I come home to an empty apartment. There is barely any furniture. I think, “Growing up is stupid,” as I drop my bags to the floor, tired in all the ways possible. I feel like crying.
I put Spotify on shuffle to drown out the quiet … so I don’t have to admit to myself how lonely it feels. It is the middle of summer in California. The sun shines all the time. Heat radiates through the walls, and I wonder why I can’t feel it.
Shuffle plays my music for me as I start to make dinner for one, and I question why anybody’s life goal is to live like this. It takes me to a song I hadn’t heard before. I let the sound of a beautiful electric guitar fill the room. Then, there is a voice.
It’s a voice that I know. It’s a voice that I recognize over a sound that I don’t. It’s a voice that I actually hadn’t heard in a while, and that makes my heart smile. It’s a voice that I really missed.
There is a repetitive, “I’ll be just fine,” … and my heart stops.
Do you ever have these moments in music? You’re hearing something so good you need to stop what you’re doing to identify the song? I left the kitchen to check my phone, and smile when it says “5 Seconds of Summer” as flashes of nostalgia flood my brain, and because it’s been a while.
The voice again, and a simple yet gorgeous piano sound. I put the song on repeat, and “I’ll be just fine,” echoes throughout the apartment.
I didn’t realize it when it was happening but the comeback of this band helped me to accept and embrace the discomfort, inevitability, and resilience that comes with growing up. Their music really just let me know that I didn’t have to go through all of that alone … and I really needed that when it happened.
“I’ll be just fine,” echoed through my head every single day after that. It echoes in my thoughts when I wake up in the morning. It echoes through my mind when I’m afraid to take a chance. It echoes throughout every move I make in life, and it’s been echoing like that every day for a year now.
The only thing I’ve realized since then is that Youngblood changed my life … and I’m really running out of ways to explain how much I love Luke Hemmings.
But I’m still gonna try.
• • •
I am actually so excited to be introducing 5 Seconds of Summer to my blog for the first time because I love them so much. It’s going to be hard to put words together to even express it. Today marks the one year anniversary of the release of their third Number One album, Youngblood. With hit singles like, “Want You Back” and title track “Youngblood” topping the charts for weeks on end and going multi-platinum across the world, I say with complete seriousness that Youngblood was my favorite album released all of last year … and I have to write a love letter to it.
I came to the conclusion that I would stick to writing to the album and not making this a love letter to 5 Seconds of Summer because that might take me weeks to write so here we are.
Throughout my life, I’ve always observed that people really think they know me when they don’t. I find myself responding to comments from other people that are like, “Really?” or “I didn’t know you were into that,” or “I didn’t really expect that from you,” or “I’m surprised you said that,” and honestly, it just goes to show how much people assume things and how crazy it is that there can be whole sides to yourself that nobody may ever fully understand or even know about it.
With that being said, a lot of people get really surprised when I tell them how much I love rock music.
I was the girl at school who always wore band t-shirts and other people – usually guys – would be like, “Can you even name the members of Nirvana?” or “What’s your favorite Led Zeppelin song?” and I gave answers without blinking like I’d challenge people to test me. I take representing music really seriously, but that’s another story.
Where I’m going with this is … Growing up with a band like 5 Seconds of Summer around – here on after referred to as 5SOS – was a way for me to keep the rougher, harder side to my personality alive, while I usually had this quiet, super introtverted side of me always at the forefront of my being.
I just need to say this — sometimes the quietest, most soft-spoken people you know are the most angry, the most lonely, and the most in pain.
I’m not a good speaker. I think I have trouble with straight communication, especially when it comes to my feelings, which is something I really hate about myself and try to work through all the time, but you know sometimes it’s difficult. Obviously, that’s why I usually write things.
I would write a lot to get my feelings out. Looking back now, I find it easy to say that I probably spent a lot of my teenage years being and feeling angry and bitter inside while putting up this “Everything is fine,” front on the outside. To cope with it, I listened to a lot of rock music. Punk music. Pop punk, if you’ll allow that. The ones about hard truths in life. The ones about rebelling. A lot of loud sounds. Sometimes there would be yelling. A lot of big guitars. A lot of hard baselines. A lot of drums to drown out a lot of pent-up thoughts.
