Is Weezer the greatest band ever?
Last week, 3 of my friends and I were driving to a Weezer concert. It was an hour drive, and of course we fought over the music to be played in the car. One of my friends wanted Phish and freeform jazz; another preferred ambient electronica and stirring political propaganda from Mumia-al-Jabar and Jello Biafra; another liked emo and dub reggae. I, myself, like death metal, drum & bass and art-metal. Yet after the concert, we all agreed Weezer was awesome. We all sung all the songs and knew all the words. Weezer is the great uniter of music.
It is not a stretch to say Weezer is the greatest band ever. The evidence is strong. Weezer truly is rock music; every sub-genre, every shattered facet of music has been combined into Weezer’s style. “Take control” has the metal stylings of KISS. “Burndt Jamb” is a funk jam worthy of the Chili peppers. “Island in the sun” is Sugar Ray pop. “Photograph” is sunnier than the Beach boys. There’s a fair dose of comedy in “El Scorcho”. They have a lighter-holding anthem in “Only in dreams” and a crowd rousing punk rock closer in “Surf Wax America”. Weezer covers every musical extreme, and makes it their own. After announcing they are opening for Guns and Roses, Rivers Cuomo said “We are up for the challenge. We are confident enough now that we think we can take any type of music and make it Weezer.”
Every Weezer fan has a Weezer story; something about how they once met the band, a concert they saw, a little known story about Cuomo or Weezer’s erstwhile bassist. Their story inspires musicians everywhere; a band who shot to fame on one song, “Buddy Holly”, fell out of the spotlight for pursuing their artistic dreams, and came right back up again. The lead singer is a true rock enigma; a man of legend, who changes his image with every album. The Blue album was his cardigan wearing, geek-rock album. During Pinkerton, a commercial bomb, he went to Harvard for a while, hid in his house with no phone calls for a year, got expensive and painful leg surgery. By The Green Album, Rivers was known as a twisted freak and a recluse. Yet with Maladroit, a longer touring schedule and a happier attitude, he’s become metal king, wearing a flashy tuxedo during concerts and cracking jokes.
Most likely, the most correct image of Cuomo is the twisted recluse. Yet it does not change the fact that he is also a genius. Cuomo has studied the best of Nirvana, Metallica, The Pixies and the like, and has supposedly devised mathematical formulas capturing the essence of their songs. Mathematical formulas! Using these techniques, Cuomo has songbooks full of over 200 songs. 10 of them went on the Green album in 2001, 12 went on Maladroit last April, and more are set to come out this winter! Weezer, on top of it all, is amazingly productive, and the fans just keep eating it up. The songs are perfect; no note is out of place, no word is out of tune, no track seems too long or to short. It is impossible to criticize. Tool may be more elaborate, Pixies may have been more experimental, Nirvana may have been more passionate, but Weezer sits atop the throne of great, catchy songwriting. No other band’s lyrics are easier to sing to.
Which leads us back to the question, Is Weezer the greatest band of all time? I think so. Yes Beatles, Yes Velvet Underground, Yes Led Zeppelin, but Weezer has mastered rock to the pinnacle of perfection. They are every rock cliché rolled into a single, cohesive unit. They are loved by fans of Top 40 and fans of psychedelic garage rock alike. There will never be another Weezer, and we should appreciate them while they are around.