The second time I listened to Weezer’s Blue Album back in 1996, I was hooked.  I was a little late to the game, but from that point on, Weezer has been a fixture in my CD players and MP3 library.  With a recent addition to my family and moving around a bit, I didn’t have time to keep up with the world of music, and it occurred to me today that Weezer has 3 new albums which I haven’t listened to aside from whatever radio play they’ve been getting.

As I asked a couple of friends how they would rank the new albums, the debate began about the first six albums.  Instead of trying to just say what order I enjoyed those albums, I wanted to look back at each of the tracks on each of those albums and see how well I enjoyed each of those songs, giving each a VERY subjective “enjoyment” rating.  While I’ll get to my personal ranking of the first 6 albums,  I may as well share the results of my song-rating.  While I’m not going to share the actual rating I gave, I will give you my Top 50 (the other 25 are not as enjoyable, so it’s hard to rank them amongst one another).  For a couple of the songs, I’ve included some of my thoughts.

50. Photograph (#4 on Green Album)
49. Butterfly (#10 on Pinkerton)
48. Smile (#5 on Green Album)
47. Knockdown Dragout (#3 on Green Album)
46. Death and Destruction (#4 on Maladroit)
45. Take Control (#5 on Maladroit)
44. Everybody Get Dangerous (#9 on Red Album)
43. Getchoo (#9 on Pinkerton)
42. King (#11 on Red Album)
41. The Angel And The One (#10 on Red Album)
40. Too Late To Try (#1 on Unknown)

I don’t think this one ever made it onto an officially released album, but before I saw Weezer back in late 1999, I heard that they were toying around with some new songs, and this is one of the ones I stumbled across

39. Dope Nose (#3 on Maladroit)
38. Cold Dark World (#8 on Red Album)
37. Mykel and Carli (#4 on Rarities)

If you don’t know the back story to this one, you really should look it up.  I’d explain, but I wouldn’t want to do it injustice by getting part of it wrong.

36. Jamie (#3 on Rarities)

Make sure you’re listening to the lyrics at the end of the song, otherwise you’ll miss a key element which makes future listening sessions all the more enjoyable and humorous.

35. Velouria (#1 on Tribute)

I officially enjoy this version more than the Pixies original.

34. No Other One (#8 on Pinkerton)
33. Hash Pipe (#2 on Green Album)

Over-rated and, me thinks, often misunderstood.

32. Suzanne (#2 on Rarities)
31. Miss Sweeney (#7 on Red Album)
30. The Good Life (#7 on Pinkerton)
29. Falling For You (#6 on Pinkerton)
28. We Are All On Drugs (#4 on Make Believe)
27. Pink Triangle (#4 on Pinkerton)
26. El Scorcho (#5 on Pinkerton)
25. Pig (#6 on Red Album)
24. Keep Fishin’ (#2 on Maladroit)
23. Beverly Hills (#3 on Make Believe)
22. Peace (#2 on Make Believe)
21. Why Bother? (#3 on Pinkerton)
20. No One Else (#1 on Rarities)

If you took the version from the Blue Album, it might not make my Top 20, but when you hear the live version on the rarities album, it’s a lot better.

19. Island In The Sun (#1 on Green Album)

Fun, but maybe a tad bit over-rated.  Check the note near the end of this article regarding a certain remix / mash-up.

18. Tired of Sex (#2 on Pinkerton)

When I introduce people to Pinkerton, I have them listen to it all the way through and I try to point out as many of the lyrics as possible which make me love the album so much.  This is one song where I try to have them understand what it’s about before they hear the name.  The folks who hear the name without giving some time to appreciate the lyrics and the message typically reach for the skip button.  I block them with my modest Kung Fu skills and force the listen.  The concept Rivers put into motion here deserves it.

17. The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn) (#5 on Red Album)

The efforts to convert the shaker hymn into a rock song are very commendable, and I really enjoy the way the lyrics present the hubris, whether or not it’s fictional or just currently undercover is another story.  The first time I listened to it, I wasn’t sure whether or not I liked it.  By the third time, it was easily in my top 20.

