Rivers Cuomo is a zombie. It’s the only explanation available for what has happened to the Weezer front-man over the past 10 years. Back in 1994 Weezer’s “Blue Album” resonated with teenage boys everywhere with its candid, nerdy lyrics about insecurity, Dungeons & Dragons, and homies dissin’ your girl. After the “Blue Album” it seemed that Weezer could do no wrong with hit songs like “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Buddy Holly”.
Unfortunately, their follow-up album “Pinkerton” got panned by critics because it was labelled as “juvenile” and“abrasive.” By year’s end it ranked #2 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Worst Albums of the Year” list. As we all know now (and many of us knew back then) “Pinkerton” is in fact a masterpiece and has gained a cult following since. The adoration for this “M. Butterfly” inspired album of self-deprecation and failed relationships has grown so much that Rolling Stone placed it on both the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list and the “Top 100 Albums of the 90s” list (revisionist history anyone?).
But after “Pinkerton” something happened. Something I can’t explain. Maybe it all started when the Scottie Pippen of the band, Matt Sharp, left to front The Rentals. Maybe it was karma getting Rivers back for calling “Pinkerton” “…a hideous record. It was such a hugely painful mistake…” Whatever it was, the Rivers of the past 10 years is not the Rivers we got to know in the 90s. While “The Blue Album” and “Pinkerton” were bleeding with emotion and honesty, every album released since has been completely devoid of personality, creativity, or heart. Since the “Green Album” I haven’t purchased another Weezer album, an alarming statement considering what a huge part “Pinkerton” and the “Blue Album” played in my adolescence.
Yes; Rivers Cuomo is a zombie. The Weezer sound that oozed with emotion and intellect in the 90s is now a lifeless, droning, prisoner of monotony, slowly eating away listeners’ brains, one note at a time. Ever since the disappointment set in with the “Green Album” (which I tried so damn hard to like) I realized Rivers had gone corporate, yet I never imagined he would go to this extreme. Humans love money, but even a human wouldn’t stoop to the levels that Rivers has dropped to in the past few years (not even Jimmy Buffett). Can you imagine the Rivers of the 90s letting Lil Wayne rap over “El Scorcho”? Or worse yet, invite Kenny G on stage to play along with “My Name is Jonas”? Only a brainless Rivers Cuomo would take part in such blasphemy.
At the 1:55 mark Kenny G joins the band…no lie! Watch until the end; the final second of the clip will provide you with douche chills to last the year:
I shouldn’t care this much. I’ve tried to keep Weezer off my radar for years now; I’ve tried to hold some semblance of hope that the Rivers I grew to know so intimately as a teenager still lived within the money-grubbing shell of a man we see today. But this weekend, I couldn’t hide from the monster any longer. Sitting at my friend’s house grilling brats, the zombie emerged from the radio via the 2010 summer dance hit “Magic”. It didn’t rush toward my ears and go straight for my brain, rather it caught me unawares, sitting back sipping on a drink, believing the intro to “Magic” was leading into just another harmless OutKast rip-off.
Then, I heard the voice. It resembled Rivers Cuomo, but it was not the Rivers I knew. All life had been sucked out of it, singing “I’ve got the magic in me” through an auto-tuner, resembling a robotic Lovin’ Spoonful (by the way, I DESPISE the Lovin’ Spoonful). I turned to my friend Steve and called out over the infection that was slowly overtaking my auditory senses, “Is that Rivers Cuomo!?” He scrunched up his nose and nodded his head, signifying that he was feeling the same pain as me. I turned to my right to find that my friend David had already succumbed to the zombie, nodding his head mindlessly to the overbearing chorus.
The only thing that could make this song worse is an autoharp (Lovin’ Spoonful reference for all you kids out there):
I stood to approach the radio; it had to be stopped! With each step I could feel the unyielding melody worming its way into my head, deadening my emotions, each auto-tuned lyric infecting my soul. And then, I stopped and stared blankly at the radio. It was too late. Zombie Rivers Cuomo had taken over.
Softly, I mumbled to myself, “I’ve got the magic in me,” and returned to my lawn chair.