Great Expectations: What Happened To Weezer
Weezer has recently begun playing a cover of Radiohead’s classic track off of OK Computer, “Paranoid Android,” at live performances. Below is a clip of Weezer performing the new cover in the studio.
In case you didn’t have time to watch the video, I’ll just tell you about it.
How did Weezer do covering Radiohead’s Ok Computer classic Paranoid Android? Honestly…pretty well. Does Rivers Cuomo project that strange sort of haunting sensation that Thom York’s voice somehow transmits when he sings? Of course not. Not quite anyway. But that’s ok, no one expects Cuomo to be Thom Yorke. He’s just too damn adorable.
In as far as anyone who isn’t Radiohead could play Radiohead, the guys did a solid job. They didn’t add anything, they didn’t offer a unique interpretation, but they did the song justice in its own right — not an easy task with such a complicated and interesting track.
I hate to say it, but that depresses me. This cover just leads to so many questions about what Weezer might have been had they seemed to care a bit more, if they hadn’t shied away from the direction Pinkerton seemed to be pointing them musically, if they took themselves just a bit more seriously.
Don’t get me wrong — I like Weezer. And I don’t think less of them for deciding to make simple fun pop songs — they’ve done a great job doing it and sold a lot of records in the process.
Still, they aren’t a band that should have to rely on simple songs, and yet they do. I don’t know why Weezer always seemed afraid of their potential, I really don’t. And this video makes me wish they weren’t.
In a way, Weezer was the perfect band to cover Radiohead. Aside from some similarities in the vocal qualities of their lead singers, Coumo and Yorke are the rockstar embodiment of feeling like an outsider. Rivers portrays himself, in his look and his songs, as the looser in an 80s high-school movie. I beleive there’s a very good reason why Weezer looks so comfortable playing Paranoid Android — it really is the bet song they never wrote.
Where the comparisons fall short between Cuomo and Yorke is in how they handled their respective feelings of wanting to fit in. It seems Cuomo decided to make being a looser cool (“Beverly Hills,” and others.) In doing so, he became a rock star.
Yorke, by contrast, saught to be brilliant. Quietly, speaking through his craft, he would show the world how wrong they ever were to doubt an angst-filled Exeter schoolboy quietly penning the words to “Creep.”
Radiohead seems to shy away from the spotlight, even if doing so only further attracts our attention. Weezer, by contrast, has a giant light-up Weezer symbol on stage at most concerts.
Radiohead’s most recent album, The King Of Limbs, is doing quite well, and fans are always clamoring for more tours and more music. Weezer, on the other hand, was recently asked by former fans how much money it would take to make them retire.
So Weezer, if you’re listening, (and you’re probably not,) I have a request:
One album. That’s all, just one. One album where you put yourself out on a limb and strive to create something new and interesting. I’m not saying it will come out well, or make as much money as some of your more pop-friendly, radio-ready tracks, (though it could conceivably do both.) What I am saying is that you can afford a risk at this point in your career, and you seem to have the talent to make something far more compelling than what you’ve put out recently.
So, Weezer, from an honest-to-goodness fan to a band he respects, I ask you: what are you afraid of?