Weezer have released a covers album that varies from Toto – Africa to TLC – No Scrubs. No, seriously.
In May 2018, American rock outfit Weezer responded to internet memes by covering the iconic Toto hit Africa; now as awful as that sounds it actually became the band’s first Billboard Hot 100 single in almost a decade. It was a cherished moment in which Rivers Cuomo joined in with the jokes made by fans and took a solidarity stand to not take the band too seriously.
Lo and behold, he’s only gone and made an album full of them. Weezer are an essential 90s band, making some of the biggest and best alt-rock music of the era, so why are they doing this? Seriously, listen to their first three albums; they’re all wonderful examples of a genre that was on top of the world. I suppose you can sort of excuse Rivers for thinking this was a good idea, I mean clearly he has seen the success of his Africa cover and decided that this is what the people wanted, what the people NEEDED. I can assure you of one thing: the people never, I repeat NEVER, needed, wanted or even tempted the fate of a Weezer covers album.
I suppose I may as well talk about some of the covers really, shouldn’t I? Why not start with their skin-crawling rendition of Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears, something which sounds like a bunch of drunken dads playing classic rock chords over the original track instrumental. Then there’s A-Ha’s Take On Me, oh my god the synthesiser on this hurts my soul a bit. It is so subdued and unimportant, with Rivers’ vocals being the main attraction; while he does hit the high notes in the chorus, that doesn’t excuse his sorry rendition in the verses.
Mr. Blue Sky anyone? Yep, the classic, timeless, untouchable ELO anthem has been modernised, punked up and utterly tarnished by Weezer’s dastardly doings. The guitars on it are actually pretty good, offering a different flavour to the original, but you can’t help but shake the feel that it sounds like one of those tacky covers you hear playing on a TV advert that cannot afford the real thing.
I’ll save the best two until last. Their covers of TLC’s No Scrubs and, ahem, MICHAEL FUCKING JACKSON’S Billie Jean are right up there in the rankings of the worst musical experiments I have ever heard. First off, I happen to think Rivers Cuomo is a good singer, but he isn’t MJ, and this cover certifies that. It sounds limp, uninspired and entirely unbelievable. Fun fact for you about the TLC cover by the way, the first time I heard it I turned it off after the first word. After finally being able to brave it all the way through I’ll tell you now, please avoid this.
Now of course I know this album is basically entirely tongue in cheek and just a veteran band having a bit of fun; but when the tongue in cheek fun comes in the form of sounding like pissed up karaoke singers and a bunch of dudes who played Rock Band once and thought they could make it as a band; there is going to be immediate cause for concern. It isn’t all terrible, there are one or two moments where I was genuinely surprised at their dexterity; but come on now, this is too far. Their next self-titled album (Black Album) is due on March 1st and I feel confident it will be far better than this. I would very much like to pretend this never happened, and instead go about my life as normal; listening to Buddy Holly remembering just how great Weezer can truly be.