Falling in love is chaotic, discombobulating and exciting; falling out of love for me has also been the first two with the inverse amount of pain to excitement. In either direction, I’ve fallen hard, and, until Proceed Only With Authority, I couldn't write meaningfully and artfully about it.
I hate cliché is one of the most cliché things anyone can say and yet, like most indie kids, my distaste for the top 40 is visceral – to the point where I’m motivated to challenge every single one of them to some sort of fisticuffs, in a poetic way, of course. In the meantime, I want to doff my cap to the top 40 nearly 20 years ago.
On my birthday in 2003, blink-182 had a number 15 hit with “Feeling This” from their fifth album. Now, whatever you may think about the idea of twenty-something men writing about teenage angst and the 00’s recurrent sexualisation of high school manifested in its video, the song is, in my humble opinion, a banger and an anthem.
Listening to a song that meant a lot to Ollie while staying on his sofa for the night having ended my longest and most meaningful relationship to date, thinking I'd be into it, he leant into the verse/bridge that triggered my current obsession:
This place was never the same again after you
Came and went, how could you say you meant anything
Different to anyone standing alone on the
Street with a cigarette on the first night we met
Look to the past and remember and smile
And maybe tonight I can breathe for a while
I'm not in this scene, I think I'm falling asleep
But then all that it means is I'll always be dreaming of you
The first four lines are our focus. In contrast to Tom DeLonge’s lusting at the start of the summer fling, Mark Hoppus rues in one exhalation the end of that relationship. He lets his lines run over to add detail but also emotionality to the narrative – he doesn’t breathe until the thought is fully layered. Below, I’ve tried to show each layer, where, had Hoppus paused, the meaning of the verse could have subtly shifted. This place was never the same again After you came and went How could you say you meant anything Different to anyone standing alone on the street With a cigarette on the first night we met
Hoppus’ diction allows the idea to flow as it does with tight internal rhyming. An “ay” and “eh” sound occur five times each but occur internally so that rather than rely on rhyme to close the thought – as he does in the second half of the quoted verse and most pop songs generally do – Hoppus uses an outward breath that encourages an inhalation – a quick pause – before the verse’s resolution and the chorus sung with DeLonge.
According to Kerrang, the singers sat in separate rooms with the idea of sex to write on and came back together with two contrasting narratives that they felt – and I agree – worked perfectly together. In the same article, I also chuckled at Travis Barker’s comment “it’s a cowbell!”. His drums are monstrous and round out the mix in a way that people who are there to decode and/or dance can with equal measure.
And while I’m not going to say that today’s top 40 artists aren’t concerned with internal rhymes, rhetorical technique and incredible harmonisations between two lead singers, the way this song was written makes me enjoy it and appreciate it, and, dare I say, love it all the more.
I’m feeling this!