As anyone who checked Twitter yesterday is well aware, Weezer shocked the internet with a surprise covers album, dubbed the Teal Album for its absurd yacht-rock cover. The album precedes the band’s long-promised Black Album, set to release March 1st.
Weezer spent 2018 stoking the social media flames with their famous covers bout with Toto, and I think we all just expected “Africa” to be the end of it. But Weezer clearly saw an opportunity to generate some buzz for their new album and upcoming tour with The Pixies. Twitter flames aside, how do the covers on the album actually stack up? Let’s take a look at The Good, The Bad, and The (Really) Ugly.
The first four tracks feature iconic early/mid ’80s pop songs: “Africa” by Toto, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics, and “Take On Me” by A-Ha. This set is incredibly strong and suits Weezer’s style perfectly. They play all the solos, fills, and vocals like the originals while adding just the right touches of edgy rock style to the mix.
Two other stand out tracks are classic hits “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra and “Happy Together” by The Turtles. Instrumentals are spot on and Rivers Cuomo’s incredible vocal range deftly navigates the range from high tenor to low bari without losing intensity.
Then there’s the full-on karaoke section. Certainly, Weezer’s musical finesse is always apparent, but in choosing “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, they’ve resorted to doing the best they can on a song that cannot be separated from its maker. “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King suffers the same fate. Weezer brings nothing to the table aside from a very bland and emotionless performance.
This group consists of two very weird choices.
Cuomo Guitarist Brian Bell does his best Ozzy Ozbourne interpretation of “Paranoid”, but it lacks the insanity of the original, which is what makes the song effective. From an instrumental standpoint, everything sounds too…nice. They approach it as too clean and hipster to pull off the cover.
And finally, we have the oddest choice of all, TLC’s “No Scrubs”. Gone are the luscious trio harmonies and sassy vibe of the original. The cover simply falls flat both vocally and instrumentally. Rivers Cuomo famously loves to troll the internet, and this cover feels like the biggest troll job of all.
The album as a whole feels very tongue in cheek, not to be taken too seriously at any point. Perhaps this is the strategy as Weezer braces for their “serious” album of originals. Bottom line: If buzz is what they wanted to generate with Teal, they have succeeded and then some.
I was hoping for the Ryan Adams 1989 treatment where they would take the songs are turn them into Weezer tunes. I am not really a fan of straight-on covers by bands outside of the local bar band scene. I’ve hit each one on YouTube and will take a pass on owning this one. I should tell you that way back in the 90s, a friend and I participated in a couple Neil Young Tribute CDs where we took Southern Pacific and hit it with the Bo Diddley beat, then took Powderfinger and covered it Ramones-style. Lotsa fun!
Brian Bell sang lead on Paranoid, not Cuomo.
I love this album start to finish. I don’t think any of the tracks are bad. It’s just a band that is already known as goofy and fun goofing off and having fun.