Former Sleater-Kinney singer/guitarist Carrie Brownstein has a blog on NPR called Monitor Mix (stick with me), and yesterday she called out Weezer for being "the ultimate novelty band." Specifically, she targeted two of their new songs, "I'm Your Daddy" and "The Girl Got Hot," which the band debuted last week in South Korea.
Here's the awful(ly catchy) "I'm Your Daddy":
Let's go all the way back to 1994 and "the blue album." Don't forget that the breakthrough single from that record was called "The Sweater Song," with a chorus of "If you want to destroy my sweater/ pull this thread as I walk away/ watch me unravel, I'll soon be naked."
OK, that's a metaphor, right? Let's look elsewhere. How about the oddly sexist lyrics of "No One Else"?
"I want a girl who will laugh for no one else.
When I'm away she puts her makeup on the shelf.
When I'm away she never leaves the house.
I want a girl who laughs for no one else."
Or the odd, possibly racist-sounding opening lines of "Buddy Holly"?
"What's with these homies dissin' my girl?
Why do they gotta front?
What did we ever do to these guys
That made them so violent?"
Elsewhere on the album: X-Men and Dungeons and Dragons references, and a song about surfing your way to work.
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Then there's Pinkerton, universally lauded among fans to be their best. The biggest single from that album, "El Scorcho," namedrops pro wrestlers and Madama Butterfly in the same verse. To say nothing of subsequent hits: "Hashpipe," "Dope Nose." It's not upsetting that Brownstein called Weezer a novelty band, it's upsetting that she's just figuring it out now.
It seems that there's an impression that Weezer started cranking out novelty songs with "Beverly Hills" in 2005, and that it's been downhill since then, but it's been part of them since the beginning. A (fairly) straight line can be drawn from a lot of the Blue Album to these new songs. To actually get upset over "I'm Your Daddy" would imply that you enjoyed their output at one point, and are now shocked at the direction they've taken. But even though Weezer once was able to successfully pull off something resembling sincerity ("The World Has Turned and Left Me Here," "Say It Ain't So," much of Pinkerton), they really haven't changed all that much. They've just mostly dropped the illusion that they are anything else than a "novelty band," and they've gotten more and more successful because of that. There's still something very appealing about most of these goofy tunes (my 6-year-old nephew loved "Beverly Hills"), no matter how difficult that may be to admit.
What has changed, though, are the fans: the kids who were in their early teens when the Blue Album came out are now disgruntled mid-to-late 20somethings, and as such have no patience for things like "I'm Your Daddy." Which is fair enough. It would be nice to see the band grow up with us, but they're obviously not interested in that--and why should they be? But the new generation of early teens have no problem with swallowing up these Kidz Bop-ready hits. We'll see how they feel in 15 years.
Weezer plays with Blink-182 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine on Sept. 17.