Saturday, July 30, 2005

What Happened to Weezer?

Starmaster's Guide to Goodness
Entry#1

*I'm flattered by the comments this post keeps getting. If you're interested in hearing about my current musical interests please follow me on twitter and tumblr and check out my music posts over at www.muzzleofbees.com (see sidebar for links).*

So the year is 1994 and Jon Thwaits and I are working together at this po-dunky little dollar movie theatre. Mann Theatres is a perfect place for us to hang out, talk music, and get paid 4.25 an hour to do so. John Heidenreich had just told us about this new band that he happened to see and tape on Conan O'Brian a few nights before. The band was called Weezer and the lead singer was this short dude with long bowl cut hair and black framed glasses. The lead guitarist was sporting a Cub Scout hat and the bassist was off the wall, dancing and grooving around all to the tune of a song called "Undone." After watching that performance our 16-year-old lives were immediately changed for the better. What made the deal sweeter, was that we found their debut album to be full of other sweet, perfect rock songs that all at once delighted, moved and inspired us. We were hooked. Over the next few years I saw Weezer play at small shows 3 or 4 times. Each time we went to a concert, we were able to meet and hang with the band afterwards (not as their homies, but as loyal fans getting autographs and pictures). I was a member of the fan club and would talk with Mykel and Carlie often about their adventures.

But it wasn’t just being a fanboy that made Weezer so special to us. We loved their tunes. Every song on Blue made us want to be rock stars. Mostly because every song on Blue is amazing. Think about it for a minute. Maybe with only the exception of Buddy Holly, every song inspires some kind of unique feeling: Jonas, No One Else, Say it Ain’t So, Holiday, Only in Dreams-- There was something about those songs that changed me as a person. Seriously.
So I go back to the question I began this entry with—What happened? When Pinkerton came out, I was so pleased that in many ways they delivered again. I remember listening to it for the first time sitting in the bed of a pick-up the day it was released on some headphones. When that first solo on Tired of Sex went down, I literally had tears in my eyes. Why Bother, El Scorcho, Getchoo and as always some of the B-sides from the singles (from Blue: Susanne, then Devotion & I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams—so sweet) continued to speak to me on some other level. But I could hear something in some of those tunes. Something seemed a little funny. Too bad it had to be four years before I could find out what.

In 2000 when Green came out, I had such high hopes. Rivers’ only release between the two albums (American Girls) allured me with the hopes that my boys would be back in action. Hash Pipe was pretty rockin’ but when I bought the album on its release date I was devastated. What happened? Why does every song sound the same? Where are the sweet guitar solos? What happened to all of the emotion? It was gone. And I am afraid to say that for the most part it has never come back.

Maladroit was a little better. It has a few tunes on there that I really like: Burndt Jamb and Death and Destruction among them—but most of the songs still sounded like Green leftovers. To make matters worse, Weezer’s commercial success had skyrocketed during the last few years and so it seemed to me that they were being reinforced for writing crappy music! So aggravating.

Because I am not one to give up hope, when I started to read Karl’s descriptions of the new stuff being written for the latest album Make Believe, I got my hopes up again. Rick Rubin was said to be producing the recording, and I thought to myself, finally! This is going to be it! Even Pat Wilson, the coolest dude in the world, was dissin on the other albums and saying that this new album was the best since Pinkerton.

Then it came out. So, so sad. The only really good song on it (This is Such A Pity) is one that is a total departure from their regular sound—and this is why it is so good! Because their “regular sound” can now be summed up with crap like Slave, Crab, Smile…(sigh) maybe it’s the single word titles. I am out of explanations.

Unfortunately--and this is an update written several years after the initial post, the Red Album (with the exception of "I am the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived" and "Miss Sweeney" also was lack-luster, and Raditude? Wow. It stinketh through and through. (update: Hurley came out. I didn't even buy it)

So I pose these questions for discussion:

1. Why does a band who seems to recognize and be capable of writing really great, unique songs fill three albums with virtually the same song rerecorded with different lyrics?
2. What happened to the feelings that inspired Only In Dreams? Why haven’t they recorded a single jam song since OID when they must be the funnest songs to play on stage, and are by nature so emotional?
3. Can we blame Rivers?
4. Do you think there is any connection between the fact that ever since Matt Sharp left the band it has never been as good as it was to begin with?
5. Am I being too critical? Are Green, Maladroit and Make Believe actually some of the band’s best work? If so, how do you figure?


20 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:46 AM

    Yes Weezer, my once favorite band is long dead to me.

