Fantasy Draft: Weezer’s Rainbow Album

Weezer released their 10th studio album on April Fool’s day of 2016. The eponymous White Album‘s well-crafted instrumentation and hooky, singable melodies return (long-suffering) fans to power-pop Valhalla.  It’s easily the band’s best effort since the 1990’s.

Coincidentally, April 1st also signaled the start of the fantasy baseball season. The two events, Weezer and fantasy baseball, melded together in my brain to become Weezer’s Rainbow Album: the best 10 tracks chosen from the band’s 10 albums, chosen track-by-track. Think of it as drafting a in an AL-Only league.

Opening Track

The opening track has to set the tone for the album. The rawness of “Tired of Sex[1]” serves as a perfect introduction to Pinkerton. “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” and “California Kids” similarly propel fans into Raditude[2] and The White Album, respectively. In terms of rocking introductions to smart power pop, though, no introduction quite matches Weezer’s first.

My Name is JonasThe Blue Album

And since this is a fantasy draft, we’ll include a Mr. Irrelevant for each album position, the worst track in each slot. Here the booby prize goes to Hurley’s Memories.” Not a terrible song, but easily the worst of Weezer’s album-openers.

Track Two

The temptation in drafting a fantasy Weezer album is simply load the lineup with Blue Album and Pinkerton tracks. “No One Else” could easily be slotted at #2, as could The White Album’s “The Wind in Our Sails.” The sheer musicianship of The Red Album’s “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn),” a song that spans genres from adult contemporary to rap to country, deserves mention. Ultimately, the winner here is simply the most singable, most Weezer-ish of the Track 2s, the best of what fans call the “Summer 2000” songs.

Dope NoseMaladroit

Mr. Irrelevant: “I’m Your DaddyRaditude – This song is so bad, you guys. So, so bad.

Track Three

Again, The Blue Album marks high here with “The World Has Turned And Left Me Here.” The Green Album also makes a strong showing with “Hash Pipe.” None of the Track Threes in Weezer’s discography, however, quite capture the band’s toe-tapping whimsy like:

Keep Fishin’Maladroit 

Mr. Irrelevant: “The Girl Got HotRaditude – See a pattern yet?

Track Four

Track four is the deepest field to choose from. Like a good baseball team, Weezer puts their heavy hitters at #4 looking to rack up some serious RBI. Pinkerton’s “Why Bother?” and The Blue Album’s mega-smash “Buddy Holly” both are their album’s fourth track. “Lonely Girl” from Everything Will Be Alright in the End also deserves mention for its deft use of synthesizers (a signature sound in Weezer’s early days). The winner here, though goes to a song that is the best track on its respective album, three minutes of pure summer sun and breeze.

Island in the SunThe Green Album

Mr. Irrelevant: “Can’t Stop PartyingRaditude – Co-written by Jermane Dupri and featuring Lil’ Wayne, this might be the worst Weezer song, period. It is worth noting, however, that the demo version of this song, released on Rivers Cuomo’s Alone II album, has a haunting, depressive beauty that the Raditude version completely scrubs away.

Track Five

Though I’m quite fond of The Red Album’s “Everybody Get Dangerous,” the obvious choice here seems to be “Undone (the Sweater Song).” Largely ignored as a single, “Undone” has grown to become anthemic even among non-Weezer fans. It is, however, not the best fifth track in Weezer’s catalog. The winner has more emotional punch than almost any track in the Weezer library.

Across the SeaPinkerton

Mr. Irrelevant #5: “Where’s My Sex?Hurley – A three-minute pun on socks/sex that runs 2:59 too long.

Track Six

This might be the toughest call of the lot. Pinkerton’s “The Good Life” and The Blue Album’s “Surf Wax America” are catchy as hell and emblematic of their respective albums. I’d say “Dreamin’” from the Red Album is the best of Weezer’s #6’s, except for the song’s oddly disjointed and poorly-mixed bridge. Instead we’ll draft Rivers Cuomo’s love letter to his wife, an emblem of Weezer’s return to quality music.

King of the WorldThe White Album

Mr. Irrelevant:  “Run AwayHurley

Track Seven

Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori” from The White Album is eminently singable and sticks to the insides of your head like peanut butter.  Hurley’s seventh track, “Hang On,” featuring Michael Cera of all people, is a bright spot on an otherwise forgettable album. But really this one is a battle of the heavyweights, with Pinkerton’s “El Scorcho” coming in a close second to…

Say It Ain’t SoThe Blue Album

Mr. Irrelevant: “Thought I KnewThe Red Album – Weezer guitarist Brian Bell originally wrote this track was his side-project, Space TwinsIt’s not bad, but doesn’t quite work for Weezer.

