Read Hard’s Classic Pop Punk Picks: Blink 182- Enema of the State

Posted: March 12, 2014 in Read Hard's Classic Pop Punk Picks

The next album up in “Read Hard’s Classic Pop Punk Picks” is Blink 182’s Enema of the state. It might not be the wisest choice of an album, because I feel like this might be the most biased column I will ever write on my little keyboard. Blink was the pop punk band I grew up on, so to pick a blink album for this column would almost be a necessity. I could’ve gone for my favorite blink album now, Dude ranch. I could have gone for Take off your pants and jacket, which I got at a record store in November 2001, which marked my transition from a weird dude with glasses into the world of Pop punk; as we know these two aren’t mutually exclusive. I could have gone for their eponymous album from 2003, which people constantly cream their jeans over. Instead I chose Enema of the state, an album I got for Xmas about a month after I had landed Take off. I had no idea what I wanted for Xmas as I had my two front teeth intact and that sort of imagination was never my strong suit. However, I was aware that there was another Blink album than Take off your pants and jacket. I think what I remember most from that Xmas is putting Enema of the State in the CD-player for the first time, and it is also one of the best holiday memories I have. So while neither my favorite album nor the first one I got, the choice was still pretty obvious!

Enema of the state was released June 1, 1999, exactly 32 years after The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers lonely hearts club band. The album sold over 15 million copies worldwide and scored three hit singles, “Adam’s Song”, “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things”, that became the biggest hit on the album and their biggest hit to date with its novelty video, which parodied the popular artists at the time. It’s safe to say that if one stands by the punk ideals that music should be D.I.Y and noncommercial, this is as far from that as it comes. It’s as mainstream as a pop punk ever was, except for maybe Green day. With the porn star Janine Lindemulder on the front cover it shows the immature humor the band stands for, but if dick jokes was all this band had I don’t think it would’ve had the appeal it has.

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1. “Dumpweed”: The songs starts with an iconic intro and goes into the interlude which is played on two strings and gives the listener a taste of the simple yet smooth melodies that are ahead of them. This song is sung by the guitarist, Tom Delonge, and he opens the first verse with his snotty, nasally vocals singing “It’s understood, I said it many ways”. Dumpweed is a song you have to sing along to whether you want to or not. And if you’re one of those political correct people, you don’t! The lyrics are Blink at their most misogynistic and the protagonist wants to leave a girl and get a girl that he can train like a dog. We have to remember that this is not a political song to proclaim that women should be treated like dogs; it’s written from a character’s perspective and I doubt Blink would hold such an opinion. And when it comes to sexism does any pop punk band really have a clean slate? And is a listener’s job to be a moral judge or to be entertained? A character in a song, a book or a movie doesn’t have to be likeable!

2. “Don’t Leave Me”: The second song on the album is a song sung by bassist Mark Hoppus and is a simpler song both lyrically and musically. My favorite part of the song might be the tambourine which is very reminiscent of the Ramones and maybe even the Beatles. And the lyrics are pretty funny and deal with a protagonist who begs his girl not to leave him and not let his dark past have an effect on their future relationship and she answers “Don’t let my door hit your ass”

3. “Aliens Exist”: Another song sung by Tom, the song is about his passion for UFO’s and conspiracies. The song has the most prominent rhyming scheme of the album, the verses have a A-B-C-C-B rhyming even though it uses assonances like “boring” and “stories” and “above” and “dumb”. The song tells the story of someone, with a child-like attitude, similar to the protagonist in Screeching weasel’s “Don’t turn out the light”, who fears being abducted by extra-terrestrials. The song’s final message is “I’m not like you guys, 12 majestic lies”, which is a reference to the majestic 12, the alleged secret committee who investigated flying saucers during the Truman administration.

4. “Going Away to College”: The ultimate Valentine’s Day love song, sung by Mark and harmonized by Tom on the choruses. Mark apparently wrote this song on Valentine’s Day while watching the teen movie Can’t Hardly Wait and though this song makes me think of the 90’s and gives me a nostalgic feeling, it also feels timeless. Sometimes, I am sad it wasn’t a single because I feel like it could be even bigger than “All the Small Things”, but I am also glad that I can dance around to this song by myself without it being corrupted by mainstream radio and TV-commercials. The tambourine is also present here.

