Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Needs to Stop: Weezer

*** "Needs to Stop" is an on-going segment, where I take great bands that have disappointed me and scold them.***

If you are in a fledgling rock band and want to learn how not to destroy your career, or if you just feel like being depressed in general listen to Weezer's discography in chronological order. By doing so you will learn how a unique band full of talented individuals slowly became one of the most shallow one-dimensional artists around.
Weezer aka The Blue Album was one of the best and most important releases of the 90's. The influence from it can be clearly seen in much of the mainstream pop-rock and indie rock bands today. Rivers Cumo's style of lyrics even helped craft Emo into what it regrettably became. Songs like "Undone (The Sweater Song)" and "Say It Aint So" didn't necessarily have the most poignant lyrics or anything musically incredible, but the sound and feeling they created spoke to a generation that could really relate to it.
Then came Pinkerton, at the time it was panned by critics and hated by the band. However, as time progressed people started to discover the magnitude and distinctiveness of this disc. Nowadays, Pinkerton, along with Blue are considered their most important works.
   Then came the downward spiral. The Green Album, and Maladroit,were released. Each of which had their own individual moments, "Island In The Sun" off of Green is considered a classic, and many songs off of Maladroit hold special places in my heart. However while each of these albums had their shining points of brilliance, they have all been overshadowed by the filler and uninspired tracks that litter these records.
With the advent of Make Believe it really became apparent that Weezer stopped caring. While they roped in new throngs of MTV-ites to their fan base with "Beverly Hills" the rest of us who have been with them since the beginning felt cheated. These songs came off very exhausted, it felt like they pained the band to sing them. This showed with the subsequent concert that I saw them perform when they were touring in support of this album. After the tour rumors spread that Weezer were breaking up.
    In 2008 those rumors were put to rest when their third self-titled record, The Red Album was released. Buzz was spurring all over the internet about this album, people had a feeling that since they were releasing a self-titled album it would be above-par for them since their track record with self-titled albums has been pretty good. Would this album live up to the hype? Nope. Not at all. Sure "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived" is too epic of a song not to enjoy but when compared to "Buddy Holly" or "El Scorcho" none of these tracks hold a candle to their previous work. It seemed to a lot of us that Weezer needed to take a much needed break and focus themselves and re-establish their sound. Instead they recorded an even worse album the very next year.
    This leads me to Raditude their 2009 release, the record that is being dropped today, the entire reason that has inspired me to write this blog. To call Raditude a bad album is putting it nicely. Raditude could possibly be the worst piece of shit I have heard in years. Every single track is drenched in half-assed craftsmanship all around. The songs aren't catchy, the lyrics are god-awful, and the musicianship is insanely bad for a band who weren't known for their instrumentation to begin with.
To hear how Weezer has since gone from "My Name Is Jonas" to "The Girl Got Hot" or "Can't Stop Partying" brings a tear of disappointment to my eye. Here is a sample of the lyrics from their new hit "Can't Stop Partying":

Monday to Sunday I hit all the clubs
And everybody knows me when I pull up
I got the real big posse with me, yeah I’m deep
And if u lookin for me I’m in vip

WHAT THE HELL?! That sounds like something some douche-bag open mic act would write! Weezer please I beg you, stop. Stop hurting your music, stop hurting me. Rivers Cumo you are thirty-nine years old, stop talking about high-school. It was great in 1992, now it is just creepy! I am sick and tired of people trying to come up with excuses for this band. "Oh they're just trying to have fun!" or "Oh they're actually mocking what their singing about." No. I am all for fun. However if you are in a band that wrote The Blue Album you have expectations as artists. You can have as much fun as you want, as long as it's on par with your previous work. 
Now I am not saying Weezer needs to quit period. However, they need to really re-assess who they are and what they are contributing as a band to their genre. They need to stop associating themselves with these teenie-bopper pop bands like Taking Back Sunday, Fall Out Boy, or Blink-182 because Weezer is way out of their league. Rivers Cumo needs to mature as a songwriter and start coming up with lyrics that are appropriate for his age, not for the piraƱas of MTV. And above all they need to re-listen to their previous work and learn what they are capable of, Pinkerton especially, an album that is brash carefree and honest. Weezer has done a lot and are still in a prime age for a rock band. They could make an even bigger impact on music if they sit down and work hard. However, if they keep churning out crap like they have been, then they might fade away, and that would be a terrible shame.

Rather than polluting the internet with songs from Raditude I decided to post a video compilation of the Weezer that was and what they have become, so you can draw your own opinions.

The Good:

The Bad:

The Ugly


  1. I'm very fervent with my many opinions of Weezer. I'll just say it all went downhill after Matt Sharp left the band... he was probably the guy who would say, "no Rivers, that's a stupid idea." Plus, when he left the harmonizing bridges that make songs such as 'Holiday' and 'The Good Life' went too. Song structure took a dive. His stuff with the Rentals afterwards was pretty decent.

    The Green Album holds a special spot in my heart but the band became nearly unlistenable after Scott Shriner joined. I blame their downfall on him.

  2. After listening to the new album, I agree with you on one aspect: Weezer's image changed entirely after Maladroit. What was once a band comprised of geek/nerd pop shuffle (My Name is Jonas, No One Else, Surfin' USA, The Good Life, Why Bother?) and haunting, melodic, distorted symphonies (Undone, Only in Dreams, Say It Ain't So), became a band that just wanted to do two things: Make catchy riffs and bitch about high school stereotypes using stupid pop culture references (Beverly Hills, In The Mall, Pork and Beans).

    I don't think, however, that the band's main message ever changed. Instead, they changed the way they delivered their critique of pop culture. They had a drastic overhaul from sounding poetic, calm, and critical, to sounding like a crappy, overproduced, awkward-lyriced powerhouse. However, the same charisma is still present: You go to a live show, you see the same Weezer. It's almost as if their attitudes never changed, but their music just couldn't withstand the test of time and deteriorated into the crap that Ratidude is.

    Songs like "If You're Wondering If I Want You To," "Let It All Hang Out," and "Run Over By A Truck" are probably the highlights of the album. The guitar riffs in these songs want SO BADLY to be classic Weezer songs. But the nonsensical lyrics hinder it. Rivers is trying to be too literate with his critiques nowadays, and it sucks hard. And songs like "I Can't Stop Partyin'" and "In the Mall" are just pointless, annoying, and most of all, NOTHING like Weezer. In fact, it almost hurts more than The Red Album. I thought the Red Album was iffy, but it was still a step in the right direction. Parts of Ratitude want to take another step in that same direction, but these songs make it stumble and fall, once again keeping Weezer the same awkward collection of catchy riffs, offhand references, and weird song styles. While this is probably the most diverse of their albums, I think it rings true that all Weezer fans would even prefer the piece of crap that Make Believe is over Raditude. Because this album, unlike Make Believe or the Red Album, not only doesn't have a purpose lyrically, it also fails to have any musical purpose at all.

    The album gets two stars in my book. Some great instrumentals on one or two tracks, but overall, Weezer just falters. They need to implement good songwriting- that means sitting down as a band and writing a song, not coming up with a catchy riff and throwing mindless overproduction and lyrics on top. Rivers needs a lyric coach, or just needs to drop the game entirely.