Artist Retrospective Episode 2 — Blink-182
This piece dives into what made me fall in love with this band!
The Beginnings & All The Small Things:
It was back in the year 2000 when I first heard this song on the radio, I didn’t know the name of the track at the time or even the band, all I remember were the lyrics “turn the lights off, carry me home”. That stuck with me for the longest time. The song would always play on the radio and I never new the damn name of it or who played it. Later that year a good friend of mine bought a CD which had all the top tracks from the year 2000. I forgot what it was called but we were listening to that CD on a summer day and it hit me. The song came on. I grabbed the CD case and there it was. The song was All The Small Things. The band was Blink-182. From that day on I became a huge fan and I still am to this day, nearly 16 years later and I can say without a doubt in my mind that they are my favorite band.
Enema Of The State
Within a year of finding out about Blink, I finally had the chance to buy Enema Of The State. At the time I was young, barely 12, my parents had no idea what I was listening to at the time and I think it was for the best. EOTS holds a very special place because it was the first Blink album I bought, not saying it was the best, at the time I had that CD on repeat in a Sony Walkman everyday after school while doing homework. There were a few songs that stuck out to me on that album, and still to this day they are on my playlists.
The lead off track Dumpweed was just a jam, with awesome Tom Delonge guitars and Travis Barker on the drums. The lyrics and pace of the song so fast and energetic. The chorus always gets me “She’s a dove, she’s a F-ing nightmare. Unpredictable, it was my mistake to stay here.” It’s a song that I still go back to and say damn that was great.
What’s My Age Again was another single but it never really stood out too much for me. Great song, very catchy, and I still like singing along to it. It has the infamous lyrics “Nobody likes you when you’re 23” which everyone in the world knows, but personally it’s not something I tend to still listen to.
Adam’s Song was different to me, it wasn’t the punk pop rock I was use to from these guys but that wasn’t a bad thing. This song is kind of dark and it was new for Blink at the time but it’s a song that has a great meaning and drive to it. It always inspires me to look forward to tomorrow. It starts with those signature guitar notes and the piano halfway through the song. The lyrics “Tomorrow holds such better days” and the entire chorus are very well written.
Then comes to the song that nearly everyone knows. All The Small Things. This was such a summer anthem for me when I was younger. It was fun and catchy. I just loved hearing it on the radio and having all my friends and me jamming out to it. This is one of the songs that really made Blink famous and it’s the first song I ever heard from them so it holds a spot on my top favorite songs of all times.
The rest of the album is fast, fun and catchy too. Enema of the State always brings me back to my childhood, with good times and summer nights when I was young. After this album I didn’t really follow Blink-182 very much just due to that fact that I was barely 13 at the time.
Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
This album was released in 2001 but I didn’t get it until about 2003. It continued what I loved about Blink. Fast pop punk music with catchy lyrics and sounds. TOYPJ was a bit of a sleeper for me, I can’t say it’s my favorite album from them, I feel like a lot of these tracks blend in together and have a hard time standing out and being remembered. I do not by any means think this album was bad or anything I just think that they played it too safe with TOYPJ.
First Date and The Rock Show are the 2 songs from this album that most people know. They received a ton of play on MTV at the time. For me it was the first time I really found what a difference the lead vocals make. First Date is a Tom Delonge lead song where as The Rock Show is sung by Mark Hoppus. The contrast between the sound of their voices is very apparent when you compare the 2 songs. They are both fast, catchy and fun to sing along to, but it was at this time for me that I realized that they need to use the differences in their vocals to contrast each other more often.
Some other highlights from this album from me are Story Of A Lonely Guy, Stay Together For The Kids and Shut Up. These are underrated songs but they have a unique sound compared to the rest for the album. Story Of A Lonely Guy has some solid lyrics that really stuck with me and a different guitar sound. Stay Together For The Kids was another one of Blink’s darker tracks that uses both Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge on vocals. It has powerful guitars, paired with very meaningful lyrics. This song is pretty much the Adam’s Song of this album. Shut Up is just a weird one for me, it’s a Mark Hoppus lead song with curse words tossed through out it and it has this simple and catchy vibe to it.
Like I said before Take Off Your Pants and Jacket was a weird album for me it didn’t blow me away but it still has some great songs on it.
This album was a huge change for me and the band. If anyone listens to a song from this album they often forget that it’s Blink-182. They got serious with their lyrics, they changed their sound a bit, but at the end of the day it’s exactly what they needed. At the time I was starting to grow up and hit my teenage years and I felt like Blink was growing up too.
The title of the album has been debated a million times. I just call it Untitled so that’s what I’m going to refer to it as from here on out. A lot of people didn’t like the sound of this album, I remember my friends calling it “Emo”. It was different and I understand why some fans were upset but for me personally it was the best thing they could have done. I love this album still to this day just because they did something fresh and new at the time and yet still maintained a signature kind of sound that I enjoyed.
