When Weezer producer (and former Cars frontman) Ric Ocasek first heard Weezer’s demo tape in late 1993, he couldn’t quite figure out where the band was coming from. Musing to Rolling Stone years later, he said it felt a little like metal, but the lyrics were smart and nerdy. The songs were catchy, but the sound was powerful and super loud. He found himself wondering about their hair: Would it be short and studious, or long and rock ’n’ roll?
More than 25 years later, Weezer remains something of an enigma, a blend of big, joyful arena rock with shy-guy reticence, goofy humor with obsessively precise pop craft. Where some bands gave it to you live and direct from the heart, Weezer was methodical: One of the band’s early T-shirt designs memorably read, “If it’s too loud, turn it down,” while frontman Rivers Cuomo has proudly described organizing his songs using that most un-rock-'n'-roll of tools: spreadsheets.
Formed in California in 1992, the band debuted with 1994’s Weezer (a.k.a. “The Blue Album”), an album whose big hooks (“Say It Ain't So,” “Undone — The Sweater Song”) and sweet disposition (“Buddy Holly”) made it an instant antidote to the angst of grunge. Following a rocky adjustment, they returned in 1996 with Pinkerton, a moody, noisy, self-loathing record that came to be embraced as a cult classic.
After a nearly five-year break, during which they slid quietly off the radar (and bassist Matt Sharp left to form The Rentals), the band released 2001’s Weezer (a.k.a. “The Green Album”), igniting a period of factory-like productivity that saw them frequently turning out albums of charming, polished, and slightly eccentric power pop. In 2018, after a six-month Twitter campaign launched by a 14-year-old fan, Weezer released a cover of Toto’s 1982 smash “Africa”—a perfect expression of both their commitment to and their utterly carefree attitude toward their place in the culture. “The lyrics seem like he’s just rambling off the top of his head and they don’t really make sense but nobody seems to mind,” Cuomo told Apple Music. “I’ll spend weeks working on lyrics and it’s like, ‘Maybe people don’t really care.’” It sparked their first covers album, Weezer (a.k.a. “The Teal Album”), which was followed a month later by Weezer (a.k.a. “The Black Album”).
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