“Is Weezer’s Pinkerton the Best Emo Album of All Time?” Two Years Later

Two years ago today I published an article titled “Is Weezer’s Pinkerton the Best Emo Album of All TIme?” in the early weeks of trying to create a website called the Secret Party Room.  The website wasn’t successful, the article was.  In those two years everything has changed yet one constant has been that people contact me about the article wanting to talk about how Pinkerton made them feel.  It’s weird.

It’s been found residing in the deepest darkest crevices of the internet.  It’s been posted on Weezer message boards which has brought about international inquiries.  The whole reason I unlocked SPR (which is actually this site right now) is because I was getting so many requests to read the article.

Two years have passed and it hasn’t gone away and because of that I would consider it the most successful thing i’ve written.  Other pieces have been read by many more people, but no one reacted to them, especially in the prolonged manner as they did to the Weezer piece.

Part of that seems to be because of the nostalgia that comes with Weezer from a generation who has seen music go to shit or at least some type of fecal matter that doesn’t interest them.  If you liked Weezer in 1998 what do you like now?  Why do you like it?  Do you like anything?

For me the article is drenched in nostalgia for a time in which I had just moved to New York and wanted to become a writer.  Since then it has happened and it isn’t really the glorious trade I believed it to be when blessed with the good fortune of ignorance towards the situation.  It’s still pretty great though.  If your still reading I’ve already accomplished something.  In an age of instant gratification and attention spans measured in nanoseconds I’ve coerced you to read  five paragraphs.  The average news article read by the average reader would end right here.

pinkertonOh you’re still here? Well than, lets talk about Weezer.  After rereading the original article I still believe that Pinkerton is the greatest Emo album of all time.  For the exact same reasons.  However I realize that the main point I was trying to make two years ago was buried in the deepest levels of subtext. Weezer disappointed many of their fans and for a large percent of that demographic it was the first time they had to break up with a band.  It was too much and we were too young.  Sellouts had to be rejected.  Little did we know what was on the horizon.  The end of the music industry as it had been for decades came about because of the Internet and music lovers ability to download music illegally much easier than buying it traditionally.

In the age of mp3 players and Winamp it was much easier to get an album P2P than it was to find it at the lone record store left in your town and pay $15 for a clunky product that you needed to take various steps to put in a format that allowed you to listen at your convenience.  The music industry moved slower than technology, hung over from their decade of cocaine excess and long nights partying with Lit predicting that their success had no expiration.  Wrong.  Only rap music got it right and they did that by realizing kids buy their music and that you had to find a way to get it directly to them.

There were no rock and roll mix tapes or compilations.  The entire Internet was a compilation and more choices meant more bands which meant more crap which meant a mediocre final product.

This is what I wanted to touch on in 2011 and perhaps I just wasn’t ready.  Pinkerton was my great young love and The Green Album was the breakup that inevitably followed.  Part of me has never gotten over the Green album and how much I didn’t like it.  How foolish I felt for loving Pinkerton so much and how I had to admit that maybe I had over hyped the whole thing.  It was the Kelly Bray of albums.  It was that first love that was so perfect that upon competition you had to think maybe it wasn’t perfect at all, and maybe you don’t know what perfect is, and maybe nothing will ever be perfect.

However just like that first love as an adult you realize you weren’t wrong at all for giving your heart to a band that moved you andJordan-Catalano-My-So-called-Life-adnks101-niks95-24747769-500-351 maybe how you felt at the time was dead on.  It’s all about the moment and in that moment Weezer’s Pinkerton was the best shit I had ever heard.  It is still really good, but perhaps because of the nostalgia surrounding it.  Perhaps because when I hear it I can picture myself sitting in my parent’s basement listening to it on headphones not knowing that life wasn’t going to stay that simple and joyous forever.

Breaking up with a band is perhaps worse than breaking up with a girl when you are young because young love doesn’t know the temporary nature of itself.  Young lovers know love through the lens of Romeo and Juliet and My So Called Life,  young music fans aren’t aware that bands sell out.  Or more specifically they beleive it won’t happen to them and their band.  Like the neighbor on local news who after the teenage girl next door is busted selling Oxycontin to her gym teacher says “I would never believe this could happen here!”  It happens everywhere and it happens with every band and it happens with every relationship.  True love is eternal, but general love has an expiration date.

Weezer was different.  Weezer wasn’t very dark, but they were,  just in a completely different way.  While Soundgarden was singing “Alive in the superunknown. First it steals your mind And then it steals your soul”  Weezer was singing “I want a girl who laughs for no one else, When I’m away she puts her makeup on the shelf.” (Soundgarden superunknown and Weezer’s Blue album came out months apart)  Both are different shades of dark.  Soundgarden is a very literal blackness, their words are what they mean.  Chris Cornell literally wants you to know that the superunknown will steal your mind before it steals your soul.  Both will be stolen in that order and that is it there is no explanation why.  However with Weezer there is a lingering question of “Why do you want the girl you like to pretend she doesn’t exist unless you are in her presence?”  “Why do you have an inability to trust women when they are out of sight?”In 1998 Soundgarden was passing their expiration date, yet who would have thought Weezer wouldn’t stay fresh forever?

Pinkerton exists in a sea of why.  “Why is this so dark, you just made a really successful album?”  Pinkerton is an album that perfectly describes the college experience and rightfully so as Cuomo wrote it while attending Harvard.  College for the modern white male is a time of exploration, dissatisfaction, acceptance, comfort, and then rejection, in that order.  So is Pinkerton.  Now in 2013 at the age of 30 I can view Cuomo’s career as a success, simply because he made those first two albums.  Even if I think everything he made after was poo, now I know it doesn’t matter because those first two albums where just so impressive.  Artists don’t do that anymore, at least not with me, they don’t captivate people, they don’t make people think I want to sound like this guy when I play.  Maybe they do, but I am one who learns from heartache and The green album is a perfect example of musical heartache.

Pinkerton was the last moment of me being a music fan and the Green album was the beginning of me liking music.  I was never going to put as much heart into a band again, I couldn’t handle the let down, just as no one sits by the land line at the age of 30 hoping their girlfriend will call.  It took me until the age of 30 to see why Pinkerton meant so much to me.  Here I am with a back that feels like it is made of particle board and runny dog shit, a knee that pops when I stand up, and grey hairs popping up at an alarming rate, but I really can’t complain.  I did a few things so far in my life and that is impressive because some people never accomplish a thing.  Some musicians never write a song that anyone wants to hear.  Some musicians never get to even play a show.

 Weezer made two great albums and we should all be thankful.  They made a multitude of crap and everyone should let them be. Like young love it wasn’t going to last forever and they were getting older themselves.

So here I am two years later and I am still making my case for Pinkerton being the greatest emo album of all time, only this time I’m doing so to fight for the young man who wanted to be a writer who had something to say.  He doesn’t really come out very much anymore, he’s tired after a long series of long days work, but when he does he is ready to go fight for what is audibly right.  Even if he has never gotten over that first time a band let him down in a way only girls had before.


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.