Blink-182 were one of the most popular pop-punk bands at the turn of the century, melding bratty, juvenile humor with infallible melodies. On albums like Enema of the State
and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
, this San Diego trio built off the suburban-punk aesthetic of Green Day
for songs about insecure guys and unobtainable girls, becoming superstars in the process. Blink-182 made a bid for maturity later in their career, but internal tensions fractured the group, causing their breakup in 2005. The band reunited four years later.
Blink-182 got together in the suburbs outside San Diego, California, in the early 1990s. Inspired by a high school friendship between guitarist Tom DeLonge and bassist Mark Hoppus, the group started working on punk-influenced material, aided by drummer Scott Raynor. The band simply went by Blink initially, but they changed their moniker to Blink-182 to avoid a dispute with a similarly-named group. Blink-182 recorded the independent records Buddha and Cheshire Cat, but by 1997, the group was ready to start making more overt commercial inroads.
Heading to the 'Dude Ranch':
Dude Ranch signaled an artistic leap for Blink-182. Granted, this was a band that still liked to sing their songs in a nasally whine with lyrics that were often sophomoric and crude, but the quality of the songwriting was hard to deny. Tracks like “I’m Sorry” and “Dammit” were explosively catchy, giving voice to adolescent agonies about relationships and fitting in. Dude Ranch wasn’t profound, but it struck a chord with younger audiences, who would only respond even more strongly to Blink-182’s next record.
Superstars With Potty Mouths:
If it was possible to dismiss Blink-182 as mere jokesters after Dude Ranch, 1999’s Enema of the State confirmed that they were accomplished mainstream songwriters. Though still ostensibly punk, the singles “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things” were unabashed pop songs designed to cross over to all radio formats. Travis Barker replaced Raynor on drums, and Blink-182 became a tighter, more tuneful group. Enema quickly went gold, earning quintuple-platinum status within two years. Blink-182 remained juvenile, but their candor about their insecurities made them enormously relatable to their growing fan base.
Refining Their Sound:
After the 2000 live album The Mark, Tom & Travis Show, the band returned with their next studio album the following year. Though Blink-182 refused to abandon their prankster spirit, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket suggested that the band both wanted to emulate the successful sound of Enema while pushing into new terrain. Take Off Your Pants didn’t capture the public imagination like Enema did, but singles like “The Rock Show” had a strong presence on modern-rock stations, and the album still managed to go double-platinum.
A Bid for Maturity:
Those who couldn’t stand Blink-182’s silly streak were more impressed with 2003’s Blink-182
. Sometimes referred to as Untitled
was the band’s stab at maturity, toning down the humor for serious examinations of adult relationships. Sonically, Blink-182
was also more varied, recalling moody ‘80s groups like the Cure
, whose frontman (Robert Smith) showed up to duet on “All of This.” The results were fairly predictable – Blink-182 earned newfound critical respect, but they failed to match their previous commercial highs. Still, the lovelorn single “I Miss You” became a huge hit, and the album went platinum.
Calling It Quits:
Tensions within Blink-182 finally caused the group to break up in 2005. This can be partly blamed on the group’s side projects – DeLonge and Barker were in Box Car Racer, Barker assisted in Transplants, and Hoppus and Barker were starting to do some work with +44. When Blink-182 called it quits, DeLonge focused his energies on his new band, Angels & Airwaves, while Hoppus and Barker turned +44 into a full-time pursuit.
Blink-182 appeared on stage together to give away the Grammy for Best Rock Album on February 8, 2009, fueling rumors that the band had decided to bury the hatchet and reunite. Shortly thereafter, the band made it official, releasing a statement announcing
that they were going into the studio to write and record their first album since 2003’s Blink-182
. A North American tour
kicked off July 23, 2009 in Las Vegas.
In September 2011, Blink-182 returned with their first studio album in eight years, Neighborhoods
. It featured the singles “Up All Night” and “After Midnight” and found the band touching on themes of mortality and aging.
Current Blink-182 Members:
Travis Barker – drums
Tom DeLonge – vocals, guitar
Mark Hoppus – vocals, bass
Essential Blink-182 Album:
Each Blink-182 studio album is a mixed bag – great songs are paired up with forgettable filler. Consequently, Greatest Hits
, released after the band’s breakup, is the ideal collection, especially for beginners. Diehard Blink-182 fans might complain that certain album cuts didn’t make this best-of, but to be honest, Blink-182’s greatest hits really are the best songs, and since this compilation is arranged chronologically, you can chart the steady creative growth of this band from their early singles to the more sophisticated love songs.
Enema of the State
The Mark, Tom & Travis Show
(live album) (2000)
Take Off Your Pants and Jacket