If there’s one thing the internet loves, it’s animated GIFs of cats. If there’s a second thing the internet loves, it’s arguing about everything, all the time, forever and ever. Thus, our new debate column is born! Next up: pop-punk goliaths BLINK-182. What do you think their best album is? Here are our editorial staff’s personal picks.
By Scott Heisel
For this column, I typically write these long-winded, verbose pieces about why a record is special to a band’s catalog. But not with Dude Ranch. I picked this album because I fucking love it, from start to finish, and it still holds up 17 years later. I had heard good things about Blink from a friend and was supposed to see them on the 1997 Warped Tour in Chicago, but their set was rained out. However, I had briefly met the guys at their tent earlier in the day, and they seemed cool, so a few days later, my mom drove me to the now-defunct chain store Media Play where I plunked down $14.99 to get my very own copy of their major-label debut without having any idea of what the music even sounded like. Cue my head exploding as soon as I put the CD in my mom’s minivan: The double-time opening to “Pathetic” leading to Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge trading off vocals for two minutes straight was straight-up insane. Then, track two, “Voyeur,” begins, as my mom is still driving through the Forest Plaza parking lot, and I immediately start blushing at DeLonge’s super-juvenile lyrics. (Thanks, Mom, for not throwing the CD out of the window.)
Dude Ranch is truly Blink-182 in its best form—they weren’t rich or famous yet; all they were trying to do was write a killer skate-punk record, and with the sonic help of Mark Trombino, they did it. At 15, there was no cooler feeling than cracking Hoppus’ secret code on “Josie”—when I figured out who “UL” and “DHC” were, I lorded it over my friends. “New Hope” is probably the best punk song about Star Wars ever, and it’s almost too perfect it came out at the same time as the Special Edition trilogy in 1997 (which I also found myself obsessed with). And what can I really say about “Dammit” that hasn’t been written a thousand times over already? It’s the perfect punk song, everyone knows it, and it’s probably being covered in someone’s basement right now. These songs aren’t needlessly complex or overly poppy; they’re just fucking great.
ENEMA OF THE STATE
By Matt Crane
Okay, so if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “Enema Of The State is obviously the best Blink-182 album of all time, and all of these other writers are completely wrong. ” Good news: I agree with you! Enema Of The State isn’t just the best Blink record; it’s the best pop-punk record of all time. Defend pop-punk? No need; this album put pop-punk on the offensive. The album’s massive singles (“All The Small Things,” “Adam’s Song,” “What’s My Age Again?”) took Blink to a level that could rival the likes of Green Day and served as a sweeping inspiration for the next generation of pop-punk bands. The album is listenable front-to-back and charged with a sense of lyricism that’s equal parts nostalgia and alienation. “I got an injection/Of fear from the abduction/My best friend thinks I'm just telling lies,” Tom DeLonge sings on “Aliens Exist,” Enema’s best “Tom song.” You have Hoppus telling the story of a failed date: “I said, ‘Don't let your future be destroyed by my past’/She said, ‘Don't let my door hit your ass.’" And DeLonge, going on (and on) about sex: “She's open waiting for more/And I know he's only looking to score.” The balance between the two singers is struck so well this time around. It’s an album that doesn’t take itself too seriously while still delivering a sonically gorgeous presentation. Some may scorn it as the “commercial” Blink album (selling 5 million copies and dominating MTV’s TRL), but that’s simply off base. The album’s commercial viability in no way undermines its quality, in this case. It just blew up because it was that damn good.
TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND JACKET
By Nick Major
When I was 10 years old, I didn't watch movies rated PG-13, profanity was not a part of my vocabulary and I had never been to a concert. Then my cousin got me Take Off Your Pants And Jacket for Christmas. I'm pretty sure that was the moment I became a man. The title pun flew right over my head at that time, but I was immediately hooked from the first listen. By this time I had listened to Enema Of The State quite a few times, thanks to some other cousins of mine. I was a little bummed that this new album wasn't the one that featured "All The Small Things," but I quickly forgot about that. TOYPAJ is full of fantastic songs the entire way through, and each one holds a special place in my heart and memory. There are, of course, the hits that got huge on the radio ("The Rock Show," "First Date," "Stay Together For The Kids"), but the rest of the songs are just as good. "Please Take Me Home" became the anthem of my middle school days as I was crushing on girls left and right, and I felt like Tom DeLonge knew exactly what I was going through, which only made him cooler to me. The sheer profanity of "Happy Holidays You Bastard" left me checking the house to ensure my parents were gone before blasting it, and I felt like quite the rebel swearing along to this and "Shut Up" at the top of my high-pitched lungs. If I was feeling a bit down, "Story Of A Lonely Guy" was my jam, and in those moments where I just had to go crazy, "Reckless Abandon" was the one.
This CD had a song for all my emotions—then I found out there were other copies out there with different bonus tracks. Game changer. On the bus home from school, I'd swap my TOYPAJ disc with other kids and we'd see who had which tracks. We'd all be dying of laughter as "I Wanna Fuck A Dog In The Ass" came up on one of the discs, but the one bonus track I was always so eager to hear, and a track that remains one of my absolute favorite Blink songs, is "What Went Wrong." I've always hoped Blink would do more acoustic songs, because they nailed it with that one. They nailed it with that entire album, and it truly is the album that got me into music. Take Off Your Pants And Jacket is still my favorite album of all time, and I can't wait to see what Blink-182 have in store for us next year.
By Philip Obenschain
By 2003, Blink-182 were, inarguably, one of the biggest pop-punk acts in history. After a decade of releases and massive mainstream attention, the group were faced with a glaring disconnect when going to make their sixth album. Now husbands and fathers preparing to enter their 30s, falling back on the high school humor and dick jokes, or even the sloppy, poppy formula that underlined their more serious previous efforts, would have undersold their musical and personal maturity. Instead, Blink took their time, spending months experimenting with sounds and paying painstaking attention to detail to craft an album fans and critics barely believed them capable of. The untitled result is a sweeping, captivating and raw example of a band realizing its full potential, transcendent of the scene they helped usher in. Untitled may very well stand at Blink's magnum opus, and tracks like "Feeling This," "Always" and "I Miss You" rank among their strongest. Not just the best and most important album of Blink's career, it is also a significant turning point in pop-punk, proof that the sound could be co-opted and applied to a body of music with loftier ambitions, greater artistic depth and a more timeless feel than most any of Blink's peers (especially at the radio level) had realized. While their long-overdue follow-up, 2011’s Neighborhoods, failed to recreate Untitled's magic, recent rumblings from the group's camp would indicate that their forthcoming effort will at least follow a similar writing and recording process. Here's hoping.