Reader, I am gay. The only men I know are my father and Joe Biden. So I’m not well-versed in Men Culture, which means I certainly didn’t know there was a man named
“Machine Gun Kelly” until very recently. But around May of this year, this “man” bulldozed his way into Bisexual Twitter with a landmark accomplishment: He started dating bi-con Megan Fox. A few months later, a friend of mine told me that Megan Fox’s boyfriend released a new album, and despite his history as a hip hop artist, the album paid homage to 2000s-indebted emo music. As a gay emotional basket case, the combination of phrases like “Megan Fox’s boyfriend” and “Travis Barker on the drums” are actually quite appealing to me. And now, apparently, I’m a Machine Gun Kelly fan — which is the straightest thing I’ve ever said.
feels torn from the MySpace pages of emo teens. It’s brimming with “I hate my parents” energy and toxic male behavior, which, as 2000s teens know, were fundamental tenets of emo music. Tickets to My Downfall,
TTMD makes me want to do everything I did when I was a MySpace-dwelling emo teen, like write the phrase ~*bEaUtiFuL di$a$tEr*~ in my away message despite never having experienced any emotional hardships. These lyrics are forcing me to regress to when I was 14 and desperate for attention. So, in order to rank the best lyrics from Tickets to My Downfall, I returned (mentally) to the old haunt of emo teens across America: The mall, a jungle of black eyeliner, facial piercings, sweet treats and hormonal warfare.
As American mall trash myself, I can say confidently that malls were essential to the emo teen experience. Where else would you go to smoke cigarettes for the first time, meet MySpace friends from neighboring towns, and remark on “consumerism” or “the machine” while willfully participating in it? Oh, to be 14, tearing an Auntie Anne’s pretzel limb-from-limb and pretending to be “broken.”
Here are the most emo lyrics on
TTMD, ranked by how much they made me feel like I needed to go to the mall with my friends. "She looked dead into my eyes and she saw nothing inside."
Off the track “nothing inside,” (yes, in true '00s fashion, the track names are written in all lowercase) this lyric is very me in the food court ordering Cinnabon. I can picture it now: Me, 13, pasty white and burdened by suburbia, pretending my parents hated me and would never understand what it’s like to be sad (despite my parents being very nice to me and providing me a bountiful, loving upbringing). God, this brings me back.
Similarly, “Yeah, the world is crazy, so corrupted, I'm by myself, so I don't feel too involved, 'cause I'm alone, alone, I'm alone,” off “All I Know,” is very me walking through Spencer’s Gifts and touching a hot pink dildo after my friends bully me into it.
"You're the reason I punched a hole in the wall back home, and then, and then, and then a couple hours later, we're in room 29 at The Chateau."
“forget me too” featuring Halsey is the ultimate “we’re too f*cked up to be together” bop. This lyric evokes strong
2000s pop-punk energy because it’s about how women make you so angry that you have to destroy a building (totally her fault). But even though you'll definitely call her any number of misogynistic pejoratives, she’s your drug, and oh no, you f*cked again.
When I was 13 and emo, I longed to be swept up in a toxic, substance-fueled nightmare of a relationship. Do you know what I would’ve given to be the Katy Perry to someone’s Travie McCoy? Or the Ashlee Simpson to one Pete Wentz? I searched malls far and wide for my very own Garage Band King — and this MGK lyric is a horrid reminder that I never found a monster boyfriend to call my own.
Honorary “forget me too” lyric: “It's an emotional kaleidoscope when I face you, permanent calligraphy, I just tattooed your name on me forever, f*ck.” Pretty sure I scratched this exact lyric into my “songwriting journal.” (The last page of my Science notebook.)
"Ever since you walked away, I can't wait to taste your breath. Sunset on my black parade, and I can't wait to see what's next."
I love this lyric from “hangover cure” because of the obvious reference to My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade.” Plus, the subtext of the song is like, “I finally found someone as sad and broken and anti-establishment as me, and now I’m alive for the first time in my life,” which is also very me logging on to AIM to ask my boyfriend from another town who I’ve never met if he wants to meet IRL at the mall. Then we go and he gives me one of his Milk Duds and I’m like, “Holy f*ck — these aren’t even good, but I am SAVED.”
"I can't stay forever, let's play pretend and treat this night like it'll happen again. You'll be my bloody valentine tonight."
