In this day and age, it can be difficult for a rock artist to get any type of hype going. A few years ago, Beyoncé actually lit up the internet when she dropped her self-titled album on an unsuspecting public. Couple that stealth-like release with the lyrical content describing marital discord between she and husband and hip hop icon Jay-Z, and we had a media blitz unlike nearly any album had caused since the salad days of a TRL-driven landscape when Eminem and N’SYNC were setting single-day sales records. Now, in the post-Napster, near post-apocalyptic days for the music industry, it is difficult to cause a media ripple as an artist attempts to make the pop cultural impact that was once so common that nearly every artist could own a major media blitz behind an album.
But, last week, the internet blew up once again with the news of a quiet release of a non-existent album. The artist who caused this stir was of all bands but Weezer. Since going on tour this past summer with a reconstituted alt-gods Pixies, Weezer has been a something of a social media blitz when they silently released a cover of Toto’s enduring hit song “Africa.” The band covered the song per social media pressure after a young fan suggested that the band cover this song. In the past, Weezer has been known to record some cover songs and release them on alternate versions of their albums in other countries or as a second song on a single release. In the past, Weezer has recorded cover versions of such songs as The Band’s “The Weight,” Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and “Rosanna,” yet another hit song by Toto. All of these cover songs were performed in a loving manner without a sense of irony, which only seemed to add to Weezer’s latter-day reputation with the millennials.
Next in the apparent build up for Weezer, was the notorious Saturday Night Live sketch performed on the last episode before the show’s winter break. In this sketch, host Matt Damon and cast members Cecily Strong, Beck Bennett, Heidi Gardner, Leslie Jones and Keenan Thompson are sitting in the dining room apparently having a nice meal when Heidi’s music mix begins to play Weezer’s version of “Africa.” This starts Matt Damon to declare his love of all things Weezer. Of course, this causes an argument between Jones, who believes, as most people, that Weezer was done after the release of their second album Pinkerton. As the argument gets more heated by each statement, Damon ends the sketch by opening the front door of the home, saying, “If you go looking for me, you can find me in (cue singing voice)…’Beverly Hills!'” This, of course, was song as Weezer sang it in their “Beverly Hills” hit song.
So, now, Weezer was gaining some traction on social media during the month of January, after performing on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest as 2018 turned into 2019. The band had also set a date for the release of their upcoming album to be titled Weezer but will be commonly known as The Black Album since the cover will be black. And that date is Friday, March 1, 2019. Additionally, the band had released two singles on streaming formats from the Black Album: “Can’t Knock the Hustle” and “Zombie Bastards,” so the hype machine has been gaining momentum.
All of which leads us to this past Thursday, January 24, 2019, when I, like the rest of the world, discovered on social media that Weezer had just released an album of cover songs that, as stated in the press release, would give fans some music to help us get through the days leading up to The Black Album’s release date of March 1. This album, also entitled Weezer, would be called The Teal Album because of the color of the cover’s background was teal. Now, the public would be able to stream, download or purchase (in CD-form from the band’s website only) this new album with songs being mainly staples of the Eighties, with a couple of songs from the Sixties, Seventies and Nineties as well, none of which take away from the “kitschy” Eighties-feel of the music on this album.
Basically, I can sum up this album review with a single word: fun. From the first song, the aforementioned “Africa” through the songs in the middle, which include versions of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” a-ha’s “Take on Me,” ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” and Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” There are even covers of “No Scrubs,” that staple of the Nineties by TLC, as well as a loving cover of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Every song on the album should be familiar to most music fans, as Weezer puts their own power poppish spin on each song, which is what makes this album so endearing.
Now, is this album the band’s answer to their classic Pinkerton? Heavens no! But, it is better than the combined highlights of Raditude, Hurley and Death to False Metal. You see, Weezer is this generation’s Cheap Trick. Yes, the band’s best, most culturally relevant music was all recorded in the band’s first seven years of existence. However, the band continues to create excellent music beyond their expiration date. Weezer is now a band for the ages, with an eventual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in their future. They chose this path, the path of less is more. So, it is obvious that Weezer will be rocking well into their Sixties.
Now, Weezer has raised the hype bar higher on their upcoming major league album. “The Black Album” is coming March 1! But, at least we can have just a little fun with this album, “The Teal Album.” Then, the band will be touring with the Pixies once again. Last summer, that was my second favorite concert.