Would any of our fifteen year-old selves really like the people we are today? The perspective that comes with maturity may make us better humans, but everyone misses the unbridled enthusiasm (and pain) we used to feel for even the most mundane experiences. It’s no surprise Blink-182’s career trajectory, marked early on by potty humor and feelings and later by attempts to make the responsible choices necessary to be taken seriously, mirrored the adolescent journey so well. Their untitled/self titled album, released 10 years ago today, represented for many the point of no return for the band, leaving fans feeling the way they did when their best friend started hanging out an awful lot with the girl from algebra class and making excuses for why his saturday nights were suddenly “busy.” To commemorate the album’s tin anniversary, I asked the ATG crew to vote for their all-time favorite Blink-182 songs and write a bit about why they held such an important place in their hearts.
— Hilary Gridley (@hilgridz)
I think one of the markers of a legendary band is that they have that one song that only the “true fans” really love. One that lives on a pre-fame album, B-side, or live bootleg. One that might not even be the band’s best, but that truly exemplifies what the band is really about.
For Blink-182, that song is “Carousel.”
It’s the only song to make two separate albums (Buddha and Cheshire Cat), it made the set list for The Mark, Tom, and Travis show, and between the bass intro that Mark still has trouble playing almost two decades later, the adolescently honest lyrics, and quite possibly the closest they’ve ever come to a guitar solo, this song deserves to be on the Top 10 list.
— Bryce Rudow (@brycetrudow)
It was Christmas morning, 1999. Out of breath from running down the stairs, I assess the tree situation. I pick out the gift that I will open first. A square, thin package that was hard to the touch. “Could it be?” I asked myself. It could have been one of the three albums I had asked Santa for, but until all of the aunts and uncles and cousins and siblings and parents came down, I would have to wait to find out. Finally, with the family assembled in the living room, my cousins, siblings and I dive under the tree. I grab my mystery square and dash to the couch. As I ripped back the wrapping paper all I could do was return the gaze of the nurse who was prepping my enema. I couldn’t believe it. My sweet Aunt had actually gotten me Enema of the State. Now, whenever I hear the opening riff to “Dumpweed” I feel like I did on that morning when my Aunt bought me my first “Parental Advisory” CD.
— Alex Anderson (@nanderrrrrs)
8. I Miss You
This isn’t Blink-182’s best song, despite its #1 Spotify rating. It isn’t even their best love song (because that’s “Feeling This”). But WE ALL KNOW THE WORDS, right? We’ve all been there. “I Miss You” is as close to emo as the kings of pop-punk really get, complete with The Nightmare Before Christmas references and a ghostly eye-liner-heavy video. It’s a quiet turn inwards from the usual middle-finger-to-the-world Blink, but we’re all — Travis Barker included — susceptible to a haunting. And nobody, nobody wants to be left haunted. My childhood home sometimes feels like a minefield of horcruxes of heartbreaks past–including, of course, a freshman-year-era burnt copy of Blink 182’s self-titled album, heavy discman repeats on Track 3. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME ON ME / YOU’RE ALREADY / THE VOICE INSIDE MY HEAD, over, and over, and over, fade to black.
— Fiona Hanly (@fionahhh)
7. Going Away To College
It’s difficult to imagine a band today making such an improbably immature record that deals in fart jokes, “aliens exist” musings and stories about having sex with your mom… and that record going 15 times platinum (if nothing, it’s a true testament to the preteen allowance economy). This is probably because Enema of the State — and all of Blink-182’s albums, really — aren’t meant for adult comprehension. They’re for angsty kids who can find solace in lyrics like “Fuck this place, I lost the war / I hate you all, Your mom’s a whore / Where’s my dog? Girls are such a drag.” Nothing wrong with that, it’s just the way it is. Parents don’t spend time considering the artistic merits of that same Barney tape their kids watch over and over again, but they understand that it’s wonderful for the intended audience.
