Love him or hate him, Ronnie Radke's career has taken center stage in our music scene since he first released Dying Is Your Latest Fashion with Escape The Fate in 2006. Since then, his output has been both prolific—despite a two-year prison sentence—and controversial (see: the “Alone” video). Despite all the crap he takes, and the crap he furiously dishes back out, Radke is actually an extremely talented songwriter. If you look past the facade of drama, you'll find some real gems in his discography, some of which are actually touching (really) and some of which are just batshit fun. Covering one ETF album (and multiple EPs), three Falling In Reverse albums and one rap mixtape, and putting aside the obvious (“Situations,” “The Drug In Me Is You,” etc), here's your essential starter kit: the 10 best songs Ronnie Radke created, in no particular order.
Photo by Caleb Kuhl
1. “The Webs We Weave”
When asked which song reminded him of his “crazy drug days” spent in Escape The Fate, bassist Max Green picked “The Webs We Weave” as a no-brainer. It’s the closest thing to a definitive track on Dying Is Your Latest Fashion, channeling the duo’s path toward destruction in all its glory. The lyrics are both candid (“The pills I have to take/It helps me live a lie/And blinds all my mistakes”) and symbolic (“The mountains I have climbed/Help me enjoy the fall”).
2. “My Apocalypse”
If “The Webs We Weave” introduced you to Radke’s addiction and self-destruction, “My Apocalypse” took you to the dark end of the road. “End transmission,” Radke screams. “The satellites are down/I need an earthquake/To shake this pity off the ground.” The winding guitar of Bryan “Monte” Money takes you on a frantic journey to a place that “lies within the depths of my dreams/In a garden surrounded by fire and trees.” The emotive guitar solo exudes pure pain.
3. “The Westerner”
For anyone who’s been kicked to the curb, here’s the anthem to soundtrack your comeback. On “The Westerner,” Radke, a real-life westerner from Nevada, sings about being beaten, bruised and wrongfully accused. But it only serves to fuel his creative fire (“The more you kick me when I’m down/The more it truly helps”). The song is perhaps his most successful (and organic) fusion of rap and rock, and it’s cocky as hell: “There's nobody better in this music industry/And in case you think you are, go ahead, give me a ring!”
4. “Pick Up The Phone”
The Drug In Me Is You’s sixth track tells the tale of an abusive relationship over stomping, crunchy guitars that make for an (inappropriately) catchy rhythm. What begins with cries of “answer your text” then descends into the horrors of domestic violence. Radke sings, “Wipe the tears from off your face/Because the cops are knocking on the door.” This is important, he claims, because “When they see the bruises on my face/They're probably taking both of us to jail.”
5. “Raised By Wolves”
“Raised By Wolves” is a pretty standard Radke number—powerful post-hardcore glossed with synth—but what elevates it is the depth of its symbolism. Fresh out of prison, the singer roared back to life on this single, the first released under Falling In Reverse's banner. It was Radke’s first chance to lash out at his former bandmates (and all his other “enemies,” whoever they are) and here he’s seething with anger. In reference to Escape The Fate’s first album without him, This War Is Ours, Radke furiously declares, “This. War. Is. Mine!”
6. “Rolling Stone”
This bombastic track rockets off at maximum melodic velocity before exploding into earth-shattering breakdowns, dubstep drops and heavy West Coast rap. It’s absurd and should be celebrated for even existing. At its core, the song is just about being good at what you do (“I spit the fire and I’m killin’ the track) while being in your zone (“I got that white boy swagger rappin' right down to a T”).
7. “Fuck The Rest”
“Fuck The Rest” finds Radke leaving his darker, post-hardcore roots for a happier pop-punk sound. This is as close to A Day To Remember as you’ll ever hear FIR get. “It's over/I'm older/I'm alive/I'm sober,” Radke joyously sings over catchy power chords. And he’s still ambitious as ever: “I'll start a revolution bringing Gothic back/Got them marching like an army wearing black-on-black.”
8. “Stupid Boy”
It wouldn’t be a “Best Of Ronnie” list without picking something from his hip-hop catalog. “Stupid Boy” is classic Radke, going after his haters, who are “minimum wagin’” while he’s busy being fresh as fuck (“so much pussy I am tripling digits!”).
9. “Chemical Prisoner”
This post-hardcore throwback is taken from Falling In Reverse's new 2015 album, Just Like You, but you wouldn't know it. The chaotic song explores Radke's past struggles with addiction and sounds like something taken straight from Dying Is Your Latest Fashion.
10. “Stay Away”
It's always great to see a musician go back to their roots and the sound that fans originally fell in love with. As I said in my review of Just Like You in in AP 321 (on sale March 3), this aggressive piece of pop-punk has the right vibe to animate a skate park, but it still trembles with anxious lyrics. Radke sings, “Stay away/This is your last warning/I'm am not the same/Please do not adore me.”