16. Buddy Holly (#9 on Blue Album)

I’m not going to try to speak to the lyrical (or musical) value of this song, but it’s just fun to listen to.  If you can find the live version of this song that Weezer played on their return tour about 10 years ago (specifically in Chicago), that’s the version I prefer.  You probably won’t recognize it from the way the song starts, but it’s full of goodness.

15. Pork and Beans (#4 on Red Album)

The message is a more self-confident version of In The Garage which makes it harder to relate to than its Blue Album counterpart, but at some point the world-touring and gobs of cash Rivers has earned along the way makes it a little harder for him to totally relate to his fans… but this still does a great job of putting a voice to what a lot of people would like to tell their detractors.  Even still, you have to give it more validity than a Taylor Swift song about relationship troubles (no offense to Taylor Swift, who deserves a lot more credit than she already gets, but if she’s having relationship troubles with her rich, talented boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal, I don’t have any sympathy).

14. Undone – The Sweater Song (#8 on Blue Album)

I go back and forth as to whether or not Undone should be ahead of Pork And Beans or even The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, but this is where it stopped.  It certainly doesn’t come across as being as “deep” as some of the other songs on this list, but it’s one of those songs that definitely has a lot more beneath the surface, and it’s catchy enough to get stuck in my head.

13. Troublemaker (#3 on Red Album)

This one’s probably a bit too close to home, given the way people describe me – be it the overt trouble I got into as a little kid or the tongue-in-cheek way some people describe me now, and now having recognized a look in the eyes of my infant son as he tries to defy his parents, I just appreciate this song more and more.

12. Surf Wax America (#7 on Blue Album)

Though I’ve had talks with my friends about this song, I’m still not sure there’s any meaning to the lyrics, but when you combine the words with the driving beat and fun guitar riff, you come up with a song that I could listen to every day for the rest of my life and get energized each time.  The change in tempo near the very end of the song builds up in a way that aspiring songwriters should pay attention to.

11. The World Has Turned And Left Me Here (#6 on Blue Album)

I probably didn’t appreciate this song enough until I heard it covered by a guy named Christopher John (Elliot) {there’s a free MP3 download out there, go check it out}.  I still don’t know exactly what the song is about, but I feel like there have been times in my life where I can really relate to it.

10. Say It Ain’t So (#5 on Blue Album)

Before even starting this list, I wondered where the radio singles from the Blue Album were going to fall, and I did my best to judge the “enjoyability” objectively and not to be pretentious like some folks might tend to be when ranking songs from a band like Weezer (who has a strong cult following and a significant pop following).  When you listen to the lyrics of Say It Ain’t So, it’s undeniable how good this song is.  I rarely skip it when it shows up on my CD/MP3 shuffle, but it has happened.

9. Burndt Jamb (#1 on Maladroit)

I’m not even sure that I know half of the words to this song, but I won’t ever skip it when it comes through the CD/MP3 shuffle.  Can’t do it.  Enjoy it way too much.  It’s not as good as Say It Ain’t So, but for some reason I’d rather listen to it than the Blue Album single.

8. Automatic (#2 on Red Album)

Unless you know that this song was written as a way to try to explain how you explain how much you love your family, you probably don’t enjoy it as much as you could.

7. Across The Sea (#1 on Pinkerton)

I don’t know if the girl in the song was real or just a concept, but the way Rivers sings it just makes me feel like there was someone in particular in mind when he wrote it.  Also, the little details in the lyrics just take this song to the next level.  After hearing this song, I wasn’t surprised that Rivers was an English major at Harvard.

6. Holiday (#4 on Blue Album)

The lyrics in this song don’t hold as much meaning to me as some of the others, but the way they’re arranged and presented just catch me each time.  If I was pressed to take one of the songs out of my top 10, this one might be it, but I can’t rank it any lower than this spot, and I can’t explain why I like it so much, but sometimes that’s what happens with good music.

5. My Name Is Jonas (#3 on Blue Album)

The vibe along with this song makes it nearly indescribable, so I won’t say much about this one aside from the fact that my wife had to veto the name “Jonas” for our first-born son (though it wasn’t my top choice either, it was a Top 5 option).

