My default way of brainstorming is apparently lying awake in bed at 3 a.m. It feels like I start every blog post off this way, because it’s true. Anyways, I was lying awake in bed at 3 a.m. and was in a good mood, shockingly. I was looking forward to the following day and all of the possibilities that it offered me. I had a good selection of books that I wanted to read (Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules, Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment, Six Pillars to Self-Esteem, Dune, and every other book in my backlog), and more so than just read them, I wanted to understand them. I’m talking about really absorbing the books, taking notes on them, and reading and reflecting on what I had read. I also wanted to do this with a handful of musical albums. As with reading, I want to absorb the songs and understand them. I want to look up lyrics and ponder how the words play over and off the underlying music. There’s just so much going on to appreciate! And there are other things I want/need to do: I have a 5k coming up in a few weeks that I’m totally ill-prepared for, I need to write…and oh yeah writing! I have like three stories I’m working on along with this blog and I need to proofread stuff, and figure out a way to actually self-promote any writing I do accomplish. Work is still a thing and I also want to maybe work on being a flight instructor as a career. Who knows what I want to do?
It’s at that point I realized that my problem isn’t lacking things I enjoy doing, it’s having the time and motivation to actually do things. There’s just not enough time in the day (or in general) for me to do all the things I want to do.
Many of the tasks need patience, time, and thought to accomplish. Sure, while I could sit down and write blog posts/chapters and proofread them quickly, the same isn’t true with reading a book or listening to music. To really appreciate these things you need to take your time with them. You need to let your mind properly process them. And more importantly you can’t multitask them. “Why don’t you just listen to music while you write?” you might ask. It’s because when you write you’re probably not listening to the music like you’d want to. I’m a firm believer that the human mind can only really focus on a singular thing at once and listening to music in a distracting environment does the music a disservice. To really enjoy music, a book, and to appreciate the subtleties of any of the arts, you need to do them solo. To really dive in and appreciate what is going on.
Obviously there needs to be some form of prioritizing here and I don’t even know where to begin. Ranking things based on importance seems silly; reading is just as important to me as music and I can’t pick only one. There is also the question of what I actually feel like doing. Sometimes I’d rather read than listen to music while other times the opposite is true. Movies seem to have an even more unique mindset I need to be in to watch them. It isn’t a simple matter of prioritizing, or maybe it is and I’m just awful at having self-control. Forcing yourself to sit down and listen to music when you want to read seems almost sacrilegious in a way. And I don’t know how to decide what I actually should be doing with my time.
To be ultra depressing you can scale this struggle of what to do up from hobbies to careers. I have a handful of job-like things I could be working towards, and these take even more time and effort than reading or listening to music does. I think this is the main reason why people never seem to know what they want to do in life, it’s such a big decision to make that I understand why people simply don’t make a decision. “What you want to do in life?” seems to be such a loaded question in so many ways. It seems to be asking what you want to constantly be working towards day after day in your free time and your work time. And when you look at it that way no wonder people can’t fucking pick. There is absolutely nothing in this world that I’d be happy doing eight or ten hours each day, every day. I like my variety and choosing “what I want to do” seems to force any and all variety out of life, even if it isn’t true in practice.
I also like to blame video games for altering my outlook on what I want to do. Video games make it easy to accomplish literally anything in the game world you want. It’s a matter of dedication and time but in such a way that you can actually make progress. All of my skills in Stardew Valley are maxed out: IRL you can never max out every possible skill available. Hell, even in games like Skyrim you can still do certain things outside of your expertise. Even a wizard-mage-magical person can shoot a bow and kill things, just not very well. And even if you can’t do everything in a single play through you can always play multiple characters and accomplish everything the game world has for you to accomplish. There is no choice of “What do I want to do?” because you can do everything.
Real life forces you to actually pick the things you want to do, and hell if there aren’t too many interesting things to do. I want to write fiction and nonfiction. I want to blog. I want to fly airplanes. I want to make music. I want to paint or something. I want to put solar panels all over the house. I want to read and listen to music and go sit outside and enjoy nature. I want to stop climate change. I want to start a grilled cheese food truck. I want to live in the woods. I want to be a Buddhist monk. But there are only 24 hours in the day, 365 days in a year, and a finite amount of years left in my life. I physically can’t do nearly everything I want to do, and narrowing things down seems like an affront to the variety of things that life has to offer. It’s not so much that there is nothing I want to do, in fact there is too much to do that I’m paralyzed by the choices offered to me! I guess it’s a good problem to have but dammit if knowing that I’ll never get to experience all the things I want to do doesn’t feel awful. I hate deciding. I hate making choices. Especially when these choices involve things as important as choosing what to do with the time given to me. If only I could choose to have more time. But that’s kinda like what the Genie in Aladdin said about wishing for more wishes. You can’t do it, it’s illegal.
