Hello, I’m MusiCommentator, and this is officially my 50th post on this blog! Pull out the streamers because we’re about to have a par-tay! Well, not really, but since this is kind of a special occasion and I was gone for a couple weeks (you can’t say I didn’t warn you) I decided to make a special kind of post. I’m going to rank an artist’s albums! Technically, I’ve done a “ranking” post before (2017 XXL Freshman Class RANKED) but this is going to be my first one focused on one artist’s discography. If you all like it enough, I might make these kinds of posts a special kind if post I will do every once in a blue moon, maybe every post that’s a factor of fifty or something like that (50, 100, 150, and so on). So, my first ranking post will be on: Fall Out Boy!
Fall Out Boy is a band I have a special connection with. They are a band based in Chicago that stormed the emo scene in the early 2000s with a unique blend of pop, punk, emo, and rock that instantly attracted many fans. While they have changed a lot over the years, they are still respected as one of the best emo bands of all time. In fact, I attribute them as the first band that got me into music. I did listen to some music before them, like Katy Perry’s “Firework” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”. Besides those two songs, though, I only listened to stuff like “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”, “Ice Cream and Cake”, and video game soundtracks. It’s no surprise to state that my music taste has changed a lot, and Fall Out Boy was an influential part of that. I have listened to all their albums and love a lot of their music. While not all of their material is up my alley, they are a perfect candidate for this kind of post.
As I stated above, I haven’t made a ranking post like this before, so I will go over the setup, rules, and all the trivial details before we hop in. Like the title says, I’ll be ranking their albums from worst to best. Now, when I say “albums”, I strictly mean regular studio albums. No deluxe versions, EPs, collaboration albums, remix albums, compilation albums, or any other kind of album will be featured. Just to be sure we’re on the same page, though, I will provide a small list of all the featured albums in order of release date (not by my opinions) right before the rankings so I do not get anyone saying in the comments “oh, you forgot about this one”. I’d like to stress, too, that this pre-list will not be in any way affected by my opinion. When I do give my albums in the rankings, I will also give my favorite and least favorite track right under the album cover, similar to what I did in my Top 5 Best EPs Of All Time list. Lastly, just know that I sometimes have controversial opinions about music, so realize that this is just my opinion and should not affect the way you listen to these albums if you disagree with me. Well, I don’t think there’s anything else to discuss now, so let’s do that pre-list, then get into the rankings!
Featured Albums (ordered by release date, NOT by my opinion):
- Take This To Your Grave (2003)
- From Under The Cork Tree (2005)
- Infinity On High (2007)
- Folie à deux (2008)
- Save Rock and Roll (2013)
- American Beauty/American Psycho (2015)
- M A N I A (2018)
The Ranking (Now THIS is ordered by my opinion):
#7 (WORST): M A N I A
Best Track: Church
Worst Track: Young and Menace
First of all, I just want to point out how stupid the original spelling of this album was. Who would ever want to write out “M A N I A” like that when writing about this album.
After Fall Out Boy made the hugely-commercial success that was “American Beauty/American Psycho”, they decided that they should fully get rid of almost all their rock elements and make an album that experimented in pop and electronica. This turned out to be a mistake for them. The first single they released for this album, “Young and Menace”, probably turned a lot of ears away from the band, and I can see why. I could make a whole post explaining why this song is utter trash, but keeping it brief, its largest problem lies in the beat breakdown. The vocal chopping on this track is blaspheme unto sound itself, and the electronic percussion laid through it makes it sound worse the further and further you get into the song. After this abomination hit the market, Fall Out Boy released half of this entire album as singles, begging for a real hit but never getting one. The only single I kind of like is “The Last of the Real Ones”, and even then it is not a track I plan on going back to. Once the album finally came out, after being delayed for months, they still got no hits from it.
The only two songs I could say I honestly like from this project are “Church” and “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” (which is almost as stupid of a title as “M A N I A”). “Church” actually has some rock influence in it, and the suspenseful choir in the epic chorus really makes this a good song. “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea”, while staying on the more hardcore side of electronica, is head-bobbing enough to be decent for a Fall Out Boy song. The rest of the tracks on this album, though, are trash. Surprisingly, there are a lot of bland and forgettable cuts on here, including “Champion”–which sounds like much-less-cool version of “Final Countdown”–“Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)”, and “Heaven’s Gate”. The most forgettable track of all is the last song, “Bishops Knife Trick”, which I have heard at least four times and could not tell you one line from it. When a track’s not terribly dull, it’s bad on a more traditional sense of the word. “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” and “Sunshine Riptide” are so awfully pop that I could never convince a fan from the mid-2000s that the same band who made “From The Cork Tree” would ever consider making songs like these. Not to mention, the Burna Boy feature on the latter track does nothing to make it better.
