Greatest Un-Hits: Ben Kweller, “Wasted & Ready” (2002)

Written by Greatest Un-Hits, Music

A look at songs that aren’t necessarily good or bad, merely ones that, because of the climate of the music world during their release, somehow, someway, were not the massive hit songs they should logically have been.

In 2002, power pop was enjoying a moment of popularity not seen since about 1980, when the Knack and Cheap Trick both scored massive hits with not-quite-punk, not quite-New Wave hits “My Sharona” and “Surrender,” respectively. This time, the forebears were Weezer (with back-to-back top-10 albums after a five-year hiatus) and Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” Also released that year: Sha Sha, the first solo album by Ben Kweller, just 21-years-old and formerly of the extremely brief ’90s teen sensations Radish, who originated many of the songs on this record. Among those: the killer leadoff single “Wasted & Ready.”

Ben Kweller – Wasted & Ready

Of course, this coincided with another trend in alternative rock: dudes who look like biker bar bartenders singing sad songs about their distant dads (Staind) and dudes who look like Eastern European porn stars singing snide and sexist songs about their ex-girlfriends (Puddle of Mudd, Nickelback, etc.). Only one of these sub-genres could eventually win out the war for radio dominance, but in 2002, it really looked as if catchy, hook-driven rock could be the hot new thing.

In a way, “Wasted & Ready” straddled the camps. Granted, it’s a power pop song with a sing-along chorus performed by a breezily confident, warm-voiced youngster, but it’s also about wanting to get drunk (“wasted”) and bone (“ready”), which plays more to the other side. Thus, this record had no reason not to be a hit, and should have forever been a karaoke standard for both wild packs of drunk college girls and fiddling packs of shy hipsters doing karaoke semi-ironically. Instead, it squeaked onto only the Modern Rock Tracks chart, peaking at #29 on a chart that only goes to 40 spots.