The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 3/14): Pinkerton


Released: September 24, 1996

Recorded: September 1995, January–June 1996 at Sound City, Los Angeles; Fort Apache Studios, Boston; Hollywood Sound Recorders, Los Angeles; Rumbo Recorders, Canoga Park; Electric Lady Studios, New York City.

Length: 34:36

Produced by Weezer


Let the fun begin. Wildy loose guitars, some of the most personal lyrics I’ve ever heard, and a band that is playing together like a motherfucker, Tired of Sex is our introduction to the album. One of the all time “get ready for this” album openers.

Songwriting: A pretty basic song, what shines here are the lyrics. They’re so bizarre and personal. They really set the tone for the album

Arrangement: Ripping guitars lead the charge here, but let’s not overlook Patrick Wilson’s drumming. He’s bashing those drums and driving this song ahead.

Production: Get ready for an album full of this….dirty, loud, and jarring. It hits you hard but here’s the thing…you love it after a few listens.

Performance: One of the best rock bands of the 90’s firing on all cylinders.



Continuing in the vein of Tired of Sex, our second song is a simple rocker with lyrics that continue to communicate “the hurt” that the songwriter is going through.

  • Songwriting: Nothing special here, but it still works and it still works well. The bridge is a great part to break up the song.
  • Arrangement: Once again, pretty simple. Four guys rocking out.
  • Production: In my opinion, this song has the dirtiest guitars on the album. They’re a bit more jarring and take away a little bit from the song.
  • Performance: Like Tired of Sex, once again we have an amazing rock band.
  • SCORE: 9


Welcome back to Earth, sort of. This song begins a two song cycle that gives the listener songs that, if done slightly differently, could find a home on The Blue Album.

  • Songwriting: A beautiful chord change really excels the bridge, and the lyrics paint quite a telling picture of the person Rivers is singing about.
  • Arrangement: From the feedback of the intro to the neat guitar riffs of the second verse, this is some standout Pinkerton arragement.
  • Production: There are loud guitars and there are moments where everything breathes. A great balance.
  • Performance: I feel different members really giving their all into making this song what it is. A great collaboration on performance.
  • SCORE: 10


The rocker to end all rockers on the album. A short burst of personal, quirky rock. This one comes at a perfect time as the fourth track on the album. It nicely ties up the first bit of the album and prepares the listener for the second half.

  • Songwriting: Some of the chord changes in this song are slightly unexpected and that’s a good thing. Rivers could have gone basic and simple here with this one, but instead is throwing curve balls in a standard rock song.
  • Arrangement: Nothing special here but some fine little additions like the three part stomp before the final chorus “this happened to me twice before” add nice little bits of flavor in here and there.
  • Production: Raw Pinkerton power. That is all.
  • Performance: A rock band executing a rock song very well.
  • SCORE: 10


The gem. The middle of the album. The moment where you, the listener, realize that Weezer isn’t just all fun in the sun quirky pop rock songs. This is where Rivers takes it to another level.

  • Songwriting: Absolute perfection. A pop song with elements of classic music and wearing a rock band outfit. The song has movements that carry the listener with them, and wow is it a great ride. If the entire “Goddamn, this business is really lame

    I gotta live on an island to find the juice, So you send me your love from all around the world, As if I could live on words and dreams and a million screams, Oh, how I need a hand in mine to feel” doesn’t make you feel something then you are dead inside.

  • Arrangement: You can’t get much better than this. The quiet introduction, the strummy and distorted guitars, Pat’s flawless drumming, and a breakdown bridge for the ages.
  • Production: Great backing vocals from the band, great ideas on how to structure the song.
  • Performance: There’s something special going on with this song and the band can feel that, thus they turn in one of their best performances ever.
  • SCORE: 10


The “it should’ve been a huge single” song from the album, The Good Life is triumphant in both its music and lyrics. A bright spot of hope given by the songwriter in an album that is otherwise full of slight downers, this one should have been the big song of 1996-1997.