As a whole, this album was an attempt to be experimental, but it failed tremendously. My theory is that Fall Out Boy did not know what to sing about, since none of these songs cover a theme they have not already sung on, so they sang the same things and put some glossy instrumentals over it in hopes that no one would notice. But, holy cow, I have spent way too much time on just this album, so let’s move on before this becomes a novel.
#6: Take This To Your Grave
Best Track: Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy
Worst Track: Calm Before The Storm
This is Fall Out Boy’s first studio album, and while it did not break them into pop culture, it did acquaintance them with the emo crowd. As far as I can say, this is probably their most emo-inspired album, full of fast guitars, angsty vocals, and even some screamo sections. There are definitely some good tracks on here. “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” is about wanting a girl, but that girl is in a bad relationship with someone else. It’s kind of like the emo version of Shawn Mendes’s “Treat You Better” without all the domestic abuse undertones. “Dead On Arrival” is one of the most famous tracks on this project and comes with an extreme amount of teen angst. Pretty much anyone can see why it became a hit with the emo crowd.
If anything, this album was a great platform for Fall Out Boy to boost their career off of because of the many classic FOB elements that can be seen in the songs. The lyrics have a similar style to “From The Cork Tree” and “Infinity On High”, with their metaphors and impassioned comparisons hitting spot on. The big choruses, too, are also the focal points of many songs, as they remain the catchiest parts to this day.
I’ve said all positive things about this project so far, so I bet many of you are wondering why it is so far up. Well, I guess it is just not my style of emo music. I mean, it’s not like I don’t enjoy angsty music. My favorite Sleeping With Sirens work is their earlier stuff, so I obviously like emo music. This is just not my type of emo. I haven’t listened to much Blink 182, but from what I have heard, this album reminds me a lot of that style, and I’m not that big of a fan of that kind of emo. It’s just a personal preference, so if you deem this to be one of your favorite Fall Out Boy albums, I would not judge you. I just prefer some of Fall Out Boy’s other emo stuff (which we’ll get into, don’t you worry).
#5: American Beauty/American Psycho
Best Track: Centuries
Worst Track: Favorite Record
This is the first album on this ranking that I am genuinely fond of. Of course, it has its problems, but there are also many positive things I can say about this project.
After reasserting their place in the music world with “Save Rock And Roll”, Fall Out Boy solidified their presence with “American Beauty/American Psycho”, which arguably has bigger hits that “Save Rock And Roll” did. Firstly, their track “Immortals” for the animated film “Big Hero 6” was obviously a hit, and a well deserved one. Other songs from this album continued many of the same sonic and lyrical motifs “Immortals” set. As a whole, this is a prime example of pop rock. I mean, there is no arguing that it is more pop than rock, but the guitars and drums are still very present, which in 2015, was a stand-out feature over the EDM and dubstep being released at that time. Unlike “M A N I A”, this album was able to try out some different pop sounds while still sounding rooted in rock.
Songs like “Irresistable” and “Centuries”–my favorite track off the album–show this perfectly. “Irresistable” has the power of an arena-rock song, but uses electronic trumpets to convey its potency, and “Centuries” samples the famous song “Tom’s Diner”, adding some slashing guitars to make it a stadium-rocking hit. This type of loud, powerful arena-rock is seen at many other points in this album, with songs like “Novocaine”, “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel in NYC)”, and the title track taking on this style. “Novocaine” uses some great vocal distortion to give it a dark feel, “Twin Skeleton’s” has eerie chords to build suspense to the head-bobbing chorus, and the title track has a lot of late ’90s-early 2000s punk influence. Not every track is a hit, though. Tracks like “Jet Pack Blues” work well as a slower, deeper, but tracks like “The Kids Aren’t Alright” and “Favorite Record” (which is ironically my least favorite song on this album) come off as rather uninspired and boring.
I have to give this album a lot of credit; it was the first album that really got me into music. Even though I still love it, it is not perfect. The lyrics rarely contain the same wittiness that got them famous, and the album does not do too much to stand out as original when compared to other pop rock endeavors. Still, it’s the first album on this ranking I like a lot, so that means they’ll only get better from here.
#4: Save Rock And Roll
Best Track: The Phoenix
Worst Track: Miss Missing You
After a five year hiatus, Fall Out Boy needed to come back with something that packed a punch, and this album is certainly a wallop to the face…in a good way. That metaphor did not work as well as I thought it would, but you get what I mean.
