Once you get to a certain size and age as a band, it’s inevitable that you start making mistakes. A dozen million record sales and well over 15 years on the odometer definitely qualifies. And as the discography burgeons, with all its offshoots into outtakes, demos, and other strata of availability, the severity of a given mistake is a matter of its context. In Weezer’s case, for example, “I Don’t Want Your Lovin’” might be a truly abysmal song, but the fact that it remains a scratchy home demo one-take heard only by a self-selecting group of die-hards, it’s not that bad. It’s easy to forget; the blogs and critics never got a hold on it, there’s no Google cache record of the thing sucking so fiercely, its existence is a dark secret kept by the few who have heard it (and the fewer still who actually might kinda like it). “We Are All On Drugs,” on the other hand, was an ignoble blunder that was produced and distributed and shoved in people’s faces on a mass-market scale, and I’ve got the pink marble vinyl to prove it (which is the best thing about it, really). It’s definitely embarrassing, though thankfully most people seem content not to think about anymore; it was never a hit, the band never plays it live anymore, only dorks like me ever bring it up. And “Beverly Hills,” though many have come to appreciate it in some way or another, is largely remembered as such a gross offense because it’s one of those songs that’s come to define Weezer in the vague popular consciousness. Any dope brave enough to go about telling people Weezer’s his favorite band in 2010 is likely to have that lumbering schlock-rock riff hummed in his face, just like tons of people find a way to know the Beach Boys as little more than “that ‘Kokomo’ band.”
“Kids/Poker Face” started like a secret. The idea of Weezer playing the most covered/remixed/regurgitated song of 2008 (MGMT’s admittedly great “Kids”) in 2009 at a cellphone company’s day festival was a bit disheartening, especially when the band replaced the bridge with a painfully extended section from Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” as sung by a wig-wearing Rivers Cuomo (considering he shitraps the line “I’m bluffin’ with my muffin,” is it safe to say that hes’ veering into transexual territory?). But at it appeared to be a gimmicky one-off, the imaginationless mashup wasn’t really much to get worked up about. Besides, the band was being paid bushels to entertain a crowd that…well, probably mostly knew them as “that ‘Beverly Hills’ band.” Who cares, right? Hell, some folks in the audience probably thought “Kids” was a Weezer song!
But it wouldn’t go away. Soon, an official music video was issued. A recording of the song was released on iTunes as a Raditude preorder bonus track (almost hysterically bad in comparison to what it came with, the heartfelt and fantastic “Story Of My Life“). The blogs, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone wrote about it. There was no going back after that: it had become part of the canon. The stupid thing sank down a few notches, settling somewhere around the “All On Drugs” plateau of embarrassment.
But Cuomo doesn’t seem content to let it rest now, either. For the time being, it’s *still* a setlist staple, taking up 5 whole minutes of any given show (substantial stuff for a band that refuses to play any more than 80 minutes in a night), pushing out a theoretically infinite number of things most Weezer fans would rather hear. Meanwhile, MGMT have moved far from “Kids” (to the point that they only ever play the thing to parody it anymore) and are doing their psychedelic prog thing, while Lady Gaga has had about half a dozen (largely superior) hit singles in the meantime.
Though who cares about things like progress, anyway. This one’s there for all the folks in the crowd who came to see the “Beverly Hills” band.