HULK ASKS “WHAT THE FUCK REALLY HAPPENED TO WEEZER???”

May 6, 2012

HULK WRITE EXPANSIVE ESSAY LOOKING AT THE TRAJECTORY OF THE BAND, SOME HIDDEN INFLUENCES, THE POWER OF HARMONY, AND MAYBE USED A FOOTBALL METAPHOR… SORRY.

http://badassdigest.com/2012/05/06/film-crit-hulk-smash-hulk-vs-what-the-f-really-happen-to-weezer/

11 Responses to “HULK ASKS “WHAT THE FUCK REALLY HAPPENED TO WEEZER???””

  1. andything said

    Another fantastic article, Hulk. I love the point you made about tangible details and the football metaphor. I think music is a genre that is praised and criticized most often on superficial things, and very rarely do people look deeper to find out what makes the music truly resonate.Your article was able to probe a little further, and was a fascinating read. Great work!

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK SINCERELY THANK! EVERY MEDIUM JUST INVITES US TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT MAKES IT TICK!

      CHEERS!

  2. steve said

    Great piece! I am a huge fan of Sharp and you nailed what he contributed to Weezer.

    There is a chemistry in Sharp’s work with Weezer that was never captured again.

    Do you prefer music that leans more towards harmony or melody?

    If I have to choose, I find I lean more towards the latter. The Rentals speaks more to me than post Pinkerton Weezer.

    I hope you write more about music in the future!

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      IT SORT OF A WEIRD YING YANG, MELODY AND HARMONY ARE BOTH NEEDED FOR TRUE TRANSCENDENCE. BUT HULK REALLY CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT THE HARMONY!

      AND HULK COMPLETELY AGREE. THE RENTALS SPOKE MORE TO HULK THAN POST-PINKERTON WEEZER.

      HULK THANK MANY!

  3. Zack Korpi said

    3 things.

    1. This is a fantastic article. I’m a music producer in addition to being a film enthusiast and you absolutely nailed it. Music is about harmony. I’ve tried to come up with some general rules for what makes a song good, and the main one I came up with is: for a song to be good, you need an adequate level of “Harmonic Value”. It’s not about having tons of instruments or a “full” sounding song. The reason why you can have a great song that is just one instrument, or guitar and voice, or a whole huge orchestra is that with the right note choice you can create a compelling level of Harmonic Value with anywhere from 1-3 notes. After all, there are only 12 notes, and most songs are limited to a the seven note scale, which means you only have seven notes to pick from. If you think about it that way, you will realize THAT is the reason why you can create a song with enough harmonic value with one instrument or a giant orchestra, because there are only seven you could be playing at a time, usually less.

    So basically, I couldn’t agree more and you explained it excellently.

    2. However, I disagree with your premise in one area: I think Make Believe is equally good as early Weezer. In fact, I think it’s their second best album after the blue album. It may have been a fluke, which is why I think some people disregard it (even though I have met many Weezer fans recently who also think Make Believe is an exception to their later-career slump). But I think it is a mistake to leave it out of your analysis. Of course, it could be that you just don’t like it, but let me try to explain why I think it is just as good and harmonically rich as Sharp-era Weezer.

    3. I agree that bass can be an incredibly harmonic instrument, as perhaps epitomized by Sharp and McCartney. But my point, and the concept I think you overlooked is that great level of harmonic value which is required for a great song can be reached with any set of melodic instruments. I agree that the bass lines on Make Believe don’t move as much as they could, but I also think that the chord progressions and harmony created by the guitars, pianos, and melody on that album equate to a level of harmonic value that equals Sharp-era Weezer.

    In my study, I’ve come to believe that harmonic value is not just derived from simultaneous note combinations, but also from sequential note combinations. The reason why this is important to distinguish is it means you can reach a sufficient level of harmonic value with either a mobile melody on a more static chord structure, or a static (even 1 note) melody on top of a mobile chord structure, or even create a compelling song with just two mobile monophonic lines (even though 3 notes are generally required for a full chord, having 2 mobile notes makes up for the lack of the third note by implying chords and interesting changes sequentially, with the notes that come after them). All this to say, I believe Weezer compensated for the harmonic-value that was no longer being contributed by Sharp’s bass by making up for it in the chord progressions and with other harmony contributing instruments.

