Top Twenty Tuesday – Weezer

The most entertaining past time since ranking the worst Weezer songs, it’s ranking the best Weezer songs! Step into Durbanboys’ personal list of triumphs as we count down the 20 best Weezer tracks, complete with a surplus of Blue and Pinkerton numbers. Let’s rock out like it’s 1994!

 

20. The Angel And The One (Red Album)

Dubbed Red Album‘s “Only In Dreams”, “The Angel And The One” concludes the record with an enlightened sense of self. Serving perhaps as a declaration of his relationship with fans and dissenters alike, Rivers Cuomo, along with the band slowly build instrumentally in confident execution. “I’ve reached a higher place that no one else can make a claim in”, he says, casually aware of the band’s apparent demise over the years, yet bold and as comfortable as ever in his own skin (and newly acquired affinity for old Western films).

 

19. Falling For You (Pinkerton)

As “Pink Triangle” feeds into “Falling For You”, faint whispers of a female voice speaking foreign words begin a soft, noodling guitar transitioning to the first loathing words out of Rivers Cuomo’s mouth. Keeping in line with Pinkerton standards, the infatuated lyrics are cunning and snide, yet Cuomo’s inherent disdain for certain traits of his adoration pierce through any sense of rational thinking. He whines of the woman “saying like too much”, and even pokes fun at his own shortcomings, being a three chord hero for example, yet his fervor is matched equally by the songs anthemic key change leading into the final chorus. It’s a perfect comedown to transition into Pinkerton‘s closing acoustic number after the album’s feedback-laden onslaught of angst and melody.

 

18. Take Control (Maladroit)

Keeping in line with the half-cheesy/half-amazing homage to shredding guitar riffs that empower Maladroit as a whole, “Take Control” proves as a staple example of this era post-Green Album that Rivers Cuomo more than ever was molded by the hair metal rock stars that influenced rebel kids all across the globe. The chorus is powerful; not only is it loud and heavy by Weezer standards, but it also maintains the charm and pop sensibility that makes the band such a melodic treat to listen to. Abstract and minimal lyricism allow for the band’s talent as musicians to shine at the forefront.

 

17. Susanne (Blue Album)

Hindsight is indeed 20/20, but considering a girl like Susanne in 1993 willingly putting the boys in Guns N’ Roses on hold for the sake of a nervous, budding talent in Rivers Cuomo, it’s no wonder he penned his own musical tribute to the mentor in his life. Serving as a Blue Album B-side, perhaps he sought it better suited that way. The lyricism feels like something more accustomed to a Pinkerton track listing, but the instrumentation is as Blue Album as it gets. It’s all that I want of a song, all that I need in the world…ong. Poetic!

 

16. Island In The Sun (Green Album)

Ric Ocasek has worked wonders for Weezer over the many years of collaborating with the band. Primarily serving as a producer on many a record, it was Ocasek that pushed for the inclusion of “Island In The Sun” on record, and my, what a good decision that was. Green Album in retrospect may not be the worst Weezer record, but all-in-all, it drags on with lulling mediocrity, which says something in spite of its short 28 minute play time. Nonetheless, “Island In The Sun” is a fun staple amidst bland outputs from a resurrected Weezer. It’s easy to play and has a basic 4/4 song structure, but above all of that, proves that within River Cuomo’s blood exists frequent epiphanies of song writing genius, and multiple music video productions.

 

15. Say It Ain’t So (Blue Album)

Judging by record sales and karaoke hits alone, maybe “Beverly Hills” captures the heart of a casual listener, but given Weezer’s long history and influence in pop culture, I’d place a safer bet on “Say It Ain’t So” being christened THE Weezer song. It possesses all of the elements that people associate with the band. The bouncing power chords throughout the track are infinitely recognizable and catchy, plus the inherent anxiety in Rivers Cuomo’s voice adds another element of uncertainty that beckons many an outcast to grab hold of for solace. Heck, examining the themes of the lyricism reveals not only the narrator’s dark relational issues  with his father, but also the insinuating self-medicating that takes place as a result. Whether or not somebody picks up on the underlying picture painted by the song is trivial compared to its overall influence as a slice on nineties alternative rock worship.

