Although we’ve discussed nearly all of them by this point, “Change The World” is another one of the stinkers from the Maladroit sessions (and, thankfully, one of the ones the band knew not to put on the record itself). In many ways it seems to be a kindred spirit of that album’s “Space Rock,” in that it is a mercifully brief (mercilessly dumb) rawk-out sesh that seems to be about the Weezer fans unhappy with the band’s recent digressions into simple-minded pop (The Green Album) and, worse yet, simple-minded “metal” (or Rivers Cuomo’s interpretation of it, at least).
“Change The World” seems to be another song birthed from the band’s late 2001 leg of the Extended Hyper Midget Tour, which was documented by the band in soundboard quality and partially released to the public via regular updates from official band archivist Karl Koch on weezer.com. Its first appearance there is dated October 24th, from the otherwise great HBO Reverb performance (which also gave us the definitive version of the underrated “We Go Together“). The song is forged upon a jeering riff that taunts its audience seemingly ad nauseum (impressive for a 90-second song), another empty-ass ‘Droit verse (“You want it / You got it / You flaunt it and get your feet on the ground / And love me right now”) similar to its peer “The Zep Song;” a one-line chorus that bridges the verse back to that obnoxious riff; and a surprisingly lengthy solo that might have worked fine in a better song.
The song didn’t change much when it reappeared a month later (11/27/01), but two weeks after that — 12/05 — Cuomo must have had audience members and listeners at home groaning alike when he announced, “This song is called ‘Change The World,’ with a new third verse.” From there, the band dialed the song in for a live-take Maladroit recording session on January 8th, 2002 (the Weezer of the early aughts moved quickly), which is mostly notable for its bizarre studio banter prelude (Cuomo adopts a strange voice to tell a “cowboy” to “shut yo’ face,” while Scott Shriner promises that something — presumably the song — “won’t sound like a flat tire”). It’s interesting that during the opening riff Cuomo and Shriner (perhaps the only two enjoying what’s going on) trade boorish gutturals, before Shriner provides a monotone, fill-in-the-blank echo for the lyric. Brian Bell struggles to keep up with the vocal harmonies, and Cuomo interestingly shadows the guitar solo with a falsetto scat. Stupid aesthetic decisions on their own, but fascinating ones relative to the flavorless live versions accrued from the prior live bootlegs.
“You like it / You hate it” seems to express Cuomo’s exasperation with trying to reconcile his fans’ sensibilities with his own (written during ’01, a time when Cuomo directly corresponded with his fans for feedback on various Weezer message boards), which finds corroboration in the following couplet: “You bought it / And glued your butt to the sound.” Cuomo, however lacking eloquence, appears to be lamenting the days of The Blue Album and Pinkerton, the “classic Weezer” records fans bought and wouldn’t forget while the band diverged into increasingly disposable material. The ineloquent composition and lyrics here ironically seem to prove the fans’ point. The worst offender may well be the sneering chorus: “You couldn’t change the world / To fit your little thing.” Cuomo was taking a break from his English major at Harvard, at the time.