A handful of classic rock legends wrote songs for the Monkees during their peak, including Carole King and Neil Diamond. After that, the Prefab Four didn’t collaborate with famous musicians much. Interestingly, a rock star who got his start in the 1990s worked with the Monkees on their two albums from the 2010s.
The Monkees had a surprisingly prolific 2010s
Ever since the Monkees broke up for the first time in 1970, they haven’t been very prolific. They released one album in the 1980s, one album in the 1990s, and no albums in the 2000s. Because of this, it was actually rather surprising that they released two albums in the 2010s. One of them was the 2016 album Good Times! which features a surprising — but fitting — guest star.
Good Times! includes the song “She Makes Me Laugh,” which was written by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer. Weezer is a pop-rock band that definitely shares some of the Monkees’ DNA. Though they’ve made songs in many genres, plenty of Weezer’s 2000s output has a lot of the same sunny energy as “I’m a Believer” and “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You.” Cuomo even admitted this is the case around the time the Monkees released Good Times!
Why the Prefab Four mattered to Rivers Cuomo of Weezer
“I’m super stoked to be writing a song for the Monkees,” Cuomo told Rolling Stone. “I’ve always identified with their musical aesthetic – the chord changes and melodies.” In addition, Cuomo noted he had a background similar to Prefab Four member Peter Tork.
“I’ve always felt a personal connection to the Monkees because I’m from the same small New England farm town as Peter Tork,” Cuomo said. “I used to hear that one of the Monkees went to my high school, which was an amazing fact to me because it was such a small school out in the middle of nowhere. It gave me the feeling that if an E.O. Smith kid made it to the top once, it can happen again. So let that be an inspiration to you E.O. Smith kids now, maybe 30 years into the future you’ll be writing a song for a new Weezer album.”
The second Monkees song Rivers Cuomo wrote
“She Makes Me Laugh” wasn’t the last time Cuomo wrote a song for the Monkees. The Prefab Four released their first Christmas album, Christmas Party, in 2018. It’s almost surprising the Monkees took decades to release a Christmas album since Christmas often represents the sort of good, clean fun for which the band is known.
According to Rolling Stones, Christmas Party included the Cuomo-penned track “What Would Santa Do” as well as songs written by Andy Partridge of XTC and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne. The Monkees were arguably more of a pop group than a rock band, but a surprisingly large number of rockers have worked with them over the years.