If you've read any of my work thus far, you know that I love to hate things. It's a passion of mine, honestly. However, every now and then, I like to sprinkle in some positivity on top of all the detestation. Woot. Now, as the title suggests, this is of course a part II, and part I of this series will be linked at the end. I think this least needs no further explanation, so let us begin with:
"Demons" - Imagine Dragons
In my experience, whenever I have prompted someone to tell me whether or not he/she enjoys the musical stylings of Dan Reynolds and Imagine Dragons, the answer is always a resounding "NO, miss me wid dat bull sh**." However, what I find most interesting is that this response is almost always followed by, "...But I do like that one ____ song though." This is interesting, particularly because the song that fills in the blank is always different. In my case, that song is "Demons." Now am I suggesting that this a great song? Well, no. However, as opposed to much of Imagine Dragon's material, "Demons" is nowhere near as emotionally hollow and devoid of meaning as much as their other catalogue is. For once, it actually seems as though Reynolds is singing about something personal to him, and for once, his vocals aren't backed up by an instrumental that, while not perfect, isn't so bombast that it takes away from the song's substance. While "Demons" might be too overly dramatic for its own good, I feel as though this song has done much more good for people than that dumb f**king song about "feeling the thunder."
"I Will Follow" - U2
It is important to mention that this article is by no means implying that the songs listed here are the ONLY good songs by these bands. Of the few good songs these bands have produced, I am simply highlighting my personal favorites. To be honest, of all the bands listed here, U2 is probably the most talented of the bunch. However, re-listening to a lot of the band's material in preparation for this has certainly reassured my inclusion of them on this list, post Joshua Tree especially. Surprisingly enough though, Bono doesn't actually come across as a vapid turd on this song, and, equally as impressive, the Edge actually delivers a bright, crisp riff that isn't layered/buried beneath a wall of sound that would give murderer/producer Phil Spector a hard-on. Although what truly makes the song great are the contributions from bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr., who really carry the pulse and energy of the track. It almost seems as though U2 excels when the songs aren't centered around the contributions of the two least talented members of the band...
...the Edge f**king sucks guys, what can I say?
"Dance, Dance" - Fall Out Boy
Ah yes, "FOB." The band that gave all the girls from my middle school with purple hair and backpacks littered with buttons they found at the front counter of Hot Topic their first wet dream. Now, I have written fairly extensively on this site before about many of the worst bands that the early to mid 2000s wave of pop-punk/emo music had to offer. And if you read, those of you would know that I have never mentioned this band. This is because, as opposed to bands like Simple Plan and Good Charlotte, Fall Out Boy actually wrote some pretty fantastic songs in their day (Hint "their day" means pre-hiatus). It is my opinion (and Patrick Stump's btw) that "Dance, Dance" is possibly their greatest work. Pete Wentz actually delivers an incredibly infectious bass line, Andy Hurley puts in a powerful drum performance that helps drive home the energy of the song, and Stump belts lyrics that perfectly accentuate the fun yet sexual energy the song bleeds...see, I don't hate all pop-punk.
"Carry on Wayward Son" - Kansas
Hmm...I haven't really met my "one meme per article" quota yet, so...
But yeah, "Carry on Wayward Son" rules, I don't need to tell you that. However, just listen to the rest of Kansas' catalogue (you know with the exception of "Dust in the Wind" of course) and you'll agree that Kansas is awful too.
"Hopeless Wanderer" - Mumford & Sons
Now if I'm being honest, I don't actually despise Mumford & Sons as much as so many music critics and fans seem to. Regardless, I understand where they are coming from. When the band released their 2015 album, Wilder Mind, the Sons as well as their father Mumford (does that joke even land? probably not) stripped back the gimmicks, and proved to the haters that they in fact have no legitimate songwriting chops. Bummer. However, behind the douchey bow ties and suspenders, Mumford & Sons occasionally showed that they're not entirely musically incompetent. For example, I absolutely adore "Hopeless Wanderer," a song that deals with the struggle to allow oneself to emotionally invest themselves in a new relationship in fear of being hurt. While the Sons consistently attempt to come off as way more complex and profound than they actually are, "Hopeless Wanderer" actually accomplishes these aesthetics through a strong build and an instrumental climax that's so good it's almost disappointing when you consider how underwhelming much of their other material is. At the end of the day, it's almost a shame how good this song is...although "The Cave" is kind of a banger too though.
"The Adventure" - Angels & Airwaves
Wait, I already used my meme pass, didn't I? Ugh, look, if you're a Blink-182 fan like I am, you've probably been witness to many of the jokes and debates regarding Tom DeLonge. Unlike many on the Internet, I do not partake in the DeLonge hate fest that seems to clog so many fan forums and social media platforms. Regardless, I can still admit that Angels & Airwaves is a god-awful band (sorry Tom, love ya). The formula is quite simple: copy/paste the same song structures used in Blink, add some sparkling synthesizers and pen lyrics that come across so jejune (there's a 20-point word for ya) and cookie-cutter, they sound as if they were ripped straight from a 13-year old's composition book. HOWEVER, it is my opinion that "The Adventure" is so absolutely over-the-top and sugary sweet, that it kind of works. Even if the enjoyment is almost ironic in a sense, one can't help but sing along in "Tom" voice by the time he gets to the "OIIIIII CANNOT LIIIIIVE, OI CAN'T BREEEIIITHE UN-less, you DEW THIS WITH MEEEE!!*^#$" part...
Plus, Tom utilizes a delay pedal better than the Edge ever did on this song...like, seriously that riff is absolute candy.
"In Too Deep" - Sum 41
Ah, you thought I was done douching on pop punk. You know, eventually I'll write something detailing all the pop punk that I thoroughly enjoy (hint hint), but today is just not that day. But hey, this article isn't about raining on anyone's parade. Rather, this is about songs that I personally think are quite good, and "In Too Deep" by Sum 41 is no exception. When Sum 41 bust onto the scene in 2001 with their debut All Killer No Filler, it seemed that the only place the band could go was up. With that debut came "In Too Deep," a track that, similar to "Dance, Dance," perfectly represents all of the aspects that make pop punk an incredibly fun genre to listen to. It's anthemic, it delivers a myriad amount of energy and it contains a guitar riff tasty enough to inspire 10-year-olds everywhere to pick up one of those red Fender Squire Minis for the first time. At the end of the day, that's what pop punk is all about...I think. Well I guess there's that whole universe of emotive and intelligent pop punk that exists more to connect with the listener on an emotional and personal level like the Get Up Kids, Paramore and Jawbreaker and stuff, but I digress.