This album started the groundwork for many of the arena-rock songs seen on “American Beauty/American Psycho”. The first two songs on this project, “The Phoenix” and “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” showcase this perfectly. The former song utilizes intense violins and a raucous chorus to give it a large feel, and the latter song has dark lyrics and forceful drums to fulfill the same purpose. However, not all of the great tracks on here emulate this style. “Just One Yesterday”, while still delivering a powerful chorus, feels a lot softer and personal. The first verse is probably my favorite verse on the entire album, as the angelic imagery is so captivating. The title track has the same kind of intimacy, and the vocal delivery from Patrick Stump and Elton John shows the true emotion that was put into this track. “The Mighty Fall” with Big Sean goes a bit more pop than the other songs I described, but the confident guitars and mighty chorus (pun intended) make this a track worth listening to.
I’d say the songs that aren’t very good on this album are the ones that cross the line of being too poppy. “Alone Together” and “Where Did The Party Go” border being too pop, but they both have better aspects to give them a pass. Other songs, though, I’m not as lenient on. “Young Volcanoes” is a bit too sugary for my liking, and “Miss Missing You” contains synths that should never be in a rock song.
Don’t think these tracks make the album bad. This is still a great album. The arena-rock songs on here may be void of some trademark rock influences, but many stand tall over the arena-rock hits from “American Beauty/American Psycho”. One could also discredit this album as bad because it was their first real step into selling out, but that does not make these songs terrible. There are a lot of tracks here I still find myself going back to, and it did successfully put Fall Out Boy back in the spotlight, which is exactly what the album was intended to do.
#3: Folie à Deux
Best Track: What a Catch, Donnie
Worst Track: She’s My Winona
Meaning “shared psychosis” in French, “Folie à Deux” is probably one of Fall Out Boy’s most intimate albums. It was the last full studio album they released before their hiatus, and I think it is one of their most ambitious endeavors.
Kicking off this album is “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes”, which is a great opening track. It sets up many of the themes this album has in store, and the repeated lines “Doc, there’s a hole where something was”, “So boycott love/Detox just to retox”, and “Nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy” set the motifs of broken love and dealing with fame. Acting as a strong juxtaposition, right after this anthem comes “I Don’t Care”, which is arguably Fall Out Boy’s punk-est song. I don’t think anything can describe punk as perfectly as the chorus “I don’t care what you think as long as it’s about me”. I think the stark differences between the two tracks that start this album off show just how versatile this whole project really is.
Fall Out Boy was not afraid to take risks on here. The last minute in a half of “W.A.M.S.” has the song completely change itself and transform to a lower production quality with Patrick mumbling and tapping along to some cryptic lyrics. This is quite an odd twist for a song to take, but I see it as one of the highlights of the album. “What a Catch, Donnie” also takes on a unique structure, as FOB recruits a myriad of musical legends, including Brendon Urie and Elvis Costello, to sing some of their past lyrics. The song itself, too, is astounding, as the lyrics paint such lifelike images. I can’t spend this much time talking about every song on this album, so I’ll just say that most of the risks Fall Out Boy takes on here work out for the better, as the new styles they experiment with blend immaculately with their traditional methods.
Where this album falters is on some of the less memorable tracks. “She’s My Winona” and “20 Dollar Nose Bleed” have their own merit, but pale in comparison to some of the other tracks on here when it comes to originality and general enjoyment. And while the lyrics on here are some of their most figurative and complex, it comes off as more serious and does not have the same wit some of their earlier projects have. I would not necessarily call this a negative trait of the album, but it is not like it’s an improvement on anything, either.
Still, this in my third favorite album from Fall Out Boy, and is surely their most underrated album of all time. It never did get media attention like some of their other projects, so if you have not listened to this album, I would highly recommend it, as it is different from any other Fall Out Boy album I have heard.
#2: From Under The Cork Tree
Best Track: A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More “Touch Me”
Worst Track: Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends
When I was planning this list, I originally had this album at number five because I believed a lot of the songs blended in with one another, but as I listened to it a couple more times, I found so many great things I had missed the first time, and I found myself moving it higher and higher up the ranking until it landed here.
