Massachusetts Daily Collegian

2003 Retrospective Part 1: Blink-182 Grows Up

By Alexa Hoyle

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To say that 2003 was an incredible year for music would be an understatement. It was a time where bands were doing things so innovative that it completely changed the music scene. It has now been a decade since some incredible albums were released, so what better time to think introspectively about their influence than now? More importantly – why are these albums so important to begin with?

Now, to be fair, I was about 10 or 11 when each of these records came out. I discovered most of them a few years later – and to this day, I’m still falling in love with albums from 2003. But we should probably start with the only album I bought that came out that year shortly after: Blink-182’s untitled album (or, self-titled, depending on how you look at it).

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This is a band that, at the time, was definitely not known for their maturity. They released an album that demonstrated the transition of writing songs merely about first dates, to crafting a dark and deeply personal album the right way. Everything from the lyrics, to the tone of the music, evolved somewhere between Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and this album. And it just worked.

When a band sets out to do a more “mature” album there’s usually a bit of trepidation from fans. Can they pull it off? Can they go from writing silly pop-punk tunes, to writing heart-breaking songs? The untitled album blew any fan anxiety out of the water. The band went from writing songs that were entirely curse words (“Family Reunion”) to writing songs like “Stockholm Syndrome” that had lyrics such as:

You’re cold with disappointment
While I’m drowning in the next room
The last contagious victim of this plague between us
I’m sick with apprehension
I’m crippled from exhaustion
And I dread the moment when you finally come to kill me

When you delve deeper into the lyrics, you realize the album is full of love songs. And if we’re being honest, most albums ever written are often times full of songs about someone they love. But to write an album that doesn’t feel sappy or repetitive, but wholly sincere and new, is a feat. A song like “I Miss You” is a love song, yes, but one that’s haunting, dark, and even references The Nightmare Before Christmas. They say you can’t reinvent the wheel, but damn, you can get incredibly close if you try hard enough.

There are too many bands to count today that list Blink-182 as their driving influence. If there is one thing that this album did above all else, it was to convince these ingénues that you don’t have to always stick to what you know. This lesson in evolving is why the album is just as relevant now as it was ten years ago. This is a band that, at the time, saw their star on the rise. It would have been easy for them to have just stuck to their guns and continue to put out the same stuff fans had come to expect. But they didn’t do that. They took a leap of faith, they experimented, and they showed that it’s nothing to be afraid of. That’s why I’m still spinning this album ten years later.

Alexa Hoyle can be reached at [email protected]

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