|Blink 182 - Greatest Hits|
|Written by Dan Macintosh|
|Tuesday, 01 November 2005|
There’s nothing particularly highbrow about a blink-182 Greatest Hits video collection. In fact, this punk trio aims for – and consistently hits – the lowest common denominator here. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge, bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker, blink-182 sings about simple stuff that appeals to young punks, and then illustrates these songs in ways that dumb them down for an undemanding, mostly teenage audience.
This band’s most famous visual image is of themselves as three streakers, a concept first introduced with the “What’s My Age Again?” video. In it, the group runs around naked within a variety of different settings, and is even captured darting through The Jim Rome Show set. The act’s relatively young age is also played up, especially during the clip for “Josie,” which takes place before a high school backdrop.
At least this act enjoys having fun with their image. However, during “All the Small Things,” it plays with the whole boy band craze by dressing in different male singing group outfits. Then, on “First Date,” the group is allowed to live out its ‘70s clothing style urges and ends up looking like extras from an old “Starsky & Hutch” episode. Still, one wonders if these boys actually got this idea from watching the recent Ben Stiller remake, because they might be a little too young to remember the original program.
Blink-182 have the reputation of being dopey cut-ups, but they also have a (small) serious side, too. This crevice in their group personality is exemplified on “Stay Together for the Kids,” which explores the hurtful subject of divorce. The clip begins with a simple onscreen sentence, white writing on a black background, which reads, “20 percent of American homes are destroyed by divorce.” Clearly, “destroyed” is the operative word here, because the group goes to great lengths in the song to illustrate the evil nature of divorce. To bang its point home, the band is seen playing inside a home which is being demolished by a wrecking ball.
This disc is called Greatest Hits because it contains video accompaniments to the band’s radio hits. Greatest hits collections can also serve to overview a band or solo artist’s legacy, no matter how good or bad that legacy may be. Blink-182 is associated with a large and unfortunate trend, because it is the monster that the pop-punk movement created. It will be remembered, depressingly, as an example of what happened when idealistic punk was diluted to nearly nothingness. And that’s no positive legacy at all.
This rant may sound like a broken record (an outdated analogy to begin with), but punk rock once actually meant something. It was more than just a fashion statement, more than just a pose. It was a rebellion against the establishment, if you can imagine that, instead of a sound that harmonized so easily with a cash register’s ring. But this musical gene pool has been bastardized beyond the point of recognition. So what does blink-182 have to do with real punk? Nothing at all.
This is not to suggest that the original punks were any kind of upright citizens. Far from it. Guys like Sid Vicious represented the dregs of society. They just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Even lowlife people can speak out against injustice, however. That’s what the Sex Pistols did. Even the Ramones, which were hardly ever a political entity, exemplified the beauty of musical simplicity during a time when rock complexity was so overrated. Both the Sex Pistols and the Ramones added significantly to rock music’s history, whereas blink-182 merely mooches off of it.
When you hear punk rock discussed these days, you’re just as likely to hear the names Good Charlotte and blink-182 mentioned right along with more significant bands, like Bad Religion and Green Day. Green Day, you may recall, also started as a dumbbell band – one very much like blink-182. But rather than wallow in their own stupidity, they grew and matured, ultimately adding thoughtfully to the dialogue about our current political climate. Which is way beyond what can be said about blink-182’s slight contribution to the world.
Songs like "Feeling This," from blink’s recent self-titled 2003 release, might reveal a slowly growing maturity. Additionally, “I Miss You” and “Down” add a slightly new less frenetic acoustic feel to the act’s rock mix. Granted, this music is better. But it’s still not great. Everybody grows up, gets a regular job, and settles into normal life. That doesn't make everybody great artists, however; just regular Joes. In contrast, what makes Green Day truly special is how they combined their eventual maturity with a little insightful social perspective.
Examining blink-182 is a little bit like plowing through a boxed set of “Gilligan's Island” episodes: the characters, such as Gilligan, show the physical signs of aging, yet never act any more mature than when they first landed on the island. (Some of them don’t even change their clothes. But that’s another story.) The clueless Gilligan is the character blink-182 most closely resembles, because this group consistently sings about being screw-ups. If you were forced to watch enough “Gilligan’s Island,” you might just talk back to the TV screen and insist that the Skipper take Gilligan aside and say something like, "Little buddy, you really need to grow up." Similarly, you may feel like performing the same service for blink-182’s members after wallowing through this collection.
As with “Gilligan’s Island,” blink-182’s persona starts to grow stale after a while. The stuff blink-182 focuses on may be funny to some high schoolers, but holds no appeal (except perhaps a nostalgic one) for grown adults. Those of us who remember “Gilligan’s Island” cringe at the very sight of it now. We can’t believe we actually liked it once upon a time! I mean, what were we thinking? Chances are good that the blink-182 fans of today will be saying much the same thing about the band 20 years from now. Mark my words.
Blink-182 probably didn't care too much about how their songs sounded when they first recorded them, so this video overview doesn't offer any improvements. This set sounds about as good as garage band music can sound, which is not all that good.