Critics do their best to ignore Blink-182. After all, it's not easy to get scrunched up with deep opinions about lip-ringed, occasionally naked SoCal troublemakers hawking pre-YouTube music-video softcore on early-morning MTV rotation. Pitchfork didn't even bother publishing a flogging (a la21st Century Breakdown
) of Blink's 2011 comeback albumNeighborhoods
, much less a review.
In fact, to fans of previous musical generations, Blink-182 might be two notches above nursery rhymes in terms of the grand musical canon. Rolling Stone would call their 1999 album Enema of the State "harmless," which is profoundly wrong. Simply because there's a huge demographic of college kids thinking hard about music who consider Blink-182 one of the most important bands of all time, in about a decade, the band's best songs will achieve the respectable ubiquity of classic-rock radio. Blink-182 is anything but harmless, and they absolutely deserve their forthcoming revisionism.
Blink-182 isn't brainless pop; it made it onto far too many bitter mixtapes for that. Beyond all the dick jokes and debauchery, Barker, DeLonge and Hoppus managed to write tunes that feel honest, true and resolute. Sure, it takes a certain level of teenybopper ignorance to let "I Miss You" get scratched into your soul, but nobody's ever articulated those pathetic vibes better.
The band has ascended into a certain cultural immortality where dozens of other pop-punk vagabonds have been neutralized by their own bullshit. That's not just because Blink has about 90-minutes of stadium-ready, nonstop car jams. It's because "Nobody likes you when you're 23" is actually a genius thing to say in a rock song. Blink-182 was secretly very good at telling a reflective story in two minutes. To this day these so-called cartoon-character pop songs reflect a beguiling amount of gravitas, and that's why they'll remain unavoidable.
But hey, don't take my word for it. Take it from some "important" bands. Wavves mastermind Nathan Williams was an early-'00s adolescent in sun-baked San Diego, and his 2010 breakout King of the Beach is full of the combustible, snot-nosed self-hating twee-punk that Blink founded a career on.
Quietly and inevitably, Blink-182 is becoming a hugely influential band, simply because the mall-rats that bought their records are getting old enough to voice opinions of their own. Japandroids put out one of the most critically acclaimed albums in recent memory withCelebration Rock
, which features a song called "The House That Heaven Built," which contains the sort of beautiful, heart-in-throat bombardment that seems to exist solely to seize the Summer Jam throne. Critics wax poetic on its youthful vigor, how Brian King's "Tell 'em all to go to hell!" gave them butterflies. But really, is that any different than Hoppus' "Place your hand in mine /I'll leave when I wanna?" We're all getting infatuated with these semi-punk anthems on indie labels, conveniently forgetting that Blink-182 had this game down.
Look, maybe you're not convinced, maybe there's nothing I can say that will make you groove to the band that wrote "Adam's Song." I get it, it's a generational thing, but let me put it this way: If there was one band that had to transcend Warped Tour superstardom and become cultural bedrock, we should be pretty glad it's Blink-182.
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