Here lies my hatred of “Raditude” by Weezer — 2009–2020.
Weezer has been one of my favorite bands basically since I started listening to music as a hobby, roughly 2005 or 2006. I had copies of Blue Album and Green Album that I swiped from my brother’s CD collection and ripped onto my eMachines computer and, for several months, were a significant portion of what I was able to listen to. I developed a love for songs written by this nerdy guy named Rivers. They’re my #2 most played band on Last.FM. I have just shy of 1900 Rivers/Weezer demos on my computer thanks to him releasing them all a couple weeks ago. It’s not healthy.
Red Album, released in 2008, caught my ear and the early social-media-based web by moderately-sized storm with its successful single “Pork and Beans” and its great music video, which couldn’t be more dated by today’s standards: it’s essentially a mashup of every viral video from the early YouTube days. Along with some moderate success with other single “Troublemaker,” it performed pretty well and Raditude had a decent amount of success to live up to after Red album (though probably not as much as Red did after Make Believe, featuring “Beverly Hills”).
So, when I saw this album with a leaping dog on it, I wasn’t really sure what to think. But after listening to it essentially once, it didn’t catch my attention. I spent the better part of eleven years thinking it was the worst Weezer album, focusing solely on songs like “Can’t Stop Partying” to justify this belief. A Lil’ Wayne feature? In my Weezer? Get the fuck out. A song called “The Girl Got Hot?” I stuck my nose about as far as I could in the air and said, “Nope.”
I wish I could tell you what made me decide to revisit this album earlier this year. Perhaps I was just doing a discography run-through. More likely it was that a friend of mine turned me on to this great performance of “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” featuring Sara Bareilles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49gGuvVacrw
I never disliked the opening track, but it never seemed to really click. Something about Sara’s fantastic harmonies in the chorus really tickled me, though. The melodic hook sunk deeper than it did any other time. Brian and Scott’s backup vocals sounded great, especially towards the end of the chorus and the bridge. Which really, is a fantastic bridge. Everyone performs it really, really well in this video.
But that basically is just what brings me here: why I chose to revisit this album. Maybe Rivers and the gang did a better job than I thought they did the last eleven years. And after several re-listens over the last few months, I think it is a lot better than I gave it credit for before. It has weak points, absolutely, and most albums do. And I’m sure those weaker songs have their fans, and that’s great, but I’m gonna tell you about what keeps me coming back to this album; I’m not here to be negative.
Straight up: Raditude has better rock songs than probably any Weezer album since Maladroit (sure, that’s only better than Make Believe and Red, but…), and at heart, I love rock songs. I’m a sucker for ’em. I grew up on grunge and post-grunge. Sometimes I just want a loud chorus, great hooks, cool guitars, you name it.
Right at the front of the album are two great songs: “I’m Your Daddy” and “The Girl Got Hot.” The first starts with an electronic drum beat, which sorta turned me off for a long time. I wanted real instruments, “none of this electronic shit! Weezer is selling out!” Well, Weezer were experimenting since Red album (which featured a song with each member at lead vocals, a departure from previous albums, and honestly all 3 of the non-Rivers songs are pretty good in my opinion). Hell, Pat didn’t even play drums at a lot of shows at the time. It was a weird time, and not everyone likes it, and that’s fine. I’m rambling. The verse riff is basic stuff, but the melody is good, and they both shine more in the chorus
Straight up: These lyrics are pretty much the bottom-of-the-barrel Rivers cringey stuff. “You are my baby tonight and I’m your daddy.” Even though the chorus melody is great and the hook on “I’m your daddy” is infectious, it’s pretty gross. The message feels like the same anxious, longing Rivers that he’s always been, but man it just sounds like some guy writing about some situation he imagines in his head about meeting a girl and saying he’s “not like the other guys.” And that bridge? With the synth solo? That’s peak late 00s pop, even hip-hop, energy. It was jarring at first, but I think it works here, honestly.
