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5 blink-182 Songs You Should Have Heard (But Probably Haven't)
Those of us who lived through the late 90s will no doubt remember blink-182s boyband-apeing antics in their All The Small Things video, and those who came a little… later, will have struggled to avoid hearing the downbeat melody of I Miss You. Arguably the most culturally significant band to emerge from the pop-punk boom of the late 90s, blink-182 have had a lot of hits and spawned a seemingly endless army of blink-inspired acts.
Now, after some time off and a bit of a lineup change, they’re back in our public consciousness with a number one album and a huge tour. What better time to go back and look at some of their best work that you probably missed (unless you’re as big a fas as I am!). Here are five blink-182 tracks you should have heard… but probably haven't.
1. Feeling This
Starting soft, Feeling This was actually a single. It was the lead track and single from blink’s eponymous fifth album and it marked a clear change in direction for a band that became famous on the back of dick jokes and running down the street naked.
The unique sound of blink is still recognisable in Feeling This, though it’s clear a musical shift has taken place. Gone are the straightforward melodic riffs of yore, replaced by a repetitive, sliding snarl of strings as the Tom DeLonge, guitarist and vocalist, yells over the top about the intense feelings and emotions that come bundled up with sex. Bassists and co-lead vocalist, Mark Hoppus, chimes in with a more gentle, melodic chorus over a typically catchy bassline. To cap it all off the song ends with quite possibly more instrument and vocal tracks in one 40 second stretch of song than they’d previously used across their entire previous album.
Feeling This was somewhat overlooked in the charts, and would soon be overshadowed by their second single, I Miss You, but it is the perfect combination of what blink had been up to this point and what they had become over the course of recording this album.
Okay, okay, if you’re a blink-182 fan of any calibre you’re probably wondering why I would include this song, but this list is aimed more at those who have perhaps heard a few blink songs on the radio and liked them, but have never gone on to buy a record or listen to an album.
Carousel is an odd song in that it was a very early song in the band’s career. Indeed, it is rumoured to be the first song they wrote in a Southern Californian bedroom way back in the early 90s, and it survived through a number of demos to become the opening track on their first studio album, Chesire Cat. Despite its raw nature and rough edges, it has remained a fan favourite, no matter how later in the game that fan came.
If you’ve never heard Carousel, I’d recommend watching a live performance of it to get the full of effect of what blink is, was, and probably will continue to be.
3. Reckless Abandon
blink’s fourth album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, rode in on the monumental success of their previous effort, and while it doesn’t seem to have garnered as much love as its predecessor, it was a very solid album with very little in the way of filler.
Reckless Abandon is a particular highlight from that album, detailing the shenanigans of a teen going through his formative years with a sense of, well, reckless abandon. The song feels particularly fitting now, coming toward the end of an album which we now know would be followed by a more mature sounding, grown up blink-182. Almost as though this was a last roll of the carefree pop-punk dice before adulthood closed in in earnest, much like the protagonist in the song making the most of his teen years as they draw to a close.
4. After Midnight
blink-182’s sixth studio album is something of a blemish on their otherwise impressive rap sheet. Recorded in separate studios without a producer and, we now know, with tensions in the band itself, the reception of Neighborhoods among critics and fans alike can at best be described as “mixed”. Still, this was blink-182, so it couldn’t have been all bad.
After Midnight is one of blink’s slower, more thoughtful numbers, starting off with drummer Travis Barker’s pounding rhythm, soon joined by the others as Tom croons about standing on the edge and crashing to the Earth. Mark takes over for the chorus, singing about the more mundane, recognisable aspect of the protagonist's relationship—staggering home drunk and sleeping in stairwells. In the second verse Tom even manages to squeeze in references to multiple songs from their fifth album. Fitting, considering the band had been broken up for four years in between these two records, and were likely trying to keep in touch with the past that had made them the huge band they are today.
In truth, Neighborhoods is a bit of a mess. The musical and songwriting ability of the band is evident, but it feels at times that all three members of blink are playing different songs at the same time. Despite this, with a few tracks they seem to manage to get on the same page just long enough to record a whole, cohesive song, and After Midnight is one such track. A lamenting anthem for complicated relationships.
5. Going Away to College
Much like Carousel, if you’re a blink fan to any degree beyond what you hear on the radio, you’ll probably have heard Going Away to College. From their third (and breakthrough) studio album, Enema of the State, Going Away… showcases blink at their best. Catchy, driving guitar, melodic bass lines, a beat you can air drum to, and lyrics about a slightly awkward but ultimately romantic protagonist trying not to mess up a relationship with a girl who, you get the feeling, can do better.
Going Away… represents a lot of what made blink the huge enormous success and cultural touchstone that they have become. Not simply a matter of catchy tunes that can appeal to a wide audience, blink captured the hearts of a generation of teens going through the same struggles they were singing about.
Pathetic, the opening track on blink’s second album, Dude Ranch, sees Tom and Mark pitching off against each other in a fast paced number about feeling hopeless as a child looking forward at an uncertain future. Stockholm Syndrome from the untitled fifth album shows blink’s darker side in a big way. Starting out with an elderly woman reading a love letter from World War II over the top of a haunting piano riff, the song comes in hard with almost shouting vocals about being afraid of the dark and being lost and cold with disappointment. Even five songs into the album, it was something of a surprise from the band that gleefully sings about receiving oral sex from your mom.
Of course, the songs in this hub are purely my opinion, and I encourage anyone reading this to throw your opinion in the comments, too. But above all, go listen to some blink-182. They’re so much more than that band that did All the Small Things and I Miss You.
© 2016 John Bullock