Over twenty years after their debut album, Weezer is still active in the music industry; however, their most recent release is something much different than the music that got them famous in the first place.
The sequence of events that led to the release of Weezer (The Teal Album) began sometime in early 2017 when the collective mind of the internet decided that Toto’s 1982 hit “Africa” was ironically cool again, and worthy of annoyingly constant online attention.
In December of 2017, fans jokingly began lobbying Weezer to cover “Africa” by way of Twitter and online petition sites. It is lost to history whether the internet truly worked its magic or Weezer was hungry for validation after the mediocrity of 2017’s Pacific Daydream, Weezer rolled out two Toto covers in May of 2018: “Rosanna,” then the long-awaited “Africa.”
The 2000s have proven that Weezer is no stranger to covers. A couple notable cover songs have been released over the years, including a mashup of “Kids” by MGMT and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” that can be found on their 2009 album Ratitude.
Others include The Cars’ “You Might Think,” created for the Cars 2 soundtrack, and “Viva La Vida,” featured on their 2010 album Hurley. The year 2019 marks something more, though. Sticking with their color theme, Weezer (The Teal Album) consists entirely of covers.
“Africa” rightfully leads off the album, a noticeably different version of the song that serves to drag out the strange online fame that the Toto original has somehow gained. Though it is not the best variant of the song, Pitbull’s cover that was featured on the soundtrack of Aquaman ensures that Weezer’s is not the worst.
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” originally by Tears for Fears, and the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” follow “Africa,” as well as “Take On Me.” All three of these tracks carry their original ‘80s alt energy while sporting a distinct Weezer feel, but there is really nothing special here.
The surf-rock hit “Happy Together” is redone very well. With the signature lilting riffs and shared vocals, it actually makes a better Weezer song than many Weezer originals of the mid-2000s.
“Paranoid” maintains the hard rock energy of the Black Sabbath original, but the vocal delivery is lukewarm in that lead singer River Cuomo sounds like he is still deciding whether he want to be Rivers or Ozzy on this track.
“Mr. Blue Sky” gets a harder makeover and accurate musicality, while “No Scrubs” blends into the context of the album rather well. “Billie Jean” is unique and one of the more well done tracks, while “Stand By Me” is comforting, heartfelt, and exactly what the listener would expect.
It has its ups and its downs, as well as a number of unexceptional tracks, but Weezer (The Teal Album) is the logical next step in the Weezer saga. An album completely made up of covers is not a new idea, but it is a safe economic move to follow the risky ventures that were Weezer’s albums of the mid-2000s.
Listeners must also not forget that this album was essentially built around a joke with the ironic popularity of “Africa” at the core.
While there is not one track besides “Africa” that stands on its own, it should be noted that there is no song that sounds especially awful. Kudos to Weezer for not completely butchering anyone else’s music in an attempt to keep the “Africa” joke running and stay relevant in the world of 2010s alternative.
Ultimately, it is up to the listener to decide whether the album is a worthy addition to the Weezer discography or the sounds of an internet meme taken too far.