Weezer is a band that inspires extreme loyalty. By releasing two of the most revered rock records of the ’90s — their 1994 debut “Weezer” (aka the “Blue Album”), and 1996’s cult hit “Pinkerton” — the group amassed a fanbase that feverishly connected with its nostalgic lyrics, singalong choruses and guitar riffs. The initial critical rejection of “Pinkerton” made it seem that frontman-songwriter Rivers Cuomo might pursue a life of the mind (he enrolled at Harvard shortly after the group’s first success), and Weezer might be just another band that burned too bright and flamed out. But a hooky return to music in 2001 with “Weezer (Green Album)” gave the group a commercial shot in the arm, although it splintered the existing fanbase. Eschewing the emotional storytelling of “Pinkerton” for simplistic lyrics on “Green,” the still-present narrative hounding the band is that they’ll never match their artistic highs of the ’90s.
Despite the mixed reaction, “Green” kickstarted a long and prolific second act for the band, as they released 12 more albums over the next 20 years. Along the way, several were designated by the press as a return to form (2002’s “Maladroit,” 2014’s “Everything Will Be Alright in the End”), a fun diversion (2016’s “Weezer (White Album)” and 2017’s “Pacific Daydream”) and a “What were they thinking?” moment (2008’s “Weezer (Red Album)” and 2009’s “Raditude”) — not to mention a fluke hit single with their straight-faced cover of Toto’s “Africa.” Over the years they have also been a consistent touring act, with Cuomo, drummer Patrick Wilson, guitarist Brian Bell and bassist Scott Shriner bringing to the stage an appreciation for their past while trying new things.
With the upcoming release of their 15th album, the ’80s metal tribute “Van Weezer,” Variety has revisited all of the group’s highs and lows to rank and showcase their best material. For fans that fell off because of “Green”: feel free to dive in on some of the deep cuts showcased below. There’s plenty of fantastic songs to be found scattered all over their albums.