The Ultimate Album-Vs.-Album Cage Match: "Weezer" vs "Third Eye Blind"!


Hey, we realize arguing about albums is pointless and doesn't solve a damn thing, BUT it does take our minds off the work that at least one of us should be doing, which is good enough for us! So, without further ado, let the time-killing begin!

Today's cage match involves two self-titled debut albums that each stand as both the creative and commercial high points for their respective bands. Weezer, released in 1994, has sold 4 million copies in the U.S. while Third Eye Blind, issued in 1997, has shifted a cool 6 million units.

Being that both bands were new, neither album had the benefit of any sort of name recognition to help it find an audience right out of the gate. DGC Records' decision to issue "Undone - The Sweater Song" as first single was admittedly an odd one, to my ears anyway.

It wasn't enough that the cover of the album sought to imitate the nerdy-DIY aesthetic of the Feelies' Crazy Rhythms, but now the first single was mining that same off-kilter, angst-riddled musical terrain.

If "Undone - The Sweater Song" had failed, who's to say that we'd have been treated to a second single at all? After all, if the major labels have an aversion to anything, it is the taking of unnecessary chances. So we might have never known that the rest of Weezer's self-titled debut - which we all know, love, and reverentially refer to as "The Blue Album" - was actually a masterfully-produced straight-up hard rock tour de force.

By comparison, Third Eye Blind's label, Elektra Records, issued "Semi-Charmed Life" as the first single two months prior to the album's release. Anyone with ears knew on first-listen that the track was destined to be a smash hit, which it was, but also that such songs were career kryptonite for any band that dared release them because, in most cases, such bands rarely have any other songs capable of building upon such immediate success.

In that respect, Third Eye Blind could have wound up just another Len ("Steal My Sunshine") or Dishwalla ("Counting Blue Cars"), but when second single "Graduate" hit the airwaves and the DJ told us "That's the new one from Third Eye Blind", a lot of us had to revise our opinion of the band.

This was no longer a mere one-hit wonder.

In fact, for the next sixteen months (!), a constant flurry of radio hits ("How's It Gonna Be", "Jumper", and "Losing A Whole Year") ensured that anyone flipping to an alternative or Top 40 station anywhere in the country was bound to hear at least one 3EB tune within the first few minutes.

By comparison, Weezer's second single "Buddy Holly" created much the same seismic buzz as "Semi Charmed Life" and, while the song itself was worthy of its own attention, it was the humorously reverent video by Spike Jonze, which used of footage from the TV show "Happy Days" to give the impression that Weezer was rocking the stage at Arnold's Drive-In, that ultimately introduced Weezer to the mainstream.

That one video, more than any ten songs on their album, had succeeded in not just introducing, but branding the band to a new generation of rock fans who, by and large, have want little more from the band than to relive the awesomeness of "The Blue Album".

This was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by the initial response to the band's follow-up album Pinkerton, which went out of its way to distance itself from "The Blue Album". Where there had once been lyrical nuance and genius songcraft now existed only pity and distortion.

Lovers of "The Blue Album" were not amused.

The contrarians of the alt. rock community will attempt to sell you on the idea that Pinkerton was, in fact, not a flop at all, but Weezer's greatest masterpiece and the template upon which an entire musical genre (emo) was established.

They could not be more wrong.

Despite Rivers Cuomo's contentions in the press that Pinkerton was a more "honest" portrait of the band than "The Blue Album" had been, nothing disproves this more than the simple fact that Weezer have spent the remainder of their career trying to recapture the magic of "The Blue Album" rather than the feedback-drenched genius of Pinkerton.

3EB's Stephan Jenkins, meanwhile, had the good sense to not "fuck with the formula", ensuring that the band's Blue album (wait, what?) was just as potent as their multi-hit debut.

If anything, the one factor that would ultimately prevent Blue from matching the success of Third Eye Blind was the listener's fatigue that began to set in around the time of the release of the second album's second single, "Never Let You Down", a sure-fire #1 smash (in Canada, anyway) that only got as far as #14 in the States.

So, enough tap-dancing, between Weezer and Third Eye Blind, which album emerges victorious?

Winner: Third Eye Blind

"Wait, how can that be? Stephan Jenkins is such a douche!"

True, the moment Jenkins chose to emulate Freddie Mercury by preening about the stage with the top-half of a mic stand while proceeding to sing consistently off-key, he entered the Rock Douche Hall of Fame, but that does not do a damn thing to lessen the potency of literally every song on Third Eye Blind.

Weezer, while an admirable album produced by one of our all-time favorite rock heroes (Ric Ocasek of the Cars), suffers from mining the same territory repeatedly whereas 3EB covers a lot more ground stylistically and does so with verve and ease.

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