner nervousness in the woes of others as he tracks a Transvestite’s walk down Santa Monica with a blend of humor (“I can’t get a trick…tricks are for kids) and despair (“I can’t help feelings, I’ll go out of my mind”).

6. The Greatest Man That Ever Liver (Variations On A Shaker Hymn) [2018]

This is one of Rivers Cuomo’s absolute favorite Weezer songs and (as you can tell from its placement) its one of mine too. The lyrics are closer to nonsense than anything truly meaningful – although the track does serve as a powerful self-belief and cut loose anthem for nerds the world over – but that’s beside the point. “The Greatest Man…” isn’t about words, it’s about Rivers’ love for music itself. This is an experiment in structure and a tribute to all of his favourite artists and styles, with one homage stacked one atop another from Buckley to Beethoven.

5. Buddy Holly [1994]

Rivers is on his own trip: we’ve all come to accept his. He’s given up on opening up, but not experimentation. Sadly, while he is intent on discovering pastures new, he just cannot get over the billboard charts and it’s painful to see the 2019 Weezer groping so desperately for a hit single (“Feels Like Summer”) when they used to write songs as effortless, essential and heartfelt in their perfection as “Buddy Holly”

4. Falling For You [1996]

No song captures the change in atmosphere from Weezer’s debut to their sophomore album better than “Falling For You”. There is a glorious melody and a pitch perfect chorus ready and waiting to conquer the charts and slay arenas, but that’s not what Rivers wants. Every note is a touch too impetus, too needy and too oddly aggressive. Thankfully, what Weezer sacrifice in pop potential they gain in poignancy as Rivers unveils a series of devastatingly believable vulnerabilities. “I’ve got a number of irrational fears that I’d like to share with you”, whether he did manage to find solace in his younger partner is a mystery, but thankfully he shares his every anxiety with the listening audience culminating in a powerfully sweet chorus: “I’m shaking at your touch, I like you way too much”.

3. My Name Is Jonas [1994]

Ah the enteral irony: when you’re young have all the time in the world, you just cannot wait to grow up as quickly as you possibly can, but of course, when you reach maturity you are desperate for the pace of life to slow. “My Name Is Jonas” is a magnificent, churning epic in its own right, but it’s also a powerful reflection on change, memory and the loss of control of something as seemingly simple as buying your first house.

2. Getchoo [1996]

Pinkerton is an unpleasant record, there’s no two ways about it. The album absolutely reeks of desperation and depravity. Rivers flits between the victim and manipulator (the freshman and the rockstar), as likely to torment woman as he is to be left whimpering in a puddle. “Getchoo” captures this macabre tension as it blends an insidious melody with atonal shrieking and slamming guitars.

1. Say It Ain’t So [1994]

This song has of course been dented by its own Karaoke classic status – I have to hold my hands up, I’ve butchered it on more than one occasion – but we shouldn’t let “Say It Ain’t So’s” familiarity undermine its brilliance. Daddy issues and perpetual nervousness are turned into the subject of one of the great screaming rock anthems of the 90s and it remains a truly remarkable feat. The slamming guitars, that wonderful wailing chorus and that brutal final verse sung through gritted teeth are beyond sublime. “Say It Ain’t So” remains a masterclass in turning devastatingly personal trauma into something universal. It’s a song for the skittish children of divorce to find solace in and it’s a hit for drunken legions to bellow with a beer in hand – and that’s strangely beautiful, because, after all, what do you need when your at your lowest point? An arm round your shoulder and blast of thrilling escapism. Weezer provided that and so much more with “Say It Ain’t So”.

 

article topics :

Weezer, David Hayter