Weezer are on the verge of emerging from a four-year hiatus with their new album Everything Will Be Alright in the End. It's their first record with producer Ric Ocasek since The Green Album in 2000, so expectations are very high. As we await the new tracks, we asked our readers to select their favorite songs from Weezer's long history. Unsurprisingly, 80 percent of the tracks in the Top 10 come from the first two Weezer albums. They set a very high standard for themselves very early on. Click through to see the results.
Rivers Cuomo and Weezer drummer Pat Wilson wrote "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here" about a year before they even started the band. The title pretty much sums up the theme of the song: It's about a super depressed guy struggling with the aftermath of a breakup. It follows "No One Else" on The Blue Album and Cuomo says that is no coincidence. "'No One Else' is about the jealous obsessive asshole in me freaking out on my girlfriend," he said. "'The World Has Turned and Left Me Here' is the same asshole wondering why she's gone." It's impossible to guess just how many teenagers in the 1990s blasted this song after a tough day and thought "this sums up my life perfectly," but it's probably in the millions. The song sat dormant for years and years until the group finally resurrected it on the Memories tour where they played their first two albums in sequence. It never failed to make nostalgic 1990s kids squeal with delight.
Only the most devoted Weezer fans know the name Jason Cropper. He was their original guitarist and he spent a year in the band before he left right before the recording of The Blue Album. According to multiple reports, he's legally forbidden from talking about the details of his departure, though their relationship couldn't be that strained judging by the fact he attended Rivers Cuomo's wedding in 2006. His most enduring legacy is the acoustic guitar intro to "My Name Is Jonas," which is the first thing you hear on the first Weezer record. It's a goofy tune supposedly inspired by Lois Lowry's novel The Giver, which features a character named Jonas, who declares at one point "my name is Jonas." The song has opened up many a Weezer show and the fans scream along to every word, even though few people have any idea what they mean.
At the turn of the millennium, not many people were predicting a Weezer comeback. The group had been completely off the grid since they essentially disbanded after the commercial failure of Pinkerton in 1996. But Rivers Cuomo still had a lot of songs in him, and the group wisely teamed up with The Blue Album producer Ric Ocasek for their third album. He helped them craft a group of sunny songs that touched a nerve with old school Weezer fans and a younger generation just learning about the group. The album's second single, "Island in the Sun," became a huge radio and MTV hit. The group even reunited with "Buddy Holly" director Spike Jonze for the video. To this day, it remains a highlight of their live show.
Just one year after Weezer exploded with The Blue Album, Rivers Cuomo became disenchanted with fame and enrolled Harvard, moving into a dormitory and retreating from the spotlight. "I was craving mental stimulation for about a year and a half leading up to that point, being on the road," he told Rolling Stone. "I was driving around in a van or tour bus and playing the same 10 songs every night." He became very isolated and lonely at school and one day he got a letter from a young female fan in Japan. It touched him deeply and he wrote the Pinkerton track "Across the Sea" about the experience, though some of the lines come off as a little creepy these days, especially "I wonder how you touch yourself and curse myself for being across the sea." Cuomo never contacted the fan and it's unclear if she even knows what she inspired.
Regardless of how much Weezer has accomplished over the past two decades, when many people think of them the first image that comes to mind is Fonzie dancing around Arnold's to "Buddy Holly." That's because Spike Jonze made a brilliant video for the 1994 track that made it seem like the band was part of an actual Happy Days episode. MTV put the video into heavy rotation and middle schoolers from Orlando to Seattle began buying The Blue Album in droves. Rivers Cuomo was inspired to write the song after his friends made fun of his Asian girlfriend, which explains the lines "your tongue is twisted/your eyes are slit."
Weezer needed a monster first single when they returned in 2000 after a four-year break. The label wanted "Don't Let Go," but Cuomo pressed hard for "Hash Pipe" and they ultimately relented. It was a good choice. The song — which borrows bits from the "Theme From Peter Gunn" and "Shot Himself Up" by The Shod's — touched a chord with teenagers for obvious reasons. More than anything else, this song is the reason that Weezer came back so stroing in the early 2000s.
The initial idea for "The Sweater Song" came to Rivers Cuomo in an English class when the instructor shared an analogy favored by Albert Einstein. "I heard the analogy of the unraveling sweater," Cuomo said. "Dr. Eisenstein used the image to demonstrate the effectiveness of focused thesis statement in an essay. 'All I have to do is hold a single thread in your sweater and it will unravel as you walk away.'" Cuomo took the idea and wrote a song about a man that was unraveling like a sweater. Years later, Cuomo realized he inadvertently borrowed a bit from a Metallica tune when writing the song. "I was trying to write a Velvet Underground-type song because I was super into them, and I came up with that guitar riff," Cuomo said in 2009. "It wasn't until years after I wrote it that I realized it's almost a complete rip-off of 'Sanitarium' by Metallica. It just perfectly encapsulates Weezer to me — you're trying to be cool like Velvet Underground, but your metal roots just pump through unconsciously."
Rivers Cuomo's freshman year at Harvard didn't go very well. He was forced to wear a steel brace on his leg to address a long-standing medical condition, and the women on campus weren't very interested in spending time with the weird older guy limping around campus. He poured his pain and loneliness into the songs on Pinkerton and many of the anecdotes are drawn from real life, down to asking to a girl to a Green Day concert and her responding she'd never heard of them. (What college girl in 1995 hadn't heard of Green Day?) The half-Japanese cello player has never stepped forward, but she clearly had a real impact on Cuomo. She resurfaces on "Falling for You."
It's clear to most Weezer fans that "Only in Dreams," the lush, dreamy, eight-minute songs that wraps up The Blue Album, is an absolute masterpiece, but back in 2002 a troll on an Internet message board voiced a counter opinion. "GAY! GAY! GAY GAY!" he wrote about the song. "DISNEYGAY! Admit it." This ancient, sub-literate trolling would obviously be completely meaningless where they not the words of Rivers Cuomo, the guy who wrote the song. This was back around the time when he called his fans "little bitches." He's mellowed out since then and when he plays "Only in Dreams" he seems to be enjoying himself.
Rivers Cuomo had a difficult childhood. His biological father developed a severe drinking problem before leaving his mother, and one day Rivers came home from school and found a bottle of booze in the fridge. He worried that it meant his new family was about to break apart also, and years later he tapped into that memory when writing "Say It Ain't So." It was the final single from The Blue Album and it failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100, but it's widely seen now as one of the greatest songs of the decade. The opening chords alone bring a smile to most everyone that was a teenager in 1994.