Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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OMGWTFLOL: Sugar Ray – “Rivers” (1997)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 16, 2007

The sincerist form of flattery

I always felt like Mark McGrath (and Sugar Ray on the whole) was a lot smarter than they wanted to let on. Never mind that Mr. McGrath turned out to be pop culture-savvy enough to both host Entertainment Tonight and clean up like no other contestant, celebrity or otherwise, ever has on Rock and Roll Jeopardy (why the fuck is this not on YouTube yet???). There was always a certain intelligence, a total mastery of craft in display in their best pop singles, if not necessarily in their mediocre alt-metal days.

Still, this is pretty impressive. I heard “Rivers” about a decade ago when I bought the soundtrack to Scream 2 (I think I was a big fan of Kottonmouth Kings’ “Suburban Life“or something). The only thing I really remembered about the song that particularly struck me at the time was how dumb the chorus was–“When it goes away / I’ll dig a hole,” repeated four times. I’m still not quite sure what it means, but at least now I get the general conceit of the song: the title isn’t referring to the general body of water.

“Rivers” is probably the best Weezer pastiche I’ve ever heard, probably even including the general discography of Ozma. Everything about it just screams early-period Weezer–the light, vaguely falsetto’d harmonies on the verses, the volume increase into the chorus, McGrath’s forceful but not particularly angry or aggressive intonation, the production on the guitars…it’s some ingenious shit.

And I guess it sort of makes sense, given that in terms of production, songcraft and geography (and geography-influenced attitude) the two bands aren’t that disparate. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to think that this song was released in 1997, right after Pinkerton had flopped in almost all respects and still a few years before the Great Weezer Revival would claim them one of the most important bands of their generation. It’s ballsy for the band to release such an obvious homage to a band that at that point probably had very low stock with just about everyone.

Should think about a joint tour sometime. McG could executive produce.

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One Response to “OMGWTFLOL: Sugar Ray – “Rivers” (1997)”

  1. Garret said

    I didn’t even see this article until today. Amazing call, Bill. What a phenomenal song this is.

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