As one of the most popular groups to emerge in the post-grunge alternative rock aftermath, Weezer received equal amounts of criticism and praise for their hook-heavy guitar pop. Drawing from the heavy power pop of arena rockers like Cheap Trick and the angular guitar leads of the Pixies, Weezer leavened their melodies with doses of '70s metal gleaned from bands like Kiss. What truly set the band apart, though, was their geekiness. None of the members of Weezer, especially leader Rivers Cuomo, were conventional rockers: they were kids who holed up in their garage to play along with their favorite records when they weren't studying or watching TV.
As a result, their music was infused with a quirky sense of humor and an endearing awkwardness that made songs from their debut Weezer (aka the blue album), like "Undone (The Sweater Song)," "Buddy Holly," and "Say It Ain't So" into big modern rock hits during the mid-'90s. All the singles were helped immeasurably by clever videos, which may have made the songs into hits, but they also made many critics believe that the band was a one-hit wonder. Perversely, Cuomo began to feel the same way, and decided that the band would not rely on any visual gimmicks for its second album, 1996's Pinkerton. Simultaneously, Cuomo took control of the band, making it into a vehicle for his songwriting. While the album didn't sell as well as their 1994 eponymous debut, it did earn stronger reviews than its predecessor and paved the way for Weezer's long career. Cuomo's assumption of Weezer's leadership wasn't entirely a surprise, since he had been the band's primary songwriter since its inception in 1993. Raised in Massachusetts, Cuomo moved to Los Angeles to attend college in the late '80s. During high school, he had played with a number of metal bands, but his interests broadened to include alternative and post-punk music upon his move out West. By 1993, he had fused such interests together and formed Weezer with bassist Matt Sharp and drummer Patrick Wilson. Over the course of the next year, the group played in the competitive Los Angeles club scene, eventually landing a deal with DGC during the post-Nirvana alternative signing boom. Three days before Weezer began recording a debut album with producer Ric Ocasek, they added guitarist Brian Bell to the mix. Upon completing the record, Weezer went on hiatus; Cuomo was studying at Harvard when their eponymous debut record came out. With the support of DGC and a striking, Spike Jonze-directed video, "Undone (The Sweater Song)" became a modern rock hit in the fall of 1994, but what made Weezer a crossover hit was "Buddy Holly." Jonze created an innovative video that spliced the group into old footage from the sitcom Happy Days and the single quickly became a hit, making the album a multi-platinum success as well.
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