Growing up, I never had a lot in common with my dad. That’s not to say that we didn’t love each other or have a ton of great memories together; it’s just that we’re very different people. He always hated school and couldn’t wait to graduate, whereas I’m twenty-four and still going to college. He loves sports; I can never get myself to stay interested in a game for more than a few minutes. He’s a great handiman; I can barely work a screwdriver. But growing up there was one thing we had in common; our favorite band.
When I was about ten years old, my family got a new desktop. We placed this in my bedroom, which started doubling as the computer room. My dad immediately hung a poster over the computer, and I would spend the next year constantly staring at while using AIM and going on Nickelodeon.com.
Completely appropriate for the family computer room, Dad.
After a while I began to wonder what this band was and if they were responsible for the songs my dad was always singing incredibly loudly in the shower. I looked them up and decided to listen to the one cassette of theirs that my dad had, a copy of Enema of the State.
I quickly fell in love with Blink just as hard as my dad. I remember whenever we hung out in the garage we’d have that cassette blaring over and over. I grew up with this band; I can’t even begin to list the reasons it’s so important to me. I would have their music on the background during my high school Xbox Live nights with friends, use it as motivation to write, play it to make doing dishes or homework a little less boring, even listen to it in the library with my girlfriend Louise when we first started going out.
I think one of the reasons I love Blink-182 so very much is because of their smooth transition from immature punk rock to deeper, more thoughtful music. I felt like I was growing up at the exact same time that this band was. Each new album was a little more mature than their last, just like I was getting older and wiser when I picked up their new CD. Plus, and I think this is true for any creative medium, deep heartfelt emotions mean more when they’re flanked by joy and levity. Because Blink started out so carefree and youthful, when they released a sadder song it really hit hard.
So that’s why I love Blink-182. I’ve been listening to a lot of their music again lately, so I thought it was time I shared my appreciation for this band as well as 15 of my favorite songs from them. I originally wanted to do 10, but it was too hard to cut out some amazing tracks from this list. For you, Blink, I’ll spend an extra hour writing about five more songs. You deserve it.
#15 – “Going Away to College” from Enema of the State
“This world’s an ugly place, but you’re so beautiful to me.”
This isn’t one of Blink’s most classic songs, but man is it a beautiful piece. This comes from Enema of the State, Blink’s first huge commercial success. While most of this album consisted of youthful, upbeat, and anti-authoritarian songs, a couple tracks dabbled in some deeper emotions. This is one of them. I love how this song isn’t just about love, it’s about a guy saying he cares for a his girl but admitting he may not be the best for her. He loves her so much, but he just isn’t mature enough to treat her right. This is something that all high school and college guys can easily relate to. The instrumentals and Mark Hoppus’ voice waver perfectly between joy and sorrow; everything you hear in this song perfectly capture the lyrics’ spirit. It all comes together to be one of Blink’s best.
#14 – “Online Songs” from Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
“And if we could have another day, I’ve got so much left to say, I’d tell you everything.”
In a lot of ways, this song is similar to “Going Away to College.” It’s another song about young love that skirts the line between joy and sorrow. What I really love about this song is how its awesomely fast and upbeat melody contrasts with the lyrics’ sorrow. Whereas “Going Away to College” focused on how good love was, this song focuses on how much it hurts when it falls apart. Mark just keeps harping on how much it hurts to see his ex-girlfriend moving on and how he wants to talk to her one more time, but the rapid pace of the song keeps you from getting a chance to truly consider his sorrow. It’s a complicated piece that’s an utter blast to listen to.
#13 – “Everytime I Look for You” from Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
“Too blind to see tomorrow, too broke to beg or borrow.”
To me, this isn’t a complicated song at all. There’s no need to analyze the lyrics and it doesn’t really speak to me. I simply love it because it gets my blood pumping. Everything about this song just flows so fast and sounds so good. I love the way Tom Delange seems to battle Mark to let his voice be heard and Travis Barker’s insanely crazy drums going in the background. But what always brings a huge smile to my face is the final fifty seconds. As Mark sings the last verse, Travis’ drums and Tom’s guitar seem to battle with each other. But when Mark switches to the chorus one last time, his voice ramps up. The guitar all but cuts out as the drums build up insanely. It’s a wonderfully fun sequence that makes the song.
# 12 – “Untitled” from Dude Ranch”
“When I needed you most, when I needed a friend. You let me down now like I let you down then.”
