|EP by Weezer
|December 21, 2022
|Crush Music/Atlantic Records
“It is NOT our third Christmas EP!”
SZNZ: Winter is the final part of American rock band Weezer's 2022 musical project known simply as SZNZ. The EP also acts as Weezer's third Christmas special, as well as being a sequel to the 2016 White Album. It was released on December 21.
Live performance leak
After having their five night residency on Broadway cancelled, the band performed SZNZ: Winter to a crowd under their old alias "Sheep Fuckers" at a super secret show in which some people, despite being told not to, recorded audio of the show. This audio was released, or "leaked", onto the internet a full two months before the final part of SZNZ was set to be released.
Luckily, those that did record the show, did so with poor technology, making the leaked audio not sound as good as it would have had the studio versions been the ones that leaked.
A Weezer Christmas
After the Weezer Christmas EP released in 2000, and the 2008 EP Christmas With Weezer, SZNZ: Winter completes the trilogy of Christmas music albums recorded by the '90s alt-rock band — although, Rivers Cuomo continues to deny claims that SZNZ: Episode IV is a Christmas EP and that it does not contain any Christmas-themed songs at all. This has been debunked, however, considering that the former fourth track, now first, on the EP is titled "I Want a Dog" and follows the story of a young boy asking Santa for a dog as his Christmas present. When Santa doesn't give the young lad a dog, the boy tracks Santa back to the North Pole and proceeds to murder Santa in his sleep. The song ends with the boy, now a man, laying awake in his prison cell at night and how he wouldn't be there if Santa had just given him a dog for Christmas.
"I Want a Dog"
The single for the EP, in which Rivers sings about wanting a dog while being in prison, was released on December 9.
Change of lyrics
The original lyrics for the song, which were heard in the leaked performance, included a line about being inside of a prison. Cuomo stated that this was because he wrote the song in 2013, after watching Season 3 of AMC's The Walking Dead. However, since the song was to be released in 2022 in the SZNZ line-up, as well as The Walking Dead having finished its final and eleventh season, Rivers felt that the prison lyric was "outdated" and not "down with the kids", and the choice was made to remove it all together in the final, studio version of the song. Another change in the studio cut is the shortened epic guitar solo played by Cuomo, which was present in both the leaked bootleg, and the Kimmel performance — making this version not live up to the title of 'the most Weezer song to ever Weezer' by fans.
Promoted by A.I.
With Rivers' recent interest with AI, he had GPT-3 rewrite the song, as well as have it make the music video for the song. One of the changes it made to Cuomo's original, was the lyric 'and my own mind', which in context; makes perfect sense. However, the artificial intelligence changed it to 'oh my, oh my' — making no sense whatsoever. As punishment, Rivers fired it into a black hole. In response, the AI hacked into Rivers' Twitter account and tweeted the following:
|Rivers Cuomo @riverscuomo · Dec 9, 2022
|This song is pawsome, and it's ruffin' amazing.
Not wanting to be embarrassed that he was hacked by an AI that is only useful for making dog related puns, Cuomo claimed responsibility for the tweet; causing Elon Musk to shadowban Cuomo the following day.
Final appearence on Jimmy Kimmel
On December 15, Weezer played the song live for the second time on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Like with Autumn, it appears that after the first two concerts happened, the budget was so depleted that Rivers was unable to dress up. Despite this, he did wear clothes similar to that of Kurt Cobain during the MTV Unplugged show, further adding to the popular fan theory that the two might be the same person after all. Additionally, it is the only SZN show to not feature a surprise, animal fifth-Weezer — probably also because of the low budget after Rivers used it all on his elf and roman soldier costumes — but one crew member did manage to bring a handful of snow into the studio to fall down on the band as they performed. This may have been a reference to the Beatles music video for "Help!", but Rivers has declined all similarities down to "just being a coincidence" — which in itself was a coincidence since the bot Rivers got to run his Twitter account said the exact same thing a couple minutes earlier.
The reception to SZNZ: Winter was majorly positive — mainly because many were celebrating the fact that SZNZ was now over. Rolling Stone said that "it could have been the best thing ever, if it was all released together." On the other hand, Pitchfork gave the obligated low score, citing that the lack of catchy riffs in everybody's favourite Christmas carols was "lacklustre." Santa Claus even sent a letter to Cuomo, declining his request for a dog and to be put on a professional NBA team, due to his dissatisfaction with the Winter EP, despite mildly enjoying the previous three.
Like with the other three SZNZ EPs, Winter also contains an eighth bonus vinyl track. It remained unknown for the longest time, but was eventually revealed to be yet another cover of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". The final studio track listing has also changed, compared to the Goat Punishment show that got leaked. Instead of "Sheraton Commander" opening, it is now the single opening the EP. Despite many saying that the original opening track is better, Rivers responded by saying that "I Want a Dog" was always supposed to be the opener, and that the live performance track list is "non-canon... much like the Disney trilogy."
|"I Want to Cook a Dog"
|"I Am Big Pic Penta Meter"
|"Sharing is Caring Commander"
|"Dark Enough to Go Blind"
|"The Fish That Got Away"
|"The Shallow and Nightmare Filled Sleep"
|"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
- Rivers Cuomo – vocals, guitar
- Brian Bell – guitar, backing vocals
- Scott Shriner – bass, backing vocals, keyboard
- Pat Wilson – drums