fall out boy

Showing 15 posts tagged fall out boy

Track

Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued

Artist

Fall Out Boy

Album

From Under The Cork Tree

Fall Out Boy || Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of this Song so We Wouldn’t Get Sued

Hello again, One Week One Band-ers. I’m delighted to be back at the helm.

The name of this week’s band is Fall Out Boy. For the uninitiated, that’s a Simpsons reference. It’s a somewhat-famous anecdote that the band had no moniker for their first two shows, until they asked their audience what they should go by. “Fallout Boy,” someone shouted from the audience. It stuck. At least, until the band went on ‘permanent hiatus’ about two years ago.

I think this story is a good jumping-off point — a cipher — to understanding both why this band was so popular, and so polarizing. Those who are already predisposed to rolling their eyes at certain kinds of pop, or because the band has a huge following of DAMN TEENAGERS, are going to see the story of their name as yet another tiresome example of the group’s affected nonchalance. Angst is somehow way less authentic when it’s being expressed by moody dudes in eyeliner, instead of moody dudes wearing beards and gingham shirts.

For Fall Out Boy devotees, the story of their name-day is pretty much the opposite: It’s a testament to the time they spent slugging it out in Chicago’s underground indie scene, building a fan following and tremendous amount of goodwill through riotous live shows and a super-active online presence. It’s an overt reminder of just how much they owe to their fans.

This band is something special because they committed the unforgivable sin of being too self-aware of their fame, and of the sheer ridiculousness of their involvement in “the scene” (which, as we learned, can too often feel like a goddamned arms race).

It could have been enough for them to just make infectious pop-punk, but they wedded a real intelligence and sense of humor to their heart on sleeve confessions of self-doubt and self-loathing. It’s a feeling that’s perfectly summed up in the first few lines of the song I’ve posted above, the opener to their smash 2005 LP From Under the Cork Tree

Brothers and sisters, put this record down
Take my advice, ‘cause we are bad news
We will leave you high and dry
It’s not worth the hearing you’ll lose

They’re only liars, but they’re the best. They’re also mercilessly unforgiving of themselves, like in the video for “Thnks fr th Mmrs,” which sees them being directed (and mocked) by a group of chimpanzees. The implication being, naturally, that they are the musical equivalent of a million monkeys on typewriters.

But here’s the thing: Fall Out Boy is too smart for anyone to actually believe that, and it shows in their songs. A wry John Hughes reference? They’ve done it. A track loosely structured around David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross? Oh yeah. A videogame where you tour along with the band a la the Oregon Trail? That one too. 

They’re using very basic pop-punk chord progressions, and there hasn’t really been an original one of those in a decade or two, but that’s because melody almost always takes a backseat to lyrics in this kind of music — the whole point is to use killer hooks to give lines that much more weight. (Which, incidentally, is something that hip-hop fans should be able to appreciate. I like to think this is why Jay-Z and Lil Wayne were so eager to collab with them.)

And Fall Out Boy has some damn smart lyrics. Certainly, they were a polarizing band, and maybe for some legitimate reasons (Pete Wentz’s showboating tendencies, their predisposition to play the fashion plate). But just beneath that bubblegum surface is a whole lot of really, really great music.

Other topics for this discussion this week will include prescription drugs, Ashlee Simpson and the sext that changed everything.

Quick quiz: Name a predominantly male rock band in the last few years that has cracked the top 40 by way of their unabashed and straightforward pop sensibilities. It’s hard to do. Fall Out Boy was one such band — they operated at a very unique intersection of punk, rock and pop, which became particularly pronounced in the second half of their career.
Leaving aside the nitty gritty of gender politics for now, it’s fairly uncontroversial to say that pop music is generally thought of as female in its aesthetic, and rock music as male. Fall Out Boy was one of those rare bands that managed to keep a foot on each side of that line of scrimmage.
Rather than steal her words, I’ll leave it to the Village Voice's inimitable Maura Johnston to synthesize these thoughts, as she did in this excellent interview with NPR in 2009 on the overlooked music of the year. Give it a listen.


RAZ: It seems like, Maura - and I hate to crash your party here because you’re calling this one of your favorite albums of the decade - but these guys are sort of trying to be an alternative, indie version of a boy band.
JOHNSTON: No, I don’t think that at all. I don’t think that at all. I think they’re a really good rock band that’s sort of in a weird place for bands that are rock but that have pop sensibilities. I mean, if you look at the rock charts right now, Alice in Chains, you know, who are one of the…
RAZ: The Seattle grunge…
JOHNSTON: Seattle grunge bands, like, they’re still topping the modern rock chart, and a lot of bands operating in that idiom are still controlling the rock charts.
And, you know, it’s just a weird sort of glitch of the system right now, like women sing pop and men do rock. And for any man to sort of bridge that gap on radio right now is a tough haul.