“The Girl Got Hot” starts right off with some chunky, heavy guitars and the whoa-oh-oh-oh!s that became popular around that time as well. A happy, rhythmic guitar line. Hell, it sounds like something off of Maladroit. It even throws in a cool minor 7th chord to add in some flavor to the otherwise-Major scale (Ionian mode? I don’t know much theory, honestly). The chorus hook is fantastic, they throw in some minor notes (again, for flavor) to change the vibe a bit and it works great. The second verse changes it up halfway through and adds some cool palm muted guitars and vocal harmonies. The bridge is great too! It’s mostly a Blink-esque na na na affair, but it’s a progression new to the song and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
“Put Me Back Together” is yet another fantastic song. It starts off as an unassuming acoustic guitar with a quiet electric beat, and the chorus hook is absolutely top-tier. “Here, it’s clear, that I’m not getting better. When I fall down, you put me back together.” This has to be a feeling that’s almost universally recognized. Needing someone else to feel whole again. Is it healthy? Probably not, but it grabs you. The second chorus extends this a bit: “I’m alone in my room, I don’t know what to do, when I fall down you put me back together.” If I had a nickel for every time I thought that in high school, right? Why didn’t this click back when I was 15? Then the song does that killer thing where everything stops after the bridge to just be Rivers singing the “Here, it’s clear” before the whole band comes back in to make that last chorus really explode. It’s great. Fantastic pop rock song.
“Tripping Down the Freeway” follows as another strong rock song. It’s a syncopated, straightforward rock beat, not unlike “The Girl Got Hot”. But let me tell you: something about this chorus, especially the lead-in riff, feels like classic Weezer. But what does that really mean? I think that, at its core, “classic Weezer” melodies and progressions have a great sense of identity and movement. They write melodies that are aware of where they’re coming from and where they’re going, which chords they’re on top of and tying together. I’m not sure how to quantify it exactly, I suppose it’s something you know when you hear it: take for example the opening track to White Album: “California Kids.” That opening riff is classic Weezer. The riffs in Everything Will Be Alright In The End’s “III. Return to Ithaka.” And I get those vibes here, and it rules.
“Let It All Hang Out” does exactly that: it comes right out of the gate with a ripping guitar line, again, more heavy Maladroit-reminiscent guitars. The verses are catchy and simple, but again, this song hits its stride with the killer chorus. It brings the guitar opening riff back in to lead into the chorus. There’s nothing really complex going on here, it’s about having fun during the weekend, but the progression is great, the melody is catchy, and it has so much energy. More than anything on Red Album or Make Believe, that’s for sure. That major 3rd E chord in the chorus really gives it some great identity and makes it heavy too. The bridge is pretty sleepy and supposed to feel like a build up. I don’t even know what the hell Rivers is singing about (other than a weird line about “take us to your daughter,” I think Rivers was having a weird toxic masculinity period, or maybe his entire career is one), but the line about 180-proof Vitamin Water lives in my head rent-free.
After a forgettable heavier song “In the Mall” (which feels like if you take Hash Pipe but make it just not great) the album closes with a nice softer number called “I Don’t Want to Let You Go.” This song also radiates 2009 energy, lots of synths, it reminds me of Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight in terms of production, almost like “Shadow of the Day” or something. But it’s pleasant. The bridge has some beautiful backing vocals and a twangy guitar solo, which is weird for Weezer, but it fits in the category of good experimentation. Generally I think Weezer knows how to write killer closing tracks, and this is absolutely no exception.
Before you get any wrong ideas, this album isn’t completely defensible; as I’ve said multiple times, Rivers’s lyrics are not at their peak here. There’s lots of cringe-worthy lyrics that make it seem like Rivers has never spoken to a non-male in his life. Or maybe just another human being. Is it a bit? A character? Who knows. Rivers doesn’t exactly have a clean history of avoiding problematic lyrics, see Pinkerton for plenty of that. It gets better in future albums, but I’d say it’s near its lowest here.
And while this album has its misses (I didn’t touch “Can’t Stop Partying” or “Love is the Answer” for a reason, which are not great, and sadly the former isn’t even forgettable), upon reflection it has some damned good rock songs. There’s energy. There’s some great hooks. It experiments a bit, sometimes it doesn’t work, but sometimes I think it works pretty well. I think most of the hate for this album is pretty overblown. It’s not gonna win any award, and it’s not even in the building to compete for the best Weezer album, but there’s a lot to enjoy here and I think that anyone who likes Weezer should give it an honest shot. In the following years Weezer hits a new stride — Everything Will Be Alright In the End and White Album are their two best albums since Pinkerton in my opinion, and both are excellent — but there are definitely great things to be found here even on what is probably one of their worst albums.