This article right here sums up a fascinating phenomena: most people think they’re above average. Most people think they’re good drivers. Most people think they’re smarter than average. Most people think they’re more attractive than average. And so on. This doesn’t sound too bad at first, but once you consider the meaning of the word “average” it becomes much more interesting. Average, in terms of whatever you’re talking about, would be in the exact middle: 50% of people are below average and 50% of people are above average. So why, as the article says, 95% of professors think they’re better than their peers. And, as I’ll get to, why do some people think they have a higher-than-average musical insight when they’re clearly stupid?
I don’t really want to get into the why here because the article and all the information it links to should illuminate why. Given information like this I usually turn to introspection: I’m obviously guilty of this in some form (if I thought I was an exception to this then I’d be putting myself above average in regards to not placing myself above average) but am I even aware of it? Are there certain things I’m awful at that I think I’m good at? Objectively? And more importantly, what does this feel like, the inability to gauge your actual abilities? The main question I’m trying to get at is (even though skill and intelligence aren’t the exact same thing), “What does it feel like to be stupid?”
One way to discover how you’re stupid is to find someone or something that makes you feel stupid. Luckily, I know a few of these people and it’s amazing to feel stupid! I think the key is to find a topic that you want to be knowledgeable with and have someone blow you out of the water with their depth of knowledge and mode of thinking. It has to be a shared interest too: I can talk to a sports fan and not know anything they’re talking about but this doesn’t necessarily make me stupid because I don’t care about the knowledge in the first place. Perhaps if I wanted to, I could be wiser than they are on the topic of sports, but that doesn’t make me smart or stupid. That’s just ignorance.
A few people allow me to feel stupid in something I’ve always been passionate about and think thought I was intelligent in: music. I’ve always liked music (but what soulless creature doesn’t like music?) and thought I could “read between the lines” and see things the artist meant to convey — or didn’t intend to convey — and appreciate the complexities of the music in a way most people couldn’t: I’m smarter than the average person when it comes to musical comprehension. At least that’s what I thought two months ago.
After our work shift a few of us began hanging out and listening to music. Led by my supervisor’s supervisor (I’m not sure how else to explain this without explaining the hierarchy of my workplace), he would allow two or three of us regular employees to ride around in his work-provided Chevy Malibu. Sometimes our immediate supervisor would also join us. We would just aimlessly drive around property and listen to the music he selected for us. Most of these songs pieces were well outside of my comfort range by default. I’m talking classical music, I’m talking choral music, I’m talking strange chanting music that made me feel like I was having a panic attack: everything from Brahms to some dude with a guitar from Canada. Let’s also not forget Tom motherfucking Waits who is apparently a musical and lyrical genius whom I never appreciated before.
It wasn’t just this wide range of music that made me feel dumb: it was also his interpretations of the songs. It was his depth of insight in regards to the music, lyrics, instrumentation, song structure, etc. He would walk us through a song and tell us what the song meant to him and how everything supported his perspective. This would also involve body language as well. Well into a song and without saying a word he would toss his arms up in total amazement at something in the song. He’d shake his head as if thinking, “There is no way this music can be this good!” Sometimes the rest of us could understand what had blown his mind away, but other times there was nothing obvious about what had inspired him so, his mind seemingly making connections between music and self without any explanation. I would always smile at his musical enthusiasm. Here was a guy so taken away by the music he could barely contain his emotions and it was something to admire.
Here’s a specific example: “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5)”. The first song on Pink Floyd’s album Wish You Were Here. (This the example I went with because I assume most people are aware of the band Pink Floyd, and so might be aware of the song “Wish You Were Here,” and hence the album it came from, Wish You Were Here, and might’ve possibly came across “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5)”!) I like Wish You Were Here, but it wasn’t ever my favorite Floyd album. I’m more a Dark Side of the Moon guy myself (I find the album “Speaks to Me” and allows me to “Breathe (In the Air)” to make a really shitty pun…), but he totally sold the song — and the entire album — to me! I now have a greater appreciation for Wish You Were Here.
I’ll try to paraphrase how he explained the song to us: he pointed out the guitar around the 4:30 minute mark was “screaming in pain” about something, and how the part that came after it (6:30ish) had the exact same notes but were much more passive, as if the guitar had sort of accepted the pain of whatever and was okay with it. Like if you had enough pain in life you adapt; it becomes a background type of pain that you deal with and accept and it simply becomes a part of you. Still pain, but pain you don’t even acknowledge. Something about how no matter what your talent is (in regards to Syd Barrett here) the machine (the world itself, society, etc.) will still chew you up, spit you out, and incorporate your talent into itself. It’ll steal your gifts, trivialize them, and ruin what was so special about you in the first place. Elaborations on being blown by the steel breeze and eventually riding the steel breeze: what did all of that mean? Was it about growing older? Or being cruelly carved by the world around you? Losing the innocence of your childhood, how your dreams betray you, and about twenty or thirty other layers of understanding that were mostly invisible to me.