 

14. Ain’t Got Nobody (Everything Will Be Alright In The End)

I’m not the biggest Weezer apologist, nor do I boast a membership of their official fan club, but when it comes to a seemingly insurmountable mountain of opinions and labels given their reputation, I’ll call it like it is. Raditude is a universally heralded stinker, and Hurley defenders are in absolute denial. However, Everything Will Be Alright In The End is a shining glimmer of hope, and “Ain’t Got Nobody” is the sassy anthem song of an icon reborn, bordering on two decades of rock purgatory. Not only that, this opening song sets the stage for the rest of the album. What more could you want out of middle-aged Weezer? They sing about heartbreak to nobody in particular, but they’re content in life, wise beyond the angst that drove early outputs. The riffs and energy are back, and for that, I carefully have wrestled with the evidence in order to stake a true claim once and for all, that Weezer’s comeback officially took place in 2014!

 

13. You Won’t Get With Me Tonight (Songs From The Black Hole)

“You Won’t Get With Me Tonight” exhibits Weezer, in true garage band prowess, in their most energetic state. Originally slated to be the song to truly kick-off Songs From The Black Hole (save the introduction homage, “Blast Off!“), this track sparks the real ignition amidst textbook catchy power chords and self-loathing lyrics, and although the band’s name is plastered on the song’s credits, Rivers Cuomo recorded every instrument himself. Also of interest are the fragments of what would be portions of a final product heard on Pinkerton; Rivers Cuomo screams a noticeable “getchoo, getchoo, getchoo” in the middle of the chorus, followed by the songs concluding bass chugs leading into “Why Bother” as the track listing was poised to unfold.

 

12. Surf Wax America (Blue Album)

As carefree a song could be about catching sick waves coming from a bunch of nerds, perhaps the only additional claim to perfection “Surf Wax America” holds is it’s lackadaisical parody of carefree self-expression. It’s a song built on the essence of hedonistic tendency, yet is carefully layered with advanced musical expertise, organ-laden breakdowns, multiple part harmonies, and surf-rock themes. So often it goes that the most gifted artists are able to channel new worlds and cultures within their own melded subconscious, and Weezer nail the sound here.

 

11. Butterfly (Pinkerton)

Were Rivers Cuomo’s deep sadness any mystery to Pinkerton listeners given the poppy nature of the songs, “Butterfly” is a blunt heart song intertwined into a short, bedroom acoustic ballad. We are aware of the album’s opera-themed roots, so when Cuomo depicts a butterfly dying and withering away, his suffering is at an all time peak, while the creature is not suffering anymore. The track is as melancholy as it gets for Weezer’s discography, still being the only acoustic recording on a full length release. This speaks volumes of its importance on the record, both as a staple of Cuomo’s diverse songwriting ability, but also as a bookend to a thematic record not quite fully explored as originally intended.

 

10. The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Red Album)

Red Album is laughably bombastic, as first evidenced by a cowboy-clad Rivers Cuomo with his buddies on the crimson backdrop. Maybe Cuomo’s sole purpose for writing the record was to be as cunning a shapeshifter as humanly possible. Depicted initially by Weezer’s contemporaries, Red Hot Chili Peppers, capturing the hearts of fans new and old is as simple as attempting a myriad of different sounds and eras of music all in one 6 minute package. Maybe Rivers’ mustached, ten gallon hat wearing alter-ego is simply another disguise he wears to shield himself from any shame of dud records past, or maybe, he just wanted to create Red Album‘s best song and have a blast doing so.

 

9. The British Are Coming (Everything Will Be Alright In The End)

As thematic as Weezer has been over the years, “The British Are Coming” is perhaps their best execution of friendly, straightforward symbolism in a song. It’s not trying too hard to be something it’s not, and the Revolutionary War themes are in no way pretentious. Much like most of their return to grace on Everything Will Be Alright In The End, the track is straightforward power-pop, with River Cuomo effortlessly reaching high notes in the catchiest chorus that the record has to offer.

 

8. The World Has Turned And Left Me Here (Blue Album)

Functioning primarily as a follow-up peak into the actions depicted by the narrator on the previous track, “No One Else”, his cocky, demanding personality that attempts to dominate his girlfriend in all aspects of their relationship, “The World Has Turned And Left Me Here” is the aftermath of his prideful mire. It’s one of the earliest Weezer tracks ever recorded, and is thus depicted as the greatest overall image of the band’s sound in audio form. Channeling the sexist persona in the prior song bears this sad, yet laughable aftermath of his actions. “I talked for hours to your wallet photograph”.

