Tuesday, January 6, 2009

13. Weezer - Pork and Beans

Okay... I know... You've heard this song a thousand times and have been tired of it since like January last year. You're tired of the video too. But just for a second remove yourself from that and think back to the first time you heard it. This song has absolutely everything you have come to expect from Rivers Cuomo, the greatest pop songwriter since Paul Simon.*@ It's the meditation on his own geekdom that is simultaneously catchy, self deprecating, simple and delightfully contradictory. The story goes that when Rivers and Co. submitted this album to their record label, they heard the commonly held complaint that the album didn't have an obvious standout single... to which a miffed Rivers responded with the scathing "indictment of the industry" track that is "Pork and Beans" and which I (and c'mon... you too) have grown to love. So for those of you keeping score at home, Rivers wrote an incredibly catchy single to mollify his record company about how much it sucks to have to write incredibly catchy singles to mollify record companies.

For years, Weezer has made a living out of writing great rock songs from the perspective of a "couldn't be less cool" nerd. It doesn't take much thinking to figure out that this is in fact the perfect formula. The majority of music fans, at least discerning ones, come from a place that's FAR more Rivers than Brett Michaels so when they hear massive arena rock riffs played over lyrics like, "I've got a twelve sided di, I've got a dungeon master's guide," they're gonna feel it all the more. I will say unequivocally that I can associate much more strongly with "You won't talk, won't look, won't think of me, I'm the epitome of public enemy," than with, "At the drive in, in the old man's Ford, behind the tool shed, Baby 'til I'm screamin for more."

So is this song played out? Absolutely. But like so many other (thought not all) songs that achieve this status (Paper Planes anyone?) it's played out for a reason.

*I'm gonna go ahead and ruin ALL credibility I might have had by adding here that Pete Wentz is a possible challenger for this title.

@I encourage you to provide your retorts below


Goodwin said...

I know you're a big Fallout Boy fan (something I'm sure you and your students have in common), but Pete Wentz is the next Paul Simon? That's like calling Billy Currington the next Johnny Cash. Maybe he and the guy from My Chemical Romance should team up and really get a modern-day Simon/Garfunkel thing going. While we're on the subject, did you know that Simon was married to Carrie Fisher circa "Return of the Jedi" Wentz is apparently married to Ashlee Simpson. Point, Simon.

Harris Smith said...

No, no, no... Rivers Cuomo is the next Paul Simon. Pete Wentz is just really good and instead of Gerard Way becoming his partner, I'm rooting for a pairing with Ashlee a la Sonny and Cher