This was basically me:
So bombarded with all of this high-level elaboration on a song I’ve heard countless times while never piecing any of it together or thinking deeply about it all was making me feel rather stupid. Luckily I was able to give some preschooler-tier wisdom about how “Wish You Were Here” fades into “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 6-9)”: maybe the wind at the beginning of the song was depicting the steel breeze itself!Teeheehee! I felt like a kid telling Einstein that space was big and dark or something after he elaborated on General Relativity. Just pointing out what was already obvious to everybody. I was reading preschool picture books and this fucking dude was reading The Odyssey. I clearly felt stupid, but not only that, I felt the feeling of being stupid.
I suppose by feeling stupid you see what is possible, how deep your understanding can go if only you could ever make it to that level. You understand that your knowledge hasn’t peaked and that you still have a massive mountain to climb, especially with music: I’ve always viewed music as the most intuitive and easily understood art because it is so basic and visceral to the human mind. We all know how songs can remind us of seasons, people, events, and we attach memories to music firmly as opposed to other arts. (The only exception is smell: smells seem to be a direct link to past memories. I can smell a certain perfume and it will instantly remind me of making out with a certain girl at a high school party, as awful as that is.) Music is intuitive. Music is visceral. Music is something that happens deep within a person. Music is universal. I guess I’m saying that music should be relatively easy to understand and here I am feeling stupid over that. So now I feel immensely stupid.
I find that being stupid doesn’t feel like stupidity though. To me it feels like laziness. In my mind I know that if I wanted to understand “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” with the depth of understanding that my supervisor’s supervisor does I could understand it; it’s just that I don’t really want to right now. It’s work. I don’t feel like doing work. There’s other songs I’m listening to and other bands, and well, I don’t have the time. Analyzing something like that requires me to look up the lyrics and process the music along with the words. Ugh. While I know that I can, I don’t want to. That’s what being stupid feels like. It feels like laziness. I can do it, I just don’t want to.
This makes me ask the question if stupidity only feels like laziness or if they’re actually the same thing. Maybe that’s all stupidity is: you just don’t want to make the effort to understand something even if you are perfectly capable of it. Or maybe stupidity feels like laziness only so your brain can further let you believe you’re not actually stupid, you’re just lazy! Like a fancy form of confirmation bias. To really hit the point home, I’m going to end this post right here. Right on the verge of possibly making some deep connection between stupidity and laziness, intelligence and effort, I’m going to wrap it up. It sounds too complicated. It’s too much to think about right now. Maybe I’ll think about it later. I’m probably ranting anyways. I can always write about the topic later. I think I did good enough here anyways. But I’m not stupid though…
Sometimes as a blogger you write a post (or posts) that you’re really proud of. Personally, I’m fond of my recent 4th of July post (the banner image is amazing…) as well as a few others. There are also a few posts that you don’t really think are that good, especially in retrospect. Usually the posts I make about daylight savings time, calendars, or other shit are kinda lame and boring; I understand why these posts aren’t that popular. Sometimes I find myself writing posts such as those just to post something. They’re posts I’m not that into and know they’re not going to be popular, but since they fit in well with the theme of this blog there isn’t a reason to not post them.
I’ve noticed a strange thing checking my WordPress user feedback data over the past few months that I never would’ve expected; somehow my post on picking out watermelons is continually the most (or one of the most) read posts week after week and month after month. At first I thought it might just be a fluke as if people in the world somehow decided to look up information about watermelons and stumbled upon my post. I even thought it might be a summer thing where, naturally, people might Google watermelons more than they would in December. This didn’t seem to be right and after a couple of months I just accepted it: my watermelon post is somehow my most popular post.
Here’s an example of the screen I’m talking about. As you can see, it is ranked second after my stupid post about Apex Legends, but it’s still up there. Making this even more pronounced is the fact that the Apex post is relatively new as it was written in March 2019. The goddamn watermelon post was written two damn years ago! In third place is the Little Mermaid post which might still be experiencing a boost from it being a recent topic on social media. I expect that to be completely forgotten in a few months though. So why is the watermelon post so popular and why does that suck?
