I’ll never for the life of me understand how Blink-182 are considered a guilty pleasure band while people who are supposedly grownups listen to Green Day. Every time I see a picture of Green Day I’m so embarrassed for them. They look like the kind of teenagers I’m glad get bullied. Do they even make music anymore or do they just put on guyliner and pretend to know enough about the world to tell me who to vote for?
When I go back and listen to Green Day’s early work, I don’t think it holds up. It’s way too self-indulgent, self-serious and, at its worst, maudlin. On the other hand, Blink-182 were almost always irreverent, even when they were feigning a sense of seriousness. And when they do dip their toes in the waters of teenage angst, it at least comes across like they’re cashing in, not believing their own bullshit. (For anyone who isn’t aware, cashing in and suckering your audience out of their money is just about the most punk rock thing anyone can do.) Even when there’s a sincerity to their melancholia, you get the sense that it’s a remembrance of times past, not a grown man stuck in middle school.
Who is dying to get anyone in Green Day to play on their records as a guest? Absolutely no one, that’s who. Good thing they’re busy writing rock operas about how George Bush looks like a monkey or whatever trenchant political insight Billie Joe and the boys are peddling these days.
Blink’s total lack of self-seriousness is definitely one of their prime features. You just can’t be in a fun band when you’ve hitched your star to that faction of American politics comprised of class tattletales who think they’re class rebels. On the other hand, it’s kind of hard not to be fun when you’re singing songs about someone’s grandpa shitting his pants on Labor Day or the teenage fantasy of running away from home with the coolest girl you’ve ever met in your life.
Smoking weed and jerking off in Longview, Washington? Meh. One step removed from crying over your parents' divorce.
Image matters in punk rock, sure. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t have the slightest idea what punk is about (pro tip: it’s mostly about being a smug dick who belittles anyone not as cool as you are). But what really matters is the music. So let’s talk about the music.
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The brief highlight of Green Day’s career was that album they did like 15 years ago that flirted with Kinksian mod pop and mostly had acoustic guitar action going on. Everything they did before or since always has me wondering if they’re joking. And, of course, they’re probably not.
Compare that to Blink-182. They never got the same respect that Green Day did, critically speaking, probably because they were too busy smoking weed and being awesome to play Obama fundraisers. Whereas Green Day relied upon chunky riffs that were tired the first time someone copied them from Stiff Little Fingers and Buzzcocks 30 years ago, Blink boast textured guitar work that owes more to The Cure and The Smiths than it does The Ramones and The Clash. It also helps that Blink have a singer who can actually sing (two, in fact) and a drummer who can actually play.
As far as the average punk fan is concerned, Blink’s biggest crime was not being signed to No Idea. If they only played the Fest instead of Warped Tour, you’d see all kinds of bearded, balding, be-flanneled men proudly showing off their Blink logo tattoos.
They're good enough for Matt Skiba. That ought to make them good enough for you.