Over the weekend, Weezer's Pinkerton turned 20. Upon its release in 1996, the band's sophomore album was a critical and commercial flop. However, the devotion of the fans and reconsiderations from critics and former naysayers has turned the LP into a cult-classic. In honor of that revamped legacy, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite Weezer deep cuts. Here are the results.
Red Album bonus track "King" was one of two songs on the LP to feature lead vocals by bassist Scott Shriner, who had joined the band in 2001. Shriner's Scott Weiland-esque vocal performance adds a grungier, heavier tone to the song that sets it apart from Weezer's typical power pop sound.
For one of the band's most ambitious singles, Weezer channeled 11 different bands or musical genres in six minutes. From Bach to Nirvana to rap to the Andrew Sisters, the band's Red Album cut is an exploratory guide to a short form of musical history produced by Rick Rubin. It was also considered by Rivers Cuomo to be one of his favorite Weezer songs ever recorded. "Greatest Man" was originally released as an iTunes single with the intention of being accompanied by a music video helmed by Spike Jonze, though those plans were later nixed.
Fitting the darker, downward spiraling lyrical themes of Weezer's cult-favorite album Pinkerton, "No Other One" charts a toxic relationship the narrator has with a drug-addicted girlfriend. Though the narrator recognizes the issues with staying with her, he is still so terrified of his loneliness that he sticks with her.
The crisp-but-crunchy "Jamie" originally appeared on a rarities compilation released by Weezer's label in 1994, and the "Buddy Holly" B-side later made it on to deluxe edition reissues of Weezer's debut album, The Blue Album. The sweet ode was written about Jamie Young, the band's first lawyer, who had become a trusted confidant and aide to the band.
The fragile "Butterfly" — in reference to the opera Madama Butterfly that inspired Pinkerton — is the only one of Weezer's commercially released songs to be entirely acoustic. Cuomo sings the apologetic lyrics with a tragic delicacy above a soft guitar strum and even softer drum beat.
The first single off Pinkerton is also seen as the reason why the album was such a commercial and critical failure. "El Scorcho" was unconventional for the band and a massive departure from the type of tightly structured pop-rock of their previous record, The Blue Album. On the song, Cuomo divulges his feelings for a girl and the stress of wanting to tell her while also waiting for her to tell him how she feels.
The Maladroit track begins sweetly until busting out a heavy, earth-shattering riff in-between verses about lost love. It began its life as an instrumental until the band decided to assign lyrics to the music and turn it into an album track for their 2002 release.
First heard as the B-side to "Undone – The Sweater Song," "Susanne" later debuted on the deluxe reissue of Weezer's 1994 debut. The song's inspiration was a Geffen A&R assistant and huge fan of the band who became their biggest advocate in the early portion of their career. She would make brownies for the band and work to keep their experience positive as they prepared the release of their first major label album. The song also makes reference to Guns N' Roses, another Geffen act, with the lines, "Even Izzy, Slash and Axl Rose/When I call you put them all on hold," though the original line was "Even Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose." Given Cobain's dying the same year as The Blue Album's release, Cuomo paid his respects to the late grunge star by omitting the reference.
Innocent and nostalgic, "In the Garage" has Cuomo listing all the facets of his garage that make him feel safe and secure. The singer is making reference to the garage of the Amherst House, an early rehearsal space for the band. He counts his comics and love for Kiss as parts of what make the garage such a warm and positive place for him.
At eight minutes long, "Only in Dreams" is Weezer's longest song and a masterpiece of the type of emotional and relationship anxiety for which Weezer is best known. The simple track that subtly builds to a thick, fuzzy guitar riff has Cuomo exploring his dreams of being with his perfect girl. In the end, he finally asks her to dance, a request she agrees to, and they float on air together.