There are some fan favorites on this album like Feeling This. It was a fast punk “old Blink” style song and is definitely one I still like listening to. Mark and Tom share vocals on this track going back and forth. It has one of the most memorable lyrics that everyone sings along to. “Fate fell short this time, Your smile fades in the summer. Place your hand in mine, I’ll leave when I wanna.”
Two of the “Emo” songs that everyone tends to remember from this album are I Miss You and Down. Both were very different from anything this band has done before but they are both unique and great songs. I Miss You uses a different song format than what most people are use to but it works extremely well. Some of the most famous lyrics from this album are in this track. “Don’t waste your time on me, you’re already the voice inside my head.”
One of my All Time Favorite Songs is on this album as well. Always has a stuck with me still to this day. Something about this song is so simple and catchy. Tom has lead vocals and the lyrics are about a failing relationship where the guy is just trying to make things work for the better. I think the chorus of this song is just perfect. The drums and guitar are also on point. Travis does a great job of making this song sound unique. Tom’s guitar work is simple but it fits and is progressive which helps the lyrics flow.
Some other good tracks on this album include Asthenia, Stockholm Syndrome, Violence and Here’s Your Letter. Each of them highlight the change in this album. More mature lyrics and a change in overall sound.
The Split — 2005
I remember exactly where I was the day I heard that Blink-182 was going on Haitus (Break). It was a weird feeling and weird day overall. Knowing that they split was like seeing two of your good friends who’ve been dating for years break up and you can’t decide who’s side you should choose. Tom Delonge wanted to spend more time with his family and do more experimental things. Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker wanted to continue Blink-182. Unfortunately it lead to both parties not speaking and creating new bands as side projects.
Angels & Airwaves-Tom Delonge’s Side Project
I could write a whole separate post on Angels & Airwaves(aka AVA) so I won’t go into too much detail but this was the band Tom created after Blink took a break. It was completely different than anything Blink made. It’s more electronic and sounds like U2. They released several albums and I still follow AVA. I always liked the sound and lyrics that Tom brings to the table AVA is just his way to do whatever he can’t do in Blink.
Tom received a lot of critcism for leaving Blink and many fans did not like the fact that he orginially said he wanted more time to be with his family but then decided to start a new band. He still has a strong following though and he has had some successful songs that appeal to Blink fans. I always tell my friends to listen to AVA with an open mind. It’s not Blink, and you can’t expect it to be but with 4 albums Tom has a couple of solid hits with this band.
Plus 44-Mark Hoppus & Travis Barker continue the legacy
+44 is essentially the continuation of Blink. It featured both Mark and Travis. They definitely captured more of the Blink-182 fan base because they sounded very similar. It was a smart idea. I think this is were Mark became a better vocalist and his lyrics really shine. In Blink he had a couple memorable songs but from +44 he made a huge effort into writing deeper songs.
Unfortunately they only ever released a single album called When Your Heart Stops Beating. It was a great album that filled the void created when Blink split up. They did sign a contract to record a second album but it didn’t work out. Mark and Travis were doing other Solo projects like producing for other bands and artist too.
The Reunion-2009 Grammys
In 2008 Travis Barker was involved and a horrible plane crash where several people were killed. He luckily survived but was in the hospital for quite some time. This lead to the reunion. Tom Delonge stated that he didn’t talk to Mark or Travis at all over the last 4 years. The accident brought all of them together again to start talking about Blink.
At the time Tom was still actively involved with AVA, but there were rumors that he was interested in a Blink-182 reunion. Then in 2009 it happened. I was with my ex-girlfriend at the time and we were watching the Grammys and Tom, Travis and Mark all appear on stage together to confirm that Blink-182 was back. I freaked out that night. I was so excited at the time.
They did a reunion tour around the world which took a couple years, but then it came time for them to make a new album. Everyone was expecting it to happen but it took an extremely long time. Tom had AVA, Travis was getting involved with a Solo album and Mark was producing music for other bands.
Neighborhoods-The Reunion Album
It took nearly 2 years for Blink to release this album and it was a painful process. Tom Delonge worked in his own studio while Mark and Travis worked in a separate studio. This was the first Blink album that they made without a Producer. Most of their previous albums where Produced by Jerry Finn. Unfortunately he passed away during Blink’s split so this time they didn’t have the guidance that they had before. It’s very apparent. I’m not saying this is a bad album because I personally enjoyed it, but it is not a well made album. Tom’s ideas didn’t mix well with Mark’s and through the entire album you can hear a disconnect. It’s a very different Blink album and it was not what a lot of people wanted or expected.
