Weezer, the ever uncool. Weezer the awkward nerds with guitars, synths and a strange affinity for KISS. Weezer has been producing music for 25 years. And according to a large percentage of their fans, they only have two good albums.
I think I was 14 when I was first told there were only two good Weezer albums. Before that I just enjoyed Weezer. In particular the Red Album. I thought The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived was a masterpiece. I would listen to the whole album all the time. Troublemaker would play as a 12 year old me cut behind the elementary school on my way to go hang out at the library for several hours as I waited for my parents to finish work. I listened to Hurley a lot and had a great time. My first introduction to Jackass was Memories. It’s also probably the most time I spent watching Jackass. I don’t have a stomach for these kinds of things.
But I was sitting in the living room of my best friend Erik’s house when he told me that there were only two good Weezer albums. And that Pinkerton, the one I never cared much for, was the best one. I was floored and upset. I walked back to the library to meet my dad while listening to If You’re Wondering if I Want you to (I Want you to). I felt conflicted.
I then did my best to get really into Pinkerton, stopped listening to the Red Album, and wrote a really long note to a girl confessing my love for her while citing songs from Pinkerton. It was a dark and greasy time.
I grew out of that, thankfully.
One fateful day Everything Will Be Alright in the End came out. I listened to it constantly. I loved it so much I made it my computer background. A friend, Brendan, saw it and asked what it was,
“It’s the cover of Weezer’s new album.”
“Weezer still exists?”
The White Album came out at a time when I was in love and I loved it even more. I mean, I couldn’t get my girlfriend at the time to listen to it. But the songs made me think of her and I was young and everything was alright. (in the end).
I actually found out about the White Album in my high school’s locker room. My father had texted me asking me what the hell my little band Weezer thought they were doing, when the real White album was already released by the Beatles.
Time passed and I became weirdly wary of Weezer again. Maybe it’s because I went to art school and had the volume of “Pinkerton is the only good Weezer album” cranked to 11.
When Pacific Daydream came out I listened to it once and wrote it off completely.
A few more years passed and I began to solidify my own opinions on Weezer. I still feel like the popularity of Weezer’s Africa overshadows the fact that the campaign to get them to cover the song in the first place was huge. And it was reaching a fever pitch as the rumored release date for Weezer’s long anticipated Black Album was supposed to originally drop. And you know what they did? They released a cover of Toto’s Rosanna instead.
And two days later they released Africa. And nothing Weezer-wise was ever the same.
Weezer blew up in a way they hadn’t in years. Bigger than they ever were before, singing someone else’s song, getting radio play and late night appearances, They were on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve Hosted By Ryan Seacrest. But now Weezer were the ones who weren’t happy. Rivers talked to EW about the struggle of being a songwriter for 25 years and having your biggest hit be off of someone else’s song you covered as a joke.
Weezer’s Africa amused me, but didn’t hold my attention.
Summer came. One morning on my way to my old job I decided to go back and revisit The Red Album. That cool 5am Boston morning reminded me why I loved it so much in the first place. Later I heard some songs on Pinkerton and remembered why I never cared for it that much. They’re such different albums. Much of Pinkerton is full of these weird and unsettling emotions that I don’t really enjoy listening to anymore. It seethes with a mix of emotions from high school I no longer wish to revisit. It quite literally feels like a sophomore album. On the other hand Red is just wall to wall with bangers and ballads. It also holds a reference to Bruce Springsteen, so it gets a 10/10 in my book. Also the video for Pork and Beans is one of the greatest pieces of internet culture ever released.
I revisited the Weezer of my youth. A band full of awkward angst and optimism. A band trying to have a good time, a band in love with the Mythical Land of California. A band that you had to defend as you were talking about liking, or even loving them.
SNL released a Weezer sketch that was sent to me so many times by so many people saying “look it’s you” when Matt Damon screamed that “Pork and Beans is better than Buddy Holly!” It happened so often that my dad sent it twice, forgetting he sent it the first time. I felt strangely validated.
