So Sleater-Kinney/NPR goddess Carrie Brownstein’s righteous Weezer diss made quite the rounds yesterday: Regarding live clips of two new tracks (the unfortunately named “I’m Your Daddy” and “The Girl Got Hot”), she opined, “I don’t know if Weezer hates its fans or just the (apparently) stifling concept of sincerity, but you should listen to these two new songs if you weren’t already convinced of Weezer’s contempt for music.” Yeeouch! They’re not exactly worthy of The Hot Rock, no, but “hates its fans”? Does bad power-pop now qualify as “contempt”?
Let’s state up front that both songs are pretty lousy (the second is below), in that defiantly simplistic new-wave-anthems-for-knuckleheads way exemplified by the horrifying (and Grammy-winning!) “Beverly Hills” and carried over onto much of last year’s utterly mystifying Red Album. Rivers Cuomo seems to be deliberately regressing as a lyricist — considering Weezer’s gala debut was “Undone (The Sweater Song),” that’s saying something — and as noted elsewhere, opening a song with “I went to a party last Saturday night” is pretty extraordinarily obnoxious. It’s fair to say that he’s maybe baiting us at this point.
I contend, however, that this isn’t a case of contempt or insincerity, but exactly the opposite: Rivers now seems to be singing the first thing that pops into his head, exactly the way it pops. This would seem to be the way he’s always done it. Back in what’s now regarded as Weezer’s prime, he wrote songs about hiding in his garage or imagining a Japanese girl who wrote him fan mail masturbating while thinking of him. Now you get stuff like “Heart Songs,” a brutally unguarded and unapologetically hokey list of songs that he likes, basically, jaw-dropping in its guilelessness. Here, apparently, we’ve moved on to tunes about picking chicks up at parties and taking them out for fondue, as narrated by an awkward-badass 14-year-old boy.
Nonetheless, I believe, 100 percent, that Rivers Cuomo uses the phrase “I’m your daddy” in real life. And though such precociousness basically torpedoes a good chunk of Weezer’s latter-day catalog, what remains is charming in its naivete and frankly inspiring in its distinctly adolescent-feeling confidence, however misplaced. It’s fine if you hate “Pork & Beans” (I still love it), and justifiable to cite the video as entirely responsible for its success, but that video for me is still sneakily poignant: a crew of oft-unwitting Internet celebrities America has collectively laughed at teaming up to sing a chorus of “I’m-a do the things I wanna do/I ain’t got a thing to prove to you.” Totally fine if you find it completely insufferable, but that reaction is the only remotely hateful thing about it.