Now they did have some decent songs. Their first single was Up All Night and it was different. You heard a lot of Tom’s influence but yet Mark managed to make this song still work for the better. After Midnight was another single they released and I think it’s probably the strongest song on the album. It’s one of the only songs that reminds me of old Blink but with a new twist. It has some of my favorite lyrics. Like I said before I enjoyed this album but majority of the songs just don’t have that Blink feeling to them. The unity that was once such a central part of the band was definitely missing and it upset a lot of fans. I definitely have mixed feelings about it but I just think it’s different and unfortunately it needed a Producer to make things work better.
Dogs Eating Dogs-The EP
Nearly a year after Neighborhoods was released Blink realized that they failed. They began all working in the same studio to record a few ideas they had while they were on tour. These ideas became 5 songs which went into this EP called Dogs Eating Dogs. These 5 songs drove fans crazy. The EP wasn’t a massive comeback or success it just showed that Blink was capable of great songs when they actually all worked together. They still didn’t use a Producer but the unity that was lacking in Neighborhoods wasn’t apparent here. They made this EP in a month and released it right before Christmas in 2012. The future of Blink was looking a lot better after this EP.
The opening track When I Was Young is a powerful song back reflecting back on life and realizing things have changed. Travis does some great work on the drums, both Tom and Mark have vocals on this track but they work together instead of battling each other like on Neighborhoods.
Dogs Eating Dogs is the second track and its a fast aggressive track. Mark has lead vocals while Tom sings the chorus. This track often gets compared to +44’s music because it shares a lot of similarities. It’s a solid Blink track and is a personal favorite on this EP.
Disaster is the third song and it starts with a signature Angels and Airwaves sound but with Travis and Mark it transforms this familiar sounding song into something much bigger. Tom leads this song and to many people it sounds like an AVA song. I can’t disagree but with Mark and Travis they definitely managed to make it an amazing Blink song.
Boxing Day is one of the only semi acoustic Blink songs. It has just a simple sound but the lyrics are the key to this track. Travis used electronic drums so there’s nothing crazy here along with Tom and Mark using acoustic guitars this song has a very unique sound. Both Tom and Mark share vocals and once again the unity that was missing before is back in this track.
The final song is a very weird one. It’s all Tom Delonge. Very electronic and personally not a favorite. It has some good lyrics but this is an AVA song that I feel doesn’t belong on the EP. Travis had his buddy Yelawolf featured on this song. Yes a rapper on a Blink-182 song.
This EP overall was just a positive step for the band. It showed the fans Blink is capable of great things when Tom Travis and Mark are all on the same page.
The Second Split-2014
Blink continued touring and playing shows after they released the EP. They had plans to go back into the studio in early 2015 to begin recording another full length album. Unfortunately Tom Delonge was tied up in other projects. He was working on AVA and his other company which forced him to eventually quit and cause another rift in the band. I was very confused this time. I was older now and I couldn’t understand why Tom would do this again. His other projects were good but they fail in comparison to Blink and on top of that the EP was solid. According to Mark and Travis, Tom was just too difficult to work with. The split got ugly this time with Tom releasing statements saying he will always be in the band and he never left. Then Mark would release statements saying Tom’s out and doesn’t want to do Blink anymore. Things got confusing and still to this day nothing is totally clear about what exactly happened with Tom. He is still continuing to work on AVA but now Mark and Travis decided to continue Blink without Tom.
This caused problems with some fans saying that the band is just +44 again and that Mark and Travis were just using the Blink-182 to stay famous. I’m personally glad they decided to carry on without Tom, I still support him and AVA but Blink-182 needed to continue without distractions. Mark and Travis decide to have Matt Skiba fill in for Tom because they had a few shows to play. Most of the fans enjoyed Matt filling in but there was no word if he was going to totally replace Tom.
Matt Skiba was better known for his band Alkaline Trio. I was never a big fan of the band so I was a bit worried that they weren’t going to sound the same without Tom Delonge. At the same time I knew Tom was most likely not going to come back anytime soon.
California-The Legacy Continues
In 2016, Blink went into the studio this time with a new line up. Matt Skiba took over for Tom Delonge and the band decided to have John Feldmann come in as a Producer. This was a weird time to be a Blink fan. Tom was a major factor of Blink and new music without his vocals and signature guitar sound was going to be different. This was also the first time Blink hired a Producer since their Untitled album.
I was excited to hear some new material just to see how this was going to work out. I personally was going to miss Tom but I was still looking forward to this new direction of Blink. The first single they released was Bored To Death. It reminded of Adam’s Song so much. They played it safe using Mark for the majority of the song. Matt does sing a chorus and one verse. At first I didn’t even hear a difference between Matt’s vocals and Mark’s. They sound very similar. Overall the song is pretty catchy and simple. It was a very safe single to release with the new line up. It definitely sounded like Blink which pleased me and it sounded new which was a good thing too.
