With the recent confirmation for the release date for their 9th studio album Everything Will Be Alright In The End, we thought it only appropriate to take a look at the quintessential sounds from geek-chic gods Weezer. While wait for September 30 to roll around, holding up your W’s, why not indulge yourself in Weezer goodness?
Here they are, the 11 best songs of Weezer’s career, thus far:
Weezer Red Album
What makes “Pork and Beans” quintessential to the Best of Weezer is, simply, the ’90s sound that it clung to. Though the song was released in 2008, it was like a window into Weezer’s iconic past. After years of disappointment, and before even more years of disappointment to come, the first wave of fans were allowed back into the living memory of rustic, bohemian guitar loops and simple, anthemic chord progressions. Take this to the top of your “Beverly Hills,” future disappointments.
“Photograph” explores the “cheese” that is part of the heart and soul of Weezer’s sound. Though their catalogue is massive, and diverse through and through, there is a earnestness that can’t be ignored. “Photograph” is a track that puts honest, unencumbered pop on blast.
“Surf Wax America” celebrates Weezer’s L.A. bred, surf-rock sound head on. From the apt track name to the jangling guitar melody to the refrain “ you take your car to work, I’ll take my board” the song is an anthem to any surfer looking to escape the grind. The dream of the open ocean and the perfect wave manifest as Weezer’s America, and we couldn’t be happier for them—even if we’re sitting at a desk, listening and wistfully only imagining the water lapping at our own feet.
After their self-titled debut in 1994, Weezer initially seemed to hit a sophomore slump with their less articulate, more visceral Pinkerton two years later. But after a little learning curve, it came to stand out as one of the more gritty collections of the nerd-rock quartet’s discography. “Tired of Sex” was an appropriate door to swing open upon that new direction, no matter how brief its trajectory.
A grimy bass line, a falsetto Cuomo, and a song about a loyal piece of paraphernalia—there’s not much more that needs to be said here. The ’90s underground anthem for turning off the lights and getting stoned, “Hash Pipe” was Weezer’s foray into a moodier sound. On an album with singles that ranged from the queasily bright “Holiday in the Sun” to the power-stance ballad “ Don’t Let Go”. “ Hash Pipe” added the perfect imperfection to give Green Album some creative diversity.
“Undone” was one of the first candle’s lit on Weezer’s birthday cake of mainstream success. And what better way to become known than with a jam settled in the cushiony metaphor of an unraveling, cable-knit identity crisis. With borderline absurd and obtuse lyrics, the fact that “Undone” received so much radio play forever altered Weezer’s destiny. It allowed nerd-rock to remain in the middle ground of too cool and not cool enough, giving the band the freedom to do what they wanted, how they wanted—sweater or no.
If we’re talking the post-grunge affects of Weezer, “El Scorcho” is the essential cut of their career. There’s a haphazard construction to the song, with off-screen hoots and howls from Rivers and company, and bombastic drumming that sticks out almost awkwardly against the main grain of the song. With the flourish of grunge transitions and a softer, alternative rock finish, the song breaks and bumps with a comparatively easier listen than its ’90s predecessors. But still, it holds on with an ironclad badassery that makes it okay to call Weezer “kind of tough,” just this once.
In the world of rock’n’roll, geek-chic has had its shining moments. Weezer is a testament to that style in sound, and “Buddy Holly” is a testament to predecessors of that scene. It allowed for the band to name-drop an icon, while playing with a more vintage sound that they sometimes entertained. And again, another incredible video stemmed from the track.
Catchy, wistful, and romantic, “Keep Fishin’ “ was another escapist hit. It was clear that Weezer had their priorities in order, putting love and the pursuit of a life worth leading before anything else. Plus, the hit single (and really the only memorable cut off of Maladroit) gave us a music video that featured some of the most memorable video vixens of all time—The Muppets.
Weezer could easily be type-casted by catchy, quirky sound. It can often be misleading to be so efficient at playing the same way for so long, as it can paint a picture of a one trick, thick-rimmed-glasses-wearing pony. It’s tracks like “Say it Ain’t So” that break the mold. The most heart-wrenching track in Weezer’s discography, “Say It Ain’t So” is a strong testament to the depth of Cuomo’s voice and the content the quartet can and will tackle. A multi-movement piece, it starts with a familiar hook, but leaves us with a confessional that almost (literally) screams of alcoholism and familial heartbreak.
“In the Garage” was the definitive track that took Weezer from catchy post-era grunge rock and transformed them into icons. This was a song for the misfits, through and through. With the titular line “in the garage I feel safe, no one cares about my ways,” Weezer proved to an emerging generation that, even though grunge was dying, there was still a voice for the outcasts. With quick pop-culture points of conversation, including X-Men references and an opening statement about Dungeons and Dragons, they established relevancy. They proved that even though the reverb was a little less dense and the rock a bit more surfy, the outcry was all the same—we acknowledge we’re strange, and that’s a damn fine thing to be.