In a recent Tweet, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo announced release dates for four new albums in 2022. He refers to them as the SZNS, with each one being released on the first day of each season.
Cuomo also points out that these releases are not confirmed with any record company or manager. When OK Human was released in January 2021, Cuomo mentioned plans for a 4-album set with each album corresponding to each season in terms of “vibe and lyrical theme.”
With the potential of multiple new albums from Weezer this year, I want to take a look at their previous albums. Weezer has released 15 studio albums, beginning with 1994’s self-titled debut (known as the “Blue Album”). While the reception of each album has not always been great, Cuomo remains a creative and talented songwriter, and Weezer one of the most prolific bands of the last 30 years.
I thought about ranking each Weezer album, as I have been a Weezer fan since their first single, “Undone – The Sweater Song”, and unapologetically a fan of material that others weren’t so fond of. But honestly, that’s been done to death. And we all know which album is their best (*cough*Pinkerton*cough*). What I want to do instead is pick out the best individual song from each album. It may be the “hit” single from that album, or it may be a deep cut that got overlooked. So without further ado…
Weezer (Blue Album) – 1994: Honestly, this album is a classic from front to back, with three singles in the top-10 of the Modern Rock charts. It would be easy to pick “Buddy Holly”, but for my money, the best song on this album is the final track, “Only in Dreams”. At almost 8 minutes long, the song tells the story of someone who is unable to connect with the person of their dreams due to extreme nervousness. Musically, this song is beautifully layered, with an ebb and flow that ends by building to a climax with an energetic guitar solo before letting the bass gently set you back down. It’s very much an epic masterpiece of alternative rock.
Pinkerton – 1996: Pinkerton is Weezer’s “sad lonely boy” album, with nearly every song being about the struggles with relationships (this is a trend throughout most of Cuomo’s early songs). As I mentioned earlier in this article, this is probably my favorite of their albums, and the standout track for me is “The Good Life”. As much as I love “El Scorcho” for its weirdness, “The Good Life” is just a rockin’ fun song that speaks to me more now that I’m in my 40s than it did as a teen in 1996.
Weezer (Green Album) – 2001: After a 5 year break and a new bass player, Weezer reunited with Blue Album producer (and frontman of The Cars) Ric Ocasek for a return to the poppy, produced sound of their debut. The biggest hit from this album is also the best track, and that would be “Hash Pipe”, which Cuomo claims he wrote after taking a “bunch of Ritalin and had like three shots of tequila”. He also wrote “Dope Nose” at the same time, which was featured on Maladroit. Which brings us to…
Maldroit – 2002: I loved this album, and still do. It’s much harder rocking than anything we expected from Weezer at the time. The biggest single from Maladroit was the aforementioned “Dope Nose”, but in my opinion, the standout song here is “Burndt Jamb”. I just love the light, funky sound of the verses juxtaposed with the heavier sound on the chorus and the bridge. It’s just a fun song to listen to. Plus, it was originally written as an instrumental, then it had lyrics about potato chips before evolving into the version we know. I want to hear that potato chip version. Honorable mention: the final track, “December”.
Make Believe – 2005: This album was panned by critics and fans, but I liked it a lot. Produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, it featured their first top-40 crossover hit with “Beverly Hills”. Cuomo says his favorite track from this album is “This is Such a Pity”, and I think I’m going to have to agree with him on this one. They bought a $75 Casio keyboard and put together this upbeat and fun 80s synth-pop tune with these dark lyrics about how people mistreat and hurt each other.
Weezer (Red Album) – 2008: Another one that was not met kindly by critics and fans, but I really enjoyed. You probably remember the song “Pork and Beans” and the accompanying music video that famously featured a slew of early-2000s internet viral video phenomenons. But the track from Red Album that I’ve always loved is “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)”. Cuomo claimed this is the “most ambitious song I’ve ever attempted” and that it’s lyrically very different from anything he’d written before, since his usual style is very self-deprecating and in this song he’s bragging. I also love how it goes through several of what Cuomo refers to as “themes”, where each section is a different style. You can see what each section is on the Wikipedia page. Several honorable mentions for this album: First is “Heart Songs”, which is a lovely song about how much music means to Cuomo. This album also had a few bonus tracks depending on where you got your copy. The Deluxe Version had a couple that I really enjoyed: “Miss Sweeney” and “King”.