 

7. I Just Threw Out The Love Of My Dreams (Songs From The Black Hole)

Whether you heard it on Pinkerton‘s Deluxe tracks, “The Good Life”‘s b-side, or as a piece of Songs From The Black Hole, it’s extremely important to note how this song plays out with respect to the ideas and order that it portrays. Rachel Haden takes lead vocals on the track, singing as one who rejects her lover, in spite of the love she has for him. When glancing at the potential of Songs From The Black Hole, take note that it all played a role in terms of the characters in the overall story. Right down to the synths overlaying the track and the female influence going back and forth with the male (Rivers Cuomo eventually playing a vocal role in the song), this is a textbook depiction of the closest thing we get to hearing what the project would have provided. Instead, we get Weezer’s best track excluded from any full-length release.

 

6. El Scorcho (Pinkerton)

“El Scorcho” being the first single off of Pinkerton could be christened “Weezer just being Weezer” in hindsight, but considering the context in 1996, the song was hardly a run-of-the-mill choice. This was Weezer’s presentation to the listener as an unhinged version of their Blue Album selves. River Cuomo’s wailing vocals are cringe-worthy by all means, and some lines can be interpreted as very forced in nature, but the evidence of Pinkerton‘s classic status change our opinion as a listener. Knowing the historical perspective of each song’s time and place speak volumes. Cuomo’s shout out to Cio-Cio San is an Easter egg reference to “Madame Butterfly”, the play that was said to be a huge influence on the record. Combine that with his textbook frustrations of lust and passion; “Goddamn you half-Japanese girls”, he shouts on the opening line. “El Scorcho” is an odd entry into Weezer’s odd sense of humor, yet is fitting here and now, because Cuomo’s journey has had so many witnesses to attest to the absurdity over the years.

 

5. Burndt Jamb (Maladroit)

Slick lyricism that rolls right off the tongue paired with a tender guitar lick provide die-hards of Weezer’s deep cuts with an absolute winner in “Burndt Jam”. Maladroit is labeled as the band’s hardest rocking record (whatever that means in your humble opinion), and the track here is not absent of a booming guitar solo before it sounds off into the next song. Even so, sorrowful themes pervade the track too, given the upbeat pacing. “Make me happy for one moment of my lifetime, I’d be there”.

 

4. Pink Triangle (Pinkerton)

It’s no wonder that Rivers Cuomo’s initial reaction to the press garnered by Pinkerton was one of bashful embarrassment. The lyrics are emotional to an extreme degree, so it only makes sense that the subject material serves as delicate entries into Cuomo’s mind. Funny, considering millions of consumers have listened to and purchased the album since its release almost twenty years ago. You’d have thought you’d heard it all traversing Cuomo’s deepest, darkest secrets. From the Japanese fetishes, to his exotic sex life, to yearning for a true love, the thought of an infatuation hitting a brick wall for reasons of sexual preference seem like a story too good to be true. This is better than reality television. This is Pinkerton!

 

3. Only In Dreams (Blue Album)

The comedown from Blue Album‘s head rush is an interesting dichotomy from the dream woman compositions as detailed in “No One Else”, or the beach hero past time of “Surf Wax America”. Here, we see Rivers Cuomo pitifully relaying thoughts of a girl once again, perhaps the same one spoken of prior, only this time, depictions of her traits and allure are depicted merely in a fictitious manner. You can’t avoid her, in the air between molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide; yep, she is just a figment of the imagination. Yet, Blue Album‘s conclusion boasts a reality of Weezer’s greatest bass line courtesy of Matt Sharp, and an epic buildup to take their debut out towards greener pastures (with a pink detour of course).

 

2. No Other One (Pinkerton)

“Oh My Darling, Clementine” lyricism confronted by the budding reality of being alone, “No Other One” is Rivers’ calling card to a bashful fear in loving matrimony. If true love is real, Cuomo is a stranger to this so-called merit, and the destructive, uphill battle that is his present lover is the best he’ll ever obtain. That said, it’s a train wreck meshing the two polar opposites, but what else is there?

 

1. Tired of Sex (Pinkerton)

Rivers is no stranger to making a first impression. By Rolling Stone standards, the fact of the matter was that Pinkerton was a nonredeemable introduction, perhaps the greatest blasphemy the magazine has ever published. In a learned mind, time heals all wounds, for it wasn’t until many years later that Weezer had tarnished any legacy cemented in the nineties. “Tired of Sex” is as raw as it gets, right down to the feedback exuding from your speakers up front. It’s the predecessor or R-rated version of Lou Bega’s future number one single, or maybe just an intriguing look into a geeky guy’s explicit sex life. By no means does he count it a victory, but for listeners worldwide, this is the genesis of a beautiful excerpt in nerd-rock history.

 

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