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Credit: Sean Murphy

Music

The five songs which inspired Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo

Weezer are a brilliant band. Yes, Weezer are a brilliant band. And long may they continue to be a brilliant band. The group are bolstered by a genuine sense of commitment and candour from their work as a collective, although Rivers Cuomo tends to write the lyrics and contextualises the band as a thriving power of nature.

According to Cuomo, inspiration stems from his place in a perfect point of creativity: “I’m very much an ‘in-the-moment’ kind of guy. I just deal with whatever comes up. It’s actually been an incredible year for me. I found out we weren’t going on tour last year, so I wrote four records instead – [they are] called Seasons and they’re coming in 2022. Had I been on tour, I don’t think I would have done that. I try not to think twice about these things.”

Clearly, he’s someone who responds quickly, which might explain why he neglected to offer Under The Radar the reasoning behind the five songs that meant something to him. Instead, he emailed them the video clips to the songs, in an effort to demonstrate their urgency and vitality. Clearly, the singer felt that the power of the tracks would compensate for his lack of reasoning.

It’s telling that the five songs chosen would fit anyone’s description of rock, from the barrelling hooks of Metallica to the lingering, longing and detachment of The Velvet Underground. Which is interesting, because Weezer subscribe to the trappings of chamber pop over the urgency of rock, but then again, maybe that’s the point. Rock provides an escapist outlet, bringing listeners from such faraway portals, headfirst into the realm of the world as a changing orbit.

Furthermore, it doesn’t take an intense or impressionistic overview to piece together an understanding of the world at large, one which offers listeners the chance to impart their truth over the disembodied yelps and fiery hooks that decorate the backdrop. It’s a strong genre, propelled by commitment, fire and general courage. In this way, the characters create a sense of beginning, middle and end, that doesn’t necessarily subscribe to the elemental design presided by the band. It doesn’t matter if the listener’s truth doesn’t apply to the group’s intentions.

Ultimately, Cuomo has his reasons as to why he chose to place these five songs on the list, and he’s clearly keen to keep them private. Speculating as to why he chose these five is a pointless exercise, especially since we could use this time to praise Weezer’s output.

Pinkerton in particularly stands as a damning commentary on race relations in America, demonstrating a sense of loneliness and desperation through a collection of blinding hooks, destined to preserve the intentions of a city undergoing personal turmoil.

He may reference sugar in his lyrics, but there’s a little bit more bite to Cuomo’s lyrics, which is fitting for an indie pop star. In his way of being cute, he cuts an edge. And so it is that the songs bounce along, like a pop star searching for a rock beat.

River Cuomo’s five favourite songs:

  • ‘I Want You’ – Kiss
  • ‘Battery’ – Metallica
  • ‘Silver’ – Nirvana
  • ‘Gigantic’ – Pixies
  • ‘Femme Fatal’ – The Velvet Underground & Nico