I started playing the drums actually, and it helped me a lot mentally. It felt like it was the only time in my life that I got to be loud. I’m someone who rarely gets angry at people so I don’t scream or yell or argue or fight that often, but as humans, sometimes you need to let that out. The drums helped me do that – and that’s also why I have major appreciation for 5SOS drummer Ashton Irwin.
Don’t get me wrong though. My appreciation also extends towards guitarist Michael Clifford, bassist Calum Hood, and lead singing angel, Luke Hemmings. These guys kept the edge in music alive in my life. I don’t think I ever really went through an emo phase, but I really feel like half my personality was born out of rock music, and as much as I’d like to pretend that my old soul was meant to be born in a different generation, I wasn’t, and the truth behind that is that sometimes classic rock bands feel far away from me.
Music is universal. It transcends time. Relevance holds true. I know all that. What I meant was, obsessively loving The Beatles as a seven year old in the second grade separates you from your peers in ways that are unbelievably isolating. You thought other seventeen-year-old girls jammed to Stevie Nicks too? Think again.
Growing up, my favorite bands that fit really helped me whenever I felt like I wanted to be heard but didn’t now what to say were – and still are – Paramore and All Time Low. They are songwriting gods, in my opinion. I thank them for their words for coming into my life, but the truth is sometimes … A decade of separation can feel like a lot.
Enter 5 Seconds of Summer. Rock, pop, whatever you wanna call it. We didn’t care anyway – Does it really matter? They don’t care anyway, but they came in with a sound all for the young – for us – and yet, uniquely their own … and the way they came onto the scene was that they were just these guys making videos on the internet. They were just these guys chasing down what they loved, and that was one thing my teenage self could actually understand.
Maybe I’ll spend other days writing about earlier songs of theirs, but I just wanted to point out that after the end of their worldwide tour in 2016, 5SOS went on an almost three year hiatus. They took a break from music and from the spotlight. It was also recently just before that when their first time tour mates, One Direction, had announced they’d be going on hiatus too, and I remember the fandoms just being quiet for a little while … Which is wild because if you know them, you’d know that would never happen. We don’t know quiet, but it was.
— Cut to February 22, 2018 —
Three years later. I’m in my senior year of college feeling old as hell, and in February of 2018, 5 Seconds of Summer drop “Want You Back.”
If you knew 2014 5SOS and then went and heard “Want You Back,” you’d be like, “I’m sorry. Who’s this band?!” because that’s exactly what I thought hearing the single. It was different. It was new. It was something I had never heard from the boys before, but it was so damn good.
5SOS released their album Youngblood later that summer on June 15, 2018. When it came out, I remember sitting there breathless at some of the vocals and track arrangements on the record. It was just so fcking impressive, you guys. I remember hearing “You push and you push and I’m pulling away. I give and I give and I give and you take,” the first time and putting my hand to my mouth. I remember my jaw dropping at the vocals in “Woke Up Japan.” I remember getting chills from the lyrics in “Why Won’t You Love Me.” I remember hearing “Lie to Me” and thinking, “Ouch, that hurts.” I was so in love with the record. I was so impressed and proud of them and their sound. I just remember thinking that whatever happened in that three year hiatus was crucial, essential, and resulted in absolute gold.
Youngblood is a year old today and has achieved so much success in the last year. I love the entire album so so much that I let it play over and over again. There isn’t a single track that I skip through, and there are very few whole records I can say that about. Every single song on it is better than the one before it, and I’m gonna talk about them all.
Nineteen tracks y’all. Let’s do it.
I’m not an avid radio listener, but I am beyond happy that this song is the one that made it. It’s one of the very few songs ever made that I never get sick of hearing every time it’s on in the car. I think it’s so brilliantly done. I love how it shows how much they’ve grown as artists.
The honesty in this song about how toxic a relationship like this is is so jarring to hear. It’s so so cool to me that they haven’t hidden away from talking about the real things in life. The “You push and you push and I’m pulling away. Pulling away from you. I give and I give and I give and you take. Give you and take,” is always going to hold so much meaning. Luke’s vocals on this are insane too, and I’m so happy it’s the one the world gets to hear.
Want You Back
“I remember the roses on your shirt when you told me this would never work. You know, even when I say I moved on. Yeah, I still dream for you.”
