19 Years Ago: Weezer’s Debut Album Released
When Weezer’s self-titled debut, now known as ‘The Blue Album,’ came out on May 10, 1994, it sounded like any number of alt-rock records that were flooding the shelves in the post-Nirvana era. Its first single, the likable but mostly hook-free ‘Undone – The Sweater Song,’ certainly didn’t point to the modern-rock superstardom to come. And neither did the relatively unassuming album. At first.
Weezer formed in Los Angeles in 1992, a year after ‘Nevermind’ found gold in alternative bands. A year later, the quartet – led by nerdy-looking frontman Rivers Cuomo, a bundle of neuroses barely hid in his boyish face – were signed to the same major record label that released ‘Nevermind’ as well as records by a few other indie-rock giants, like Sonic Youth. The label paired them with Ric Ocasek, the former frontman for ‘70s and ‘80s hitmakers the Cars, who produced Weezer’s debut album in New York City in late summer 1993.
Ocasek knew his way around music that wasn’t immediately identifiable. The Cars always skirted the line between several genres, applying classic-rock crunch to synth-driven New Wave rhythms, and he gave Weezer’s songs a similar power-pop polish. Over the next couple years, the album’s best songs – ‘My Name Is Jonas,’ ‘The World Has Turned and Left Me Here’ and, especially, the hit single ‘Buddy Holly’ – became rallying cries for a new generation.
Cuomo’s geek anthems connected with shy, introverted kids everywhere. He wasn’t quite the misfit that Kurt Cobain made himself out to be, and he was nowhere as ool as anyone in Sonic Youth. In a way, ‘Weezer’ opened the door for an entire genre of music in the coming decade. Call it emo or whatever you want, but Cuomo planted the seeds. The album didn’t make it any higher than No. 16, but it’s since sold more than 3 million copies. ‘Buddy Holly’ was the only single to climb to the Top 40, but it, ‘Undone’ and ‘Say It Ain’t So’ all hit Top 10 at modern rock. But more importantly, it helped shape a generation.
Listen to ‘Weezer’