For this new installment of Music Video Throwback, I'm going to do something a little different. I'm going to write a video that was significant to me at the time of its release, but, unlike previous posts on this feature, is not particularly interesting any longer, or has really held up that well. I guess this is growing up…
Blink 182 – Dammit
"Dammit" by Blink 182 presents a fascinating case. For one thing, it finds the band prior to their huge breakout that came with their third album Enema of the State, vaulted by the success of lead single "What's My Age Again?" and its highly memorable video of the guys running around naked. From that point, Blink 182 became much more prominent for their singles and videos, but at best, this video for a song from Dude Ranch only shows glimmers of what lie ahead. Those glimmers are the over-the-top, generally juvenile humor and the energy of their live performances. But I would say the humor – while never really becoming too sophisticated – certainly became a bit more clever, the videos more creative, and the addition of Travis Barker as new drummer was a big spark.
The story of Mark running into his ex at the movie theater (inspired by lyrics in the second verse) and acting a fool isn't particularly exciting or funny any longer. That was what surprised me. When I chose to look for an old video, I remembered how much I loved this song and in rewatching the video, I hardly felt anything. Its appeal, aside from nostalgic reasons, was essentially gone.
But don't get the wrong idea. I don't want to bash Blink 182. They were one of my favorites during the middle school/early high school ages and were surprisingly influential on me as I look back: I know better now than to label them as a true punk band, but they were certainly my gateway to exploring that genre, more so than Green Day ever was. No other band ever made me buy a certain kind of shoes, like how Blink 182 made me want to buy Vans. When I did, I cherished the pair and wore them until they collapsed. More shameful is the fact that I bought one of those ball-chain necklaces like Tom has in this video, and my friends and I even made a habit of running around in our boxers at grade school graduation parties to "What's My Age Again?" during the summer of 1999.
Now that I've put those embarrassing images in your head, let's talk about the music. That was the main connection. I loved how it sounded – the guitar riffs and the drumming, the overall speed and volume that combined with plenty of melody and hooks (though Blink 182 did a good job with dynamics and wasn't just a fast, loud band all the time). The words were perfect for an adolescent boy, too: songs about girls and fun, full of stupid humor. The thing is, though, that's Blink 182's perpetual audience, and inevitably I aged. While I must have listened to Blink 182's first three records what feels like hundreds of times each, I moved onto other bands by the time they released their fourth album, having outgrown them, basically. However, I honestly still enjoy Dude Ranch and listen to it every so often. While Cheshire Cat and Enema of the State each retain some charm, the former is too rough and the latter to polished to allow me to gain that much enjoyment in revisiting them.
"Dammit" in particular is the song I hold dear because it was one that got me into the band. I think it serves as a nice encapsulation of everything I found great about them as well: the overall sound, for sure, but also, it is one of their most resonant lyrically. It voices a rite of passage and the ensuing feelings that many young adults going through it are too awkward or emotionally raw to voice. If you can speak to teenagers, chances are your music is going to be successful, right? Really, heartbreak is timeless, so maybe that's why it's easy to still return to this song. At least for me. And then there's that riff! It always gets me. In fact, it was the first thing I learned to play on guitar. Now you know.
What's interesting is that I discovered Blink 182 and "Dammit" solely because of the music video. They eventually were all over the radio, but in 1997, Blink 182 was not getting airplay in a place like Erie, PA. Fortunately, "Dammit" was in regular rotation on The Box, a wonderful channel solely devoted to music videos that I spent countless hours watching. For those that aren't familiar with it, The Box was driven entirely by viewer requests, which you could make via phone for a small fee (I think it was 2.99). Each video had a 3 digit code, which would be listed across the bottom of the screen, like a CNN or ESPN ticker. I know I had tons of the codes memorized, even if I never called in.
Anyways, I've already mentioned that the video didn't come off that funny or worthwhile to watch almost 15 years later, but perhaps more striking is how young and unrefined the band looks. If you have some time to kill, just compare them here to "What's My Age Again?" They really look to have aged more than 2 years and have tightened up their presence considerably – they look more used to being rock stars. However, I realize now that was a part of the allure back then. Aside from some hair dye and piercings, they hardly looked much different than me and my friends, so was my thinking. And when you add in the relative simplicity of their sound to this regular image, I think Blink 182 made it more vivid than most bands that I could play music too. Not that I am much of a musician, but I did buy a guitar in 9th grade and played with people throughout high school. On a conscious and subconscious level, I know Blink 182 was partially responsible.
So, as you can tell, the video for "Dammit" by Blink 182 was quite important to me, even if it's hard to get the same joy out of it now. This does make me miss the time when music videos were abundant and influential, but, once again, I guess this is growing up.
How does this video hold up for all of you? What other band / song / video had an impact on you it no longer does when you watch it now? And does anyone else remember The Box?!