High-res

Quick quiz: Name a predominantly male rock band in the last few years that has cracked the top 40 by way of their unabashed and straightforward pop sensibilities. It’s hard to do. Fall Out Boy was one such band — they operated at a very unique intersection of punk, rock and pop, which became particularly pronounced in the second half of their career.

Leaving aside the nitty gritty of gender politics for now, it’s fairly uncontroversial to say that pop music is generally thought of as female in its aesthetic, and rock music as male. Fall Out Boy was one of those rare bands that managed to keep a foot on each side of that line of scrimmage.

Rather than steal her words, I’ll leave it to the Village Voice's inimitable Maura Johnston to synthesize these thoughts, as she did in this excellent interview with NPR in 2009 on the overlooked music of the year. Give it a listen.

RAZ: It seems like, Maura - and I hate to crash your party here because you’re calling this one of your favorite albums of the decade - but these guys are sort of trying to be an alternative, indie version of a boy band.

JOHNSTON: No, I don’t think that at all. I don’t think that at all. I think they’re a really good rock band that’s sort of in a weird place for bands that are rock but that have pop sensibilities. I mean, if you look at the rock charts right now, Alice in Chains, you know, who are one of the…

RAZ: The Seattle grunge…

JOHNSTON: Seattle grunge bands, like, they’re still topping the modern rock chart, and a lot of bands operating in that idiom are still controlling the rock charts.

And, you know, it’s just a weird sort of glitch of the system right now, like women sing pop and men do rock. And for any man to sort of bridge that gap on radio right now is a tough haul.

Taylor Swift || Sugar We’re Going Down (Live Cover)

I think this video is a good, if indirect, real-world example of what I talked about in my previous post. 

Track

Sending Postcards From A Plane Crash (Wish You Were Here)

Artist

Fall Out Boy

Album

Take This To Your Grave

Fall Out Boy || Sending Postcards from a Plane Crash (Wish You Were Here)

Way, way back in 2002 (forever ago in blog years), I was a surly 16-year-old waiting to see some no-name band called Fall Out Boy take the stage at (the now-defunct) Cafe Metropolis in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The venue was a total hole, and I spent my time before the opener in a familiar way: Arms crossed, emotional porcupine, desperately fighting off social anxiety and the burning resentment of being surrounded by seemingly-well-adjusted people who were just out having a good time. You know, a normal weekday night.

Once Fall Out Boy started playing, I forgot about all that weak shit. There just aren’t words to adequately describe how well these guys can work a crowd. Bodies got moving. Pits were moshed. Sweat-slicked eyeliner and greasy black hair dye stained every t-shirt in sight.

And in between each song, Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump traded bon mots and showered everyone in attendance with praise, just for being at the show. “All of this, we do it for our fans” was a common refrain. “You make all this possible,” even moreso. And they made a point to stalk the merch table afterwards, autographing records and doing the aw-shucks thing with any fan who came up to shake their hands or give them a hug.

There’s a real sense of solidarity and togetherness in the pop-punk scene that I’ve yet to see replicated anywhere else. I think it’s especially hard not to form emotional attachments to these types of bands after seeing a spectacular live show, which makes “the scene” a particularly bewildering and alien place for those unfamiliar.

The song I posted today is from their debut studio LP, Take This to Your Grave. This is the early, gritty Fall Out Boy that often gets forgotten for the slickly polished group they became in the albums after. But a decade later, this album still hasn’t lost its sense of urgency, and the hooks will make you want to headbang in the most unlikely of places. (Right now in the newsroom, for instance.)

Take This to Your Grave dropped in 2003 and went certified Gold, but that success was no accident. Major financial backing from a deal with Island Records helped, but the group had already laid the groundwork for their super-fervent fanbase through their hands-on approach to their online messageboards, and unforgettable shows like the one I saw.

If there’s one important thing to keep in mind about Fall Out Boy, it’s this: However you feel about them, their commercial success wasn’t the result of a well-oiled A&R machine, or because their label threw a pile of money at them. They earned every bit of it.

Fall Out Boy || Beat It (Cover)

Homages to M.J. abound in this very, very well-produced video that aired on MTV a few years ago. (It even includes a cameo by Tony Hale, Arrested Development's Buster Bluth!) It's pretty entertaining how well Patrick Stump's vocals match Jackson's, and the melody lends itself perfectly to the major-chord progressions that are Fall Out Boy's home turf.

