Always a band keenly attuned to the fleeting fashions of the internet, Weezer were the ripe target of an online campaign. A 14-year-old fan intuited that Weezer would be amenable to covering Toto's 1982 chart-topper "Africa," so she started a Twitter campaign in December 2017 to petition the band to do just that. After six months of cajoling, Weezer relented -- by releasing a version of "Rosanna," the hit Toto had before "Africa." The next week, the band unveiled their cover of "Africa," which swiftly became Weezer's biggest hit since 2005, matching that year's "Perfect Situation" placement at 51 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Somehow, that wasn't the end of the shenanigans. As the single stayed on the charts, Toto returned the favor by covering Weezer's "Hash Pipe," then Weezer parodied themselves for the long-delayed video for their "Africa," bringing Weird Al Yankovic along for good measure.
Just when the "Africa" cycle seemed to finally end, Weezer sprung The Teal Album upon the world. Inspired by the success of "Africa," Weezer cut an entire album of oldies, generally sticking to the '80s, but finding space for the Turtles' "Happy Together" and Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" -- two '60s chestnuts that were omnipresent during the Reagan era. The exception to this rule is conspicuous: a version of TLC's 1999 smash "No Scrubs." By covering a beloved modern R&B hit, Weezer is opening themselves up to scorn and ridicule -- the deliberately gangly band is certainly not smooth enough to replicate TLC's groove -- but that's kind of the point of The Teal Album: it's designed to generate online chatter for its existence, not for what it is. Taken on a strictly musical terms, The Teal Album is pretty anodyne stuff. Weezer replicates the arrangements of beloved songs, adds a bit more fuzz on the guitar solos, and flattens the vocal affectations, which amounts to one weird trick: Weezer doesn't attempt to make the songs their own, yet these versions unmistakably sound like Weezer. Chalk it up to the curious obsessions of Rivers Cuomo, a songwriter who used to carry around a notebook so he could dissect why one pop song worked and another didn't. The meticulous replications of The Teal Album aren't a million miles away from that notebook, but by having Weezer pop into familiar settings, Cuomo has created a hyper-saturated, uncanny valley, where nothing seems quite real. An ideal album for the internet, in other words. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
- Genre: Pop
- Format: Vinyl
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