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100 Albums: "Weezer (The Blue Album)" by Weezer

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Weezer
Title: Weezer (The Blue Album)
Released: 1994
Genre: garage pop rock

Weezer was formed by singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo in 1992 in LA and signed with Geffen the next year. Their debut, the first of many self-titled albums that would be referred to by the the dominant color of the CD cover, came out a year later, accompanied by a bizarre music video that was also the directorial debut of Spike Jonze. The video for that first single, Undone--The Sweater Song, became an instant hit and Weezer were propelled to instant stardom. They were at the vanguard of a poppier era of alt-rock. The Blue Album, which came out almost exactly a month after Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's death, helped define the sound of second-wave grunge. Whereas the initial grunge explosion was angsty, ironic, and hard-rocking, Weezer played bubblegum songs with distorted guitars. Their rock-can-be-fun-too movement would soon include second-wave grunge acts like Foo Fighters, less self-serious efforts from first-wave grunge rockers (e.g., Stone Temple Pilots' sophomore album Purple a month later), and dance-rock acts that were also breaking on alt-rock radio (e.g., No Doubt's breakout album Tragic Kingdom in 1995).

The Blue Album opens with My Name Is Jonas, a song that lures you in with acoustic arpeggios for a few bars before slamming you with distorted power chords. Throughout the record, Cuomo pines over women, takes solace in D&D, and extols the virtues of surfing. The album includes what is arguably their most famous song, Buddy Holly (embedded above), a love song that Cuomo didn't want to include on the album at all because he thought it was too cheesy. The final single is a more earnest rocker, Say It Ain't So, which is also arguably their most famous song. And while Cuomo is often tongue-in-cheek with his lyrics, he comes across as adorably sincere here, singing about a loved one's struggle with alcoholism.

The Blue Album is a fun ride. There's not a bad song on it. It's a simple formula: Cuomo sings about weird things that interest him using catchy pop melodies set to incongruously chugging guitar chords. It just works.

Further Listening: Pinkerton is regarded by fans as Weezer's best album, but in my opinion--as I outlined in the Anticipointments post--is that it's hot garbage aside from El Scorcho. I love The Green Album, which has a little more polish than this one and a little less heart, but it still quite good. Their later work doesn't grab me at all, mostly because I don't like Cuomo's lyrics. Recently they did a wildly popular cover of Toto's Africa and I swear the world is ending I don't understand music at all anymore why is this even a thing?!