Track Eight

Hurley’s “Smart Girls,” co-written by No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal deserves mention here, but it pales beside the top two. “Pink Triangle” from Pinkerton manages to be both intensely melancholy and surprisingly upbeat. A hard combo to achieve. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite match the best #8 of them all, Weezer’s call to arms for nerds and geeks everywhere.

In the GarageThe Blue Album

Mr. Irrelevant: “Cold Dark WorldThe Red Album

Track Nine

Again, Blue and Pinkerton duke it out. “Holiday” and “Falling for You” both serve well as their album’s penultimate. However, both lose to the best song on Weezer’s worst album, an explosion of pop and joy.

My Best FriendMake Believe

Mr. Irrelevant: “Glorious DayThe Green AlbumGreen is essentially the same song repeated ten times. By the ninth iteration, “Glorious Day” offers nothing new.

Track Ten

Here we are, the last track on the Weezer album to end all Weezer albums. Rivers Cuomo and Co. close strong. Untold virgins in the Rebel Weezer Army dream of dropping their V card to the Blue Album’s “Only in Dreams.” Pinkerton closes with the haunting ache and beauty of “Butterfly.” Although picking anything other than the above amounts to Weezer treason (Weazon?) in some circles, the best of the band’s closers takes a single riff and builds and builds until sonic catharsis pulses from the stereo.

The Angel and the OneThe Red Album

Mr. Irrelevant: “Don’t Want to Let You GoRaditude – A swing and a miss.

B-Sides, Bonus Tracks and Unreleased Gems

A few Weezer albums extend past 10 songs. Other “Deluxe” editions and imports include bonus content. Because every good fantasy team needs a few bench players, we’ll round out our Weezer Fantasy Album with the best of the B-Sides and Bonus tracks. Songs like “Susanne,” “Jamie,” “Oh Lisa” and “Waiting on You” just barely miss the cut here, mostly because they sound too similar to the albums they’re associated with.

Run Over By a TruckRaditude [Deluxe Edition]

This peculiar, jangling, piano-led tune stands out among Raditude’s overproduced drivel. Had “Run Over by A Truck” made the album proper, it would have easily been Raditude’s best. Special points for shouting out the Cleveland Browns.

Miss SweeneyThe Red Album [Deluxe Edition]

Again, had this track made the original cut of The Red Album, it would stand among the album’s best. It’s quirky, talk-sung verses dovetail perfectly with the longing yowl of its refrain. B-Sides and Bonus tracks are meant to be ever-so-slightly off message among the album proper; it doesn’t get much more off-kilter than “Sweeney.”

The Futurescope TrilogyEverything Will Be Alright in the End

Tracks 11, 12 and 13 of EWBAITE form a single, mostly-instrumental, composition. Weezer had experimented with instrumentals during their Maladroit sessions, but here present a master course in the intricacies and sonic possibility offered by expertly-crafted power-pop.

I Just Threw Out the Love of My DreamsPinkerton B-Side

“…Love of My Dreams” is one of the few Weezer tracks featuring a female vocalist. Originally intended for the infamously-scrapped concept album, Songs from the Black Hole, Rachel Haden (who together with her sister Petra formed the band That Dog and toured with Weezer in the 90’s) absolutely nails the vocals in this track. Her voice seems to meld with the synthesizer to make pure magic.

WEEZER – THE RAINBOW ALBUM

1.      “My Name is Jonas
2.      “Dope Nose
3.      “Keep Fishin’
4.      “Island in the Sun
5.      “Across the Sea
6.      “King of the World
7.      “Say It Ain’t So
8.      “In the Garage
9.      “My Best Friend
10.  “The Angel and the One

B-Sides:

Run Over By a Truck
Miss Sweeney
The Futurescope Trilogy
I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams

 


NOTES:

[1] Moreso than the Album version, “Tired of Sex (Tracking Rough)” released as part of Pinkerton [Deluxe Edition] is a distillation of Pinkerton’s raw, immediate sound.

[2] Which, unfortunately, fizzles to hot garbage after this track.

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