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“Dolby’s Top 25 Weezer Songs”

Eh, so Ween stopped making albums after 9/11, Weezer started making the red album and Raditude. What’s the difference, really? Both with equal effectiveness prove that the well of inspiration was dried up and maybe that there’s less to gain in this enterprise with the onset of streaming and whatnot. Still, this is a band that I used to like a lot and whose old albums and certain singles I still go back to for what seems like a boyish, pure love of rock and roll, and of course, truckloads and truckloads of white-boy awkwardness. It’s like music that tends directly to the tendrils of your neuroses and assures you that, uh, I got neuroses too, not that I know what the fu** to do about them. By the way, I was already an ardent devotee of “Africa,” having glimpsed Umphrey’s McGee covering it at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington somewhere around 2003. I knew sifting through those oblong 20-minute songs would pay off eventually. 

It’s funny, I have so many other lists I’ve started and haven’t completed yet, and I just began this one today and banged all the way through it like a maniacal dog. It’s like I just had to get it done before summer was over. Is it possible that this stuff still has importance? This entire experience has been taking me back to my high school days with rich and innocent luster, back to the days when you sneered, stood tall and rocked out and saw what the He** happens.

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25 “Fall Together” (Maladroit)

“Fall Together,” one of two hair metal tunes on this album, is proof that Maladroit (2002) harks back to a day when Weezer was revving it up and kicking out tense, dangerous rock music, quintessential all with the ironically placed quip of unadulterated antagonism: “I’ll be your weakness baby / And get to you”.

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24 “American Gigolo” (Maladroit)

“American Gigolo” is an album opener that right away establishes much of the tension and mania that is to pervade this entire project, like a band that’s so sick of the status quo of patriotism and jockiness that they’ll deliberately be foolish or backward, just as a way of standing out. The results are pretty fun, though, and delivered as pretty cathartic through the Fender stacks of their live show. 

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23 “Smile” (Weezer/2001)

“Smile” comes within a bath of cohort terse, succinct pop tunes on what I find to be the underrated green album and is maybe aptly titled with its reference to Brian Wilson (the band would later release a pretty mediocre track “Beach Boys” on which they’d express their love to said group). Outside of that, it’s a little hard to find discussion material, other than that this and Oasis’ “Cigarettes & Alcohol” would always run together in my mind because they both had the line “make it happen” prominently placed. I suppose this is a testament to how hypnotic the whole thing is.

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22 “No Other One” (Pinkerton)

The Caucasian awkwardness of Weezer comes to an hilarious head here with the lines “All of the jokes she does / Scare me real good”. The whole thing then is very self-deprecating with the emphatic chorus declaration of “No / There is no other one” and it’s delivered with so much dark angst and frustration that he pretty much sells it, believe it or not.

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21 “My Name is Jonas” (Weezer/1994)

“My Name is Jonas” is an important album opener on their first LP because it established a couple things for the band, regarding their overall m.o. One, of course, would be the sound, which was a tame but pungent brand of grunge rock, rendered on quicker chord changes and more erudite, quirky and almost nerdy lyrics, like the result of someone who had just read a novel on grunge and started crying at the end.

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20 “Surf Wax America” (Weezer/1994)

Actually I started listening to Weezer in high school, when the green album came out, and I have to admit that at first I didn’t get that this was a satire of surfers: indeed, this band’s dark brand of sarcasm is something that can be equally disturbing and also easy to miss, those two qualities probably part and parcel with each other and helping them to come off as dumb surfers to lots of Middle America.

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19 “December” (Maladroit)

Maladroit seemed like an album that a lot of people just threw under the bus, for whatever reason, wanting a repeat of “The Sweater Song” of the maniacal frustration being diagrammed in Pinkerton. The closeur, however, proves this album’s dynamic depth, with mournful, melodic balladry that demonstrates a newfound knack for melody and succinct song structure, toward one of the band’s more commendable pop tunes to date.

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18 “Yellow Camaro” (unreleased)

Penned and sung by the band’s rhythm guitarist Brian Bell, who also fronted a side project band called The Rentals, “Yellow Camaro” chugs along with some great, rich Weezer crunch that would have sounded out of place on the green album (excepting the anomaly centerpiece of “Hash Pipe”) which could have something to do with why it was left unreleased. And no it’s not on the band’s 2010 album Death to False Metal, as YouTube seems to weirdly suggest.

