“(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” was, at first listen, a glimmer of hope for Raditude, Weezer’s seventh album. A few months before the album came out, this single hit the airwaves and got a lot of Weezer fans thinking, “Hey, I don’t think I hate this.”
It’s a fun, catchy song, and a great sing-along story of young romance. Rivers’ lyrics are surprisingly earnest considering his track record since the Green Album, but what I find most interesting about Raditude’s opening track is how it tells a real story, something that harkens back to 1990s-era Weezer, but with one glaring difference: it’s past tense.
Rivers Cuomo brings us along for a ride that in all likelihood happened more than two decades ago. The Girl wearing a Slayer t-shirt, eating dinner at her parents’, watching a movie while hoping she’d make a move (why won’t she just make a move?!). The whole song is Rivers begging a girl to take the next step, and these stories are hard to take seriously when the legitimacy of his feelings are totally up in the air. I suppose it’s easy for young guys to empathize with what he’s talking about, but the lyrics are telling: his feelings are dated, and he has a hard time investing real emotion in his music unless his words took place a long time ago.
He’s a married man with a daughter, and now he’s just having silly, unsupervised fun, as evidenced by every other song on Raditude. They’re all playful and some will likely get you moving your head up and down. I have fond memories listening to other songs off Raditude. “Put Me Back Together”, “Tripping Down The Freeway”, and “Let It All Hang Out” are all so ridiculously catchy that I found it hard to not play them on repeat while I drove to and from work when this album came out. No one else was in the car when I did, so no harm no foul, right? On “Can’t Stop Partying”, Rivers invites Lil Wayne to rap about, oh, you know, partying; something about mixing alcohol with pharmacuetical drugs, and wait, did you hear that? Yep, an F-word. On a Weezer album.
With Raditude, Rivers just didn’t give a fuck. It’s funny, too, because most Weezer fans I’ve met despise Make Believe far more than they do Raditude, and Make Believe was an album Rivers actully did give a fuck about. Raditude is all over the place, from power-pop to rap to the just plain bad (see: “Love Is the Answer”).
Rivers Cuomo’s intentions have always been hard to pinpoint. He certainly doesn’t make reactionary music; if he did, we would’ve had a Blue Album Part 2 as soon as everyone with a keyboard and something to say beat the living shit out of Make Believe. Rivers’ unpredictability has become almost predictable; he goes from obsessively crafting an album as if trying to please everyone on the planet, to making an album where you’d swear he was just fucking around as if he had nothing better to do. Make Believe is the former, and that’s up next.