What is Really Going On in Weezer’s USA Anthem?

Is it a patriotic celebration or a satirical riff on a calamitous election year?

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In June, Weezer released a new single as part of NASA's celebration of its Juno mission to Jupiter. The mission to send a spacecraft deep into the planet's atmosphere to take samples and collect information about its origin was a huge success. Now Weezer has released their music video for the single, starring Patton Oswalt as a fanatically patriotic American partying alone in the Oval Office and lip-synching the tune.

"I Love the USA" is a classic demonstration of the band's skill at writing singable, three-minute rock songs. It's tinged with a heavily pop/hip hop synth line but make no mistake: it's a Weezer rock anthem with a hook as catchy as ever.

But what's really going on in the song? Is it actually just a patriotic romp in the White House? A celebration of NASA engineering and intersolar dreaming? Or is it a tongue-in-cheek reaction to today's political sides—a satire like Bruce's "Born in the USA?"

"Ain't that bad a place," sings Rivers Cuomo, "I was born that way." His character: a romantic, hopeful youth with a job, a habit of biting his/her fingernails, a coffee addiction, and sky-high dreams. But most of all, it's a person with huge patriotic pride in the USA, and a typical, uncensored mouth to scream it with.

"F*ck yeah, this place is great!" he sings with flag-waving irreverence—something you'd hear tailgating or at certain political rallies in recent months. But for Rivers Cuomo, Harvard grad, writer of witty songs like "Thank God for Girls" and "Undone – The Sweater Song," it's probably not that simple.

The line, "Land of the free, I'm on my way," has hope for that ever-elusive (and constantly [disproven]) "American Dream." But "Home of the Brave, dog on a leash"—what about that? That's not fun. That's not proud. That's passivity, surrender. And "God save the king"—a US monarchy is a pretty grim image of failure.

With such a triumphant hook, the end sounds particularly eerie. Ride the current or get swept away, it seems to say. It's not all red, white and blue balloons in this song. That hook is almost desperate insistence. And for that, it's a more honest anthem for the modern USA.

For more, check out the song's Genius page, where Rivers Cuomo annotated the lyrics with mysterious lines of poetry (or possible song lyrics?) and strange, rambling rants.

Get the song on iTunes or Apple Music, or stream it on Spotify.

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