Weezer – ‘Beverly Hills’
Ben Kweller – ‘Walk on Me’
Fountains of Wayne – ‘Maureen’
All available at iTunes (99 cents)
By all accounts, Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo has gotten progressively weirder over the past decade, allegedly painting the walls of his apartment black, covering the windows so no natural light can shine through. And, as I learned in the wildly empty Rolling Stone cover story, homeboy even goes on extended fasts now!
In addition to all that nonsense, Cuomo is said to have become obsessed with mapping out chord changes and structures in “successful” pop songs his own early efforts included in search of a foolproof formula for mainstream approval. What our wayward Harvard student has failed to realize is that his success was largely due to his ability to combine the formulaic approach with his signature bookish approach. The Blue Album gave birth to an entirely new kind of rock ‘n’ roll irony that appealed to kids who were at the very least a little bit smarter than average.
But their second record, Pinkerton, was a commercial failure. And that seemed to hurt Cuomo’s feelings, ultimately turning him into the complete basket case he is today.
I know what you’re thinking: some of pop music’s most enduring records have been made by basket cases. Unfortunately, even with all of his research, Cuomo and his helpless band are writing songs that are somehow even less significant than a lot of the Top 40 stuff we’re supposed to hate so much.
Their new single, ‘Beverly Hills’ is a first-person account of a stereotypical high school outsider growing up longing for a life like all the celebrities he sees in the movies. The excruciatingly awful verses are rapped more than they are sung, and lead into wide open, almost chanted choruses, an approach that, knowing what we know, makes an awful lot of sense because, hey, it worked for Sum 41, right?
Don’t worry, though: if you’re in search of smart, catchy pop music you’re not entirely out of luck. Try ‘Walk on Me’ from Ben Kweller’s Sha Sha or even Fountain of Wayne’s new single, ‘Maureen’. Weezer’s downfall is kind of sad, I guess, but if you look hard enough, you’ll realize we don’t need ‘em.