As hinted at earlier, us bloggers have certain favorite posts that we’re proud of and other posts that we’re not so proud of. I think this is true of any artist; the musician has songs they like and the painter has artwork they like. One theme that seems to come up when you hear about artists with options of their own work is that they seem to consistently misjudge what is popular and what isn’t popular. Artists like works of theirs that the general population doesn’t while the general population likes things the artist themself isn’t fond of. It’s a well-known example that the band Black Sabbath recorded the song Paranoid as a quick-and-easy album filler song; the song has with time become one of their most popular songs. Kurt Cobain famously said that Smells Like Teen Spirit was just a Pixies rip-off song.
I suppose that’s how I feel about The Watermelon Post (although I don’t mean to imply it’s a masterpiece like the examples above). I went back and reread it to see if there was any sort of magic behind the post: I couldn’t find a damn thing special about it. I recall that I did have fun writing such a stupid post and I ran with it’s subject matter in a ridiculous way, but I don’t think that qualifies as “magic” at all. Maybe my lack of giving a shit slightly altered the tone of the post and made it fun and light-hearted? Maybe it hit that magical middle-ground of being both fun and informative? In the grand scheme of how I feel about my blog posts I’d put The Watermelon Post in the middle of my writings: I don’t hate it but I don’t think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever written. To me it’s kinda a mid-tier, meh, so-so sort of post. Just like the example with musicians, it’s a post that I didn’t expect to be popular but somehow is.
I don’t know if there’s any sort of lesson to gleam from this fact or not; for the most part I find it amusing and fucking stupid. It’s hilarious to spend hours making a “good” post only for it to receive lukewarm reception whereas a quick “throw-away” post can find long-term success. If anything I guess it cements the fact that you can’t really write something good on purpose seeing as you are not the intended audience. While the blogger can have a fairly good idea of what will be successful we are not our own audience so there is some disconnect that occurs. You can’t totally get out of your head as a writer/artist to see how your art will be received. You can’t be sure what will be successful and what will fall flat on its face. If anything this somewhat stresses being passive about your work. As a throwback to my last post on publishing ebooks, if you get your hopes up too high about a project you risk disappointment if it fails to meet your lofty expectations. Conversely, you could have a project that you’re not really into turn into a huge hit for some unforeseen reasons. At the end of the day you need to just keep writing, blogging, making music, or whatever the fuck it is that you do. Because while you think you’re making a shitty Watermelon Post the world might actually find something of worth that you overlooked. It’s this inability to judge how your work is from an outside perspective that really sucks.
As outlined in this post I’ve spent the past month listening to all of Weezer’s discography in chronological order. There were a few times I got hung up on albums I liked and listened to them more than was needed (Hurley, Maladroit) instead of powering through everything like I should’ve and that makes the process longer. (It’s hard to force yourself to move from Maladroit when I the next album was Make Believe.) It also takes some time to really know and understand an album. For example The Red Album kinda sounds like shit at first but then it grows on you. I’m pretty sure it’s looked upon as a shitty album by most people but I ended up liking it more with each listen and appreciated what the band was trying to do. I’ll do a quick runthrough of all their albums because it sounds fun.
Weezer (The Blue Album)
Untouchable. Classic. I’m not even going to say anything else. The Weezer album everything else aspires to be.
The second untouchable classic, although I’ll elaborate a bit more. This album went for a more personal, vulnerable, and abrasive sound then their last album and was famously shit upon endlessly when it was released. In this album you could hear the band struggling with fame and Rivers Cuomo, Weezer’s lead singer and songwriter, himself struggling with the spotlight, being seen as “a cool person,” and trying to mesh that with his personal view of himself being a loner, loser, geek who can’t find love anywhere. The dude sounds like he’s struggling with some stuff.
Pinkerton is also a legend because in retrospect critics seemed to find it a decent album after all. But this was after the damage was done and Weezer has famously never released an album as abrasive or personal as Pinkerton since. Some people think that Rivers was so fucking destroyed by opening up on the album and trying a new sound and having it all shit upon that he’d never make a deeply person record ever again. Maybe that’s true to some degree too…
Weezer (The Green Album)
This was the first “new” album I’ve heard and it is what you might expect it to be. It’s a solid album that is glossy and poppy and doesn’t take any real risks. You can’t fault the band because this was their first album after a hiatus so it serves as a safe return to form. Especially after Pinkerton got shit on it’s no surprise that Weezer played it really safe on this one. It’s decent but nothing spectacular.
I loved Maladroit because Weezer seemed to totally rock the fuck out on it. They got their “safe” album Green out of the way and you could tell they just jammed out on Maladroit. The sound more confident and relaxed here. I would get a smile on my face through many songs because the band just sounds like they’re having fun playing music. While some songs were kinda meh, I really liked Maladroit.