Raditude – 2009: This is where it gets rough because I feel like these next two albums are Weezer’s two worst albums. So picking the best song from each one might be faint praise. The standout track from this album is also the only one that did anything on the charts: “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”. Not really much to say about it though, other than… it’s fine. It’s a fun song that doesn’t make me want to turn it off. Fun fact – the music video for this song was directed by Marc Webb, who also directed movies such as “500 Days of Summer” and the two “Amazing Spider-Man” movies.
Hurley – 2010: There’s not much on this album I would consider really good. If I had to choose the best song on this album (and I do because I said so), I think it would be “Hang On”. It harkens back to something you might have heard on Pinkerton. Without much else to say about this track, I will point out that the album version (but not the single version) features actor Michael Cera on backing vocals and something called “pseudo-mandolin”. I have no idea what that is. I guess it’s a mandolin… kinda.
Everything Will Be Alright in the End – 2014: Ric Ocasek returns again to produce this album. It’s a sort of return to form for the band with tight, catchy rock songs (although not quite as good as their early work). This is a fact that is acknowledged on my choice for this album, “Back to the Shack”, which is all about the need for them to return to basics of “rockin’ out like it’s 94”.
Weezer (White Album) – 2016: Cuomo referred to this album as “a 90s grungy take on 60s pop songs” and credited The Beach Boys as an influence for the sound. It was pretty well received and includes several catchy, poppy songs about Southern California. They put the best track right up front on this one with “California Kids”, a song co-written by Semisonic’s Dan Wilson about the laid-back, no-worries lifestyle of being young in California.
Pacific Daydream – 2017: Much like the White Album, Pacific Daydream is another hooky, California inspired album, albeit with a more pop feel and darker themes. This was a tough choice between three songs. I almost went with “Feels Like Summer”, but I like “Happy Hour” a little better. It’s definitely not the typical Weezer sound, but it’s so mellow and jazzy that it’s just relaxing to listen to, despite the sad message.
Weezer (Teal Album) – 2019: This album happened because a fan started an online campaign to get Weezer to record a cover of “Africa” by Toto. They trolled this campaign by instead releasing a cover of another Toto song, “Roseanna”. They eventually did release their version of “Africa” and later, in a surprise drop, they released the Teal Album, composed entirely of cover songs, mostly from the 80s. None of these covers stray very much stylistically from the original versions, so that makes this a tougher choice. Now, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is one of my all-time favorite songs, so you might think that would be my choice. But no. That song is sacred to me. Their version is fine, but it’s not my pick from this album. That honor goes to their cover of “Happy Together” by The Turtles. Not much to say about it, but it is a bit heavier on the chorus than the original, and I like that about it.
Weezer (Black Album) – 2019: This album had been in the works since 2016 after finishing the White Album. It’s considered the flip-side of the White Album. Cuomo said it would “maybe be like Beach Boys gone bad.” Honestly, this album isn’t very good and there aren’t many strong songs to pick from. The first track, and lead single, “Can’t Knock The Hustle” is probably the bright spot, and even that’s not very bright.
OK Human – 2021: OK Human is a new direction for Weezer as it incorporates orchestral elements, which is something they had never previously done. As seems to be the trend in these later Weezer albums, the best track also tends to be the single, and this one is no different. “All My Favorite Songs” is clearly the best track here. But a close second would be “Dead Roses” with its dark lyrics and broody sound.
Van Weezer – 2021: The latest release is a return to a straight-up rock and roll sound, heavily influenced by (as the name suggests) Van Halen, and other 70s and 80s rock bands. It’s loaded with catchy guitar riffs and shredding solos. The best track here is “The End of the Game”, a shameless tribute to Van Halen with EVH-inspired two hand tapping and heavy riffs.
So there you have it. The best song from each Weezer studio album, as I see it. We’ll have to wait and see what these four new SZNS albums bring us, with the first one (theoretically) landing in just a few weeks. Let me know what you think of these choices and if you agree or disagree by heading to our Facebook or Twitter (and be sure to follow us while you’re there).