Goin’ Down Swinging: 10 Years of Cork Tree

By Joanna Cosgrove

corktree_cd

As we all know, it is 2015 now – my, time’s passing quick – and on 3rd May, many punk fans will be celebrating a long-awaited anniversary: the 10-year mark of Fall Out Boy’s first best-selling album, From Under The Cork Tree.

In celebration, let’s travel back to the emo rise that was 2005 – alright, I was 6 at the time but I have learnt well of the meaning that year had for music and especially for Fall Out Boy. I guess this is an album review in a way… But also a partial review of the band’s career, what led to Cork Tree’s popularity, and how we have been celebrating everything FOB since.

Post-TTTYG

Cork Tree would be the follow-up to the band’s debut, Take This To Your Grave, released back in 2003. The guys were still new, up-and-coming, debating their sound, and they decided that a slow transition away from the underground punk scene they originated in would help. However, with the melodies front man Patrick Stump was coming up with, there was a fear between him and lyricist/bassist Pete Wentz: what if fans turned away to the new pop-like sound they were busting out?

They had built a small but stable fan following, and wanting to keep everyone happy, they had to find a solution to ease them into the lighter sound their next album would contain primarily. They needed one track that would speak out on how the rhythms were calming down, leading away from underground punk to their famous pop-punk sound… That’s when the world heard the drop of lead single “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down”.

Written by the band’s composing couple Stump and Wentz, “Sugar” even to this day is Fall Out Boy’s best-selling. This was cemented as of July 2009, when the song – close to being four years old at the time – was certified for surpassing two million sales in the US alone. Further on, in 2013, as the band’s reformation was underway, the single was certified silver for selling 600,000 sales in the UK.

The song was a success in the charts; highest recorded position being No. 2 on the US Billboard digital songs chart, and No. 8 in the Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. It’s a staple track in punk music, and is known as a trademark track for the band itself. “Sugar” broadened their fan base, building them up further, and they were gaining confidence in their outreach. It was a successful pop gateway…

Falling Apart To Half Time

Once the gate was opened, in came the surprise of the decade: Fall Out Boy… Made a pop song!

“Dance, Dance”, released later that year – the following in the UK – could be a co-contender for what made the album sell as it’s reached the recognition and fan following of the prior, “Sugar”. With 60,000 sales in the UK alone as of July 2013, it’s shown to not be as high-selling but still as loved. With its unique sound of pop melodies with heavy guitars, and the hilarious music video, it would be a long time until FOB fans forget this tune that triggers the thought of the punk quartet within that first drumbeat.

Again, written by the amazing collaboration of Stump and Wentz, it’s proven that they are not one-album-wonders – despite their thoughts. They still admit how songs like “Dance, Dance” shock them with fan reception, as they felt their rep would fall and crash. With this, “Sugar”, and Cork Tree in general, it was the greatly opposite and with this success bagged and their heads held high, it was time for one last single drop…

A Little Less & A Little More

This is the game changer, as “Sugar” gave us an upbeat strummer of a tune and “Dance, Dance” gave us a hit for the decade. After you have deer boy getting the girl, and a bunch of nerds owning the high school prom, what’s next? Well, let them go right into their fun and spooky stereotype: emo.

Emo was always a term people immediately knew when hearing Fall Out Boy, and with one member, it was a certainty that his straightened black hair, black-lined eyes and self-created hoodies would earn them that status. Instead of angrily denying it, they played along in a video/short film about a group of hunters, busy saving their world from blood-sucking creatures.

The track itself wasn’t as highly sold as the previous released from Cork Tree, but it still won in its creativity.

Stump-Wentz did it again, more than obvious at this point in their career, and it seemed as a great end to the single releases for this 2005 record. It showed the true transition of the record’s musical directions; as the pop sound creeps in, the punk and rock elements sew in on other tracks. This can include the personally penned “7 Minutes In Heaven (Atavan Halen)” and the curtain calling tune “XO”, to list a couple. These variously written songs are what make this album as famous as it is, and what cemented a good majority of the band’s fanbase. From its day of release, to even this very day, there are people purchasing and listening and growing to love the men who created the wondrous sounds heard on this record.

10 Years On

As a personal experience, I’ve seen that a decade after the album’s first release has not deterred from its popularity or airplay on many radio stations and fans’ iTunes libraries.

It is safe to assume that we all have eternally cemented Cork Tree as one of the best musical milestones in popular music history, and even now in 2015, I myself can’t pass a week without hearing at least the faintest “Am I more than you bargained for yet?” It is something that will ring on for years on, decades on, centuries on, and further and further (hopefully that long).

To celebrate, here’s what I suggest: iron out your band tee, clean your striped hoodie, skinny up those jeans, spike your hair and messily line your eyes because we’re going back as we’re going down in an earlier round.

Sugar, we’ll always be going down swinging.

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