5. “What’s My Age Again?”: Another song sung by Mark and the first single from the album. The music video had the band streak through the streets of Los Angeles. The song takes up one of pop punk’s most important theme. To get old, but not grow up, which traces back to the Descendents and their “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”. The feeling of immaturity and not wanting to grow up gets an even stronger effect with the naked video.

6. “Dysentery Gary”: Another of Tom’s “I’m really angry at girls” songs. However, the song deals more with the protagonist losing a girl to a guy he thinks is an asshole and tries to show in how many way he hates this guy, like calling him a pedophile, a fake heavy metal fan and a player who would just use the girl in question for sex and of course accusing him of having dysentery. The protagonist also admits his own and a lot of other men’s approaches to women, and that “I’ll shower you with lies”, which means, while criticizing the guy who got his girl, he might not be any better himself. In the end he gives up and calls someone’s mom a whore (whose mom, the girl or the guy or someone else is up for debate) and wants his dog again. This time it seems more like a reference to bestiality, which we’ll find later in songs like “Fuck a dog”.

7. “Adam’s Song”: The third single from the album. It was referred to as their serious song, and stands out as a different song that shows another side of the band. Mark’s lyrics deals with depression and suicide and has a lyrical reference to Julius Caesar’s veni, vidi, vici letter and Nirvana’s “Come as you are”; the latter obviously being a reference to suicide. Sadly, this is a song which has been used has the backing track to many teenage suicides and ironically the grammatical tense of the song changes from past to future tense and the lyrics become positive and shows that things will get better and suicide is not the answer. There is also a beautiful piano in the song that really gives one the feeling that this is serious blink. The music video that accompanies the song has the band playing in a warehouse and shows pictures of the band from their earlier years and childhood, which has a nostalgic touch that makes one feel a bit sad and happy at the same time, which are exactly the feelings the song conveys.

8. “All the Small Things”: As mentioned earlier, “All the Small Things” is the band’s biggest hit due to its catchiness and the video’s parody of artists like the Backstreet boys, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, N*sync and 98 degrees. The lyrics are very simplistic love lyrics and the melody is catchy and simple as well. The maybe most interesting thing about the song is that in the choruses that just go “nananananana” there’s a keyboard that once you hear it you cannot ignore it.

9. “The Party Song”: Contrary to the song’s title this is not a party song. It’s another song, this time from Mark, which borders on sexism. The song is about being invited to a party at a frat house, surrounded by shallow girls, moronic guys and date rapists and just wanting to go home and watch porn. The song promotes monogamy and that frat parties with girls with breast implants and without panties is not the way to find a serious relationship.

10. “Mutt”: The song which the band plays in the webcam episode of teen movie “American Pie”, the song is about a couple and their extraordinary sex-life, Tom sings the way they go on is “way too unhealthy, often they’ve typically been starved for attention before”. The song was also recorded in another version with earlier member Scott Raynor on drums for a surf video a while before.

11. “Wendy Clear”: Another Mark song about not getting the girl. The line “I wish it didn’t have to be so bad” is repeated throughout the song, both in the verses and the choruses. Like “Mutt”, “Wendy Clear” has one guitar playing a simple guitar riff and the second guitar playing something different so that the riff sounds more complex. The protagonist in the song wants to take a chance on a girl and take the risk of failing, using metaphors like playing with fire to break the ice and playing with a nuclear device. In the chorus he asks himself why he wants what he can’t get.

12. “Anthem”: When Enema of the State was released, Tom Delonge was 24 years old, however, his protagonist in “Anthem” yells that he wish his friends were 21 so they could buy him booze. The song is about growing up and being an outsider and being sick of parents and authority figures telling you what to do. For a kid hearing this song is the ultimate battle cry for rebellion, for an adult it’s kind of weird, but it’s a great song!

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I think how much this album means to me shows how important the influence of what one listened to in their early adolescence is. And I would never be into bands like Screeching Weasel, The Queers, the Mr. T Experience and the Ramones if it wasn’t for Blink 182. And it’s my juvenile, biased voice that says: People who don’t like this album either have something stuck up their bowels or they are full of shit, and to be honest these are the people who really need an enema. The next one will be about Stiff Little Finger’s “Go for it”

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