I didn’t have huge expectations for Make Believe and I wasn’t let down by being let down. This album was led by the famously bad “Beverly Hills” and, yeah, it fucking sucked. While there were a few good songs on here (like that one ballady song with the “woooaahh ooooooaaahhhh” chorus aka “Perfect Situation”) most were shitty. I also wasn’t in a good mood when I was listening to this album and the songs seemed to make my mood even worse. Every mediocre song I had to sit through was like nails on a chalkboard. A special shout-out to “We Are All on Drugs” for being especially terrible and the worst Weezer song I had heard up til that point. Yeah. It gets worse.
Weezer (The Red Album)
The Red Album luckily lead Weezer to do more experimentation instead of the blatant poppy and bland bullshit from the previous album. The other band members sing on the back half, the songs “feel” different, and there is that massively long song called “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)” which is about the most unweezer Weezer has ever been. And I actually like most of it. I give the Red Album massive credit for the band not doing the same crap over again even if it doesn’t work out perfectly all the time. It takes risks. Popular opinion seems to be that The Red Album bonus tracks are stronger than the final half of the original album and had they been included initially the album would be one of their best.
The Red Album also has the worst album cover so far because it’s a fucking joke. While the album is a bit more experimental than everything else Weezer has done, the cover makes the whole thing look like it isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Cuomo has on a fucking cowboy hat and sports a mustache? Really?
Raditude is shit and everyone knows it’s shit. I went into it trying to be open but totally expecting it to be shit. Once again I wasn’t let down. While it has some moments that are, uh, commendable from a creative standpoint (the song with the sitars) most everything else is garbage. Listening to it it almost sounds like an album someone in high school would like when their emotions are making them batshit insane and unstable. There’s songs about love and girls and that whole high school love and the whole thing has a manic depressive feel to it that reminds me of high school for some reason.
Raditude also has the worst Weezer song ever: “Can’t Stop Partying”. It sounds like a parody — yes a parody — of the Rebecca Black song “Friday”. Can’t stop partying, partying, partying. It’s Friday, friday, gotta get down on Friday. Yeah. Another special shoutout to the “I’m Your Daddy” song for just being really creepy and strange with the chorus singing “You are my baby tonight, and I’m your daddy.” Holy shit.
Oh wait, we can’t forget the cover. It’s a terrible album cover that features a dog. That’s it. At least the cover basically matches the album in terms of how shitty it is.
I see Hurley as like Maladroit’s twin or cousin or something because they seem like they’re cut from the same fabric or something. They’re both albums that feature Weezer at their best making catchy, poppy-punkish music that is fun and jams out. Lately I’ve been appreciating Hurley a bit more than Maladroit as it seems much more consistent.
Once again Weezer drops the fucking ball hard with the album cover. I never watched the show but apparently the album Hurley features a picture of some dude named “Hurley” from the TV show Lost. While it sorta fits the albums “fun” nature by being a picture of an actor it really doesn’t make the best album cover. What does that cover make you think the music will be like? I really don’t know, it’s just a picture of a dude.
Everything Will Be All Right In The End
I tried listening to this when it originally came out but could never get into it. I didn’t think I was in the proper Weezer mindset at the time to really get into it. (I was in a heavy Animal Collective kick at the time and as you can guess that didn’t mesh well with Weezer.) On this album Weezer tries to get “back to their roots the shack” and does somewhat of a good job at it, but even better is that they start making good songs with some meaning behind them again. There’s a few meh songs on here but it’s a pretty solid album. The trajectory they’re on from Hurley to this album is promising. Another shout out to the album for 1. not being titled Weezer 2. not having the band on the cover 3. having an interesting cover and 4. having a cover that actually somewhat matches the music on the album.
The White Album
This album is beloved by Weezer fans and at first I didn’t really get it. Like it seemed like a solid album but didn’t seem like anything really special. But it does fucking grow on you. I’d say White’s best quality is that nearly all the songs are good and you don’t want to really skip anything. It really is Weezer doing what they do best: making good, catchy, pop-rock songs. It’s just a great, solid album to listen to.
Shout out to “Do You Want To Get High” for being the long-lost Pinkerton track because it sounds like it came right off that album. And it doesn’t sound like a fake “We did a Pinkerton song guys!” where they tried to make it sound like arealPinkerton song and failed miserably. It has the genuine Pinkerton feel to it.
Weezer apparently makes shitty album covers for great albums (aside from Maladroit) and great covers for shitty albums. This cover is amazing so you know what I think of this album. To be fair I didn’t give it much of a chance because it seemed pretty much hated by everyone but just picking a few random songs and letting them play gives disappointing results: it’s Weezer trying to be hip and cool again by making bland, what-you’d-expect-to-hear-on-the-radio-at-the-time songs that just have nothing special about them. After Hurley, Everything, and White a fan at the time couldn’t help but be sorely let down by the band. It’s like a Make Believe 2.0 or something but worse. Like they were doing so damn good for three albums straight and drop this turd on their fans.
