Today, when we speak of Weezer, we are usually talking about what the band did between 1994-2002. What followed was a decade-long dry spell of albums that are patently bad, even for a band that embraces that sort of thing.
At my middle school, people seemed to turn on Weezer about a year after Make Believe — specifically, after “Beverly Hills” ran its course. Pretty soon, people only played “Beverly Hills” in jest to annoy others. One friend, in a true act of rebellion, defaced his homemade white Weezer t-shirt by replacing the “W” with a “G” to spell “Geezer.” He then wore it more proudly than ever.
For a band that didn’t release a popular album for the majority of current college students’ formative years, it left a lasting impact.
“My guess is that Weezer hasn’t been cool since Pinkerton, really, but they keep fooling new generations of high school kids anyway,” said David Greenwald, music critic for The Oregonian.
Silas Valentino, a contributor for The Village Voice and former Emerald staff writer took this notion one step further:
“One day, I’m going to fall in love with a woman and she will have her complexities and her perfections. And I’ll be able to draw this beautiful comparison to Weezer where it’s like, ‘I see you for your Blue and I see you for your Pinkerton, but I also acknowledge your Make Believe.’ ”
When describing why it’s possible to simultaneously love and hate Weezer, the phrase “endearing” was common. Weezer attempted to diversify its sound and the results were less than stellar. Instead of making a poor version of Pinkerton five times, they admirably kept attempting new things.
For many fans, it doesn’t matter how bad the tracks get. Nathan Stevens, a KWVA DJ and UO student, said Rivers Cuomo would have to be filmed kicking puppies for Stevens to give up on the band.
“The point of Weezer is that they were never cool,” Stevens said. “ ‘Buddy Holly’ is about not being cool, but also not giving a fuck. They’ve always been a dorky, nerdy, lovable, great band. I don't think cool has anything to do with it.”
Other listeners, such as Eli Burch, a senior product design major at UO, have not followed modern Weezer closely. Burch said the first four albums helped shape his music experience growing up when most other students were listening to hip-hop.
“I don’t think they’re cool again, but maybe they’ll prove me wrong,” Burch said. “I’m cheering for them, but I’m not very optimistic. I would love if they made an awesome comeback.”
Loving Weezer goes hand-in-hand with hating Weezer. True fans accept the bad albums, as they wholeheartedly love the good ones.
“Weezer is Kool-Aid,” Valentino said. “I’ll drink it every day and twice on Sunday. Weezer is definitely cool and relevant in 2015, as they will be for another 21 years, even though fresh fans are probably scarce. They made enough magic in that L.A. garage back in ‘94 to last a career.” The future of Weezer is unwritten. In 1996, Pinkerton was panned. Rolling Stone readers voted it as the third worst album of the year, before doubling back in 2002 to name it the 16th greatest album of all time.
“I don’t need anything more from Weezer at this point,” Stevens said. “If there’s something amazing they come up with, I will be so, so happy. But they gave me those two albums of my childhood [Blue and Pinkerton]. I don’t want to demand anything.”
So after all this, is it possible to declare Weezer cool again? The results were pretty evenly split. More people said yes, but arguments that Weezer has never been cool were more convincing. There’s only one question left to ask after an inconclusive study:
Does it matter if Weezer is cool?
No. Not at all.
What matters is that Weezer is one of the most interesting bands in present times: It’s reached the top, plummeted to rock bottom and may be ascending once again. If the next step of Weezer’s journey is to bottom out again, there will still be fans waving the Weezer flag as proudly as ever.
Nick Miller, an Oregon State University student I grew up with who reintroduced me to Weezer this past summer, had this to say about the contradiction that is being a Weezer fan:
“When you love something, you gotta love its faults too. You gotta accept [Weezer] for what they are, and those terrible, terrible records are a part of who they are now,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s a part of it.”