Hailing from Los Angeles, Weezer hit it big with their self-titled debut album, widely referred to as the `Blue Album.’ It’s a charming and clever pop record which pays homage to the past and to the band’s native California. The `Blue Album’ packs a punch because it is full of songs that are both catchy and amusing and provide a great range of diversity with nods to Buddy Holly, The Beach Boys, and Kiss. The album waste space or drag on for an unnecessary length of time and the production work of The Cars’ Ric Ocasek does small wonders for the record.
Weezer’s rise to prominence seemed to directly counter the end of Nirvana’s reign of power. Whether it is a mere coincidence or if they were buoyed by daring to be their nerdy selves, Weezer’s style of insecure, alternative rock with pop musings offered a contrasting musical option to the grunge rock swoon that was taking place in the early 1990s. It’s not to say that Weezer made it cool to be a geek, but their unequivocally nerdy aesthetic, both in exterior fashions and lyrical content, was captivating and led to the emergence of fans that could relate to the perceived social ineptitudes that Rivers Cuomo sings of.
It’s no secret that Weezer’s music videos had a hand in catapulting the band from obscurity into the limelight. “Buddy Holly,” the second single off Weezer, saw significant MTV airplay with its Happy Days inspired video. It presented the band and all their quirkiness and, perhaps unrightfully, led to their poor reception among critics of the time. The negativity may have stemmed from the perception of the band as being too soft and the album too melodic, but Weezer’s eponymous debut is among the best at capturing the awkward nature of the ’90s.
The `Blue Album’ is a juggernaut of permeating melodies and quips that are memorable–if not relatable. Loaded with hits, including “Undone (The Sweater Song),” “Buddy Holly,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “Surf Wax America,” and “In the Garage,” the record is a steamroller of hooks and chugging guitar riffs. Those riffs are on display when a controlling Cuomo establishes his need for “a girl that laughs for no one else,” while songs like “The World Has Turned And Left Me Here” and “In The Garage” can be credited as some of the earlier incarnations of emo. Cuomo is a master of the tongue-in-cheek moment, giving us the oft-quoted (note: mostly inefficiently), “What’s with these homies dissin’ my girl?/ why do they gotta front?” and the underappreciated gem, “Somebody’s Heine’/ is crowdin’ my icebox/ somebody’s cold one/ is givin’ me chills,” from “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So,” respectively. As memorable as these songs were, things like the mention of a 12-sided-die or the relatable insecurity in the contents of the lyrics are what call out to the listener’s inner and outer nerd.
More than a decade after its release, the `Blue Album’ has reached its rightful place, as a required musical relic of the 1990s. It’s one of those albums that you tend to assume that all your peers own and are well-versed in. Mingling infectious hooks and sly lyrics, Weezer’s debut album holds a special place in the fan’s heart long after the band’s career appears to have careened into untreadable waters.
Everclear – So Much For the Afterglow
Local H – As Good as Dead
Green Day – Dookie