Shortly after the release of Fall Out Boy’s 2007 LP, Infinity on High, Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz conducted this interview with Popworld. It’s mostly fluff, right up until the 2:20 moment, where they’re asked what “emo” is, and why noone wants to be associated with that label. They both give pretty good answers, and Wentz finds a convincing way to work a Lil Wayne namecheck into the conversation.

"No one wants to be the label that they’re called."

Track

Hum Hallelujah

Artist

Fall Out Boy

Album

Infinity On High

Fall Out Boy || Hum Hallelujah

On 2007’s Infinity on High, Fall Out Boy completed their metamorphosis into a full-on blue-eyed soul group, and that’s not hyperbole. The album is an R&B and hip-hop LP in everything but name, which is why the first track is called ‘Thriller,’ and why Jay-Z graces it with some inspirational rambling about haters, and the defiance thereof.

This might have been an inevitable development after their previous album went double platinum, thrusting the band into public consciousness as the standard-bearer of all things pop-punk. (This is to say nothing of how damn high the stakes get when you take a huge cash advance from a major label.)

There probably wasn’t much internal debate whether they would soldier on in their quasi-gritty, punky milieu, when they could simply saw off the rougher edges of their sound, turbocharge the hooks, and be essentially stadium-ready from the moment the album dropped.

In the year leading up to Infinity on High, Pete Wentz was busy stealing the spotlight with his ever-accelerating car wreck of a life, which many cite as a ‘tipping point’ in the band’s transition from pop-punk notables to out-and-out superstars. But I think that aesthetic criticisms largely miss the point, or worse, distract from the where the actual change was taking place — in their music.

The overly-verbose track titles are all still a part of FOB’s arsenal on this LP, but that’s about where the similarities begin and end. “Hum Hallelujah,” the track I’ve posted today, is perhaps the best indicator on the whole album of how outre they were willing to get. The song proceeds apace in the first two verses with a paint-by-numbers punk melody and some spirited crooning from Stump. (Stump especially came into his own as a vocalist on Infinity on High — in previous albums, you sometimes caught a whiff of timidity in his singing, but there isn’t a single moment here where he isn’t going balls-out.)

The lyrics of this song have some of my favorite FOB witticisms, especially these lines:

My words are my faith, to hell with our good name.
A remix of your guts, your insides X-rayed
And one day we’ll get nostalgic for disaster
We’re a bull, your ears are just a china shop

And just when you think that you’ve got your head around things, the breakdown arrives: A plaintive and heady gospel-choir take on the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It may be one of the most-covered songs there is, but FOB effortlessly makes it their own.

With all of these stylistic and tonal changes, and their increased visibility on radio and TV, it was easy to fall into the trap of believing that the band had embarked on some solemn enterprise to become superstars, that they were gravely serious about all of the things they used to joke about: Money, fame, their detractors and all the bullshit that comes with it.

In reality, it was the opposite: Their lyrics were more irreverent and self-referential than ever, and their presentation became even more outsized to compensate. The whole enterprise of Infinity on High was a big carnival for the members of Fall Out Boy — a place where they could play around with their signature sound, dabble and experiment, and then make a dramatic exit from the scene where they first laid their roots.

Shortly after I began working for the (now-magazine-less) Paste, my managing editor Nick Marino posted a quickie listicle to the website, which would end up becoming one of the site’s most-commented articles. The topic? Fall Out Boy, natch. More specifically, it was hot on the heels of the release of their last studio album, Folie à Deux, and gave some excellent layman’s reasons why Fall Out Boy is such a great band.
Presented in full, “Six Reasons Why Fall Out Boy Does Not Suck as Much as You Think:”