That said, “Going Away To College” is by far the most evergreen and enjoyable Blink song because it’s one of the few that manage to put all of their musical strengths (solid harmonies in the chorus, incredible drum-roll during the breakdown, Tom DeLonge not writing the lyrics, etc.) together in one package. Sure the lyrics are still childlike (it feels important to note that Mark Hoppus was 27 when this album was released), but the sentiment is more thoughtful than the typical “girls suck” banality that Tom contributes in his songs. And most importantly, if perusing Youtube comments is any indication, it continues to resonate strongly with an audience of confused teens 14 years after its release. That’s a respectable feat and speaks to the lasting charm of Blink-182: for a brief, fragile moment in your life, they get you — your penchant for bathroom humor, your anxieties about young love and friendships — in a way no one else does.
— Ben Wormald (@benjiwo)
6. Adam’s Song
It’s interesting, the school bus mythology that gets passed around about certain bands. For the longest time I was certain that Blink-182’s “Adam’s Song” was about a friend of theirs who committed suicide, who was literally named Adam. The truth is more complicated. Mark Hoppus wrote the song after a nine-month tour following the release of Dude Ranch, about the loneliness he felt on tour and as the only member of the band who didn’t come home to a girlfriend. The song also took inspiration from an article about a teen’s suicide note and the lyrics to Nirvana’s “Come as You Are.”
I remember my mother refusing to buy me Enema of the State after she saw the porn star on the cover, so of course I snuck back into Sam Goody with my allowance and listened to it on repeat for months. It’s corny, but “Adam’s Song” always makes me tear up. There’s something about this moment of real vulnerability and hope on a record that otherwise works hard not to take anything too seriously. I love the video, in which blink performs for no one against a backdrop of their own tour memorabilia, occupying a tiny space in a huge empty warehouse. It’s a humble moment that puts their success into perspective in the grander scheme of life.
Since the death of their friend Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein, Blink-182 has not played “Adam’s Song” live.
— Liz Galvao (@lizgalvao)
5. Apple Shampoo
So, whenever I talk to people about Blink-182, it’s hard for me to explain to them that my love for the band is not a nostalgic ’90s kid smirking ironic joyride thing but actually a real-life, true appreciation. The only way they’ll ever believe me is if I tell them I still have a copy of Dude Ranch on CD, a CD that I keep in my car and listen to semi-frequently. This is real, guys.
I do love Blink-182. I loved them for the same reason I loved all pop-punk: It was aggressive, and it was loud, but I could hum along. I was a little too young for grunge to speak to me in any real way. But pop punk was mine. It was (or is still, I guess) aggressive music for kids who aren’t angry. I wasn’t an angry kid, but I did like to pump my fist. Blink-182 gave that to me.
All that being said, I also understand how stupid Blink-182 is. They are a stupid band. “Apple Shampoo,” which is far and away my favorite Blink-182 song ever and probably in my top 100 songs of all time, is a very stupid song. Mark Hoppus said in an interview he thought it was the best lyrics he’d ever written, which is stupid and adorable, because this is a song that rhymes the words “important” and “retarded.”
But it is a great song. The bass line kicks ass and the drums are loud and off-beat and the harmonies are sweet. It’s a mess and very put-together. It’s a song about trying to make a relationship work that isn’t going to work, and includes the one line that probably best summarizes Blink-182’s whole raison d’etre: “I know just where I stand / a boy trapped in the body of a man.”
Blink-182 stopped being interesting to me the moment they hired a drummer who knew how to play the drums, but on this album, and this song especially, they were everything I was looking for, stupidity and all.
— Nate Scott (@aNateScott)
Ladies everywhere are constantly searching for the answers on how to be a perfect girlfriend or how to make the man of their dreams fall for them. Some seek advice from places likes Cosmo Magazine who spew monthly nonsense on their supposed sound advice through specific “tips” and “tricks,” to win guy’s hearts. Stop doing that and just listen to “Josie” by Blink-182 and let Mark, Tom and Travis guide you with their shining light of expertise. Ladies: take a cue from Josie, because she’s perfect. She takes Mark home when he’s too drunk to drive, she doesn’t get all jealous when Mark hangs out with the guys, she even laughs at his dumb jokes when no one does. Most importantly though, she brings him Mexican food from Sombrero’s. Blink-182 are not only champions of pop-punk, but they also are experts on seduction, love and relationships.
