By Fraser McGovern (@FraserMcGovern)
In 2009, alternative rock outfit Weezer released their seventh album. It was called Raditude, and it was not good. The band had already started to shift in a more commercial direction with their recent (at the time) hits Beverly Hills and Pork & Beans, but this new album alienated fans with its over-egged production and flat, cheesy songwriting.
Now, after two great albums that harked back to the band’s heavier roots while still bringing new tricks to the table, Weezer releases a new track. The internet grumbles through gritted teeth that it sounds like a cut straight off Raditude. A great many music fans with ‘alternative’ tastes can enjoy pop for what it is: accessible, catchy music with more focus on surface than substance. Feels Like Summer is all surface and that’s okay.
This single is essentially a simple four-chord pop song. We begin with a sampled “na na na” hook reminiscent of Fall Out Boy’s Light Em Up, and then go into a verse that consists of simple, plinky piano chords and even simpler vocals from Rivers Cuomo underpinned by pounding electro bass. After a Calvin Harris EDM-style buildup, we come to a chorus that proclaims in falsetto that “Yeah it feels like summer”. Fair enough, it’s pop.
More to the point, it’s catchy pop. We all know that Cuomo is capable of writing great hooks when it comes down to it, and this chorus is certainly single-worthy. After a fun middle eight, we have a brief whistle interlude that’s reminiscent enough of Flo Rida’s 2012 hit Whistle for you to be a little bit sick in your mouth. It’s worth reminding you at this point that this song is by an actual band with proper real instruments. The meager total of two seconds of distorted power chords in the track sound like they were played by a robot.
The lyrics aren’t great, obviously. “I’m holding on and I don’t want to let you go”? That’s what could be called an ‘autopilot line’: songwriter Cuomo probably began to feel his fingers writing the words before he’d even thought them. You may have heard that exact string of words in three pop songs just today, but verses are the stage for Rivers’ trademark lyrical quirkiness. (“I’m spiritual, not religious / I’m a libra, if it matters”)
If feel-good, disposable radio songs aren’t your thing, Feels Like Summer is not for you. The solid production, infectious melodies and Cuomo’s unconventional lyrics push this track firmly into the ‘good’ category of commercial pop music, but not quite into ‘great’. This could become a mainstay in your summer jams playlist, but only if you let it envelop you in its warmth.
What most find so offensive about this song is not what it is, but rather what it isn’t. In the eyes of fans, time spent creating this song could have been spent on tracks more like those found on last year’s acclaimed self-titled LP. With Weezer, though, you have to take what you’re given. Or leave it.