You know how like on some of the really worst days of your life where bad things happen, you just remember all the little details of that day. I haven’t heard that feeling put into lyrics this well in a long time. I honestly love this song. “Want You Back” walked so that “Youngblood” could run. It’s one of my favorites
Lie To Me
“It’s 3 AM and the moonlight’s testing me. If I can make it til dawn, then it won’t be hard to see that I ain’t happy.”
IT LITERALLY HURTS SO MUCH AND THIS ACOUSTIC VERSION PROVES THEIR TALENT SO MUCH IT HURTS
5SOS was like, “There isn’t a song for Valentine’s Day. Let’s make a good one.”
Luke Hemmings says this song’s about the idea of loving someone in a special way for one day out of the year when it really should be that you’re loving that person that way every day. I love the weight behind the line, “We love us.” It represents such a collaborative partnership where trust and love are so present, and I like that a lot.
THE FIRST TIME I HEARD “TALK FAST” I WASN’T THE BIGGEST FAN OF IT UNTIL I HEARD THIS LIVE VERSION AND I WAS LIKE WHAT THE HELL LUKE YOU SOUND SO GOOD
I’m sorry for yelling, but ever since 5SOS released this live album of recordings from their first night in London on the Meet You There Tour, it’s now one of my favorite songs. “I don’t want to think about a moment with you. I’m kind of hoping for forever.” What a way to say, “I just want to be in it for the long run.” It’s one of my favorite things.
I truly believe that 5SOS are an amazing live band. I sometimes even just call them LIVESOS because they’re so good as performers. Their live albums prove it, and I hope you’ll give them a listen when you can. The Meet You There Tour Live album is literally the world to me.
The first time I heard this song, I remember my mouth hanging open. I’m putting up the live version of this just because I want you to hear the crowd in the audio and how hype this song is. It’s SO good. I love their hardcore sound and how they’re able to stay so true to themselves and the sound that they love while still staying so pop current.
The “Thinking about you lots lately. Have you been eating breakfast alone like me?” is such a cool few lines to use for a chorus. It happens like the recurring thoughts you have about how you’re always thinking of somebody. I’ve wondered about lonely breakfasts an uncountable number of times. I love this song so much. I’d give a lot to hear it live.
If Walls Could Talk
What is up, co-writer Julia Michaels?! It’s no surprise, then, that this song bursts with lyrical creativity. “We’d fall from grace,” when you could have just said that things were headed in the wrong direction, but they didn’t.
“All of my wrongs, they led me right to you.”
MUSICALLY MY FAVORITE SONG ON THE RECORD. THE PRE-CHORUS KILLS. SUCH A SWEET SONG. LOVE THE HEART. LIVE VERSION ALSO AMAZING.
You need to play this song on full blast in your car and drive down the highway at full speed and all your worries are going to disappear, I promise. It’s a sad song, but it’s not gonna feel like that. “If me and you are living in the same place, why do we feel alone? A house that’s full of everything we wanted, but it’s an empty home.” The emphasis on the distinct differences in feeling between a house and a home lives so well in this verse. Houses are locations and places and four walls and rooms. Home is where your heart is and where it lives with other people. It’s so heartbreaking to hear this part. The buildup on the chorus right after the admittance of, “I just wanna get back to us because we used to have more,” is like … Mind blowing to me because it sounds like this amazing rock ballad huge drums overwhelming feeling is the thing that you’re leaving behind …. and you just wanna hold onto that, and that’s so damn cool.
Why Won’t You Love Me
First of all, just the title. The beats on this song, Ashton. Good god. The lyrical VULNERABILITY makes me love them a million times more … Open with “Switching into airplane mode again. I’m not alright but I’ll pretend. Press my cheek against the glass. Just be good til I get back,” and you can feel and imagine that, and it’s like one of the realest lines they’ve ever written and it makes me want to cry. Just asking the question, “Why won’t you love me?” is something that sounds so simple but it literally means everything. I feel it so deeply. It’s one of my favorites, and if I had it my way, this song would have been a single.
