Pop-Punk Matures: Revisiting Blink-182’s 2003 untitled album

“Pick me up now, I need you so bad.”

Blink-182’s brand of pop-punk had, by 2003, cemented them as one of the most popular bands of the new millennium. And for good reason. They had always known how to create catchy songs with some massive hooks that appealed to a wide variety of people.

Eventually, though, almost every young band (especially in pop-punk) attempts to shoot for a more “mature” sound. And Blink-182’s 2003 untitled affair was that result. It’s an album that even has Robert Smith of The Cure on a song, which seems pretty crazy, but it’s really not.

Growing up in the early 2000s was honestly a dream for me as a preteen and teenager. Every generation thinks they grew up listening to the BEST MUSIC EVARRRRR, but I genuinely feel this way. There was literally nothing better than coming home from elementary and middle school to watch FUSE TV for 6 hours or so and discovering more music. Linkin Park AMVs while playing Runescape? Taught me how to crudely video edit. Atreyu video on Fuse’s Uranium show? Bad air guitar skills. I’ll always be thankful for that.

While Blink-182 was never my favorite pop-punk band or anything, I was a pretty big fan of them back in the day. I seriously remember playing Madden 2004 just to hear “Feeling This” over and over again as Jerome Bettis ran into the endzone for another Pittsburgh Steelers touchdown, and thinking about how much I loved those memories made me recently rekindle my love for the band’s highly matured self-titled album, released in 2003.

It was truly an album I didn’t “get” at first. Sure, I liked a few songs off it, but my 13 year old self wondered a few things. “Where’s the toilet humor?” “Where’s the hundredth rewrite of ‘Dammit’?” And then it hit me. This was an album that needed a little more time to digest.

Even on tracks like the aforementioned “Feeling This”, which wouldn’t sound out of place on their previous 4 records, you can tell that this album was one that would divide a lot of people, but eventually would become a beloved album that created the soundtrack to many a childhood memory. I know it did that for me. I can distinctly remember listening to album standouts “Always” and “Stockholm Syndrome” and playing football with my friends, or listening to “I Miss You” after another fucking middle school girl rejection. Because when you’re 13, nothing hurts more than hearing “yeah I don’t like you like that, sorry!”.

There was something truly special about this album. It was that moment when you knew you were listening to a true work of art that would influence many current pop punk bands future material, or at least foreshadow it. New Found Glory’s Coming Home, Relient K’s Four Score and Seven Years Ago, and Jimmy Eat World’s Futures albums are certainly 3 prominent ones that came later. But for a moment, Blink-182 fans were treated to an album that, for most, would not soon fall by the wayside. No longer deserving of being called formulaic, Blink-182’s self-titled album stands tall as one of the best (if not possibly THE best) example of what happens when pop-punk grows up.

Thanks, Blink-182, for being the soundtrack to younger dreams and happy memories.

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