I never really listed to this song growing up. I certainly heard it a few times, but when I listened to Dude Ranch I usually just put the first 3 songs (Pathetic, Voyeur, & Dammit) on repeat. But last week I heard this song in passing and got it stuck in my head. I’m definitely glad that happened, because I’ve come to love this piece. The beginning starts off slow, with some leisurely drums and Tom singing in a somewhat stilted manner. But soon the instrumental and singing is kicked up a few notches in Blink’s classic fast-paced style. Yet what I like most about this song is how odd the lyrics are. Most of Blink’s songs about love are written from the guy’s point of view. Yet this one seems to be written from the woman’s perspective, seeing as how it’s about being treated poorly by an undependable lover. (It’s either from the woman’s point of view, or one of the band members had a much more mature relationship than their other songs indicate.) Either way it’s a unique and fun piece from Blink.
# 11 – “Always” from Blink-182
“I’ve been here before a few times, and I’m quite aware we’re dying.”
Tom Delonge nails this song. It reminds me of Joshua Radin’s “Closer,” which I’ve written about before. Both are incredibly beautiful pieces about the singer realizing their relationship is dying. Tom just sounds so painfully sad that his relationship is in trouble, yet he seems committed to working it out. I love the way he keeps repeating, “Come on let me hold you, touch you, feel you, always.” Like I said earlier, I love whenever any form of art mixes emotions. It just makes things seem so much more real and satisfying; rarely does anything in life merit only a single sentiment. Like in this song, the real world often mixes pain and hope. Combine all of these facets with the awesome drumstick tapping in the opening and the unique electronic melody at the end and you have a clear classic.
#10 – “I Miss You” from Blink-182
“Don’t waste your time on me. You’re already the voice inside my head.”
Many of the best Blink songs had Mark and Tom singing together. I think Tom is often considered the song’s lead vocalist, but they seem to have a nearly 50-50 split across their songs. They both do great apart, but their voices mesh so well. Mark’s steadiness perfectly accompanies Tom’s wavering cracking. Not only does I Miss You use both these singers to great effect, but it puts into play some cool elements that make this song seem almost un-Blink-like. From the mournful cello and piano to the occasional plinking of a triangle, this song is just so different from the rest of Blink’s. Luckily, sometimes different works.
#9 – “Stay Together for the Kids” from Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
“If this is what he wants, and it’s what she wants, then why is there so much pain?”
My parents got divorced when I was in 11th grade. Everything about the process was weird. How two people can decide after so long that they don’t want to be married. How everything you’d known since you were born would change. But for me, what was the strangest was how much it hurt. I would be leaving for college in just over a year anyway, I got to stay in the same town & high school, and I still saw both parents a lot. So if so much stayed the same, why did it hurt? This song captures everything about the divorce and how utterly painful it is for children. I love the blending of Mark’s calm singing with Tom’s furious screaming and declaring that “It’s not right.” Tom’s correct; it’s not right how so many children have to deal with this upheaval.
#8 – “Dammit” from Dude Ranch
“But everybody’s gone and I’ve been here for too long to face this on my own. Well I guess this is growing up.”
Man, those past few entries were depressing. It feels good to get back to Blink’s lighter songs. “Dammit” actually covers a fairly heavy topic; it’s all about growing up. Blink deals with this by telling a story about a guy getting dumped, being forced to see his girlfriend move on, and realizing that this pain is just a part of growing up. It sounds depressing, but the song itself is somewhat upbeat. It’s another great example of one of Blink’s greatest assets, their ability to turn a sorrowful topic into a happy song. After all, experiencing this pain is something we all have to go through. We’re not alone and it has to be dealt with, so why not make the best of it. It’s a great attitude that makes for a wonderful song.
# 7 – “Not Now” from Greatest Hits
“Please save me, this time I cannot run. And I’ll see you when this is done.”
Shit, we’re back to heavy stuff. This song, along with “Asthenia,” has been extremely useful to me as a writer. It’s a beautifully solemn piece about dying and letting the one you love know you’ll still watch over them. Right from the opening line of, “Come here, please hold my hand for now,” you know you better get on the bus for a feel trip. There’s so much to love about this piece: the melancholy instrumental, the longing & love in Tom’s voice, and the masterful lyrics. It all makes for the perfect song to put on while writing a sad scene about death or saying goodbye.
#6 – “Adam’s Song” from Enema of the State
“Please tell Mom this is not her fault.”
This is easily one of the most important songs in Blink-182’s history; it’s also one of their best. This was their first attempt at a completely serious song and it paid off big time. It was a huge success and paved the way for not only more deep songs on their next album, but an entire CD of serious stuff on their self-titled Blink-182 release. But this song doesn’t make the list because of it’s historical significance. It’s on here because it’s just a painfully touching work of art. This piece is deep and beautiful on every level. It’s all about someone on the verge of suicide struggling to find the will to survive. Mark does a magnificent job on this single; his voice is always wavering between slight hope and utter dismay.
