A Tribute to the Best Song of the 2000’s Emo/Punk Era. “Best of Me” by The Starting Line.

The genre commonly called “Emo” music has pulsed in popularity throughout the years, most commonly by independent artists who in turn, usually produce minimal radio success.  In the early to mid 2000’s however, it piggy-backed with the punk rock scene at the time and produced bands the like of Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance, and Fall Out Boy who enjoyed immense radio and billboard exposure.

As a strapping young lad going through my pre-teens when the era started, it put me in the target audience for these bands.  Most notably because when this era peaked, I also peaked in my “angst” era of childhood.  The era where you hate everything your parents do, think you’re the shit and smarter than every teacher you have.  Turns out, this music is mostly about either being pissed off or emotional about a chick.  Welp, let me tell ya.  As a angsty young boy I was

A-pissed off at everything (I really wasn’t, but I was in fact a little shit who acted like it.)

and

B-Emotional about chicks.

It’s an interesting time period in a kid’s life because it’s the first time you really break out of your shell, get a personality, and most importantly, learn how to socialize.  As a 12 year old, you break out of your reserved and supervised shell, get a little freedom from parents and teachers and all the sudden think your Aristotle.  You’ve got life figured out.  You can’t blame a 12 year old for that mind set, because most of them haven’t had life beat them down yet. Most things in life are positive,  so without life experiences to show you otherwise, you naturally believe you have life figured out.

Well, as it turns out none of that is true.  The adults who have gone through some shit know it, you just disagree. Hence the angst.

The fact a whole genre of music sparked up because of this angst and emotion I find hilarious, but since they are some of the jams of my youth, they hold a very special place in my heart.  It was a relatively diverse genre as well, going from somber and reflective tunes like My Guardian Angel by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus to a song like Ohio is for Lovers by Hawthorne Heights which represented the darker side or “Goth” stereotype end of the emo spectrum.  Then there was the Taking Back Sunday style of emo, punk Rock music at it’s core, but with subjects like love lost and internal feelings.

Then, there was my favorite sub-genre. Pop-emo.  Similar to Pop-punk, but with the emotional fortitude of a teenager.

God damn.  I don’t know why I loved it so much.

Most of the songs were catchy, but most of all they were fun to sing along to.  And while singing along, I can’t really explain it, but singing this shit at the top of your lungs; there’s nothing like it.  Drive-Thru Records released an album (above) of their greatest hits, if you know any of them by heart I dare you to try it and NOT feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Also, per the subject of this blog, on that album is the greatest song of all time from that era.  Don’t @ me.

Let’s take a look at why it sits atop the throne of

The Starting Line-Best of Me

Just look at the fuckin’ guy singing that song in the thumbnail.  He’s a total cheese dick when you judge with a 2018 eye, but he’s hitting the early aughts swag to an absolute T.  Puka shell necklace and a liberal dose of bleach in the hair, the homie is killing it!

Now onto the song.  Here’s how we kick things off.

Intro/Chorus

Tell me what you thought about when you were gone
And so alone
The worst is over
You can have the best of me
We got older
But we’re still young
We never grew out of this feeling that we won’t give up

These are the lyrics that begin the greatest love song for pubescent boys of all-time, and consequently the greatest song of the 2000’s emo era.  As they kick off the song, they’re sang in an almost tuneless voice, as if the subject is merely talking to this girl. Classic teenagers, still in love with a girl who broke up with them.  How do you get her back? Make a song for them.  Duh.

First Verse.

Here we lay again
On two separate beds
Riding phone lines
To meet a familiar voice
And pictures drawn from memory
We reflect on miscommunications
And misunderstandings
And missing each other too
Much to have had to let go

Let’s look at what we have here-

The first verse naturally sets the scene for the story, and the issues our pal is facing.  The male subject in the story is obviously in love, as he says so in the music video, and it appears the female counterpart is at least giving him the time of day, evident by the fat that they “ride phone lines”.  100% chance he’s saying some sappy shit as teenage guys do in these situations, in an attempt to get her back.

Bridge

We turn our music down
And we whisper
“Say what you’re thinking right now”

The bridge not only fits it perfectly, it’s also where this song sets its hook in you.

The bridge is the end of Season 2 of Breaking Bad.

