Happiness is All the Rage: A Beginner Mixtape for the Emo Kid in All of Us

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By Jake Dromgoole
Music Journalist

Valentine’s Day, next to Christmas, is definitely my favorite holiday. One of my favorite expressions of affection is the mixtape. Compiling a custom list of songs comprised of a variety of artist’s music to convey your deepest and most earnest feelings can be a really fun way to show your loved one (or crush) how you feel.

Now, my favorite genre of music tends to lean towards the emo/pop-punk genres, so I thought it’d be a fun project to try and find, what I felt, were some of the greatest songs of the genre that celebrate love. The following songs should act as a good starting point for your own mixtapes. If all else fails, remember the immortal words of Rob Gordon, John Cusack’s character in the 2000 film “High Fidelity”. “You’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.”

I started my 2020 Valentines Day mixtape with one of my favorite bands, Jimmy Eat World. The song is “Episode IV,” off the band’s 1996 major label debut, Static Prevails. Those unfamiliar with this album will be surprised to hear, not the familiar vocals of frontman Jim Adkins, but of guitarist Tom Linton. The two guitarists shared vocal duties on the album before Adkins took over as sole vocalist on the group’s next release, 1999’s Clarity. “We’ll dance off time to the songs we’ve never liked,” sings Linton in a somber tone, “and sing off key thinking it sounds all right.” This song is one of the emo-legend’s most romantic songs, and certainly deserves a place on your playlist.

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The second song on the 2020 Valentine’s Day mixtape will certainly keep within the theme of outer space. Blink 182’s cover of English rock band The Only One’s song from 1978, “Another Girl Another Planet,” pairs very well with JEW’s “Episode IV.” Fans might recognize this song as the opening credits theme from MTV’s “Meet the Barkers”, starring Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker. “I’m on another world with you,” sings bassist / vocalist Mark Hoppus. From a band that hardly ever performed covers, “Planet” is a fun song that deserves a spot on your mixtape!

Let’s leave the galaxy behind and return to earth with Saves the Day’s “Hold.” Singer- songwriter Chris Conely celebrates and pines for a lost love in his song originally released on the EP I’m Sorry I’m Leaving (1999). “Oh well, you’ve got me under your spell,” proclaims the vocalist. Summarizing feelings, we’ve all felt at one point in time.

Next is a song from another pop-punk favorite, Yellowcard. “Dear Bobbie,” off the album Paper Walls (2007), is an incredibly moving song that contains spoken words read from letters written by singer/guitarist Ryan Key’s grandfather to his grandmother. His weathered voice in the recordings adds a whole new level of meaning to the song. “When I die, then I die loving you,” sings Key in a celebration of the love held by his grandparents.

Artwork for Yellowcard’s 2007 album, “Paper Walls”
Yellowcard’s 2007 album, Paper Walls.

New Found Glory’s “Too Good to Be” is the fifth song on the mixtape. This tune from the album Coming Home (2006) is a much quieter song from what we’ve come to expect from the pop-punk legends. It is definitely more along the lines of bands like Dashboard than H20.

Speaking of Dashboard, no emo-influenced playlist would be complete with including a song (or two) from the Chris Carraba led band. “Living in Your Letters,” off of The Swiss Army Romance (2000), tells the story of love, dedication and the harshness of distance in a relationship. “Pouring over photographs, I’m living in your letters,” proclaims Carraba, “breathe deeply from this envelope, it smells like you, and I can’t be without that scent, it’s filling me with all you mean to me.”

Artwork for the Promise Ring’s 1999 album, “Very Emergency”
Promise Ring’s 1999 album, Very Emergency.

Midwest emo legends The Promise Ring occupy the seventh and final slot on our beginner’s mixtape with “Happiness is All the Rage.” In this song from 1999’s Very Emergency, singer/ guitarist Davey Von Bohlen sings about the joys of life wherein he and he and his subject enjoy the small pleasures, like staying in and doing laundry. “I’ve got my body and my mind on the same page honey,” sings Von Bohlen, “happiness is all the rage.” You know something, I think he’s got a point.

Spotify Link:

1.         Jimmy Eat World: “Episode IV”

2.         Blink-182: “Another Girl, Another Planet”

3.         Saves the Day: “Hold”

4.         Yellowcard: “Dear Bobbie”

5.         New Found Glory: “Too Good to Be”

6.         Dashboard Confessional: “Living in Your Letters”

7.         The Promise Ring: “Happiness is All the Rage”

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