  • Songwriting: We get more of the Across The Sea pop/rock/classical songwriting and that’s a good thing. This song has movements as well and they’re all great.
  • Arrangement: Floaty guitars in the solo and bridge, xylophone, and slide guitar bring this song to new levels. Nice little touches to expand the scope of the band.
  • Production: See arrangement…all of the nice little touches serve the song very well.
  • Performance: More excitement from the band. When the band gets into a song, YOU get into a song. This is what makes Pinkerton so very amazing.
  • SCORE: 10


The first single, the one that was destined to fail when everyone heard the first line “goddamn you half-Japanese girls”. But you know what? It failed, but we still got the song and the song is amazing.

  • Songwriting: Rivers goes back to something simple and effective and it works. The lyrics stand out as a great in depth almost steam of consciousness journal entry.
  • Arrangement: Great guitar riffs, off kilter bends and lead guitar lines, and bassist Matt Sharp at his most raw and fun with backing vocals..
  • Production: A weird song requires weird production and here we get exactly that. The band sounds like they are in a room together recording these vocals (and yes they are).
  • Performance: The backing vocals say it all. More fun from the band translates into a great performance. Give me more of this. The bridge is some of the neatest work the band has done.
  • SCORE: 10


“I’m dumb she’s a lesbian” is a great line for a chorus. The imagined romance lyrics of the verse going into the Rivers giving himself forty lashes in the chorus lyrics are a great juxtaposition. Another really wonderful tune on an amazing album.

  • Songwriting: Rivers taking some leaps in the chorus and bridge and definitely makes a statement with the lyrics
  • Arrangement: The return of the xylophone and the slide guitar. We welcome it back with open arms.
  • Production: A wonderful balance between the raw Pinkerton sound we have come to hear on the album and the pop rock classical style Rivers introduced us to earlier in the album.
  • Performance: I’ve said it seven times before and I will say it again…a great performance. Not the best on the album, but any band would kill for a performance like this at least once in their career.
  • SCORE: 9


Another absolute gem on the album. You know that pop rock classical style Rivers gave us an introduction to in Across The Sea? Here it is again and it is even better.

  • Songwriting: Rivers writing one of his most technical songs. The chords, lyrics, and melodies all weave together perfectly here. The songwriter takes a huge change and succeeds wildly.
  • Arrangement: Perfect. The transition from the second chorus into the solo and then into the bridge is nothing sort of genius. Loop that and let me hear it again and again.
  • Production: One more of the raw Pinkerton sound before we get the quiet album closer. And it couldn’t sound any better. Give me more of that feedback please.
  • Performance: Patrick Wilson on drums ladies and gentleman. Rivers may have wrote this entire album himself, but Patrick Wilson takes it to another level with his performances.
  • SCORE: 10


Goodbye, and thanks for listening. Rivers Cuomo on vocals and guitar with a touch of drumming from the great Karl Koch. You expected more loud, raw Pinkerton guitars and drums? Well you’re not going to get that. Instead, this one leaves you with a kind vibe in your head. Now put the album on repeat and enjoy it again….and again.

  • Songwriting: A simple song with a simple verse that flows directly into a simple chorus. The song almost feels like a prayer.
  • Arrangement: Simple and easy. The song calls for this and Rivers gives it to them.
  • Production: There’s not much here, but the addition of the slight drums in the second verse really
  • Performance: Pinkerton is raw, and nowhere is this more evident than when Rivers’ voice cracks on this song. Warts and all.
  • SCORE: 9


A defining album for an entire generation. Pinkerton may not make you feel great on the inside and heck, you may not even be able to listen to it more than once but I urge you to give it a shot. For me, music doesn’t get much better than this. When you combine great songwriting with great performances and wonderful arrangements in a pop rock setting, you have me hooked. There’s a reason why Weezer fans cannot get into the band’s post Pinkerton material…it’s because Pinkerton is such a masterpiece, and it’s really hard to follow up on perfection.

Once you’re done listening to it, track down all the b-sides and outtakes you can find. You will not be disappointed.



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