It’s when Hagrid says “You’re a Wizard Harry”.

It’s the first cold beer before you go out.

Classic lovey-dubby pubescent game spitting.  Overly emotional, faux deep, pure and unadulterated thoughts of a human who sees souls as pristine entities and trust them with their deepest and darkest secrets in a truly cathartic conversation.  Not only is this indescribably relatable to an emotional ass teenager, but it sets shit up to BANG.You can just feel that some good shit is about to go down, and you are absolutely there for all of it.

And now..

My friends, I am happy to tell you that at this point in the song.  Shit has gotten real.

The opening lines where the young fella was merely muttering his oration now absolutely explode as the chorus.

Tell me what you thought about when you were gone
And so alone
The worst is over
You can have the best of me
We got older
But we’re still young
We never grew out of this feeling that we won’t give up

Banger. Initiated. 

At this point your brain can’t help but to be fully invested in the emotional turmoil in the song (…speaking as a, like, 7th grader of course. Wink. Wink).  What this song does so well is that as it’s telling the story, the pulse of the song follows it extraordinarily well.  Our friend is downtrodden? The song is slow.  He makes some steady progress with his ex-lady friend? The pace picks up a little bit, but it’s not exactly breaking sound barriers. The next verse continues the trend.

Verse 2

Jumping to conclusions
Made me fall away from you
I’m so glad that the truth
Has brought back together me and you

Alright.  The young love birds have talked out their issues over the phone and gotten back together – ala every teenage relationship of all-time – and you can sense the song is heading for an immensely impassioned but happy ending.

We get another bridge and chorus pop…

and then the songs hits the brakes and comes to a “breakdown”.

Turn our music down
And we whisper
We’re sitting on the ground
And we whisper
We turn our music down
We’re sitting on the ground
The next time I’m in town
We will kiss girl
We will kiss girl

This “breakdown”, reminds me of one of those slow clap things where everybody starts clapping slow and then gradually increases the pace until something wild happens.  It’s building up to the climax of the story and also of the song.  This guy snagged the girl back and they’re headed to happily ever after land…

After of course one more chorus.

The final chorus is the defining moment of the song.  The words are no different, but the buildup and subsequent execution is what puts the song over the top.  As the song and the story reach their crescendo, shit hits the fan and undoubtedly hormones were flying everywhere when this song came on.  Without this pop, I’m not sure I write this blog.  In fact, I know I wouldn’t be because every time I hear the song start I can’t wait to bust out “TELL ME WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG AND…” at the top of my lungs.

For those of you that watched WWF/E growing up, and you’re familiar with those scenes where a wrestler talks shit about another wrestler while in the ring.  Inevitably, this would force the said wrestler to strut down the ramp with his entrance music blaring and approach/kick the ass of the shit talker.  Nobody…and I mean NOBODY did this better than Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Even though you KNEW he was going out there, his entrance took you from 1 to 100 in the time it takes for glass to shatter. It was uncanny how something you expected to happen got you standing in your living room cheering.

So when Kenny Vasoli lowered his voice, and he whispered. When he turned his music down, and he whispered.  And when that suave bastard told that chick that the next time he was in town he would kiss her…THEN hit us with an absolute outburst of a chorus…this me.

“TELL ME WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG AND SO ALONE.  THE WORST IS OVER, YOU CAN HAVE THE BEST OF ME

WhenYouNutAndSheKeepsSUCKIN.gif

It’s hard to describe.  The song could play as a song you listen to when you’re down in the dumps, or a song to pump you up and get the jooses flowing.  THAT’S how good of a song it is.

The Starting Line had a couple more good songs during the era, but closing in on 2 decades after their debut, “Best of Me” is clearly what they are remembered by.  An incredible anthem for teenage relationships that isn’t bogged down by angst or faux-depression.  The emo era of the 2000’s will always be a guilty pleasure of mine mostly because of the sing-a-long quality and the nostalgia,  but also because it has a plethora of songs that encapsulate a simpler, yet more dramatic time where our biggest worries were figuring out what to say to your crush and trying to fit in somewhere.  We’ll never get those days of our youth back, but damnit, we’ve still got the memories and the music to bring them out.  And there isn’t a better song to do that with than this one.

Adios.

 

 

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