To counteract the influence of “Let it Go,” I’d like to give center stage to its inverse. “Don’t Let Go” is a song that I hate. It’s not a bad song. It definitely has lyrics and a melody. It is in fact played on instruments, and has a title. So why do I want to punch this song in its little old three-chord face? It’s just so boring. It plays it safe with basic little riffs and a simple verse-chorus-verse pattern. The singer sounds like he doesn’t care, at least compared to his previous work. To top it all off, the song is the first track on an album, as if to say, “don’t expect any more than this.” To properly explain the disappointment that this song brings, I need to give a Weezer History Lesson™.
Weezer, led by front man Rivers Cuomo, is an alternative rock band. The band was founded on Valentine’s Day in 1992 by four men without girlfriends. Their blue-colored, self-titled debut album features quirky songs about surfing, sweaters, and having no dad. While technically a pop band, Weezer was not without its own style and heart. After achieving success in the music industry, Rivers Cuomo found himself waist-deep in money, fame, and Asian groupies. He developed a tendency to sleep with women and leave them which, after being exposed to college at Harvard, made him feel super guilty. He became a fan of opera and likened his horrible sexcapades to the misdoings of Pinkerton, a tragic opera protagonist who impregnated and abandoned a young Japanese woman. For Rivers, college was a time of guilt, debilitating leg surgery (Mr. Cuomo was born with uneven leg lengths), romantic confusion, and identity crises. He poured his feelings into the raw and emotional 1996 album, Pinkerton – my favorite album of all time. Upon its release, people hated it. Rolling Stone called it the second worst album of the year. Rivers, who poured his heart and soul into the album, spent some time locked in his apartment with the windows covered, the phone disconnected, and the walls painted black.
Over time, Rivers recovered. He got the band back together and in 2001, returned with another self-titled album, this one with green cover art instead of blue. Perhaps to avoid the vulnerability and heartbreak that came with broadcasting his true emotions, Rivers made what Weezer fans call The Green Album, and filled it with, well, filler. It is the musical embodiment of pink slime. Green is an album that to me lacks experimentation and genuine emotion. This is especially sad because around the time of Green’s release, Pinkerton managed to build a reasonable fanbase. Pinkerton is now considered an important emo album, despite being made by a non-emo band, before any well-known emo bands really existed. Rolling Stone called it one of the best albums of the nineties.
I was too young to be into Weezer during their debut. I fully discovered them in high school, listening to their albums in the order they were released. I listened to The Blue Album, which quickly became a favorite, then Pinkerton, which became an even bigger favorite. Having enjoyed the first two albums so much, I thought Weezer could do no wrong. I bought Green, hit play on iTunes, and suddenly…
Any time that you want
I’ll be here in your arms
Silently holdin’ on
To the girl with the charms
Already these lyrics are boring. “Any time that you want,” “I’ll be here in your arms.” These are clichés to me.
But if there comes a day
You should turn your heart away
I’ll be down on my knees
Beggin’ for that girl to stay
So it’s a song where the speaker wants his girlfriend not to leave him? My problem with it isn’t the subject matter – it’s the generic way it’s presented. Maybe it’s hard to tell from the first few lines of the song, but it feels like anyone could have written this. It’s not specific to Weezer’s style, or Rivers Cuomo’s life or personality. If this is Rivers writing from the point of view of a character, it’s not a very memorable one. I don’t find myself thinking about the nature of relationships or feeling an emotion, so what am I doing? And that’s not to say that every song needs to be deep or intelligent. I can listen to anything with a good enough melody. Unfortunately, I don’t find this melody appealing at all. But I’m sure I’m being too hasty in my judgment. There are plenty of Weezer songs that start slow but build up to a great chorus. This must be one of those.
Don’t let go
Ooo oh oh
Don’t let go
Ooo oh oh
Nope. It is actually a feat to write a song with a chorus less interesting than its verse. Eventually, we get to a solo, in this case, just a guitar arrangement of the exact same notes being sung in the verse. Lazy, lazy, lazy. I don’t feel any honesty in these lyrics, this song, or even this album.
Even though I despise this song and the album that goes with it, I feel as though I can’t really blame the band for it. The Green Album is a lifeless husk that plays it safe, but its creation was, in a way, an experiment. Rivers and the gang found failure in raw emotion and personal honesty, so they decided to try something new and different. Their next album ended up sounding completely different from Green, so perhaps Green was just another step in the band’s journey to figure itself out.