Why Is Fall Out Boy So Popular?

Fall Out Boy, carefree as everEXPAND
Fall Out Boy, carefree as ever
Pamela Litky

There have to be moments of existential angst for every worthwhile pursuit.

There really does. If the universe is fair, everybody out there — working away at some job or profession,
hobby, labor of love, whatever it might be — has to have some moment where you look within your soul and ponder a deep, meaningful question. Your very existence seems to count on the answer, as well, and at that moment in time, you need to know.

While it isn’t life or death, there is a question haunting us at the moment, and that question is this: Why is Fall Out Boy so popular?

This question is not in any way meant to begrudge the band their fame or success. They work hard, they write catchy, popular songs, and by reputation, put on a great live show. Fall Out Boy has grown in stature over the 15 years they have existed, and we should really be celebrating them and coining likenesses of their cherubic faces on currency.

Okay. Maybe monetizing their visages is a bit much, but we do want to be clear that the source of our dilemma is not one of malice. We just don’t get the “it” that makes Fall Out Boy so palatable for so many people. Is it the combination of the key players involved? Patrick Stump (vocals, keys, rhythm guitar), Joe Trohman (lead guitar, vocal, keys), Pete Wentz (bass, vocals, most of the lyrics), and Andy Hurley (drums since 2003) have been pounding out the tunes for much of the band’s career and played together on each of their six LPs, and those albums have sold, all together, in excess of seven and half million records.

That’s a lot of records. We asked Wentz where the inspiration for these songs comes from. Maybe that’s the answer.

“Where we grew up was pretty boring. It was probably the most boring suburban existence there was. We came out of where every John Hughes movie [was made] ever,” Wentz says.

Hmm. Perhaps Fall Out Boy had their own version of angst way back then in the early days, and the struggle really is real. Was there a girl, maybe the one who inspired every Molly Ringwald character ever, who took an emotional dump on Wentz? If so, he’s not saying.

“I grew up listening to Metallica, Green Day … originally, I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson,” Wentz continues.

Perhaps that’s it. The tragic life of Michael Jackson, combined with the mall punk misery of Green Day is where we should be looking for greater understanding of the Fall Out Boy mystery. And it is a mystery, to be sure, as you think about the way the career of this band has been constructed by whomever (Illuminati?) is pulling the strings. Just take a look at their full record of remixes of their last release, Make America Psycho Again (which features remixes from 2015’s American Beauty/American Psycho) and the collaboration with 11 well-known rap artists including Azealia Banks, Wiz Khalifa, and others. Kids love the rap, so why not combine it with Fall Out Boy? Genius.

For many fans, the first record Fall Out Boy put out in 2003, Take This to Your Grave, is the quintessential album by the band and a defining moment in pop punk history, influencing countless bands since it came out, but for Wentz, there is no draw in revisiting the past, no matter how many fans would like to hear more songs like “Dead on Arrival” or “Sending Postcards from a Plane Crash (Wish You Were Here)” on future releases.

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“The spirit of [the first record] is great. It would be disingenuous to go back … It’s also one of those things where things are created in a moment, and going back and trying to figure out what that the recipe is would kind of make a mess of things, maybe,” Wentz shares.

Either way, the band’s giant “Wintour is Coming” roadshow promises to be epic, even if we still don’t fully understand why. It is cool, though, that the band gloms on a little bit to the whole Game of Thrones thing with the title of their tour. And much like the fictional character from Martin’s books, Jon Snow, when it comes to the allure of Fall Out Boy, we still “know nothing.”

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