The Teal Album
I was going to count this as a real album but naw. It’s just a cover album. The songs are decent and Weezer plays them nicely, but it’s a cover album. I’m assuming they found such success with their “Africa” cover that they churned out a full album of covers just because they could.
The Black Album
Okay. This is their newest one and I was excited to listen to a new Weezer album after my marathon of their discography but fuck was it a let down. I guess I know how true Weezer fans feel nearly anytime an album is released! I’m sorry guys. I feel really bad for you.
It starts off strong enough with “Can’t Knock the Hustle” and “Zombie Bastards” with the songs offering some nice and catchy music but which are kinda weak on the lyrics. “High as a Kite” is a masterpiece of a song and would be a welcome addition to a Weezer Greatest Hits album or whatever, but then the album just takes a shit. The songs sound decent, they’re catchy enough and you catch yourself singing the chorus nearly every time they come around, but there isn’t anything going on with the lyrics or any sort of song dynamics. It just drones on song after song until it ends.
The album closer “California Snow” seems like a polarizing song but I like the tone the song takes with its heavy synths and shit and to me it seems like a great closer song for a great album that isn’t the Black Album. Like if the entire album was in the style of “California Snow” Weezer would’ve made at the very least an interesting experimental album that would’ve been risky and at the most it might’ve even been fantastic. But the Black Album is mostly “meh”. I mean maybe it’s better than Pacific Daydream or Raditude but that isn’t really saying much is it?
Weezer in General…
Phew. I thought that’d be a bit quicker to go over but these guys did release something like 13 albums. It sure has been a hell of a journey listening to all of their stuff (and linking pictures of the album covers).
So to answer my initial question: does Weezer suck? No. Not by a long shot. I legit have like 4 or 5 Weezer albums (not counting the first two obviously) that I now love. Hurley, Maladroit, and White are on constant Spotify rotation currently with Red and Everything showing up if I’m in the mood. That’s like half their discography! But I will say they have the most inconsistent discography of nearly any band I’ve listened to. Most bands go on a long uphill run where each album gets better and better (the Beatles, Led Zeppelin) or go on a steady downhill run where their albums start to suck (Arcade Fire), but Weezer is all over the place. In my opinion they release some of their best and worst albums back to back somehow (Red-Raditude, Hurley-Raditude, White-Pacific Daydream, Maladroit-Make Believe). I can’t think of any other band that can pull that shit off as flawlessly as Weezer. It almost reminds me of the Star Trek movie series where the first one sucked, Wrath of Khan was good, the Spock movie was okay, The Whale Movie was great, etc.
Weezer also lacks a clear theme, direction, or trajectory with their albums over their career. For example you can tell that Arcade Fire started to get more into dance music and disco music from their past few albums and that this trend is increasing. Animal Collective (maybe a lesser-known example) started very experimental and noisy and became more poppy over the course of like four or five albums, and even Pink Floyd went from epic 15-20 minute jam session songs to heavier, more aggressive and shorter “rock” songs as time went on (think of Meddle to The Wall). The Beatles went from writing catchy, poppy songs (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”) to more experimental songs (“Happiness is a Warm Gun”) over their time as a band. These bands have momentum and direction and you can almost expect what you’re going to get from the next album –for better or for worse — while Weezer just jumps all over the place. Once again think of the poppy bullshit of Make Believe to the experimental Red. Also think of White as being a good Weezer album where Weezer is, well, good to Pacific where they make poppy bullshit music, to Black where they take on a more “electronic” feel. They’re all over the fucking place.
I will say that Weezer has never captured that genuine sincerity of their first two albums which is a huge disappointment. Cuomo goes from a really introspective, flawed, and aware person on the first two albums who all but disappears on the rest. The songs are still Weezer in that they sound like Weezer (most of the time) and have Weezer topics in the lyrics but that deeply personal perspective that is present on the first two only appears as a ghost for the rest of the albums. I don’t know what exactly happened but I’m certain this is why everyone is hoping and expecting another Pinkerton or Blue; they want that personal Weezer back that speaks to them and they don’t care much for the “Can’t Knock the Hustle” Weezer. I might be picking the obvious ones here but still, go check out “In The Garage” and “Beverly Hills.” Read the lyrics. These songs are from the same band, or not the same band depending on who you ask.
So does Weezer suck? No. But it’s also kinda complicated.
This post will be a little bit different as I start out with the question of does something suck, in this case the band Weezer, and then follow it up it later with if it really does suck. I originally was going to write a post saying that, yes, Weezer does in fact suck, but that had one major problem with it: I hadn’t actually listened to any other their albums besides the first two. Trying to say a band sucks by not listening to anything besides the critically-acclaimed and wildly popular first two albums (Weezer and Pinkerton) is quite a flawed plan, so I held back on that.