This is the album that sent Fall Out Boy flying into the mainstream like a cannonball full of gritty guitars, passionate vocals, and teenage emotions. Also, that wit/dark sense of humor I have been referencing a lot throughout this post has its time to shine on this album. Just the name of the first song, “Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song We Wouldn’t Get Sued”, showcases this excellently. This song, as of the strong majority of songs on this album, has a very catchy chorus. A lot of the choruses on here get stuck in your head as easy as glue. After listening to this project, I found myself repeating many of the choruses while doing mundane things around the house and whatnot
“Sugar, We’re Going Down” and “Dance, Dance” were the two songs on this album that got Fall Out Boy a lot of popularity, and they are both great songs. They take on that emo pop punk style that FOB became famous for in the mid-2000s. On “Dance, Dance”, Patrick’s vocals on the verse are quick and full of vigor, and the instrumentals match this very well. When the chorus hits, this same energy is seen on a larger scale, making it a memorable rock tune. “Sugar, We’re Going Down” is admittedly not as fast paced or high-octane, but Fall Out Boy takes the common emo topic of wanting a girl and puts their own iconic twist on it. The racy lyrics “I’ve been dying to tell you anything you want to hear/’Cause that’s just who I am this week” and “Oh, don’t mind me, I’m watching you two from the closet/Wishing to be the friction in your jeans” make this a bopping hit.
It’s not just the singles that are great though. Some of the deep cuts on here are the best songs on the album. My favorite track on this album, “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More ‘Touch Me'” is very typical emo, but the lyrics on it have a stark relatability, at least for me. “And you’re just the girl all the boys want to dance with/And I’m just the boy who’s had too many chances” is a line that really hits for me. “Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year” and “I Slept With Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me” are like many of the songs on this album in that they have great verses and an amazing chorus, but these are two more songs I like particularly better from the others
I was wrong when I thought that all of these songs sounded alike. They’re in the same genre of music, so of course they will sound a bit like each other, but each song on here has its own worth. So many fun lines can be found within the lyrics, and the different levels of energy and flair within the tracks makes each one a unique experience in itself. Still, this is not as good as my favorite Fall Out Boy album…
#1 (BEST): Infinity On High
Best Track: You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave
Worst Track: Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?
This album embodies what Fall Out Boy truly is (or should be, or is supposed to be): a clever emo band that is not afraid to take risks. This album, in other words, is Fall Out Boy at their best!
The first track kicks off the album perfectly, with an intro from JAY Z–Hova’ himself–dedicating this album to the haters who said he and Fall Out Boy would never be famous. Of course, the song then goes into this theme deeper. A lot of songs have tackled this topic, but Fall Out Boy does it with a special kind of elegance. I love how the second verse describes how fame makes people see him, Patrick Stump, and the chorus acts as a fine centerpiece, inspiring those who used to be like the members of Fall Out Boy before fame to strive for greatness.
The album then splits and delves into many topics. “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race” has one of the most stinging choruses on this album, as the chant of the title (with an additional expletive) attacks with a punchiness that leaves an impression. “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” uses Fall Out Boy’s recognizable metaphors and dark humor to make a radio hit. Even the title of the song, as it is missing all the vowels, is a retort to their label for saying they needed to make their track titles shorter.
However, just as with “From The Cork Tree”, the deep cuts are not to be forgotten. In fact, I would argue that some of the deep cuts are even better than the hit tracks on here. “Hum Hallelujah” interpolates Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to paint a picture of a rocky relationship, with lyrics such as “We’re a bull, your ears are just a china shop”, “The road outside my house is paved with good intentions/Hired a construction crew ’cause it’s hell on the engine”, and “A teenage vow in a parking lot, ’til tonight do us part/I sing the blues and swallow them too” provide such great figurative language and imagery, and the bridge is a flawless blend of genres that is worth hearing. “Golden” slows things down and is more intimate than any of the songs on “Folie à Deux”. This ballad is an especially powerful one, with the chorus being close to tear-jerking. “The Carpal Tunnel of Love” is much darker, with the assertive guitars blaring as Patrick yells bold lines like “We keep the beat with your blistered feet/We bullet the words at the mockingbirds singing”. My favorite track on here is one of my favorite Fall Out Boy songs of all time, and probably their most criminally underrated one, “You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave”. This song tells the story of a courtroom case in an attempt to explore the corruptness of America’s judicial system. It is a political song, but almost anyone can enjoy it.
Finding a song to pick for my least favorite track on here was tough, but even the one I picked is still an enjoyable song for me. There is so much to be praised on this album, and there are not many glaring problems to be found with it. It did what “M A N I A” failed at: experimentation, and this is because that experimentation was done out of artistic integrity, not to try to sell more units. This album blended different styles with emo and punk to make a masterpiece, and this is why I believe “Infinity On High” is Fall Out Boy’s best album.
Thank you for reading my Fall Out Boy Album Ranking. I know this was an exceptionally long post, but I will only be doing these album rankings on special occasions, so my future posts are not always going to be this long. If you liked this list, make sure to follow my website, Twitter, and Instagram, like this post, and be sure to check in to read my future content. Also, if you have something you want to see me review, tell me in the comments. Until then, keep on listening to good music! I know I will.