One of the most unfairly maligned bands in all the land, Fall Out  Boy is despised for such sins as getting really popular and having a  glammy showboat playing bass. At least one reviewer pouted that the  band’s addictive new album, Folie a Deux, is too ambitious.
Oh, please. Does anyone say that about Radiohead or Animal Collective,  or any of the sanctified indie saints? Ambition is good. Ambition means  you’re trying. Ambition means you have ideas and want them to get a  public airing (which is pretty much the essence of the creative  impulse), so let’s all take a deep breath and stop slapping around a  band that’s smarter and more fun than a lot of people are willing to  admit.
Fall Out Boy deserves a break from the hateration for the following reasons: 
1) Folie a Deux is outstanding. It has 13 songs, 10 of which are keepers. Two of the  other three tracks (the late-album filler “W.A.M.S.” and “West Coast  Smoker”) have interesting moments. The only song I really hate is the  single, “I Don’t Care,” which says more about the state of the  rock-singles market than it does about the state of this album. Top to  bottom, it’s loaded with smart, hooky anthems. If you, the rock ‘n’ roll  fan, can’t get behind “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes,” “Closers” or  “20 Dollar Nose Bleed,” something is wrong.
2) They have great taste in collaborators. Would Lil Wayne and Elvis Costello have agreed to guest on Folie a Deux if the band was so awful?
3) They’re funny. They have a song called “Coffee’s for Closers,” a Glengarry Glen Ross reference that shouldn’t be lost on the sanctimonious pop culture  priests that worship David Mamet but think Pete Wentz is juvenile. Their  new album cover features a picture of a boy in a bear suit carrying an  actual bear on his back.
4) Bass-playing lyricist Wentz, whom we are supposed to hate because he’s in love with lip-syncher Ashlee Simpson, is a charismatic guy, which is not as cool as being a sulky shoegazing tortured genius. 
5) They’re fair to their fans. When Folie a Deux came out, they made it available as a $3.99 download on their MySpace page.  So much for major-label bands being slaves to their corporate masters.  It’s hard to think of Fall Out Boy as profiteering sellouts when they’re  selling their new album at a cut-rate price. (Yeah, they were probably  selling it so cheap because that’s what it’s worth! Good one!)
6)  They’re an increasingly rare breed—that is, a massively popular rock  band. Quick: Name three other American rock bands with members under 30  years old that can headline arenas. Can’t do it? Try naming two. How  about one?
High-res

Shortly after I began working for the (now-magazine-less) Paste, my managing editor Nick Marino posted a quickie listicle to the website, which would end up becoming one of the site’s most-commented articles. The topic? Fall Out Boy, natch. More specifically, it was hot on the heels of the release of their last studio album, Folie à Deux, and gave some excellent layman’s reasons why Fall Out Boy is such a great band.

Presented in full, “Six Reasons Why Fall Out Boy Does Not Suck as Much as You Think:”

One of the most unfairly maligned bands in all the land, Fall Out Boy is despised for such sins as getting really popular and having a glammy showboat playing bass. At least one reviewer pouted that the band’s addictive new album, Folie a Deux, is too ambitious.

Oh, please. Does anyone say that about Radiohead or Animal Collective, or any of the sanctified indie saints? Ambition is good. Ambition means you’re trying. Ambition means you have ideas and want them to get a public airing (which is pretty much the essence of the creative impulse), so let’s all take a deep breath and stop slapping around a band that’s smarter and more fun than a lot of people are willing to admit.

Fall Out Boy deserves a break from the hateration for the following reasons: 

1) Folie a Deux is outstanding. It has 13 songs, 10 of which are keepers. Two of the other three tracks (the late-album filler “W.A.M.S.” and “West Coast Smoker”) have interesting moments. The only song I really hate is the single, “I Don’t Care,” which says more about the state of the rock-singles market than it does about the state of this album. Top to bottom, it’s loaded with smart, hooky anthems. If you, the rock ‘n’ roll fan, can’t get behind “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes,” “Closers” or “20 Dollar Nose Bleed,” something is wrong.

2) They have great taste in collaborators. Would Lil Wayne and Elvis Costello have agreed to guest on Folie a Deux if the band was so awful?

3) They’re funny. They have a song called “Coffee’s for Closers,” a Glengarry Glen Ross reference that shouldn’t be lost on the sanctimonious pop culture priests that worship David Mamet but think Pete Wentz is juvenile. Their new album cover features a picture of a boy in a bear suit carrying an actual bear on his back.

4) Bass-playing lyricist Wentz, whom we are supposed to hate because he’s in love with lip-syncher Ashlee Simpson, is a charismatic guy, which is not as cool as being a sulky shoegazing tortured genius. 

5) They’re fair to their fans. When Folie a Deux came out, they made it available as a $3.99 download on their MySpace page. So much for major-label bands being slaves to their corporate masters. It’s hard to think of Fall Out Boy as profiteering sellouts when they’re selling their new album at a cut-rate price. (Yeah, they were probably selling it so cheap because that’s what it’s worth! Good one!)

6) They’re an increasingly rare breed—that is, a massively popular rock band. Quick: Name three other American rock bands with members under 30 years old that can headline arenas. Can’t do it? Try naming two. How about one?