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Hey Domingo!

Weezer goes reggae. Who would’ve thought?

Thankfully the experiment was a brief one, limited to just this song — and as an experiment, it’s an interesting one. The Early Album 5 sessions were pretty curious: for the most part, it was a lazy extension of Rivers Cuomo’s largely uninspired, assembly line Maladroit-style writing, with most songs being a mere exercise in going through the motions. (Ex. “Mansion of Cardboard,” “I Don’t Want Your Lovin’” and the very unfortunate remake of “Superstar.”) But a few songs, for better or for worse, really attempted uncharted territory for the band — from “The Organ Player” to “Mo’ Beats” to “Sacrifice” — and “Hey Domingo!” is one of the more peculiar and outlandish of those aberrations. It’s hard to guess where Cuomo got the inspiration to take such a detour, but the end result is something that sounds a bit like a poor (white) man’s Bob Marley — or perhaps a cleaned up, buttoned-down, friendly pop/rock distillation of Rage Against the Machine. The pseudo-revolutionary bent of the lyrics, and the chorus — “Where is the rage?” — suggests that it might not be improbable, especially since that band had broken up just a couple years prior.

Predictably, the earliest version we have of the song (6/29/02) is the best. I like the pretty, echoey guitar on the intro, and the vocal melody of the verse is pretty good. All that upstroked guitar is funny to hear in a Weezer song that isn’t “Say It Ain’t So” — but it much more closely reminds me of “Burndt Jamb,” in that it’s a song that finds some unusual inspiration for the verses, but can’t resist the urge to indulge in a more typically Weezer rockout on the chorus. The solo is probably the best part of the bargain, especially when Pat Wilson rolls in on the drums and introduces some nice (albeit unfinished) backup vocals from Brian Bell. On 7/02/02, the band overdubbed some horribly superfluous (and often off-key) piano and organ by that one session guy whose name I can never be assed to remember; and a couple weeks later, on 7/16, they wisely deleted those from the recording, though a cursory listen reveals no other differences on my part.

So musically, it’s a surprisingly competent chameleon act  — but the comically shite platitudes and unimaginative sloganeering of the lyrics really put a crap taste in my mouth. “One million people congregatin’ / Fillin’ up bodega streets,” “one voice united for the purpose,” “solidarity is nice” — it’s as if Cuomo 1) decided to write a reggae song, 2) deduced that most reggae songs have usually had a political intent, 3) remembered he’s wisely never written a political song because he’s got nothing to say there, and 4) forced it anyway. In a catalogue of songs that contains its fair share of insincere songs and lyrical bullshit, “Hey Domingo!” is about as phony as it gets.

26 Comments

  1. Soyrev wrote:

    I contemplated giving this one “Grand Playlist” status but the lyrics held me back.

    All in all, it’s certainly one of the most overrated outtakes in Weezer history.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
  2. runnersdialzero wrote:

    I’m more a fan of the 7/02 version – I don’t hear any off key-ness in the keyboards, and I think it’s one of the few songs from these sessions that really benefited from their presence – stuff like “Superstar” and “Modern Dukes” just don’t call for keyboards and it comes off as totally forced. I do think the earlier vocal is a bit more spirited, though.

    I believe the guy went by Schmedley?

    I do think the song is a tad overrated among the fan community, but I do enjoy it and think it’s definitely one of the more notable tracks from this group of songs. Having a few actual hooks in there helps.

    I agree about the lyrics, though – it was cool to see Cuomo branch out into new topics on these songs, especially after Maladroit, but they’re very hit or miss and I’d say this one’s definitely a miss.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
  3. Voroo wrote:

    Heh I never listened to the 6/29 or 7/02 one until you mentioned it here. After listening to the others, I like 7/02 more. I’ve no idea what the song is supposed to be about, so I just go along with they lyrics. I figured this would make at least grand playlist, it’s one of my favorites of the era. Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage!!!!!!!!

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
  4. Art Vandelay wrote:

    What kills the song off for me is how poorly structured it is… It sounds like he completely forgot to construct a pop song. The parts don’t flow together in any logical fashion.

    Riff. Half of a verse. Back to the intro! Another half of a verse. Chorus. Boring, wanky solo. Uh… Chorus! Riff. End.

    The hooks ARE there, which I assume is why some people like this one… but they’re pieced together so poorly, as a whole it’s extremely ineffective.

    I’m in total agreement with you on why the lyrics are bullshit.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Permalink
  5. Art Vandelay wrote:

    And yeah, the dude on the keyboards for those sessions was Ryan ‘Shmedley’ Maynes… he played bass in a local LA band called Arlo that was signed to Sub Pop for a while, and had some pretty good power-pop tunage. They broke up years ago.

    I forget how he got hooked up with the Weezer camp. Possibly through the Ozma guys?

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink
  6. waitingandwaiting wrote:

    This song starts with potential, that riff is great and it has a really nice verse melody, however it tales off into an uninspired boring mess later on. I think Rivers should revisit that riff though.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 5:27 am | Permalink
  7. Sick Nick wrote:

    I might be remembering this wrong but isn’t this song about soccer or the world cup?

    Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 7:05 am | Permalink
  8. Hup_Y wrote:

    Art Vandelay, you have described 2002 Rivers Cuomo in a nutshell.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 10:20 am | Permalink
  9. clonus wrote:

    yeah, I remember reading somewhere that this song was about a specific soccer player. it makes a little more sense in that context, although it needs a much better chorus.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  10. Soyrev wrote:

    Runners: Certain parts of it are okay, but when the keys first come in, it sounds like such a dissonant mess. Painfully bad, to my ears at least.

    Art: Good thoughts, all. Your comments are always very keen and concise.

    Sick Nick & Clonus: Soccer, really? “One voice united for the purpose” — to watch soccer?

    That might make the lyrics even worse to me. :/

    Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  11. farmerpete wrote:

    It’s “Daegu” streets, their stadium was the site of a 2002 world cup game.

    (and if we all could have gotten our acts together, out Tout:2 cover of this would have rocked.)

    Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink
  12. farmerpete wrote:

    *our

    Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
  13. Soyrev wrote:

    Ahh! Thank you for the clarification. I always heard it as “the dago streets,” but considering “dago” is a racial slur I didn’t think Cuomo would do that. I looked up the lyrics and they said “bodega” on some website, which was at least not offensive. But Daegu it is!

    Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
  14. Burgess wrote:

    If it’s about soccer, is “where is the rage?” a defense of peaceful soccer fans who are stereotyped as violent hooligans?

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  15. Running Monk wrote:

    never knew it was about soccer. makes sense i s’pose though. great song, imo. one of the best from the Album 5 Demos.

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  16. Soyrev wrote:

    Haha, Burgess, I don’t know…I wouldn’t read too much into anything Rivers was writing during this time, but “Where is the rage? / Is it the same?” sounds kind of sad in the song to me.

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink
  17. clonus wrote:

    According to Wikipedia, a 2002 World Cup game with the US team vs. Korea was played in Daegu Stadium (the US was eliminated later on, though.) So Rivers was probably sad about that loss, and wrote this. It’s a very deep song.

    (Korea won “Most Entertaining Team”!)

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
  18. HMC wrote:

    This is definitely one of my favorite Album 5 demos (even if that’s not saying much). I like how mellow it is. I will concede that it starts out nice and kinda fizzles out after a while though.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  19. s.o.s. wrote:

    I like it as much as the other demos aside from The Organ Player. But higher than Keep Fishin’ (radio mix) and TISAP (to name a few) in the Rate-a-Song thread? Nah.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  20. HMC wrote:

    What does the term ‘Hey Domingo’ actually mean in the context of the song?

    Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink
  21. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    hey look, 20 comments!

    Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  22. Soyrev wrote:

    Very astute!

    Sorry I’ve been silent (even on the comments), I’ve been away from a computer ever since Thursday. But now I’m back, and once I get through some more time-sensitive stuff, I’ll get all caught up on comments and whip up a new post…Maybe as soon as tomorrow!

    Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 11:48 pm | Permalink
  23. nate wrote:

    “What does the term ‘Hey Domingo’ actually mean in the context of the song?”

    This is just a wild guess, but perhaps Rivers is talking about this guy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domingos_da_Guia

    He died two years earlier. What I get, is that by saying, “Hey, Domingo can’t be beat” Rivers means that nobody can top Domingos, in tribute, and seeing as Brazil went on to win the World Cup, maybe he’s saying that Brazil can’t be beat either.

    I have no idea what the second verse is saying.

    As for the last verse, again, this is just a wild guess, but leading up to the World Cup, there was a lot of animosity between Korea and Japan about hosting it. When FIFA was deciding who should host the World Cup in 2003, both Korea and Japan wanted to be the first Asian country to host a World Cup. Add to the fact that both countries have centuries of animosity between them… things got messy. Both countries were rapidly slandering each other on why the other was unfit to hold a World Cup. FIFA eventually copped out and said that they would co-host it. Obviously, that didn’t go over so well.

    While there was disagreement right up to the event, and even during the opening ceremonies (held in Korea, the Koreans were hoping that the Japanese Emperor would come, as it would have been the first visit to Korea by the royal family since 1945 and traditionally the “Head of State” attends the opening ceremonies but he refused), eventually, because South Korea got as far as they did. Both Koreans and Japanese were cheering for the South Korean team.

    This might explain the “One voice united for the purpose” line. As well as the “Where is the rage?” referring to the rage between Korea and Japan. But it also might be about Team USA losing.

    There’s my take on it anyway. I like the song a lot, and even though the music fits for being a soccer song, I still think with better lyrics, this song would be amazing.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
  24. Soyrev wrote:

    Very interesting expert info, nate. Thanks for sharing your insights and shedding some light!

    Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink
  25. skiz65 wrote:

    If i remember correctly, there seemed to be a couple of Early Album 5 demos that were soccer related, at least as i interpreted them. This one obviously, and also Running Man and Fontana (although i could just be jumbling the lyrics to different songs, there’s too many to go through from this era). That 2002 World Cup was on Mr. Cuomo’s mind alot that summer.

    Monday, May 3, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  26. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    Let’s revisit this one. I’m surprised at all the distaste for it! The chorus is uplifting and “soaring” in the way Make Believe tried to be, the riff is playful and catchy, and I find the ambiguity of the lyrics quite poetic. Pat is a monster on this track, too. His rolled fills in early verses and the bell work during the chorus are terrific.

    There is so much to be disappointed in from this era – this is one we should be excited about. Do we all still feel as lukewarm as we did?

    Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

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