Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
Reimagined Blink-182 Discography In Seven Varied Albums & 2 EPs, 1-3: Enema Of The State, The Box Car Racer EP, and All Grown Up And No Place To Go
Blink-182 hit it big on MTV during the summer of Boy Bands, 1999. It was a relief for me. I do greatly enjoy non-rock pop music, and I've grown to appreciate a few of the boy band songs that came out during that summer but it so saturated my music sources that I couldn't turn on a radio or TV without hearing about how rock and roll was dying. Which I've heard every year since. Rap is killing rock. R&B is killing rock. Reggaeton is killing rock. Sea shanties are killing rock. It's tiresome. While rock is probably my favorite genre, I would hate it if it was as omnipresent as boy bands were in 1999. Or if it was all one genre instead of a variety of subgenres lumped together. You know, like rap is a variety of subgenres lumped together and R&B is a a variety of subgenres lumped together (but not like Reggaeton or sea shanties, Reggaeton and sea shanties are subgenres).
Because I had a roommate/parastic pseudo-boyfriend who found boy band videos arousing, I was grateful for any break in the melodramatic harmonizing. "All The Small Things" was the break I needed, and "What's My Age Again" was the perfect accompaniment to Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy" and Len's "Steal My Sunshine". It was a Sugar Ray/Smashmouth style, sun-drenched pop song about how growing up was tough. Written and performed by people in their twenties. Like I was.
Since then, the band has evolved into something less frat rocky, and put out a bunch of side projects that sound like completely different bands but with the same nasally vocalist.
I didn't really chart their trajectory mush as it happened. I moved onto other bands. But I heard their most recent single and thought "I wonder what they did inbetween." And then remembered how many Angels & Airwaves songs I heard on the radio in the early 2000s. I thought their musical output deserved a deep dive and a discography buuuuuuuut I didn't want to do six posts about Blink-182, so here is one post with three albums worth of material. Part two is in the works.
I. Enema Of The State
The 1990s Blink-182 were crass frat boys making dick and fart jokes, asking women in their audiences to show them their breasts, and other immature things you can imagine a trio of skate pop punk wannabes with puka necklaces doing if they got famous in the late 90s. I don't want to celebrate that but I can't deny that's who they were. This first album culls the tracks I enjoyed from their 90s output, and interweaves them with some of their live show banter from the The Mark, Tom, And Travis Show live album. It's crude (though I did edit out the boob requests and the times when the band was pointing out people in trouble to security members) and not actually very funny but it's who the band was. Well, except Travis Barker who didn't participate outside of the occasional rimshot.
1. Time is a track off their demo album, Flyswatter. It starts off with acoustic strumming but when the drums hit it becomes surf punk. They do some very poppy background vocals that aren't going to show up anywhere else in the discography. It's a hard, fast, and fun song about punctuality.
2. & 3. The band's first hit, which I missed when it came out, even though it must have been playing on several of the stations I listened to, is Dammit. This is a typical 90s juvenile song about the end of a relationship and how it means they're growing up. This theme continues on Untitled. Don't worry, though, they're not growing up for a while.
4. Degenerate is stupid, poppy punk with juvenile lyrics about being badass. Musically, it's upbeat fun, lyrically it's homophobic misogynist trash but it only advocates violence against the protagonist, who is the homophobic, misogynist trash in question, so...swings and roundabouts?
5. A less problematic, but not entirely unproblematic, version of that song is Anthem. A song about wishing you were the ancient age of 21, you know, so you can buy alcohol. It's also about being a time bomb because living with your parents is Just Like Slavery. It's an entirely realistic teenage rebellion song from the 90s.
6. While all their songs from this era are pretty juvenile, some are surprisingly progressive for their era. Don't Leave Me is a breakup song where the girl who dumps him isn't villainized or pined over. She outgrows him (probably a short journey) and moves on. And while he's sad about it, he is also going to move on and be okay.
7. The second of the three megahits from this era, What's My Age Again is a very silly look at being a shitty twenty-something.
8. & 9. Another quasi-mature breakup song, Point Of View, tells a similar story to "Don't Love Me" but harder and faster. It's followed by Man Overboard, dedicated to Scott Raynor who got kicked out of the band during their first massive tour, and replaced by Travis Barker, who's been the drummer ever since. There's also a bunch of fun Aquabat references, as that was the band Barker was poached from.
10. & 11. & 12. A medley of stupid songs with penis references. Does My Breath Smell is generically lyriced dumbassery. All The Small Things is the third of the three megahits and a perfectly fun song about a supportive girlfriend. Country Song is dumb as shit and devolves into a brief cover of a song from South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut.
13. Josie is a distinct departure from the previous three songs. It's another catchy song about how the singer is kind a piece of shit but he has a supportive girlfriend whom he loves.
