Is Weezer’s Pinkerton the Greatest Emo Album of All Time?

Weezer…..(long pause)……. Weezer is a band that could have changed music for the better but crumbled under their frontman’s insecurities and sold out to make the type of bland pop rock used to sell Olsen Twins movies. That was hard to say because in 1996 Weezer released its dark masterpiece Pinkerton that gave the world a  glimpse into the weird paranoia and perversion that was Rivers Cuomo’s  mind. I once read that Rivers Cuomo said that to him Pinkerton felt like the things you say drunken at a party that the next day you realize you can’t take back. After spilling his heart to the world he from that point on sang songs that portrayed no emotion at all.  He decided to make money and make videos with Muppets and for that I can’t blame him because until you realize that he (Cuomo) is actually embarrassed by Pinkerton you think it is fiction, but only the truth can elicit such a reaction.I mean no one would really come out and admit those things, right?

Wait, did he really say those things? At first i was just rocking out to the awesome riffs. “Tired of Sex” got me going and “Getchoo” and “No Other One”  seemed innocent enough for the subject, but then comes “Why Bother?”. A song about how he’d rather go home and masturbate than have to talk to a girl because he knows in the end it will only lead to pain. How defeatist. How neurotic. How Emo.

Now comes the view into Cuomo’s mind that he reveals that has to be what forever scared him into his cowardly crap future of a career, “Across The Sea”. This is probably the best song on the album and honestly is probably one of the top 5 Second Wave Emo songs of all time.

Now let’s clear something up for those who are going to argue with this, I know that overall Weezer cannot be listed as a Emo band. I argue that at this time in their career however they were in fact an emo band. Their debut Blue Album was weird, quirky, and ironic gem of indie rock out of the same New York scene that produced Second wave forefathers, Texas Is The Reason. But that’s another band for another time.

They had all the elements that made up Emo at that time. They were smart, Rivers was enrolled at Harvard. They sang about sentimental love with a hard rock edge. They even added Moog’s. They were Emo, admit it. They could have been the band that took Emo to the next level of popularity, but unfortunately for the scene and quite possibly the world they sold out.

Back to “Across The Sea”, so the ballad about his unrequited love for a teenage girl in Japan who has been sending him fan letters is probably one of the most honest songs of the 90’s. It’s dirty and perverted but it’s slightly hot. He is a Harvard man after all. A gentleman of the highest repute. You can always tell a Harvard man: Lusting after underage asian girls. So anyway the song gets weird right around here:

So I sniff (so I sniff)
And I lick (and I lick)
Your envelope and fall to little pieces every time
I wonder what clothes you wear to school
I wonder how you decorate your room
I wonder how you touch yourself
And curse myself for being across the sea

Hmmm…. the song catches itself before it goes to far and ends up with the best line of the album

As if I could live on words and dreams and a million screams
Oh, how I need a hand in mine to feel

But this song does it. This song single-handedly sinks the Emo ship. It’s the pinnacle of what had come to signify “Emo”. The ability to make people feel uncomfortable, because they saw the potential in the bands and realized that if the scene became mainstream people would have to be much more honest with each other in their everyday lives. Society reflects art and it would be hard to be so guarded of your emotions when every song on the radio is about the guilt a man feels about his lusting after underage asian girls. Harvard men. tisk tisk. The rest of the album is great, each song gets better and better until the beautiful acoustic ballad “Butterfly”. It was a good-bye song, but little did we know it was a good-bye to the world from the Rivers Cuomo we had grown to love. It was the beginning of the new Rivers Cuomo brand. Rule number one show no emotion.

Pinkerton is a shining example of how what was once panned as a failure both critically and financially can later be viewed on as a shining success. The album was later praised as one of the best of the 90’s and has influenced every cool band in the past decade.  Rolling Stone wrote a particularly negative review of it, Here’s a great article to read:

In 1996 the world needed a new Kurt Cobain, many saw Rivers Cuomo as someone who could fill that role. He went Emo, rock and roll kids hated it, and he gave up. The kids never found another Cobain and rock and roll slowly died. Cuomo sat idly by collecting royalty checks while the scene became infiltrated with uninspired fear based crap and music no longer had meaning. He made a decision to live on the legacy of what he had done and cash in with catchy riffs. Now imagine  those riffs with lyrics that matched the same emotion and perversion of Pinkerton. The world would be a different place.

Rivers Cuomo ruined the rise of Emo. He ruined Music. He may have ruined the world. Everything after The Green Album in world history is crap. I’m not blaming Rivers Cuomo for 9-11, but maybe he could have created peace in the middle east and their would have been no need for it. He had that kind of potential and mind, but he used it to make money and nobody is better for it. Matt Sharp went on to work full-time with The Rentals, who are definitely one of the better Emo bands of the 90’s. He is the true victim of Rivers Cuomo’s fall because The Rentals, while adored, never came close to making the money Weezer does. *ugh* Weezer Pinkerton is like teenage sex in the backseat of your parents car. To remember it you face the risk of realizing that as great as it was in that moment you can probably never capture that moment again. 30 year olds having sex in a car in a high school parking lot after midnight are kind of icky and sad. 16 year olds doing the same thing are rebellious and enviable. That is the world Rivers Cuomo has left us in. Those damn Harvard men and their obsessions with underage asian girls. You can always tell a Harvard man.

2 Replies to “Is Weezer’s Pinkerton the Greatest Emo Album of All Time?”

  1. What happened? Were we so naïve to think our taste in music was the only flavor anyone should ever savoir. I think back to the days when an album could explain every emotion, personal strife, political view, bad relationship, intimate exploration that I had or will ever have. I miss the simplicity of a time when all the problems could be answered by a simple play button. So what has changed since then? The understanding of these things is no longer black and white. I have adapted to suit the time because I must. So when we speak of Weezer and the changes that the band has endured, I can only feel this same sort of adaptation is occurring; because they must. I seek a band/album that can do the same for me now as Weezer, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Blink 182 and of course Red Hot Chili Peppers did for me so long ago. Is it that music has changed, or worse, have I? Maybe the music is harmonizing with a different kind of soul. The kids today are interested in what I would call bad music but maybe it is the same feeling those before me felt when bands I fell in love with came about. Have I just become un-cool and out of touch with what music does for people? I recently read an article about the Chili Peppers from an interview with producer Rick Rubin speaking on the new album and the new infusion of Josh Klinghoffer. He says it’s as if the band is starting all over. If one has followed the breakup of the band you can see how we and our heroes are all adapting to the changing times. It will never be the same as it was. This response may be tangential at times but is definitely emo. And what is the fitting album to play while reading/writing such a response? Well I would still go to Pinkerton. It is in the moments now instead of a life leading force. Brief periods when I think, yes the perfect song, album, lyric should be … insert your emotion here. No longer is it an everyday homage to a band/album but small brief flickers of what once was and will never be again. And I would say at one time in my life it Pinkerton was the best emo album and Weezer the best emo band of all time.

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