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Six Definitive Songs: The ultimate beginner’s guide to Weezer

It’s safe to say that Weezer remains one of the most consequential rock bands of the past 30 years. A legendary outfit with a cult following quite like no other, the band first broke through in the 1990s, when culture was lucky enough to have a wealth of great guitar bands. Much like their contemporaries such as Pavement, Weezer stood out from the crowd from the get-go. 

Whilst they made anthemic rock tracks with ease, they looked and sounded different, and for the most part, this unmistakable style has stood them in good stead over the rest of their career, regardless of the few misfires they’ve released.

Aesthetically, they might look like four somewhat geeky guys, but do not let that fool you. One would argue that apart from Dinosaur Jr., in the ’90s, when Weezer were at their creative zenith, no other alternative band shredded quite as hard as they. 

Not only is frontman Rivers Cuomo a brilliant lyricist, but he’s also one of the definitive guitar heroes of the modern era, writing catchy pop melodies and infusing them with a hardcore punk spirit. Moreover, guitarist Brian Bell is also a master of the fretboard, and the pair’s duelling guitar style, which isn’t too dissimilar to that of Thin Lizzy, is one of the most potent in the history of rock. 

Added to this rousing fashion is the band’s form of vocal delivery. All band members chip in with their doo-wop-esque vocals, with drummer Patrick Wilson, current bassist Scott Shriner and the band’s iconic former bassist Matt Sharp all adding to the collective power of this harmonised but slightly dissonant form of chorus. Regarding this aspect of their sound, there is nobody who does it better. 

There is no surprise that Weezer continues to be one of the most influential bands out there, and duly, we’ve listed their six definitive songs that give you a rounded account of just how excellent they are. 

Weezer’s six definitive songs:

‘My Name is Jonas’ – The Blue Album (1994)

The opener of the band’s legendary 1994 debut The Blue Album, ‘My Name is Jonas’ set a precedent for the rest of the record and what was to come over Weezer’s long career.

Kicking off with that hooky acoustic guitar line before the crunchy guitars kick in, for many people, this was the first time that they had heard Rivers Cuomo’s mix of surreal vocals and the band’s crushing dynamics. This is classic Weezer, and to be turned up loud.

‘Undone – The Sweater Song – The Blue Album (1994)

Perhaps the ultimate Weezer song, no matter how many times you listen to ‘Undone – The Sweater Song’ it does not get old. Whether it be the opening drum beat, the slightly disjointed picking part in the verse, the hilarious conversations that are dubbed on top, or the thunderous chorus, one would argue that this track contains all the finest elements of Weezer, augmented by one of Cuomo’s most iconic guitar solos.

It’s funny, anthemic and hits you right at the core, everything that Weezer do best. Also, the line about Superman skivvies is vintage like a fine wine.

‘Only in Dreams’ – The Blue Album (1994)

A slow burner, ‘Only in Dreams’ was where Weezer flirted with a different type of rock that they previously hadn’t flirted with and still haven’t really tapped into. There are elements of post-rock and shoegaze here, as the track gradually builds to a mammoth crescendo that ranks amongst the very best they’ve recorded. As the band link up to vocalise the chorus, something stirs within you that you can’t quite put your finger on, a testament to the majesty of Weezer. 

For a long time, it was widely accepted that in the song Cuomo is fantasising about a girl, until a 2010 interview with Rolling Stone where he claimed: “I think most of our audience always thought it was a song about a girl when I’m really singing about my artistic process.”

Despite what may have informed the song, it is one of the most emotive moments Weezer have ever produced, and if it wasn’t already clear by this final curtain call on The Blue Album, Cuomo is a master wordsmith, as the following set of lyrics confirm: “You can’t resist her, She’s in your bones, She’s in your marrow, And your ride home, You can’t avoid her, She’s in the air (in the air), In between molecules, Of oxygen and carbon dioxide”.

‘Pink Triangle’ – Pinkerton (1996)

There are many great moments on the band’s much darker and more cerebral second album Pinkerton, and ‘Pink Triangle’ ranks among the very best, and it was a struggle whether to pick it or ‘Across the Sea’.

Boasting some of the band’s iconic vocal work, the song details another of the frontman’s failed attempts at love while studying at Harvard University. The anthemic chorus “I’m dumb she’s a lesbian” captures the essence of Cuomo’s self-hating lyrics perfectly and will be stuck in your head for days. 

‘The Good Life’ – Pinkerton (1996)

A personal favourite, ‘The Good Life’ just oozes cool. Cuomo’s lyrics are also some of the most hilarious he’s conceived as he sings about regretting where he is in life and wanting to get back to enjoying existence. Matt Sharp’s echo of ‘I’ve had it’ is one of the stand-out moments in the song, as is Cuomo admitting that he likes sugar in his tee and his desire to shake booty on a night. 

Cuomo and Bell’s guitars link up perfectly during the middle of the song, and the part where it slows down and the slide guitar cuts through the mix is one of the most emotionally affecting moments in their discography. Prepare to be energised. 

‘Pork and Beans’ – The Red Album (2008)

I expect that many of you will be wondering where ‘Island in the Sun’ is, but I just could not leave out ‘Pork and Beans’. Undoubtedly, the finest moment from their post-90s era, this was classic Weezer showing itself for the first time in years.

There’s a simple but catchy riff in the verse, one of their best choruses and Brian Bell’s harmonised vocals and string bends, creating one of their most stirring cuts. Here, the band confirmed that they weren’t going anywhere, and for millennials, it is timeless. 

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