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Kids/Poker Face

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.


10 Comments

  1. Soyrev wrote:

    Looking past the old “Surf Wax” closer tradition, I would say the two Weezer songs it would make most sense to close with are “The Angel” and “Only In Dreams.” “Greatest Man” would also fit the ‘epic conclusion’ bill, though it wouldn’t have the same emotional resonance to it.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 6:46 am | Permalink
  2. Ludicrosity wrote:

    I challenge that slow songs don’t make good closers: Again, using U2 as an example, they have several slow songs that work fantastically as closers:

    On ZooTV there was Love Is Blindness/I Can’t Help Falling In Love
    Popmart: Wake Up Deadman and several shows closed with One
    Elevation: Walk On (which is not a slow song but it isn’t a rocker like Buddy Holly or other fast songs U2 has)
    Vertigo tour: 40
    U2360: Moment Of Surrender (which I admit isn’t the best closer)

    I think shows can use a fast song or a slow song, it all depends what impression they want to leave with their audience. Sometimes a fast song fits better and sometimes a slow song ends a show with more impact imo.

    Some slow songs work as closers while others don’t — I Miss You would suck as a closer but it doesn’t mean that all shows would suck with a slower song closing them: I Miss You just isn’t a good song to close a set. I’m Lost Without You would work as a closer though if you ask me. You just have to pick the right slow songs — ones with a build-up work great for instance. That’s why TAATO, OID and Don’t Wanna Let You Go (maybe with an added guitar solo/outro?) would work great as closers to the end of a Weezer set. December would suck because… well December just sucks… even Haunt You Everyday would work as a decent closer.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  3. ThomYorke wrote:

    In 2001 and at time in ’02 the band closed with Only in Dreams/Surfax and I still think that’s the best closing combo they’ve ever actually played.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink
  4. OOS wrote:

    I also think Holiday would be appropriately epic/rocking for a closing slot.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 7:44 am | Permalink
  5. Ludicrosity wrote:

    I must agree with this wholeheartedly 🙂

    Monday, June 21, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  6. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    Hello old friends!

    During my first listen to this, I was really embarrassed. I thought, what the hell is Weezer doing with this? Trying to stay hip and cool with the kiddies? It was simply inappropriate for them to be covering this. But then, I was smacked in the face with some Lady Gaga.

    Just when I was going to barf, the ridiculous addition of that Lady Gaga part put the song in perspective for me. It isn’t meant to be anything more than a fun little jam, and I think it is just that. I don’t mean to justify it, because if Weezer were the band we all wanted them to be, they wouldn’t be pulling immature stunts like this. But since they are, I can enjoy this. It’s fun, it’s funny, and both of the songs are catchy.

    The novelty has worn off for us completely, and probably for a lot of casual fans as well, but there’s probably still a good chunk of people out at =W= shows who haven’t heard this yet. I’m sure it still gets cheers and laughs. Despite this, however, it shouldn’t be the “setlist staple” that it has become.

    I’ve made this same “it’s supposed to be fun!” argument in the effort to cope with Raditude, but I think it’s much more convincing with this cover. It’s just a little ditty of a tune. It’s smaller scope allows it to not fail nearly as significantly as Raditude does, and I think we should just enjoy it.

    I think it belongs in The Very Worst, but I’d say it’s definitely in The Very Best Of The Very Worst.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 12:16 am | Permalink
  7. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    and, as always soy, your diction and writing voice are freaking badass.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink
  8. Soyrev wrote:

    I can’t believe this is stillllll closing shows. By now, Weezer has a great many songs MADE for closing a set — several of which have never even been played live at all — and instead, they continue to close with a fucking MGMT/Lady Gaga mashup.

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink
  9. OOS wrote:

    Heck, why didn’t they play Memories at the last show? You have a slot for your new single, and you play an outdated cover mash-up instead?

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink
  10. Ludicrosity wrote:

    I thought of this when Rivers said in one interview I read today that they’re always changing the live set up… yeah okay Rivers.

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

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