100 Days of Pop: Episode 18, How Weezer's Teal Album is Marketing Gold

In a Willy Wonka-esque just for fun move, Weezer drops a surprise cover album on the world, but as we are beginning to understand, things in the world of pop-marketing are almost ALWAYS more than they appear.  

Say it ain’t so, but on today’s Pop 100, grab your hash pipe and find your mental island in the sun as we dive down the rabbit hole, reverse engineering Weezer’s Teal Album launch and the 2 Pop-Marketing tropes that Weezer mashed together to bring this idea to life in the real world.

Remember Rule #1 in pop-marketing-  You aren’t the judge of the content, but only studying how the idea is getting attention in the popular culture or in this case how it was designed to attract attention and word of mouth.  There are a thousand places you can search to find critiques of the music- This isn’t one of them.

The teal album released online only on January 24 and consisting of 10 cover songs originating from of a wide range of artists and genres with hits like TLC “No Scrubs”, Black Sabbath “Paranoid” and Michale Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, and of course, Toto’s Africa.

To understand the Teal Album, we must first understand the Toto’s Africa cover that was a surprise hit last year for Weezer.  That cover started from a 14-year-old Weezer fan named Mary Klym who spent months on Twitter, creating a spamming campaign designed only to have Weezer cover, you guessed it, Africa, by Toto.

The band decided to make it a reality and it blew up.  They rode that wave through the entire summer, bringing on Toto’s keyboardist to play with them on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Toto then covered Weezer’s hit Hash Pipe at one of their concerts and a video was launched that had a cameo of Weird Al Yankovich and putting them on the Billboard charts for the first time in 10 years. As you may be catching, Pop-Marketing is in Weezer’s DNA

So you see, TEAL album isn’t a SURPRISE really at all but a smart cherry at the top of a mountain of pop-marketing mastery with the release of 10 more covers and releasing it as a digital album to tie a ribbon on the covers just in time for their March release of the BLACK album which is the actual new album that they’ve been working on for the past few years-  No covers 🙂

Let’s talk TROPES-  For those of you not familiar w/ the term, a trope is a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or an expression which has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or cliche’s in creative work.  Though really popular within entertainment, I believe that pop-marketers too have tropes. Commonly used actions that help us take apart and break down ideas in the marketing and pop culture world.

Weezer uses 2 for the Teal Album-  The first is the SURPRISE album drops and the 2nd is COVER SONGS.  Both of these are commonly used within the music or entertainment industry but the combination of the two along w/ the context and brand of Weezer creates the idea of the TEAL album.

From Radio, Eminem, Bowie, to Beyonce & Jay-Z,  the surprise album drop is for sure a modern trope that has been born from a sort of painful evolution of the music industry. Since It doesn’t matter how many albums you sell and billboard charts don’t mean squat, these drops have been a smart strategy utilized to keep an artist in the zeitgeist and specifically keeping them relevant on the Spotify lists and news cycle.  For Weezer, they did this masterfully, both putting an ending to the storyline of the Toto cover and to prime the market for their REAL album drop the Black Album coming a month away.

And cover songs have an extensive history in the music industry.  Songs jumping genres and cultures used to be a way to get music to spread in the 50s and in this modern environment, covers can express a lot of things, from finding new audiences, making statements or unexpected novel matchups. Weezer creating an album from these covers is not only novel and a TALK TRIGGER, but it’s also a nod and an extension of their story and recent relevance throughout 2018.

As we wrap things up, Weezer’s TEAL album isn’t as much of an album release as it was a smart marketing tactic to both take advantage of their current narrative and to grease the skids and act as an accelerator to their upcoming 2019 album.

A Pop-Marketing salute to Weezer and their awareness of their status in pop culture and their keen ability to wield it.

I’m Joe Cox, the Pop-Marketer and you can catch more of what’s going on in the world of Pop-Marketing at Pop-Marketer.com where you can signup for my newsletter the Weekly Zeitgeist.

Joe Cox