If there was ever a more unlikely hero for the 2005 pop-punk/emo scene, it’d be Patrick Stump.
An awkward kid from a suburb in Illinois, Stump had a love of soul music, and never even thought of himself as a singer until one day, he opened his mouth and it just happened.
(In fact, he had originally auditioned for Fall Out Boy as the drummer, of all things, and never intended to be a frontman.)
Now, typically, pop-punk singers aren’t known for their musical depth, or exceptional vocal talent, but Stump has both, and his eclectic music taste and strong musicality has not only allowed Fall Out Boy to cover a wide variety of songs, but it’s also allowed them to cover those songs well.
So, in honor of his 35th birthday, here are the best songs Fall Out Boy has ever covered. (And yes, prepare to be stunned.)
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston
Covering Whitney Houston isn’t an easy task—especially when you’re a pop-punk band and your singer discovered he could sing by accident. And yet, here we are, listening to shimmering falsettos and crisp guitar riffs, all over the very 80s electric drum. One thing Fall Out Boy excels at is keeping a cover familiar while still playing it in their own style, and this cover, in particular, is a great example of how well they strike that balance.
“What’s This?” from A Nightmare Before Christmas
Legend has it that if you play this song three times in a row, Pete Wentz appears in your room and grants you a wish.
We’re kidding. But all jokes aside, there may be no holier union in Hot Topic era emo culture than A Nightmare Before Christmas and Fall Out Boy. Not to mention this cover came from the same album that featured Panic! at the Disco covering “This is Halloween.” Truly, emo gospel.
“Beat It” by Michael Jackson (feat. Eddie Van Halen)
When it first came out, there was definitely skepticism that a dorky pop-punk/emo band and a soft jazz singer could pull off such an iconic, headbanger of a song. At the time, it felt like a weird way to capitalize on two relatively popular artists, but Stump and John Mayer had a wealth of talent that even the most jaded of critics couldn’t deny. Plus this cover, a decade later, is still just really, really good.
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division
While the rest of these covers have been genuinely fun, this cover is an unplugged, emotional take on a song that is certainly not meant to be danced to (no matter how much The Wombats insist). The oldest cover on the list, it’s also the simplest and maybe the roughest, but it is a particularly good showcase of how clean and pure Stump’s vocals can be when not shrouded in studio trickery.
“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” by Elton John
The “Patrick Stump/Elton John” comparisons are kind of boring at this point but they’re justified, and this song is another killer example of how Fall Out Boy can take what was likely your mom’s favorite song, run it through some distortion, and make it cool for tweenagers to listen to. It still keeps its flashy Sir Elton John flair but has just enough grit thrown into it that you’re (probably) not too embarrassed to dance to it.
Honorable Mention: “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie
Alright, so this one is just Patrick, but it’s too impressive to leave out. This song is hard. It’s hard to play, it’s hard to sing, and to top it all off, it’s one of the more famous David Bowie offerings—meaning that most people know what it’s supposed to sound like and are going to have an opinion on it.
While by himself Stump can’t fully do the song justice, but it’s incredible what he can do, especially in his vocal performance. The choruses on this song are huge, and Stump conquers them with considerable ease.
For those of you at home keeping score, the covers on this list include Whitney Houston, Elton John, and David Bowie. See? We told you that you’d be stunned.
Happy Birthday to Patrick Stump! One day there will be another unlikely vocal powerhouse, and they’ll be eagerly covering your songs, we’re sure.
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