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  2. Anonymous6:23 PM

    Agree, it's very odd. Once I heard "Beverly Hills", I knew the band I once loved was never coming back.

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  3. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Blue and pink was amazing... Seriously Listen to the Blue album then listen to the red album and you will be like WTF HAPPENED?!?

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  4. Anonymous9:04 AM

    I cannot agree with you more. What was once music evoked from the soul of a generation has become derivative and unimportant. Pinkerton is one, if not the, greatest albums ever made. I personally believe, or is it hope, Rivers is playing a game with us all. Art that mocks art if you will. He is setting the stage of mediocrity only to blow us all away later. I know Pinkerton was not critically acclaimed and perhaps this is the reason for the change but who cares. Bring back the Weezer we once loved. It's no too late. I hope Weezer would prefer to be idolized, influential or at least relevant rather than popular. Is it better to be Johnny Cash or Elvis Presley? Who continuous to influence music today? Cash not Presley.

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  5. Anonymous9:08 AM

    I had a nearly identical experience with Weezer up until the point where you again bought a Weezer album after 'Green.' At the time to me, it was as if Nirvana or Radiohead had started to make a Puddle of Mudd album after In Utero or OK Computer. Your blog was exactly what I was looking for. I searched "What happened to weezer" in google. Good luck.

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  6. Anonymous9:11 AM

    Regarding the "I hope Rivers is playing a game with us and will blow us away soon" comment, Rivers: you'll never get the chance because you sold your soul. "Suckers of Satan's cock."

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  7. Anonymous6:43 AM

    I guess this posting comes a few years late, but it's even more relevant due to the recent release of Ratitude. I think everyone has hit the nail on the head, the Weezer of today is not the same band from the 1994-96 era. But this is partly due to the initial failure of Pinkerton. Rivers Cuomo retreated after this album's release because it contained his inner most thoughts and fears and was completely lambasted by critics. It was even self-produced. Rolling Stone called it the worst album of the year.

    But the record gained momentum over the years and slowly became a monstrous success - going Platinum. Finally the band reassembled and put together a new album - of pop songs. They know how to craft a hook, but for the most part there appears to be no thought or real emotion in these songs.

    I think there are a few gems here and there still - The Angel and the One on Red, Make Believe has a few decent tracks, but in my opinion Maladroit was the last record containing any true Weezer songs.

    Funny how a band that came to be known as one of the true inspirations for a genre, Emo, is now completely devoid of emotion...

    Still holding out hope that Rivers will write his second great masterpiece as he enters middle age. This is another part of life that inspires artists to do some of their greatest work. Let's hope it happens.

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  8. john_iv10:49 PM

    It's funny...I was looking up "What happened to Weezer?" and the sentence popped up in Google as soon as I typed the 'W' in 'Weezer'. It's obviously not an isolated question.

    I'm in good accord with this entry. The first two albums were amazing, and full of quality songs each filled with its own emotion. The green album started to falter with some faux metal riffs and a few tunes reminiscent of the first two albums, but not quite... And it's all been downhill from there.

    Rivers and/or the whole band has/have lost the spirit, and I think they're not only rehashing emotionless versions, but attempting to grab at any gimmick or catch they can toss in, but to little positive effect... For instance, while I quite enjoy some Indian music, the Indian section in 'Love is the Answer' is just silly and ridiculous.
    Also, L'il Wayne's line "ok bitch its Weezer and its Weezy..." is a line drawn for me that says they've lost the way permanently.

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  9. john_iv10:55 PM

    It should also be noted that a lot of the charm in the first two albums (Pinkerton especially) came from girl-issues...various females and relationships in Rivers' life.

    Pinkerton came out in 1996.
    In 1997 Rivers met his wife to be...
    Dare I say that the happiness he's found in a married life has marred his ability to write lyrics and songs with the same emotionally charged feeling that he once had as a single man with girl problems...

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  10. Anonymous2:00 PM

    I was listening to old albums of theirs and I got sad, so I searched "what happened to Weezer." This article pretty much sums up everything I feel about them.
    And there was a comment here about how when they heard "Beverly Hills" they knew it was over. Same exact thing with me. the sadness. I loved, LOVED them. They got me through high school and my fresh year of uni. How many times did I cry listening to Pinkerton or head bang to the Blue album at 3 in the morning? Too many times. I've pretty much lost all hope, so it would be a nice and wholly unexpected surprise if they got back to their old real state. Good luck.