From “bloody valentine,” a song about falling in love with Megan THEE Fox, comes a lyric that makes me remember how much I craved the tragedy of being in love with someone who moved away. Remember “moving,” like, as a concept? Having a best friend or being in love with someone who
moved? Now that — as a 14-year old — was emotional terrorism, and god did I long for a doomed romance. This whole Megan Fox-dedicated ode makes me want to risk it all for a person I’ll never see again. (And by “risk it all” I mean absolutely slamming our pinky fingers together on a movie theater armrest while watching Jennifer’s Body.) "I heard you never graduated from high school. The food sucked and the kids were awful, I know you wanted me to go to law school. I dyed my hair, pierced my nostril."
Also from “concert for aliens,” this lyric makes me want to tip the ice-cream scoopers at Cold Stone Creamery so they’ll sing for me and my assh*le middle school friends. “concert for aliens” would be perfect to listen to in my car while eating a deranged
“Gotta Have It”-sized ice cream. Machine Gun Kelly is the boy version of *watches Thirteen once.* "I'm still young, wasting my youth, I'll grow up next summer."
There is nothing more emo than being an adult baby. Thinking your inability to grow up is actually endearing, while being a man who still uses the word “summer” to mark the passage of time in his adult life… is extremely 2000s.
At the end of the track, “drunk face,” MGK returns to this lyric with a slight adjustment: “I'll grow up (I have sinned, don't help me, Jesus) I promise that I'll grow up next summer.” Thinking that you’re not worth being saved? Emo. Bonus points if you’re in your 20s and society hates you. This is drinking from a flask outside Bloomingdale’s territory.
"'Take the laser, aim at my head and paint the walls red,' I said. 'I'm crazy, I'm off the meds, I'm better off dead,' they said."
“title track,” the titular (sort of) song about how people are posers and sellouts who can’t wait to watch your downfall, has many fitting thematic lyrics. The lyric I love the most is about being misunderstood and incapable of being fixed or medicated. It makes me feel like I’m 14 again and also thinking I was too broken and too alt for the world — which is why I went to Journeys to buy black and pink checkered toe socks.
Honorary mention to another “title track” lyric: “'Cause the ones who gas you up only come around when the flame's on.” Ok, jokes aside, this lyric
actually f*cks. "I'm in too deep, I feel too much, I'm insecure, I f*ck things up."
Self-loathing, being your own worst enemy, self-sabotaging, warring with yourself internally, taking things way too far because you can’t control yourself: This “concert for aliens” lyric is emo scripture
. It’s also exactly the message I’d record for the heart of my Build-A-Bear, which I’ll be giving to my across-the-tracks boyfriend from AIM next weekend. "Each weekday that passes without your pinky finger grazing mine is ultra-VIOLENCE..." is a lyric I may or may not have written on the back of my aforementioned Science notebook… "Jawbreaker, she tastes like candy, star chaser."
Off the track “jawbreaker” comes this decadent lyric, which is literally Hot Topic t-shirt bait. This lyric could even be on a punchy dELiA*s graphic tee. It’s a super fun, catchy lyric about a punk rock princess who will break your face, taste like Chupa Chups, and ultimately leave you for a hot guy in a band (goals). This lyric makes me want to walk by a Hollister, scoff, and say, “thieves,” without explaining any further.
"I got in trouble the first time my dad saw me dance with the devil."
opening line from “lonely” is classic "my parents will never understand me, my hair dye, or the poetry I wrote in my Social Studies composition notebook which I inexplicably covered in duct tape." (Yes, it's different from my Science notebook, which was reserved for lyrics.) If this line doesn’t make you want to flee your suburban middle-class home to meet your new Pagan goth girlfriend from MySpace in the mall parking lot…there’s no hope for you (or your ex-boyfriend from AIM who turned out to be weirdly “into crossbows”). "You're just a witch and I tried your poison, baby, put me in a body bag."
From “body bag,” featuring YUNGBLUD and Bert McCracken of The Used (!!!), comes this perfectly toxic lyric. There is nothing more mid-aughts pop-punk than being openly hostile towards women you have a crush on. Deciding the girl next door is actually an (insert pejorative) was very of the moment. But calling a woman a “witch,” insinuating she coaxed you into being poisoned, and you
wanted her to put you in a body bag?? Go off, MGK — wanting to be poisoned by your hot goth girlfriend is something I, an obsessive lesbian, am ACTUALLY familiar with!!!
Finally, I feel at home here on
Tickets to My Downfall, which might be more Sapphic than I originally thought? Catch me outside Ruby Tuesday’s with Marissa (my Pagan girlfriend) taking a single puff of a marijuana cigarette and arguing over who’s the Jennifer and who’s the Needy. (Me, I’m the Needy — put me in a body bag.)