    In a similar way, Mike Dirnt of Green Day when asked why his basslines had become much simpler in Green Day’s later career, he responded that it was because Billie Joe Armstrong’s songwriting/guitar playing and vocals had become much more melodic, so he no longer needed to make up for Billie Joe’s lack of harmonic contribution.

    I don’t know if Weezer consciously did this in the opposite way, but I do think that is what they accomplished. Though I don’t disagree that a few of its songs could benefit from some more mobile bass lines, overall, the chord progressions and melodies on Make Believe makes for songs that are as harmonically and melodically rich and interesting as the band has ever produced at their best.

    To sum up, I think Make Believe was slighted in your analysis, because your whole thesis was about bass being essential to harmony. But I think that is an incomplete thesis, and that you CAN achieve the same level of harmonic value, even without a great bassist, and even though it’s way harder and less ideal. I’m not a writer like you, so I’m not sure I conveyed my point as well as I could have, and I’m certain not as concisely as I could have, but I hope you understand what I mean. This is not a negative rant, just a passionate defense of something I think your analysis could’ve benefited from.

    And my final request is that you simply listen to Make Believe one more time with open ears. I think you may find a place for it in your heart.

    Sincerely submitted,
    A fellow musician and film lover

    • sensito said

      Hi – I’m not Hulk, but, if I can contribute, I’ll say that Make Believe fails in the songwriting department.

      Most of the songs just fall flat, not because of arrangement or production or instrumentation, but simply because Cuomo has nothing particularly interesting say – and doesn’t say it interestingly.

      The songs all lack a general enthusiasm and emotion. I personally find it very hard to react, emotionally to most of the songs (we are all on drugs). Though on style alone, ‘this is such a pity’ is an interesting track!

      cheers

      • Zack Korpi said

        I’ve heard this said about the lyrics on Make Believe before, and I suppose it’s a matter of personal opinion, but I’ve never found the lyrics on Make Believe to be any less sincere than early Weezer. Maybe thematically you don’t find them as relatable, which is fine, but that isn’t to say they aren’t as sincere or interesting to someone else.

        Maybe the album gets a bad rap because it contains Beverly Hills, which suffers the double negative of being a stylistic departure as well as being their biggest mainstream success. But other than that, it contains some really great songs.

        I will admit, lyrics matter less to me than the average person. If the music/melody/harmony side of things is solid, I have no problem with lyrics that are not exceedingly clever. But with that said, I don’t think Make Believe is one of those album that suffers from that problem.

        Perfect Situation to me is musically and lyrically a masterpiece and as true Weezer as you can get. This Is Such A Pity, Hold Me, The Damage In Your Heart, Pardon Me, My Best Friend, The Other Way, Haunt You Every Day to me are also musical and lyrical standouts. Some of the remaining songs sound like filler, but the blue album is maybe the only Weezer album that doesn’t have at least a few filler tracks. I agree about the lyrics of We Are All On Drugs, but I do really like the track musically.

  4. TheRyanAbrams said

    What does Hulk think of Matt Freeman from Rancid?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK LIKES RANCID AND STUFF, BUT HONESTLY COULDN’T TELL YOU ENOUGH ABOUT FREEMAN TO HAVE A VALID OPINION. HULK LIKE HIM?

  5. Cresore said

    I really liked this analysis of Weezer. “Blue Album” and “Pinkerton” have both been huge parts of my life and remain two of my favorite albums (especially “Blue Album” although I think for sentimental reasons; as an aside I’ve always found that early-Weezer has a special personal importance for a lot of fans which I think can be attributed to the emotional content of the music). However, I’ve always wondered what the fuck really happened to Weezer (before reading this essay the reason I would have given would sound pretty much exactly like this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnAR2qB24yQ, but I find your analysis more in depth and satisfying). This is a really interesting answer to the question. I do think that River Cuomo’s rejection of super personal content in his lyrics has also effected the band greatly, but the departure of Matt Sharp seems to definitely contribute to their lower quality output in recent years.
    Also, as one final aside, thanks for reminding me of The Rentals, I’d forgotten how much I love “My Summer Girl”!

  6. Great read, Hulkster. IMO John Frusciante is a comparable genius with the use of harmony and melodies. The RHCP albums he’s been a part of are far and away their strongest.

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