Release Date: Nov 3, 2009
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
With production by Top 40 staples Dr. Luke and Polow Da Don, songwriting help from Jermaine Dupri, and a guest verse from Lil Wayne, Weezer’s seventh studio set has more outsider input than ever before. However, Raditude still feels like the product of Rivers Cuomo, who’s no less unnerved by girls than he was before his 15 years of rock stardom.
If Weezer's 2008 eponymous Red Album was all about singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo coming to terms with heading into middle age, then 2009's Raditude finds Cuomo looking back upon his own carefree, dirt bike-riding youth and writing songs about it, but filtered through the eyes of Weezer's younger fans. In that sense, Raditude comes off as a kind of Big Chill-esque concept album for Gen-Y kids who grew up in the '90s. To these ends, Cuomo packs these largely poppy and rockin' songs with concrete images and cultural references that are just slightly warped and out of phase with his own generational timeline.
It’s kind of amazing that after 16 years as a rock star, a marriage and a new child, Rivers Cuomo is still singing about how chicks don’t dig him. In Raditude, the frontman reasserts his ability to describe mundane events, like watching “Titanic” and going to Best Buy in “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To,” with sunny harmonies that barely mask his sexual frustration. Even the dominating lyrics of “I’m Your Daddy” are supremely tongue-in-cheek.
Right now, psychiatrists are feverishly debating over what to include in the next revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: the DSM-V, the psych bible. Among the syndromes those experts may decide whether to include in the latest edition is Peter Pan Syndrome, adults who long for youth so powerfully they begin to act like eternal children. Think Michael Jackson, who in naming his ranch Neverland, certainly invited the diagnosis.
Sweet Jesus, the first song on Raditude, (If You’re Wondering If I Want You Too) I Want You Too, is catchy. This is a song I wanted to hate so, so badly. My buddy Benson and I painted all summer, and him, being less of a music snob than I, loved it. I couldn’t help but think about how far Weezer had fallen since the days of Buddy Holly, No One Else and Tired of Sex.
It's hard to tell whether Rivers Cuomo is trying really hard on Ratitude or if he doesn't give a damn any more. As evidence of the former, Cuomo enlisted songwriting assistance from the All-American Rejects, Dr. Luke (who penned hits for Miley Cyrus), Jermaine Dupri and others. Since when did Cuomo need help writing a catchy hook? [rssbreak] Or maybe he's become so apathetic about Weezer's identity and artistic standing that he now shamelessly courts the lowest common denominator, as on In The Mall, I'm Your Daddy and The Girl Got Hot, all of which, like most of Ratitude, concern themselves solely with shallow teen issues.
This Rivers is all dried up Weezer fans often cry that haters should quit comparing the band’s later work to Pinkerton and the blue album. That’s fair—bands change, and music evolves. Thing is, even without hope for a return to form, we’re still left sifting through dribble that barely passes as All-American Rejects’ rejects. Had the classics never existed, there’d be little reason to care about Weezer at all.
Weezer occupy an odd place in musical history, in that they are one of the worst bands ever to have made two of the greatest American rock albums of all time. That is not to mention the several moments of brilliance that have been illiberally scattered over the albums that followed Pinkerton. Their 2001 comeback was an anti-climax, but the squeaky clean pop-rock territory that The Green Album covered was different to that which they had covered before – and that, in its own way, was progress.
CARRIE UNDERWOOD “Play On” (19/Arista Nashville) The musical legacy of “American Idol” can, apart from a few hiccups, be distilled down to two words: Carrie Underwood. Her later success, though, was never preordained. When she won during that show’s fourth season in 2005 it was by no means clear that Ms. Underwood’s acclaim for singing songs by other people on television was as valid as other country singers’ acclaim for singing songs by other people in honky-tonks.