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17 “Pink Triangle” (Pinkerton)

I’m sorry but this line is just too classic: “I’m dumb / She’s a lesbian / I thought I had found the one”. It’s vintage Weezer: their post-modern quest for being ditzy jocks, for cranking out simple, pounding music for the whole nation to enjoy without too much intellectual perspective, and the hilarious failure at this exact endeavor seeing as none of the songs on Pinkerton have probably ever cracked the Billboard Hot 100.

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16 “In the Garage” (Weezer/1994)

“In the Garage” is a pretty trendy, hipster pick for favorite Weezer song, as it’s got the whole gusto of the awkward, nerdy lyrics about hanging out by yourself and cheesing out to KISS songs, and whatnot. To be honest it walks a relatively pedestrian line structurally but that Ric Ocasek mix sends that peppery rhythm guitar soaring, cloaking the vocals in noise as if to say it was the noise that mattered, also making it more possible that “No one hears (him) sing this song”. 

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15 “O Girlfriend” (Weezer/2001)

I read this one brilliant article one time on the green album and how misunderstood it was. One point the guy made, in particular, regarded the gorgeous and mournful closeur “O Girlfriend” and its kind of post-modern generic aspect which would indicate something along the lines of all girls being essentially interchangeable within this endeavor, symbolized by the use of the generic term “girlfriend” instead of an actual woman’s name. Weezer took the malady and ennui of all this and channeled it through some songwriting that was world-class, described by another scholar I can’t name as being the result of hitting cement blocks of pop music production.

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14 “The Good Life” (Pinkerton)

Pinkerton could be very well dubbed The Freewheelin’ Weezer and “The Good Life” is ample proof of this, playing almost like a rap delivered in this weird kind of fake Mafia accent we rarely observed in Rivers Cuomo on any other songs. Vitally, anyway, it pares down to a disciplined and powerful chorus within traditional bar chords typically at work in pop-punk, and in this duality lies a lot of its importance and potency.

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13 “Island in the Sun” (Weezer/2001)

I mean, who could deny that this song is classic? That guitar riff is beautiful and authoritative, not unlike the Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge,” Weezer’s fellow Los Angeleans, and this is still a tune you hear all the time on satellite radio, with, I guess, the desire to go away and leave everything behind pretty much an unflagging fantasy most of us have.

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12 “Dope Nose” (Maladroit)

Now, on my original Maladroit CD, the intro of this song was not those bar chords but rather this like five-second little bit of guitar feedback, that fed straight into the “Oh/Oh/Oh” bridge that opens the song. Unimportant, I guess, it is, though kind of interesting, whereas what really matters is that this was loud, boisterous and fun music for soundtracking my closing days of high school where what’s more the singer kept saying bizarro stuff like “Fag of the year / Who could beat up your man”. 

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11 “Knock-down Drag-out” (Weezer/2001)

Don’t let the name fool you: this song is pretty harmless and what’s more is very median, stylistically and thematically, within the green album. Actually, I kind of like it for this exact reason because it gives the overall album a palpable m.o. to observe and the song moves along methodically and with undeniable melodic authority, as if not trying to be anything but its LP-informed self.

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10 “Only in Dreams” (Weezer/1994)

“Only in Dreams” isn’t perfect but it is a memorable, distinct album closeur complete with some of that signature Weezer lugubriousness that pervaded their early work. Actually, maybe it’s out of such crushing, thick melancholy that the band has insisted on turning into huge cornballs since Maladroit and issuing only the most empty and vapid stabs at summery fun and Apollonian victory. “Only in Dreams” is the antithesis of their later work, with its bulbous, unwieldy structure and some inner creativities like a very bold key change halfway through the chorus. 

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9 “Private Message” (unreleased)

This is just an excellent, gem of a track that again might have sounded out of place on any album for its potential hazard of stealing the show, sort of like Pearl Jam’s “Yellow Ledbetter.” “Private Message” also contains one of Rivers Cuomo’s best guitar solos to date and if that axe virtuosity is a relative rarity for him it could be because so is a swatch of songwriting this fun, rewarding and, of course, awkward.

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8 “Beverly Hills” (Make Believe)

I was actually a tentative proponent of Make Believe (2005) on its release and much of this had to do with the lithe, breezy opener “Beverly Hills,” which of course is dumb, summery and fun but includes what’s really a pretty decent guitar solo on the wah-wah pedal, which sounds like one of Cuomo’s new favorite toys of the time.

