Remake/Remodel: Weezer – Pinkerton

Weezer Pinkerton alternate tracklist

Welcome back to Remake/Remodel: The weekly column in which one of Treble’s editors or contributors takes a classic—if imperfect, to our ears—album, and proposes an alternate tracklist in an effort to improve the listening experience. In a series that examines how well-known records could be reworked to flow better, it was just a matter of time before we got to Weezer. And what better record to tackle than the opus that not even singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo has held a steady opinion about? The group’s 1996 album Pinkerton is an interesting mix of ambition and letdown. Some people call it Weezer’s best, others call it haphazard. Either way, it began a long game of hit/miss for the band. (One that they’re arguably still playing today.)

From where I sit, Pinkerton was a pretty great rock album, but a little over-indulgent when it came to Cuomo’s hormones. Sure, it has some interesting things to say about sexuality, romance and monogamy, but some of the paths Cuomo takes are, well, creepier than others. So I decided to slash a bunch of songs that always made me feel uncomfortable. There’s “Across the Sea,” Cuomo’s love song to a young Japanese girl who wrote him a letter once. That’s cut. His song about being disappointed that a person he had a crush on is a lesbian (“Pink Triangle”) is kind of fucked up and nice-guy-ish too, so that’s out. Other songs were cut for aesthetic reasons. “El Scorcho” has a format that doesn’t quite fit the rest of the record and the band would revisit it on “Beverly Hills” anyway. The acoustic closer “Butterfly” also felt a little forced, so that’s on the cutting room floor also.

I took the remaining ingredients and added two b-sides from that era of Weezerdom to craft an album that could have been the sophomore hit the band needed. Inspired by works from bands like Japandroids and Cloud Nothings (acts that are, no doubt, inspired in part by Weezer’s better moments) the result is an eight-track, hard-hitting rocker of an LP. It’s just the record that would have let Weezer stand out as alt-rock mainstays. All killer, no awkward moments that make you wonder whether Rivers Cuomo is a big creep or just an awkward songwriter.

Also, check out the Weezer Pinkerton alternate tracklist as a Spotify playlist, and listen for yourself.

Enjoy this stream of our revised Pinkerton, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Now, let’s get to rockin’:

Side A

To kick things off, rumbling bass guitar and tom-roll launch us into “Why Bother.” The propulsive performance here really gets the blood flowing and Cuomo’s performance is angst-ridden without jumping into too much whining too early on. (I always thought “Tired of Sex” came on a little too strong right off the bat.) Next up is the slightly-slower “No Other One,” which keeps the gritty feel of this record in tact while referencing the melodic bliss of Weezer. The lyrical contrast of the first two tracks let us know that this isn’t a concept-driven affair but a collection of songs that take different perspectives on sex, romance and monogamy. Next, we bring in our first album outsider: “Trampoline,” a 1998 track later featured on rarity collection Death to False Metal. This track serves as this side’s ballad; a slightly rowdier take on Oasis-style songwriting that adds a little variety to the record. We close this side out with showstopper “The Good Life” with its danceable, cathartic delivery. We let Cuomo get a little whiny on this one, but that’s fine because it’s a fun song and he doesn’t step over the line too much. And, keeping vinyl in mind, the smooth breakdown around the two-and-a-half-minute mark is the perfect way to close out side one.

Side B

At this point, Cuomo’s behaved himself pretty nicely, so we’ll finally give him the satisfaction of the self-indulgent “Tired of Sex.” Not only does this song work better in this position from a sonic standpoint, but its desperation also feels a little more natural here than as a starting point. Next comes “I Swear It’s True,” a b-side from the Pinkerton sessions that serves as this side’s slow groove. It’s a shy burner of a song but also has the edge necessary to it in this set. The lyrics aren’t the best, I’ll admit, but it’s a nice departure from some of the creepier stuff I omitted, and it’s a nice palate cleanser before… “Getchoo!” In my opinion, “Getchoo” is one of the strongest tracks from the original Pinkerton and Weezer showed their hand a little too early on by placing it as the second track. Here, in the penultimate position, its role is to get the listener as amped up as possible before we close out the show. And, as the finale? We’ll stick with “Falling For You,” which already served as the record’s closer if you omit the awkwardly inserted “Butterfly.” Weezer bows. The audience roars. Nobody feels awkward around Cuomo. All is redeemed.

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View Comments (14)
  • The album is named after B.F. Pinkerton from Madame Butterfly, one of the most despicable characters ever created. The entire point of it is to be emotionally raw and honest to an uncomfortable degree. Rivers is drawing parallels between his actions and thoughts himself and this character. He even structures the narrative of the album a bit like the opera. Your remodeling of the album completely demolishes the point of it. You removed “Butterfly” and “Across the Sea” which are the most thematically relevant tracks on the album. Simply read up on Madame Butterfly’s story and you can see how they relate to Rivers’ view of himself as Pinkerton.

    You’re free to do as you please to try and make the album safer and more palatable for yourself but I think you’d find it a far more satisfying listen if you took the time to better understand it.

    • I’ve seen Madame Butterfly and definitely appreciate the parallels, but Pinkerton has never been as strong of a pro- to me as it is to some fans of the album.

      That album still exists, and those parallels with the opera can still be enjoyed if you prefer them. But Weezer aren’t the band I go to for complicated analysis of human nature, so I prefer this as a smart, entertaining rock record.

      • No, everything you’ve written above indicates that you’d prefer that it not be smart. More Green Album and Maladroit tripe for this fellow, please!

        • Not a fellow. It’s not that I don’t like smart records. But if Weezer really wrote records that were ingenious, they probably would have stuck to that. The smartest Weezer record doesn’t equal across-the-board brilliance.

          • Your second statement above indicates a severe dearth of knowledge of the Weezer story. Rivers had a crisis of confidence following the initial critical reception to Pinkerton; he never recovered from that and has clearly opted to make Weezer a cash-grab band a la KISS. Much has been written about this, particularly as most critics have come to regard Pinkerton as a classic and recognize its influence on many bands. The Weezer of today is generally regarded by anyone who knows about music as a joke. I’m sorry Pinkerton made you uncomfortable with all its feelings and thoughts. Do let us all know as soon as Raditude gets its own 33 1/3 book.

  • Great art has a tendency to make people uncomfortable, and there is nothing wrong with that. This album was an instance of Rivers having the courage to take that risk. The result is an album with far more longterm value than the boatload of laughably bad but shockingly lucrative imitations of the Blue Album that he’s been hellbent on cranking out since then. And yes, Pinkerton is a better work than the Blue Album precisely because it ignored people’s expectations. While there are plenty of things I’d change about Rivers Cuomo the person if I could, there is nothing on either of the first two albums that ought to be changed. Columns like these were/are the reason why this man will never make another great album. Thanks for sounding really 1996; I can’t believe there is still a music critic out there who doesn’t get Pinkerton.


  • Literally the worst take I’ve ever seen. You couldn’t even get the song title “Falling For You” right (I see you corrected it without strikeout, pretty sneaky sis). Your ideas are bad and you should feel bad.

  • I think the Weezer story is pretty cut and dry: Cuomo writes two good albums then shits the bed. You can blame critics if you want, but the evidence is there—he’s just not capable of making a good album anymore.

  • This is terrible. I love Pinkerton, and as much as I love the Blue Album I think I might like Pinkerton more. After those two albums, I have zero interest in Weezer.

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