But Weezer still might suck for the reasons I suspect they do so I’ll break the post into two parts.
Let’s start off by saying that I was never a huge Weezer fan. I first became aware of the band back in high school around 2001 or 2002. They appeared on the scene with the slightly-okayish song “Hash Pipe” and some music video with Muppets in it (“Keep Fishin’”). There was also the slightly-catchy but really cringy and annoying “Beverly Hill”s that I was never a fan of. It seemed like a geeky band released a “try too hard” song about being cool or something. What was really strange about this “new” band Weezer was they seemed really well-known and popular when these songs came out even though I had never heard of them. One girl in high school even had a Weezer shirt. Like they release a few okayish songs and people are wearing their shirts already? What?! The songs weren’t that good.
It turned out that Weezer was a thing because they had already released two magnificent albums in the 90s before going on a hiatus. I became aware of this fact after high school when my friend Brent and I went on a road trip to South Dakota. This isn’t too important but on the long drive back to Illinois he put on an album by Weezer, and it was really good. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was treated to fantastic, unnamed songs that I later discovered were “My Name is Jonas,” “No One Else,” “The World has Turned,” “Undone (The Sweater Song),” among many others. Even on my first listen stuck in a tiny Saturn in the middle of nowhere I knew this album was something else. Usually when you first listen to an album you don’t know if it’s good or not but this was one of those rare albums that I knew was a classic. Weezer was a thing because of that album at the very least.
I later came to find out that that album was their first one, titled Weezer but constantly referred to as The Blue Album because, well, it’s blue (The Blue Album is basically its de-facto name now.). I later listened to their second album Pinkerton a few years later and that album was good because it was heavy, raw, and you could hear the band struggling with their newly-found success, especially in regards to the lyrics. It was a mess when compared to Blue but a real, genuine mess that had its own dark, quirky, insecure personality. Remember I found all of this out after their new “success” and the “Beverly Hills” days.
Currently Weezer is back in the spotlight with their cover of Africa and even released a new album of cover songs titled Weezer but called The Teal Album. They also have another album coming out in a few weeks titled Weezer but called The Black Album (are you seeing a pattern yet?). With all of this recent news about Weezer it got me curious as to what they’ve been up to in the past decade and a half.
Apparently either a lot or not very much depending on who you ask. They’ve released a ton of albums while none have seemed to have gotten the hype and love that their first two albums have gotten. Go pick any of the mid-to-later year albums and read some reviews on them: most seem like they’re “meh” while everyone is hoping and expecting another Blue Album. The same seems true with the songs on these albums: go listen to any random song off of these later albums and it’ll probably sound good but not too good. Like it’ll be what you expect a Weezer song to sound like without being a Weezer song from The Blue Album. While I’ve heard a few decent songs from these years (“Pork and Beans,” “The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived”) nothing seems to be standing out as a “great album.” And for releasing like 7 or 8 albums since Make Believe (the one with “Beverly Hills”) you’d think there’d be something notable out there but there isn’t. They appear to be releasing constant 6/10 or 7/10 albums: albums that are good but not really good.
That was my original “Weezer Sucks” thesis: the band made two masterpieces and went to shit after they found success. Making this even worse is they kept churning out music in what appeared to be a desperate attempt to just make music, even if it was mediocre music. They didn’t release two good albums, a shitty one, and called it quits when they realized they were trash. No, they just got shitty and kept going. Their later music also lacks any sort of conviction or heart of the first two and even though they are shoveling out album after album nothing feels genuine. Listen to any song off of The Blue Album and then listen to “Beverly Hills” or “Can’t Stop Partying” and you know that band has lost its heart. Like they lost their soul or something. Arcade Fire’s past two albums have been shit, but it seems as if they’re still being genuine about their songs and just failing in the execution. Weezer just seems like a band that has lost its way and isn’t that enough to say that they Suck?
No, because I haven’t actually listened to anything post-Pinkerton besides a few songs here and there. Obviously it’d be stupid to write a Weezer Sucks post after not having actually listened to their later music. They’ve also been around for so long the middle stuff might actually be good and the latter music trash (Make Believe is closer to The Blue Album timewise than it is to The White Album), but I can’t say this unless I listened to more of their music. So that’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to sit down and listen to every Weezer album in order to get a real idea what happened with the band over the years. So does Weezer suck? I don’t know. Maybe. And if they do suck I might actually be spot-on with my reasoning and can make a second post saying “Yep, told you guys. I was right.” So far I’ve made it past Make Believe and I can say for a fact that it sucked, but as for the band and their entire discography? I don’t know. We will see!
