Top 13 Weezer Songs

Power-pop provocateurs bring the noise

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Bobbitt, Melissa. "Top 13 Weezer Songs." ThoughtCo, Feb. 21, 2017, Bobbitt, Melissa. (2017, February 21). Top 13 Weezer Songs. Retrieved from Bobbitt, Melissa. "Top 13 Weezer Songs." ThoughtCo. (accessed October 24, 2017).

Rivers Cuomo became one of the most unlikely rock stars in the 1990s. His dorky, clever band, Weezer, emerged from the Los Angeles music scene mid-decade and staked claim to a landscape previously occupied by longhaired grunge gods. Their onslaught of power chords and pop-culture references turned them into alternative rock heroes, and their later works kept audiences guessing. Here are the top 13 songs by Weezer.

Rivers Cuomo has always had an affinity for the paranoid in his lyrics. Take for instance the otherwise quaint “Keep Fishin’” off 2002’s Maladroit. “It’s just the thought of you in love with someone else/It breaks my heart to see you hanging from the shelf,” he bemoans over a T. Rex stomp. Weezer took those words to heart when filming the Muppet caper music video, in which drummer Pat Wilson gets kidnapped by an amorous Miss Piggy.

A personal favorite of guitarist Brian Bell, this breezy acoustic-to-crescendo song became one of Weezer’s most popular songs. It exemplified a relaxed Southern California spirit, insisting “We’ll never feel bad anymore.” Dotted with sing-along “hep-heps,” “Island in the Sun” remains a highlight of Weezer concerts, with Cuomo often performing it from the cheap seats.

Weezer lawyered up in 1993 when they signed to Geffen Records, and they were so grateful that they wrote this ode to attorney Jamie Young. It’s as lo-fi as can be, recorded on a 2-track by a Loyola Marymount college student as a class assignment. The charming churn of original guitarist Jason Cropper’s instrument and lyrics about the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones plopped this old gem onto the tracklisting for DGC Rarities, Vol. 1 in 1994.

Considered by many as a return to form after the disappointing self-titled “red” album in 2008, this lead single off 2009’s Raditude stormed the airwaves. The epically named upbeat number is a cheeky dramatization of how Cuomo met his wife, Kyoko. The singer admits to liking her so much, he even eschews his vegetarianism to impress her parents. It might be corny, but it’s catchy as can be.

After the havoc that I’m gonna wreak, no more words will critics have to speak,” the band proclaims in this goofy epic. In just under six minutes, the song morphs from metal to bedroom pop to its subtitle, “Variations on a Shaker Hymn.” With tongue planted firmly in cheek, “Greatest Man” plays on Cuomo’s egoism while Bell, Wilson and bassist Scott Shriner play barbershop quartet.

A true confessional from the Cuomo vaults, this commanding single off the 1994 debut album recounts the singer’s tumultuous childhood. Many ’90s rock anthems were about broken homes, and “Say It Ain’t So” might be the pinnacle. “Like father, stepfather/The son is drowning in the flood” in the powerful bridge speaks to a young Rivers finding his stepdad’s booze, fearing he’d leave his mother as his biological pa did. It’s a naked slice of life that catapulted the song into music history.

Here’s an early, rare example of Weezer’s collaborative spirit, which wouldn’t blatantly resurface until 2008’s free for all, the “red” album. Cuomo, Cropper and Wilson all get songwriting credits on this power-popper for the proletariat. Its soaring announcement that “The workers are going home” serves as a righteous way to kick off a weekend. It’s been suggested “My Name Is Jonas” is loosely based on the dystopian Lois Lowry novel The Giver.

Among the most delightfully crabby Weezer songs (other than, you know, “Crab” from 2001’s self-titled “green” collection), “The Good Life” was a melodic tale of woe. Cuomo wrote the irate tome after undergoing corrective surgery on his legs following the success of the “blue” album. He bitches about having to use a cane to get around and feeling so much older than his 20-something peers. It’s this creative cynicism that made 1996’s Pinkerton one of the most beloved emo albums in the pantheon.

A deep, too-often-overlooked middle-period track, “December” contains some of Cuomo’s most heartfelt lyrics. “Only hope can inspire soggy lungs to breathe fire,” he croons as Bell’s guitars yawp behind him. Weezer’s words can divert into snarky territory, but here, “only love” in its purest is of interest to the band. (A 180 from Cuomo’s complaining in Guitar World magazine that his fans were “little bitches” when it came to their opinions on Maladroit’s new direction.)

Weezer have regularly mined pop culture for their songs (“Buddy Holly,” for one). For Pinkerton, they went high culture and based the record on the Puccini opera Madama Butterfly. This shattering, solemn acoustic performance is told from the perspective of the album’s namesake and is counted among Weezer’s greatest works. It also stands alongside Ben Folds Five’s “Brick” and the Verve Pipe’s “The Freshmen” as one of the most remorseful and harrowing ballads of the 1990s.

It’s easy to take for granted just how talented Cuomo is with his ax. “Perfect Situation” is a jaw-dropping work when it comes to six-string wizardry. Frothing with wah effects and Queen-ly swells, its umpteen solos are just as memorable as the “aw, shucks” lyrics. The front man grew up on over-the-top arena rock like KISS, and he lets his Ace Frehley adoration shine here.

The prequel to “Island in the Sun,” this “blue” track chugs like a steamboat while conjuring up romantic travel scenarios. In a barely audible breakdown, the band gets jazzy and gives a shout-out to On the Road author Jack Kerouac. There are some true goosebump-producing moments in “Holiday”— dig that harmonious vocal outburst when the gang repeats the first verse.

This is Weezer at their finest. From the syrupy opening bass line, to the sincere guitar work and the gawking lyrics, the immense closing song on their debut best represents the band. Cuomo is the shy fella daring to ask the girl to dance, scoring a victory for metal-loving, bespectacled geeks everywhere. The climax uplifts with gale-force chords and bends that enrapture the soul.