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7 “Getchoo” (Pinkerton)

Most of these songs I could reel off 100 words about without going back and listening to them but this one, a quintessential Pinkerton song full of plaint and devastation, I just had to go back and get a gauge of the production. It’s interesting, in this regard, produced by the band themselves, because it’s loud and vituperative but also clean, not as crunchy as “My Name is Jonas” or “Hash Pipe” but swarthy, for lack of a better term, like a mixture of swampy and pungent. It’s easy to skimp on the guitar solo for this song, too, but though brief, that sucker rips a hole through the speakers, soaring in the register and crying out maniacally enough to usurp the rhythm guitar mix, no small feat.

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6 “Buddy Holly” (Weezer/1994)

And no this definitely wasn’t a general trend in grunge or alt-rock: dressing up all nerdy in horn-rimmed glasses and kicking it retro, but then that’s part of what makes Weezer unique and special. The song itself is one part Nirvana and one part Green Day, within a pretty simple blueprint, really, but again, with hopelessly nerdy lyrics that seem to, true to band form, use their blueprint of cathartic, loud Fender rock to bemoan the fact that at heart they seem like the opposite of that exact thing.

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5 “Say it Ain’t So” (Weezer/1994)

This is a perennial fan favorite, here, a song I just saw performed pretty well at open mic the other night, track seven on their first album and really a solid look at the horror they would come to diagram in their vital early days. The lyrics depict alcoholism and domestic violence (“Bottle is ready to blow”) and the guitar stabs that usher in the seminal chorus almost seem to mimic the repeated striking of someone with some hard object. Still, the whole thing moves along successfully as a pop song, like Quentin Tarrantino’s twisted Pulp Fiction, with its constant killing and raping, that we all managed to invite into our mainstream, capitalistic hearts nonetheless.

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4 “Burndt Jamb” (Maladroit)

I think all my a**hole friends hated this album this year when it came out but even they would admit that “Burndt Jamb” was a rocker, with its sharp guitar riff rendered on beautiful, pristine and self-produced guitar that was both clean and raw at the same time. Structurally it’s a commendable effort too, with its penchant for ballooning into something combustive and staunch within alternative rock, for the wordless chorus.

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3 “Hash Pipe” (Weezer/2001)

Isn’t it so classic when I just keep saying isn’t this song classic like some cheesy uncle broken record? Ok, maybe not, but I’ll always love this song and the production on it and my memory of rolling around in my buddy’s Chevy Beretta in the back seat, with sucker blaring. I had the best seat in the house for that teeming, rabid three-note riff that drapes this entire song like COVID virus bound for making you head-bang.

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2 “El Scorcho” (Pinkerton)

Back in high school I was definitely a sucker for any arpeggio guitar riff intro (read: Blink-182) and this song never failed to deliver a great one, with great sound, along with that classic opening line of “God da** you half Japanese girls / Do it to me every time / Oh the redhead said to shred the cello / And I’m jello baby”. I mean, what’s he doing transitioning to a redhead there? This stuff is just so Cubist and again, introduces a Weezer-distinct fabric of longing and even frustration within the chorus and also the bridge, coming to a head on the tickling plaint of “How stupid is it? / I can’t talk about it / I gotta sing about it / And make a record”.

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1 “Undone – The Sweater Song” (Weezer/1994)

Oh, ranking “Undone” #1. I’m really walking a bold line here, with that one, aren’t I? On a related note, Julius Caesar is the best ruler of all time, Shakespeare the best poet and Fran Drescher the most annoying person. “The Sweater Song” exists in completely its own universe though, complete, again, with a classic arpeggio intro (the Blink-182 devotee in me must have been authoritative within my ranking of this list, I’m thinking), and, importantly, some “Woo-woo-woo” vocals that later on mimic that exact same riff, toward undeniably establishing its importance within the song and sovereignty within alternative rock at large. All this, and it’s about the goofiest god Da** thing you could ever imagine in your life, unless you factor in that video with the fake, lame and nerdy Nirvana instrument destruction in the video that ended in just clumsy ineptitude. Helping them corner the market on post-Kurt-Cobain nerdiness, then, were references to a “sweater,” “Superman skivvies” and of course the awkward key change leading into the guitar solo, a mark of certainly the more cerebral of our arena rocking brethren. 

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129 thoughts on ““Dolby’s Top 25 Weezer Songs”

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