Before I get too far into their albums, feel free to let me know what your favorite and least favorite albums by Weezer are. After I listen to everything I’ll be really curious as to what everyone thinks about their albums.
I’m sad to admit that I just recently got into the whole streaming music thing. My sister was kind enough to sign me up under her Spotify account so I wouldn’t have any excuse to not listen to albums and songs that she suggested. Seeing as it’s 2018 and I just now started to stream sounds really bad, so what the fuck have I been doing this whole time?
I’ve been pirating music like it’s 2005. You know, living in the past. You see I’m really fucking cheap and paying $10 a month isn’t a whole lot, but when I compare that to getting music for free, well, $10 is more than free. I also doubted that I would make that $10 worth while. It’s basically equal to purchasing an album every month or so, and I would probably never purchase 12-15 albums a year, so it’s a net loss for me even if it isn’t that much money. If I wanted to listen to something I’d pirate it or use some stupid Google Play credit or Amazon credit to purchase an mp3 version. Like I said, I’ve been living in the past.
So now that I got Spotify, how is it? It’s pretty damn cool, but it’s also pretty shitty for a few reasons. It has me nervous about music in the future, and while I’m probably overreacting I’m still nervous.
Spotify gives you an amazing amount of music, music that I’d never dream about trying to find and listen to. When I was pirating music I was limited to well-known albums, and full albums at that. Sometimes I’d torrent an artists entire discography and just select the albums I wanted. Other times I wouldn’t even be able to find a copy to pirate. I was recently trying to find The Lion King Soundtrack and The Lord of the Rings soundtracks but couldn’t find them anywhere. Would I purchase them somewhere or just go without? Pirating is cool because it’s free but it makes your choices rather limited. Sometimes you just couldn’t find what you wanted.
Spotify has the total opposite problem (a good problem to have but still a problem): now there’s too much music to listen too! I seriously have access to whatever the fuck I want to listen to and it’s rather overwhelming. I couldn’t find The Lion King or Lord of the Rings before but now I have access to both (or all 4 because LoTR isreallythree soundtracks…) as well as everything else in the world. I hop in my car to drive to work and I have no idea what to listen to now. LoTR, Death Grips, my sister’s playlist, punk music, rock music, Disney music, podcasts, and basically what the hell am I going to listen to now?
It’s like my post on how video games are too long: there’s now too much music for me to listen to and I don’t have the time or the focus.
My ADD seems to flair up quite a bit too with all of the choices I now have. I drive 20 minutes to and from work for a total of 40 minutes 5 times a week. I could listen to a single album each day if I really focused on listening to just a single album. But before work and after work I have differing moods. I want to listen to some upbeat shit on the way to work and some depressing shit after work. Focusing on a single album is nearly impossible unless it’s something like Animal Collective’s Feels by having the upbeat shit on the first half and the ambient, spacey shit on the second half. With the nearly infinite choice of music to listen to I find myself jumping from song to song and not enjoying a single artist or album in all its glory. I just go from favorite song to favorite song and hit after hit not giving two fucks about the “deeper tracks” that are out there.
That leads me to my concern: is The Album dead? Back in the 1950s and 1960s music was focused on hit singles; artists and companies would sell 45 rpm “singles” with a “b-side” and no one gave two shits about full length albums (LPs). This changed with some massively glorious albums released by The Beatles (Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, etc.) and The Beach Boys (Pet Sounds) among others. Those albums are meant to be a single album and experience and people started to make good albums and not simply good singles. I’m talking Ziggy Stardust, The Dark Side of the Moon, and other albums that are a single, solid piece of artwork. Hell, you can even go all the way to The Suburbs and The Lonesome Crowded West because those are fantastic. Oh shit! I forgot Doolittle! Obviously there are tons of other good albums besides those so don’t shit on me if I didn’t mention your favorite album ever. I was just making a point.
With streaming music I think things could change back to how they used to be with the focus on singles. This already seems to be the case with popular radio and has been for the past however the fuck long. The kids seem to know Taylor Swift’s newest song word for word but don’t know shit else from the album. They don’t give a shit about overarching album themes, deeper tracks, or the artist’s “purpose”. I guess The Album was still there holding strong even with radio and its focus on singles but now I’m not so sure. With so many choices, good songs, and our collective inability to pay attention at all I can envision The Album going the way of the CD and cassette tapes and becoming a relic of the past.
Or maybe I’m just a pessimist.
Streaming is pretty damn cool as long as my data usage doesn’t get out of control. But with all those choices of songs, albums, podcasts, and playlists, I just can’t sit down and focus on a single artist or album. That part kinda Sucks, but it kinda Sucks in a good way if that makes sense. I just hope people keep making quality albums.