I have two favorite parts of this song. The first is the opening line, “I never thought I’d die alone.” Considering that every other song Blink had ever done was at least partially upbeat, this was a huge shock to hear. But my absolute favorite moment is the middle verse. The opening verse and chorus gave you a real sense of despair, and this verse just keeps painfully piling it on. Mark despairs that he’ll be unknown six months after he’s gone, that he wants to give all his things to all his friends, and that his room will be boarded up and closed off. Then, just when you think it can’t get any darker, the mood lightens as he wistfully says, “Remember the time I spilled the cup of apple juice in the hall?” You think that maybe things are going to ease up a bit, but there’s no reprieve here. Mark immediately follows this with one of the most soul-crushing lines I’ve ever heard. “Please tell mom this is not her fault.” It’s one of the best verses from any song I’ve ever heard and just means so much to me.
#5 – “What’s My Age Again?” from Enema of the State
“No one should takes themselves so seriously. With many years ahead to fall in line, why would you wish that on me?”
Along with “All the Small Things,” this song was one of Blink’s first major hits. I never loved “All the Small Things” as much as most people. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great listen, but I don’t love it nearly as much as many of Blink’s other pieces. But “What’s My Age Again” is just beautiful. It’s one of Blink’s shortest songs, clocking in at less than two and a half minutes. That means it quickly gets its point across and leaves before wearing out its welcome. Not only does the whole band give a real auditory treat, but I love the message behind this song. It’s all about not wanting to grow up too fast, about enjoying being young. As a twenty-four year-old who’s still struggling to feel like an adult half the time, this song really speaks to me. I’ll always love Blink for letting me know it’s okay to want to push off being a full-fledged adult for just a little bit longer.
#4 – “The Rock Show” from Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
“Seventeen without a purpose or direction. We don’t owe anyone a fucking explanation!”
My girlfriend always jokes that depression is my favorite emotion. It’s not that I want to be miserable; it’s just that my writing is often bittersweet and thus I really like to listen to sad songs to get in the right mood. But you know what, Louise? Some of my favorite songs are about fucking the world’s expectations and having the time of your life. So there, honey. That’s why I love “The Rock Show.” It’s all about being young, not caring what other people expect of you, and just having fun. I will always love this song and put it on when I need to remember what it was like to be a teenager with no real responsibilities or if I need to smile like a maniac. This song has a way of doing that to you.
#3 – “Asthenia” from Blink-182
“This time where are you Houston? Is somebody out there? Will somebody listen?”
This song helped me write so much of The Final Battle, what for a very long time was my longest piece of Jimmy Neutron fanfiction and largest story ever. Considering that “Asthenia” is all about a lonely astronaut wanting to return to Earth, it perfectly suited my story about kids traveling through space to save their parents and wondering if they were up to the task. That story has always meant so much to me, which means this song does as well. I love everything about the piece, from the opening finger snaps to the way Tom’s voice sounds eerily distant and a little alien. Combined with the furious drums and melancholy guitar, this song is one of Blink’s best.
#2 – “Feeling This” from Blink-182
“I’m not in the scene, I think I’m falling asleep. But then all that it means is I’ll always be dreaming of you.”
This is the absolute best way to start Blink’s self-titled album. It showcases the band’s new found maturity while being the most energizing song Blink’s ever done. As Travis just does not let up hammering insanely on the drums, Mark and Tom alternate between singing of lust and romance. The first two verses and chorus get your blood pounding, but it’s the bridge and climax which just take this song to a whole other level.
With the drums and cymbals steadily beating in the background, Mark seamlessly goes on a long-winded tirade about how his whole world changed when he saw this girl. It all ends with the quote above, and I always rewind and listen to the way he nails the final word, “you” about a dozen times before moving on. Then he and Tom just start singing over each other in what is their most beautiful collaboration ever. Lust and romance compete and combine to showcase every aspect of love’s beauty. This song is simply a masterpiece.
#1 “First Date” from Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
“Let’s go, don’t wait, this night’s almost over. Honest, let’s make this night last forever.”
For all I’ve said about how deep many of Blink’s songs are, for all my discussion on how interesting I find their steady maturation, this band will always be known for being hilarious and singing about how much fun being a kid is. No song highlights this more than “First Date.” From start to finish it’s just a non-stop joy ride, a song that is impossible not to nod along with and smile to. It’s all about how great young love feels and how you never ever want it to end. It sums up the best that Blink was and how they were there for me and millions of others when we were awkwardly growing up. For those reasons “First Date” is my all time favorite Blink-182 single.
Thanks for the memories, guys. They’ll last forever.