— Neil Barlow (@nbarlow7)
3. What’s My Age Again?
Dear Mark Hoppus,
I see your:
• Turning on TV during sex.
• Prank calling your girlfriend’s mother.
• Running naked through Los Angeles.
And raise you:
• Wearing the same pair of jeans for ~40 days straight.
• Picking my nose on public transit.
• Driving well beyond the speed limit, and hollering curse words over the sound of Kenny Loggins played at ear-splitting volumes.
• Getting overly competitive and aiming to humiliate children during pickup basketball.
• Still sleeping in a race car bed.
• Stuffing two tennis balls down my shirt, pretending they were breasts, showing up to my little cousin’s piano recital hammered drunk, and standing up screeching “My Milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” while fondling my tennis ball titties until I was unkindly asked to leave.
I guess where I’m going with this is that the song “What’s My Age Again” off of Enema of the State has hardly inspired any sense of enlightenment, maturity or personal development in its audience. That’s my excuse at least. Rather, it’s the ultimate man-child anthem. What it did represent was the apotheosis of Blink 182. After the switch a major label (MCA Records) and the addition of drummer Travis Barker, the threepiece enjoyed clean production and a heightened ability to crank out effortlessly catchy pop punk. Their hit single prior to “WMAA?” was titled “Dammit (Growing Up),” featuring a parenthetical that the band didn’t really seem to live up to. But that’s okay. If stunted youth is what it takes to make one of the best piece of pop music of the late 90s, then listen up gentlemen, I have a dick joke that you need to hear.
— Logan Donaldson (@plaguelovers)
2. All The Small Things
There’s a lot of great things to be said about the music of Blink, but for many of us, it wasn’t just the rock and roll that fueled our interest. Unlike many of the bands of the day, they never took themselves too seriously. They poked fun at the “old guard” of horrific teen pop fed to us by people like Lou Pearlman and Carson Daily. For an angsty teenager in the year 2000, you might even say they “got” you.
All of this is on full display in their video for “All the Small Things.” Combining hair-blowing-in-the-wind shots and choreographed dance routines straight out of every Backstreet Boys video ever, they parodied all that was wrong (or right?) with the manufactured pop of the early ’00s. They even threw in a shot of Mark cringing as hot wax is poured onto his chest by a pair of sultry groupies (just like in that Ricky Martin video!) and took it one further, with the guys frolicking nude across a beach. Ah, to be young and carefree.
— Josh Stansfield (@elmayhem)
We all have songs that provide the soundtracks to our personal lives, but what is it about certain songs that raises them above the individual level and makes them right for actual movie soundtracks? Not all popular songs transcend secret single behavior status to become the cry of a generation, so when a track goes from a personal mantra to a commercially successful sizzler soundbite, it’s logical to wonder what sets it apart, and whether its mass appeal dampens the song’s uniqueness.
Blink-182 certainly felt the pressure of the mainstream current when their hit “Dammit” — a jam that Mark Hoppus allegedly wrote in five minutes as he contemplated the consequences of breaking up with his girlfriend — went viral, appearing on the soundtracks of Bubble Boy, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Can’t Hardly Wait, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, an episode of Daria, and even landing a spot on Guitar Hero World Tour. At their shows in the late ’90s, the band bucked against conformity, poking fun at audience members who only knew them for this one song, but in a 10-year retrospect, Blink-182 owes a lot of their superstardom to its widespread success. Even today, over a decade since its release, the track is universally (well, at least according to Triple J’s hottest 100 songs of the past 20 years list) acknowledged as a game-changer, confirming Blink-182 as a household name and “Dammit” as the soundtrack to teen angst on personal, commercial, and eternal levels. Take THAT, hipsters.
— Emma Forster (@emmacforster)