They released California as their 7th album on July 1st 2016 which is actually the 182nd day of the year which is pretty cool. This album to me is unique. It’s a new Era for Blink and I kept that in the back of my head while listening to this album the entire time.
It was definitely better constructed then Neighborhoods, the influence of John Feldmann as the Producer is very apparent. The Blink-182 sound is very apparent throughout the album, even with Matt Skiba. I feel like this album also played it very safe. Matt Skiba does have vocals but Mark definitely has the majority. To be honest I only remember one song where Matt has lead vocals throughout the track. Like I said before they played it safe on this album which I think was a good thing.
The highlights of this album are Cynical, Sober, Bored To Death, No Future, and Left Alone. This album has some very catchy songs but it also has a few tracks which feel like filler. Tracks like Teenage Satellites and Kings of the Weekend are weak for me and just lack anything new. There are also 2 joke tracks which I guess are cool but they are just to appeal to fans and aren’t really necessary.
Cynical is the opening track and it sounds like the new age Dumpweed. It has some solid guitar parts and great lyrics, but the downside is that it’s way too short. It’s barely two minutes long and it feels like it was cut short. Mark has lead vocals until the end where Matt takes over for the last half of the track. It’s an awesome song but just needed to be developed into something more.
Sober is probably the catchiest Blink-182 I’ve heard in about 10 years. It’s simple and fun to listen to. Many fans think it’s too poppy and I agree but at the same time All The Small Things had the same sort of sound. Sober has a great chorus that always gets stuck in my head. It’s definitely a highlight for me and I think everyone should listen to it through at least once.
Left Alone is my favorite song on the album. It is a well made song. Great lyrics, features both Mark and Matt, but it uses them in a very unique way. This song feels like something that belongs on the Untitled album and yet it feels fresh and new thanks to Matt.
There’s also a bonus track that wasn’t released on the album in the US. It’s exclusive to the Japan edition. It’s called Hey, I’m Sorry and to be honest it’s an amazing track and I don’t understand why it didn’t make it to the US edition. It blows away many of the filler songs in the middle of this album. Travis does an amazing job on drums and Mark’s lyrics and vocals are on point. The song can be found on Youtube and I suggest everyone try to find it and listen to it.
California was very interesting for me. It was well liked by other Blink fans as well. It did a good job of sounding familiar but fresh and new. I do believe they played it safe not over using Matt Skiba because he was the new guy. I hope that this album ages well and that the songs on this album stay relevant to me like older songs are.
The Future & The Past
As far as the future for Blink-182 they will always be my favorite band. I’ll be honest and say I was not crazy about the lineup change, and I do wish Tom Delonge would one day come back but I don’t think that’s likely. Matt Skiba did a great job on California and if he does continue to be part of the band I’ll be okay with it, but Blink-182 will always be Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge and Travis Barker for me personally. This new album is great and I am glad they even decided to continue the band after Tom left and I hope the still do continue to make music.
The band has stated that they have a bunch of left over songs from recording California and that a few of them will be used and released as an EP in the future. They are currently touring the USA so I don’t think the EP will come until next year but either way I will definitely listen to it! Past that point I just hope Blink-182 stays relevant, makes music regardless of the lineup.
Now there were a couple albums that I didn’t cover before and for good reason. I didn’t listen to the older albums until the band split up back in 2005. These albums are the origin of Blink-182 and the birth of Punk Rock music. They aren’t my favorite albums but they are definitely worth a mention.
The first album they ever recorded was Cheshire Cat. It was released back in 1995 way before I ever new about Blink. I found about this album back in 2005 when Carousel and M+M’s were released on The Greatest Hits album. I traced those 2 songs back to Cheshire Cat. This album is very old school Punk Rock. Fast drums, loud guitars and some immature lyrics. This isn’t a bad album songs like Strings, Carousel and M+M’s are still great songs which I enjoy. The majority of people toss this album aside but I think if you enjoy older style Blink music then go back and check out this album.
Dude Ranch is actually a much more solid album. I found it because Dammit was on The Greatest Hits album. This album was released in 1997 so it still has that old school fast punk rock feel. Lemmings, Pathetic and Josie are great tracks on this album they age very well when compared to some of the other songs.
The Wrap Up
So I have to say thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this piece. Blink-182 is my all time favorite band and I hope I was able to share not only my opinion but some insight about the band and their music as well. There is more to write but I didn’t want to drag it out either. Please comment and give me your opinions as well as any feedback! I will be writing more pieces similar to this in the future about other bands I enjoy. If you enjoyed this piece also check out my previous ones down below!
Brief overview of an extremely creative and underrated band.medium.com