By Raniel Santos
Fall Out Boy has been one of my favorite bands since I first heard “Immortals” while watching “Big Hero 6” back in 2014. Since then, I’ve listened to all of their albums multiple times, and have dedicated time to analyzing the lyrics to all of my favorite songs from them. From this, I have determined what I think are the best songs from each Fall Out Boy album, up to their newest record released this year.
These will be my personal opinions based on my enjoyment of the instrumentation, composition and lyrical content.
“Grand Theft Autumn / Where is Your Boy” from “Take This to Your Grave” (2003)
This cut is probably the most accessible of all the tracks on Fall Out Boy’s debut album, but there is more to it that makes it my favorite off the album.
The story being told is tried and true, with the narrator trying to convince a girl to leave her boyfriend for him. But there are hints of sarcasm that make it more ambiguous about whether the girl or her boyfriend is being unfaithful.
I love the way the song begins with Patrick Stump singing acapella before the guitar work by Joe Trohman and drumming from Andy Hurley kick in to help make this song so danceable.
“Sugar, We’re Goin Down” from “From Under the Cork Tree” (2005)
This breakout hit may be well known for Stump’s intentionally slurred vocal delivery, but if you manage to comprehend what he’s actually saying, it becomes clear that “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” deserves to be the hit it is.
The lyrics see the narrator flip-flopping between what he wants to get out of a one night stand. He’s still an indecisive teenager, and isn’t sure if he wants a real relationship with this person, all while knowing that they definitely don’t.
The vocals, coupled with the clever wordplay from songwriter and bassist Pete Wentz, enhances this meaning to create a memorable tune that many can relate to.
“You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave” from “Infinity on High” (2007)
I think this is the best song from the band’s early era, partially because of how it tells the story of a courtroom trial. It marks a noticeable step towards the band dealing with more serious topics.
Certain lines help illustrate the point that even in open-and-shut cases where it’s clear that the defendant deserves to be punished, people on both sides can still feel similar griefs.
The way each member’s performance comes together help bring the song from headbanger to groover and back again.
“What a Catch, Donnie” from “Folie à Deux” (2008)
The sole ballad from Fall Out Boy’s fourth album is one of the most personal songs that they released in their early years.
Wentz apparently wrote the lyrics to remind him of Stump, and the lyrics themselves suggest what their friendship means to him. They may both be troubled individuals, but they will never give up on each other or let each other give up on themselves.
The emotionality of the song is accompanied by a host of guest vocalists, including Brendon Urie, Travie McCoy and Elvis Costello, who help the song crescendo to a bittersweet conclusion.
“The Phoenix” from “Save Rock and Roll” (2013)
The opening track from Fall Out Boy’s comeback record lets the listener know right away that this is a reinvention of the band; they aren’t just leaving their past behind, they are back to kill it.
In the lyrics, they lament that the high expectations that have been put on them have weighed them down for too long because they don’t want to do the same thing again, even if that’s what everyone wants. Themes like this surround the album and contribute to it being my favorite of theirs.
I absolutely adore the orchestral elements that permeate this entire song. While it may raise the dramatic tone a bit too much, I think it suits the somewhat resentful mood of the song and its theme of change.
“Fourth of July” from “American Beauty/American Psycho” (2015)
Post-hiatus, Fall Out Boy have gotten a lot of flack for embracing more of a pop sound. But if this is what it can sound like, then sign me up!
Here, the narrator compares the chemistry they’re feeling with someone new to fireworks on Independence Day. They wonder if they missed their chance to get together or if there was ever a chance at all. The uncertainty that colors a lot of Fall Out Boy’s music is here in full force.
“Fourth of July” best represents what the band has done best in their recent run, making danceable rock anthems with layered lyricism.
“Bishops Knife Trick” from MANIA (2018)
“MANIA” is a divisive record within Fall Out Boy’s fan base, and I personally do not like this record overall. But its closing moment is a genuinely great one.
In this song, the enemy is time, as the narrator worries about running out of it even though they haven’t gotten to do what they want in life. They begin to feel homesick and slow down for once after living life at a breakneck pace for so long.
The themes here are carried by a slower tempo and piano that meshes well with the usual instrumental elements.
“Love from the Other Side” from “So Much (for) Stardust” (2023)
Is it too early to call this Fall Out Boy’s best song to date? Maybe, but that’s how I’ve been feeling since the song first released at the beginning of the year.
Every aspect of this song is top notch; each band member is at the top of their game and the lyrics are just metaphorical enough and seem to mean something important to them.
Following up directly from the previous song, the narrator finally realizes that in trying to find themselves, they’ve really gotten lost along the way. But unlike in “Bishops Knife Trick,” the song ends up showing that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there is still a chance to get yourself back.
This song stands out to me because it suggests that even as the band members begin to reach their 40s, they still have plenty of interesting things left to say.