Then SNL was like “It was a joke, we had no idea people had these opinions.”
That was a little invalidating. I choose to ignore that.
It was in Maddie’s DC apartment in bed around 2am when I heard about the Teal Album. At first I thought it was a joke. Rivers is infamous for letting other people write shitposts for his tweets. But it was real. After I stopped crying and laughing out of fear and amusement, I listened.
And actually really enjoyed it.
This time around Weezer’s Africa felt more impactful in the full context of the Teal Album. It lingered. The album had a lot of fun and heart put into it. And some really cool interpretations of songs, my favorite being Happy Together. Hearing Weezer have fun on the Teal Album made me realize how much I loved Weezer, and why I loved Weezer. They’re just some guys trying to have fun.
I enjoyed it so much that I went back and gave Pacific Daydream another try. And actually liked a lot about it. Not everything, but a lot. Mexican Fender is one of their best songs in recent history.
I went back and listened to Raditude again and enjoyed it. I fell back in love with Weezer.
As a writer and a Weezer fan I will be subjected to years and years of Weezer discourse. A lot of it negative and boring and bad.
A lot of headlines you see about Weezer’s exploits seem to be punching down. Sure, is it very weird that there’s a Weezer island in Fortnite? Yes. Absolutely. But somehow it feels perfectly Weezer. It’s so cool to hate on Weezer, yet Weezer’s Africa charted. People are listening to this stuff, a lot. And Despite the fact that it’s ‘cool’ to say that no one has cared about Weezer since 2001, they’re still drawing crowds. They’re still having article after article written about them. And they’re still putting out albums, each one different than the last. Some of them weird, some of them straightforward, but each one different than the last. Each one something new.
Why we can’t just let Weezer have fun? They’ve been trying so hard to have fun for nearly 30 years and every time they seem like they’re having a good time, all their fans are doing is complaining it’s not what they wanted. But the whole point of Weezer, their whole persona and mythology is that they’re oddballs and outcasts who no one wants. The fans reaction to Weezer’s output just reinforces the mythos of Weezer. They’re just gonna do the things that they wanna do.
Weezer never was cool and Weezer never will be cool. They’ve been proudly uncool ever since the beginning, with that wonderfully awkward first album cover. One headline by the Brooklyn Vegan says they’re “Confused and Out of Touch on the Black album.” But that’s always been Weezer. That’s what In the Garage was all about. They’re just some nerdy weirdos trying to have fun. They’re not going to fit in whatever molds the larger world tries to constrict them to.
And sure they don’t always hit the landing. I’d be relieved if I never had to hear the album version of “Feels like Summer” again. But at the same time I’d rather have Rivers, and Weezer as a whole try something new and weird and maybe even too poppy than release more songs like Pink Triangle. Rivers and Weezer are always working on albums. Even now they have two more albums in various stages of completion. Unlike other darling bands of the era, Weezer is producing new albums consistently. Meanwhile I’ve been waiting five years for a new OK Go album.
With the release of the Black Album Weezer fans have found more and more to complain about. As they will continue to do long after Rivers has run dry, so to speak. And maybe that’s the way it’ll continue to be. A strange push and pull, a back and forth. A yin and yang.
I suppose I’ll continue to unironically believe that the Red Album is the best Weezer album. Miss Sweeney is one of the greatest songs of all goddamn time.
Just, let Weezer have fun. They’re not hurting anyone. They just want to have a good time with the people who have been their fans for nearly 30 years.
Having listened to the album while editing this essay, the Black Album is really good. I like it a lot! It’s poppy and upbeat and a little weird. It’s a logical evolution from the White Album, with a lot of feelings of the Green Album, and maybe a little Raditude thrown in there. If that doesn’t sound like your speed and you wanna wallow in some angst, I hear Gretta Van Fleet has a covers album or two.
Thank you for your time. All hate mail can be forwarded to my Beverly Hills address.
All my Love,
Bailey F. Olmstead
(Ride or Die, Baby)