Every so often I make up a mix CD of my favorite songs at the moment; mostly new songs, but with some old songs sprinkled in for flavor. I thought it’d be a neat feature of this new blog to go through, song-by-song, and explain a little about why it appeals to me.
So, it’s been a few weeks. I know you’ve missed my tri-weekly column, but I’ve rediscovered my song list and I’m caught up on work. So I’ll finish out the first volume of my summer mix today and start disc two tomorrow. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve started compiling my winter CD.
The story of Fall Out Boy follows an all-too-familiar arc. They formed in 2001, playing locally and paying their dues. They put together a demo tape before they had a name. At one of their first gigs, they asked the audience for name suggestions. An audience member suggested their eventual name, referencing one of the more popular episodes of The Simpsons where Milhouse plays Fallout Boy in a movie.
Fall Out Boy’s EP caught the ear of a major label, and the band increased in popularity until the release of their first major album, From Under the Cork Tree. It was an instant hit, thanks in large part to singles “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” and “Dance, Dance”. This album also re-popularized the super-long song title names, such as “I Slept with Someone In Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written about Me” and “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part to Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows)”.
But shortly after their big album came out, the beginnings of a backlash were forming. Some (wrongly) characterized their music as emo, and the band was caught up in the anti-emo movement of the past eighteen or so months. Much of this has to do with the personal and too-clever lyrics of their songs, mostly written by Pete Wentz. (He’s got his own personal problems that’s outside the scope of this blog. Let’s just put it this way: don’t do a Google Images search on his name.)
All of this leads up to the release of their latest album, Infinity on High. The album as a whole shows quite a bit of growth over Fall Out Boy’s previous work, but is still mired in early-20s immaturity. The lyrics are still too clever, but their sound incorporates more influences and the band was able to get some big-name talent to contribute. They’ve also stepped up the pop cultural references in both their songs and videos, from dealing with their own backlash (“This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race”, video) to John Hughes movies (“Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?”) to the film “Closer” (“Thnks fr th Mmrs”, video). This last song is the one featured on the Summer CD.
Next time: from popular actor to less-popular musician.