In the 2000 underground hit, High Fidelity, Jack Black’s snarky music clerk character asks an important question, “Top five musical crimes perpetuated by Stevie Wonder in the '80s and '90s. Go. Sub-question: is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day sins, is it better to burn out or fade away?” The question cuts right to the heart of this post and for one longtime Weezer fan that, yes, has a tattoo to back it up, the question is quite puzzling.
This week James Burns made internet waves when he used The Point (dot com), a social network site that permits anyone to start a campaign to raise money for any given number of actions, to start a campaign to raise $10M to offer Weezer in the hopes of breaking them up. The playful campaign started as a joke, but since information travels at the speed of light, it has gained some serious traction. While the campaign and the attention it received has been a bit tongue-in-cheek, it raises an interesting point.
After a number of albums that can’t hold a candle to their first two records, should a band like Weezer hang up their instruments and quietly walk off into the sunset? There is no denying the greatness of Weezer aka The Blue Album and Pinkerton, and this blogger can even forgive The Green Album as it was a decent way to ease back into mainstream, but albums like Make Believe, The Red Album and Raditude had me considering a donation to Burns flippant campaign. These recent recorded efforts coupled with a live show that has Rivers Cuomo passing the lead vocalist duos around the band like a bad karaoke party have pushed me to price out a tattoo removal.
So to answer Jack Black’s question, no it’s not unfair to criticize formerly great artists for their latter day sins. Someone has to hold them accountable even if our love for their first records is unshakeable. Fortunately Weezer has answered the call of the fans and will showcase their classic albums on the Memories tour later this year. Their latest record Hurly (Epitaph) also has a few bright spots that harkens back to the glory days. Maybe this campaign to break them up will be the final splint that stops the bleeding of a formerly promising career.