Every now and then, a musician breaks the fourth wall and reminds you that yes, there are people behind those awesome tunes you’re listening to. It can be jarring when something that personal creeps into usually general, relatable lyrics—or it can make the song all that more fun. Here are some of our favorite name drops.
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Scott Heisel [SH]
Brian Kraus [BK]
Brittany Moseley [BM]
Jason Pettigrew [JP]
Cassie Whitt [CW]
FALL OUT BOY – “Saturday”
This song sees vocalist Patrick Stump singing the name of lyricist/bassist Pete Wentz not once, but twice. I always like to listen to it imagining Wentz giggling as he pens the lyrics and presents them to an eye-rolling Stump. Whether that’s how it actually went down, I will never know, but I enjoy my version of it. [CW]
GYM CLASS HEROES - "4th Period: Clothes Off!"
The best banger on an album chock-full of 'em, "Clothes Off!" adapts a hook from Jermaine Stewart's "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off" and lets Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump run rampant all over it. But the real highlight is watching GCH ringleader Travie McCoy talk himself up for four minutes straight, trying his absolute best to get into an unnamed lady's pants. "My name is Travie and I'm pretty much a big deal/Oh, you've never heard of me?/Oh, that sounds absurd to me," he raps in rapid fire, before eventually sealing the deal in the third verse: "Good grief, girl, you're giving me goose bumps/Standing there in your underwear and new pumps.” [SH]
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE - “Vampire Money”
This kiss-off to bands who bust their humps to get real estate on Twilight soundtracks was one of the best tracks from My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days album. At the beginning of the track, Gerard Way takes a rock ’n’ roll-call to make sure all of his brothers in noise are at their battle stations. Way’s quite the rock historian, and completely acknowledges the self-shout-outs are a direct lift from “Ballroom Blitz,” the classic ’70s throwdown by British glam-rock progenitors the Sweet, that was a hit in both America and Great Britain. But the thing that forever sticks in my mind is how a popular, self-righteous British music blog thought MCR were copping moves from NYC’s demolition blues trio the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, who make namechecking themselves during their gigs part of their dynamic act. The final score: New Jersey, 4; United Kingdom, 0. [JP]
RELIENT K – “Hoopes I Did It Again”
This song from Relient K’s third album, Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right…But Three Do has it all: a shout-out to guitarist Matt Hoopes, a title that plays on the popular Britney Spears song and lyrics about being bored in your hometown. I’m not from Canton, but I am from another small city in Ohio, so I can relate to lines like “’cause a small town is like a small stage/For teenagers and their drama” and “Ohio has the flavor of a water chestnut.” I’m still not sure what—if anything—this has to do with Matt Hoopes. Maybe they just wanted to avoid a lawsuit from Spears & Co. Either way, I’ll take it. [BM]
SAVES THE DAY – “All-Star Me”
The charm of Saves The Day's timeless coming-of-age album, Through Being Cool wouldn't be complete without its numerous name-drops. These subtle anecdotes personalize the songs and help them read more like a diary than poetry. During "Shoulder To The Wheel," singer Chris Conley references former guitarist David Soloway from his anxious, worn-out perspective inside the tour van. On opener "All-Star Me," however, Conley speaks of himself in the first person. "There we were alone on top of your old rooftop in Highland Park/But ask me now/Say, 'Chris, look out across the sky and tell me which way the wind blows.'" [BK]
SAY ANYTHING – “Goodbye Young Tutor, You've Now Outgrown Me”
Max Bemis made a name for himself by penning depressing self-reflective songs, but this track from In Defense Of The Genre always stands out to me because not only does Bemis reference his full name (Maxim), but he sings it in the saddest, most gut-wrenching way: “Just say, ‘Maxim/I love you/I need you/And no one will do but you.’” You know the relationship isn’t going well from the start of the song, but when he pleads with his love to tell him he’s good enough for her, it takes on a whole ’nother level of sadness. [BM]
THE STARTING LINE – “Surprise, Surprise”
This is my favorite song from Based On A True Story for many reasons, one of which being the lines in which vocalist Kenny Vasoli bitterly mocks what I assume to be an ex-girlfriend: “’Oh, my God/Let me describe to you this guy/His name is Ken/He’s in this band that writes such awful songs about me all the time’/You’re goddamn right!” [CW]
SUCH GOLD – “You Always Know What's Best”
Considering how Such Gold regularly covered Saves The Day in their adolescence (and have since retired it—but the crowd requests may last forever), it's likely STD's self-referencing frontman also influenced "You Always Know What's Best." Singer Ben Kotin works himself into a tense dialogue for the bridge's peak pile-on moment. "We can't start over again/'It's so fucking cold'/She said/'I don't know what to do Ben.'" [BK]
We always like a challenge. So, submit your ideas for future playlists in the comments. Bring it!