14. & 15. Another descent into juvenile humor. You can probably guess that from the title of Dick Lips that it's not going to be classy, But it's not about blowjobs or sexualizing anyone, it's another song about being a shitty dudebro who wants to escape his parents' tyranny. Dysentary Gary is another song about being shitty and wanting to protect girls from shittier guys. It's wildly dumb and problematic. Sort of a pedophile savior song with a catchier guitar hook than it deserves.
16. A nice contrast is the light humor of A New Hope, a love song to Prince Leia. It, shockingly, doesn't mention incest. I fix that by adding a minisong that does.
17. & 18. Fentoozler is a Who the fuck do you think you are rant about their immaturity act growing stale. Don't worry, though, we're Just About Done with your butt.
19. I'm Sorry about some of the lyric on this album, and I'm pretty sure the band is at this point, too. This song is yet another we've grown apart because at least one of us is maturing track. It's probably where I should have ended the album. But...
20. American Pie is a perfect place for a Blink-182 song, as it's also a 90s celebration of growing up that's filled with immature dick and fart jokes. Mutt showed up on the soundtrack. It's a song about a roommate who fucks a lot. I've been both the guy with the horny roommate, and I've been the horny roommate. I don't really miss my twenties that much, though.
II. The Box Car Racer EP
We got through twenty mostly immature songs in under an hour. This second album is just twenty minutes. It's a huge departure, musically and lyrically. But it's over before you know it.
1. All Systems Go is a generically lyriced anti-government song. Think: the weakest of Green Day lyrics with great drums and key/time signature changes.
2. & 3. & 4. The drums take over for a bit when we move to a song about jumping off a bulding. Elevator's first verse is from the point of view of the jumper, the second verse is from an observer. Tiny Voices is the screaming internal monologue of someone depressed and pessimistic about their future. Watch The World is a preview of the upcoming Angels & Airwaves album. It's musically melodramatic and different from everything that's come before it and, like the forementioned upcoming album, it's about watching the world burn.
5. & 6. Every Blink-182 album needs a love song. And I is this album's unrequited punk ballad. Cat Like Thief is the I'm shitty but I have a killer girlfriend track for this album, and it closes things off by chanting how he needs to not leave her. It features Rancid's Tim Armstrong on co-lead vocals!
III. All Grown Up And No Place To Go
1. We're back to the familiar drums and guitar riffs of Blink-182. There's a bit too much Jesus in this help me political complaint that supposedly signifies maturity. I guess compared to "What's My Age Again", Anthem Part Two is "mature" but it's really reminiscent of that thirty-year-old friend trying to sound deep by repeating the headline statements of his smarter friends as though they were his own opinions. Or, it's like listening to a four-year-old semi-parroting his parents' complaints abiout the economy. It's definitely Blink-182.
2. & 3. On the other hand, I Miss You really is a more mature version of the Blink-182 love ballad. Although the way Tom Delonge describes how you're already the voice inside my yed (sic) doesn't really gel with the message. But it's a good feed into Asthenia which is musically more mature but lyrically still caught in the early 20's whiney I-miss-you-so-much-but-can-only-write-generic-lyrics-rather-than-honor-your-specific-personality headspace. Like much of this era of Blink, I wish they had a better lyricist and gave Mark Hoppus more time as the lead vocalist.
4. At least the band acknowledges their aging in Give Me One Good Reason. Instead of complaining about how mom and dad don't understand them, they're complaining about how moms and dads don't understand their kids. It's still kind of a dopey song that doesn't quite say what it thinks it's saying.
5. & 6. Snapping, bass drum, and a buzzier than usual guitar riff are a promising start to Violence. Even the first vocal verse promises a completely different musical experience, then DeLonge launches nasal cavity first into the chorus. It's still a nice departure from their usual fare. The piano outro is also...unexpected. I've followed it up with The Fallen Interlude. It's nearly instrumental, apart from a repeated line near the end. It's a welcome branch off their musical tree.
7. & 8. & 9. DeLonge returns to the forefront with I'm Lost Without You, which is a more wistful and melodic version of their usual ballad until the second verse hits when it becomes a Blink-182 ballad. Obvious, true to its title, never tries to be anything other than adolescent anger at an ex. There's an almost The Strokes vibes to Everytime I Look For You before, it too becomes a kind of generic Blink song about a girl.
10. Robert Smith from the bloody The Cure shows up at the beginning of All Of This, and his inclusion really mellows DeLonge's vocals. It's a nice blend. It's no lyrical anomaly to the album but it does have enough of a different instrumentation to hook me.
11. First Date could very well have been from Enema Of The State. I guess it's more focused on the anxiety of trying to make a first impression than they were capable of on that album but it's optimism and 90s skate punk aesthetic seems nostalgic for this era of the band.
12. Stay Together For The Kids puts Hoppus back on the mic for the verses on this track about being children of divorce. It's a bit melodramatic, for having been written by guys in their early 30s, but it's an accurate reflection on a common source of teenage angst.
13. We close out with an absolute throwback to the immaturity of the first album, as I've included the band's interpretation of George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words routine, Family Reunion.