4. In The Garage (#2 on Blue Album)

If you don’t consider any aspect of your personality to be awkward, nor any of your “likes” to be somewhat silly in the eyes of others, you probably rank this one FAR lower, but the fact that Weezer conveyed the idea that everyone has a place where they can go and just be themselves was just phenomenal, and sometimes when I’m in my car, not only will I sing it, but I’m almost yelling.   It happened a lot in my old 1988 blue Volvo (Xanthus), which oddly enough was probably never actually housed in a garage while I owned it.

3. Perfect Situation (#1 on Make Believe)

If you can’t relate to this song, congratulations, you don’t regret any of the inactions of your youth.  I loved this song before the video hit, and I thought they did a great job when they translated it to video.

2. Heart Songs (#1 on Red Album)

I don’t know how well this song has struck a chord (figuratively) with other people, but somehow this song became one of my heart songs, as cheesey as that may sound.  From a depth perspective, a song about a guy’s favorite songs and what they meant in the scope of his life isn’t necessarily as deep as love or death or other concepts about which great songs are written, but for some reason this song just really hits me each time.

1. Only In Dreams (#1 on Blue Album)

There have been times where I’ve listened to this song three or four times in a row.  Late in the song when it seems like it’s going to end and then it builds back up into one final crescendo, the hair on the back of my neck stands up almost each and every time.  The lyrics are phenomenal, and this might very well be the first song which really made me take notice of not only Rivers Cuomo’s ability to tell a tale through song, but really anyone’s.

And just for the record, if it was officially a Weezer song, “American Girls” would be near the top of this list.  I can’t recall which soundtrack it was on, but it featured Rivers Cuomo on vocals and it’s amazing.

So how do I list the Weezer albums?

1.  Blue Album

No doubt about it, this is tops for me (and for most Weezer fans, I would presume).  I’ll save you the trouble in letting you know that none of the songs ranked any lower than 16th on the list, with 4 of the top 6 songs on the list coming from this album.

2.  Red Album

Two of the songs made the top 10, and my favorite 5 from the album comprised one quarter of the top 20.  If you didn’t get the deluxe version with the additional songs, you missed out.

3.  Pinkerton

Though Make Believe had my #3 song and the first Pinkerton track isn’t until #7, two more from Pinkerton show up before anything else from Make Believe.  Every song from Pinkerton shows up in my Top 50, whereas Make Believe had half the album show up between 65 and the end of the list.  The fact that this album draws parallels to a famous opera makes it all the more worthy.

4.  Make Believe

Only one of the tracks from this album hit in the Top 20, but it did make a strong showing at #3.  Extend the view to the Top 30 and you’ve got 4 tracks, more than any of the remaining two albums I haven’t listed yet.

5.  Maladroit

The only song from Maladroit to make the top 20 just happened to squeak into the top 10 with its “I can’t explain why I like it but I do” fun style.  Only one other track made it into the top 30, which is good enough to keep it ahead of the final album on the list, as they both had 5 tracks in the top 50.

6.  Green Album

What can I say, I thought this album was a bit too “non-Weezer-esque”.  At times they seemed too much like they were trying to recreate some pop-y Beatles songs (my least favorite Beatles songs), and during some listening sessions, I couldn’t tell one song from another and had to look up the titles of the songs, which is not good.  Maybe if I bought into Hash Pipe more I’d have a better respect for this album, but I don’t.  At least there was a great remix / mash-up of Island In The Sun with Usher & Little John, and if you haven’t heard it, you really should.

Once I give a thorough listening-to of Raditude, Hurley, and then Death To False Metal, I’ll see where those items would fit into a revised list.  I’d hope to get to do that by year’s end, but time will tell of my availability.

If there are any other songs Weezer did prior to the latest three albums that you think I should include on my list, or if you have your own take on how the tracks shake out, or if you want to clue me in to some of the songs you enjoyed on any of the latest three, please feel encouraged to voice your opinion.