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  11. I agree with all of this stuff, even tough I was not as deeply into Weezer as othersposting ; I know a good jam (say it aint so, for example) when I hear it, and Beverly Hills is not a jam; and to hear Lil Wayne was droppin' lines on a Weezer tune? I like some of Weezy's stuff, but that's just straight sellout promo stuff right there, that's what it is. Lil Wayne aint no rocker. Their new track, "if you want me too" may be a step in the right direction. It sure beats Bev Hills.

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  12. Weezer got shit!

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  13. Anonymous8:08 PM

    I'm surprised how many people google'd what I did to get to this site.."what happened to weezer"

    It is very odd their career progression into crappy poppy songs that are devoid of emotion. It is as if Rivers is just making a mockery of his fame and shitting all over his former fans!

    BTW...anyone see the new cover released for their new cd "Hurley" or whatever...its just a picture of the fat guy from Lost smiling! WTF!?!?! Rivers, go back to college, you must have been dumbed down instead of educated!

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  14. if they have turned to a subtle career in comedy and their last 4 albums are jokes, then they are the best jokes ive ever heard! the sad thing is that some freaks out there still buy it.

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  15. I totally agree with you, weezer's sound has changed dramatically. There are some good songs among the other albums but nothing compares to pinkerton and the blue album. With hurley I had hopes of weezer coming back, but there's no such thing as that. The real thing is that we've lost them. Btw have you noticed that River's voice has changed?

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  16. Anonymous8:48 AM

    I too found this site by googling "What happened to Weezer?" I just saw Weezer last night at Universal Amp for the first time since the pre-Green "comeback" around 2000. Back then, Rivers stood at the mic and sang the tunes while playing guitar, all of which were good. They were cool and kind of understated. Last night, Rivers made an ass of himself parading through the crowd, throwing down guitars, trying to act like a "rock star." It was embarrassing, though I'll say the band aside from Cuomo was tight and played marvelously. After an unnecessary set break (they had only played for maybe 40 minutes) they returned to play Blue. Cuomo had taken off the dumb vest and donned a guitar. This was the Weezer of old. Band was tight, and from Sweater Song on, the energy level in the place began to take off, igniting the crowd. Only In Dreams was jammed out gloriously. Then, the lights came up - no encore. By juxtaposing the awesome early stuff (and attitude) with the retarded (Beverly Hills) later material, they really did make me (and probably everyone) wonder: What happened to Weezer? Hope these guys saved their money.

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  17. Anonymous1:20 AM

    I think that the new generation is to blame for the drastic change. Like a lot of you, I'm also surprised that I'm not one of few people, but many, who googled "what happened to Weezer?" We are the old generation. They can't afford to stick to the old generation. Unfortunately, like most celebreties, they move on to the next crowd and play the music that crowd likes. Goodbye old Weezer, we will miss you dearly.

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  18. Anonymous2:20 AM

    It's like Rivers started taking prescription medication post-pinkerton and has been churning out filler songs dead-eyed ever since. The last three albums (Raditude, Hurley and Death to Flase Metal) are atrocious.

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  19. Anonymous11:20 AM

    I was an avid Weezer fan who got into them almost right as they were completely gone. My first cd ever was a weezer album, Maladroit, and as a 13 year old kid in junior high I thought it was the greatest thing I had ever heard. From there on I became Obsessed with weezer and listened to their previous albums day and night, never getting tired of them regardless of the probably 1000's of times I listened to them over and over again. They became a distinct part of my development as a young man, and a person.

    I distinctly remember waiting anxiously for "Make Believe" to come out, I don't know if I have ever had higher hopes about something coming out before or since that CD.

    That turned out to be the single biggest dissapointment thus far of my LIFE. I tried to lie to myself and convince myself the songs on it still had the same emotion and power that their earlier songs had, but deep down it was as if I was listening to a Rivers held at gunpoint in some big hollywood studio forced to play garbage pop songs and write meaningless and dull lyrics.

    The only songs that I think are truly weezer since Maladroit are "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived", and "If Your Wondering If I Want You Too".

    I think the best thing for Weezer's music would be a messy divorce for River's, maybe then we could have back our angry nerds who were mad at the world, and couldn't get a girlfriend.

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  20. Anonymous3:21 AM

    RIP. They are never coming back people. It's over. I'm just as sad as you, but it's time to move on. Rivers is a total sell out and history will reflect him as such. The fact is, he stopped trying to record meaningful music after Pinkerton. He's chasing the fame and the mighty dollar.

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