From Under the Cork Tree was an album that slipped under my nose entirely when it first came out. I was too busy gushing over New Found Glory and Saves the Day to notice Fall Out Boy, a band that seemed to rise out of nowhere, thanks to a swanky music video for “Sugar We’re Goin Down” that featured a boy with buck antlers winning the heart of a young lass.
That video was everywhere. The song dominated the airwaves of radio and television alike in the summer of 2005, the likes of which we haven’t seen since. From Under The Cork tree is important, and not only for being the album that gave rise to arguably the biggest rock and roll megastars of their generation. It signaled a new era of pop punk unlike any that had come before it, as well as the death of the genre to mainstream media.
Fall Out Boy was already a big name to those paying attention at the release of the album, but they were staples as soon as “Sugar We’re Goin Down” landed. The album is a lesson in swagger that the genre had never really seen before. Pop punk is grounded in songs about girls, but few brought the confidence and sexiness to the genre like Pete Wentz.
“Of All the Gin Joints In All the World” has Patrick Stump singing, “Turn off the lights and turn off the shyness / Cause all of our moves make up for the silence / And oh, the way your makeup stains my pillowcase / Like I’ll never be the same”. In the same breath, the instant meta-introspection kicks in as he sings, “You only hold me up like this / Cause you don’t know who I really am”, questioning the value of romance when fame overshadows everything else.
The album was a versatile beast, sounding deeper and more thoughtful than anything else competing for attention. It tackled every convention; the standard pop song (“A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More “Touch Me””), the rocker (“Champagne For My Real Friends, Real Pain For My Sham Friends”) and the obligatory acoustic ballad.
For a song that slows the record down, “I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)” touches a critical spot of insecurity for anyone just coming to terms with themselves as Stump sings, “We’re the kids who feel like dead ends / And I want to be known for my hits, not just my misses / I took a shot and didn’t even come close / At trust and love and hope / And the poets are just kids who didn’t make it / And never had it at all”.
From Under The Cork Tree is a rare exception in pop punk. All too often, great albums fall under the radar and fail to get the credit they deserve for forging a new path. Not only did this album get recognized as a game changer, it launched Fall Out Boy’s career to one of the biggest acts on the planet and it changed the genre as a whole.
Pop punk faded from mainstream music shortly after this album released, whether by the taste of the public or the fact that bands tried to imitate them almost immediately, to varying results. Pop punk sank back to the underground genre it had been before Blink-182 put it in the public’s eye.
One positive effect was that bands wanting that kind of success had to try harder. Pete Wentz’s own Decaydance record label (a part of powerhouse Fueled By Ramen) gained traction after the album. For a solid two to three years, the best bands in the business (Panic! At the Disco, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes and The Academy Is…, each of which made their own significant splashes on the scene) were either signed to Decaydance or had some type of relationship to FOB.
One of the more remarkable aspects of From Under The Cork Tree is just how different it sounds from the FOB of today. Pop punk was used as a spring board to launch the band into a direction of intense, dark pop music unlike anything else out there. This record helped redefine a genre already rich in identity, but after returning from hiatus two years ago, the band have constantly redefined themselves. From Under The Cork Tree started a long trend of fans arguing which era and album from FOB’s career is the best for the last ten years. It’s an evolution, and a successful one, that no one knew could be possible.
From Under The Cork Tree ushered in the modern era of pop punk, and is more or less the foundation that a sizable amount of up and coming bands base themselves on, even now. Ten years later, we’re still feeling the ripple effects of its initial release. Whether you love or hate Fall Out Boy, there’s no denying that this one album single-handedly changed an entire genre of music.
by Kyle Schultz
Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and would like to hug Patrick Stump for an uncomfortable amount of time.