Woke Up In Japan
THIS SONG IS THERAPY WHENEVER I’M ANGRY ABOUT FEELING LOW AND FEELING LONELY WHICH IS SERIOUSLY A LOT OF THE TIME. I’M NOT EVEN GONNA LIE ABOUT IT. LOVED IT SINCE THE FIRST TIME I HEARD IT. THANK YOU.
“The end is just a dream,” is such a cool line when it’s immediately followed by, “I woke up.” You can interpret that however you want. Depending on the day, it switches for me, and I love that about this song.
This song is SO SO good. I don’t know why so many people overlook it. Musically, it’s so diverse and so cool and so different from regular 5SOS, but they absolutely KILL the sound. “I always believed in second chances. I always believed in you.” The storytelling. The shade. The harmonies. It’s so damn clever and brilliantly produced. “Sugar coated brain … The fluid ain’t to blame for the sugar coated pain,” like … Oh my god, and it sounds like that.
Ghost Of You
“If I can dream long enough, you’d tell me I’ll be just fine.”
Luke Hemmings says that he was inspired to write this song while watching a scene from the hit NBC Drama TV show This Is Us – which is my favorite TV show on right now – and when I heard him say that, I knew exactly the scene he was talking about, and then my love for him suddenly multiplied by a thousand. I think this is my favorite song off the whole thing.
The summer that 5SOS dropped this album, I was living alone in a new apartment. I’m not even gonna lie, but I would walk around my room and like the kitchen and it’d be so quiet and it’d feel so cold even in the middle of summer, and I felt really lost as a person, and this song would come on, and I’d just cry like alone by myself in the middle of the place and there was barely any furniture around and this song paints that picture for me. The repetitive, “I’ll be just fine.” It’s always gonna hold a lot of meaning for me.
Monster Among Men
Dear Michael Clifford, the first time I heard this song, my jaw was on the floor. You literally dominate this song. Every vocal track that follows it thereafter is so so good. I don’t know why more people don’t like this song. It’s crazy brilliant and so fun to listen to.
Meet You There
“Lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-looooove.” I’m just kidding. That’s not my favorite line, but I always wanna sing it every damn time. Just the idea of, “If we’re meant to, I’ll meet you there,” is something that I think we all need to always hear. It holds a lot of weight. I love that they called their whole tour the Meet You There Tour. It just means a lot, and Luke’s vocals on the last half of the second verse … Don’t even think he’s really human.
This genius! Okay so there are a bunch of videos of 5SOS breaking down songs off their album and they clearly want to make it known that they’re not musical geniuses, but I hear this song and it makes me always want to argue with them. They open with, “I thought we had a place, just our place, our home base, my headspace. Was you and I always, but that phase has been phased in our place,” and I’m just like, What the hell, Calum!? “Still the hardest part is knowing when to let go. You wanted to go higher, higher, higher. Burn too bright, now the fire’s gone. Watch it all fall down: Babylon.” Oh my god? Shut up, geniuses.
“Most people I hate … You’re my best friend.”
Do you even realize the significance behind that line? I feel like I’ve been there. When you feel so bitter and cold towards everyone, it’s hard to let anyone in. Being someone’s best friend can hold so much meaning. I think everyone overlooks it sometimes, but one thing no one should overlook are Ashton Irwin’s vocals on this track. Thank you.
When You Walk Away
You gotta search for this song because it was only available on the deluxe edition from Target, but it’s so good! Calum Hood on the bass is unreal. “Cut me open. Take my heart. So we’ll never be apart.” I could almost hate them for not actually putting this up, but I love them too much.
Oh my god. This song. It hits my heart and my soul. It should be the soundtrack to a beautiful drama movie or something. This track was released on a special edition of Youngblood that was only available to purchase in Japan, but you can find it all over Youtube. The boys sound INCREDIBLE on it.
The line “Wish you were here,” and the way that they repeat is my favorite part of the song after Luke coming in on the first verse. I think those words are such a sweet thing to say to someone .. like just wishing you were here. It’s so sweet. They sound SO good. If you’ve never lied out on the grass and played this song while you took in the sunset, you need to … Like now.
* * *
The care and love that went into that album still amazes me. You listen to it and you just know that they don’t make art like that for awards. They don’t do it for airplay. They don’t do it to chart. They do it because they love it. This band has grown so much over the past few years and that makes me feel so known and I’m always gonna be grateful. They keep the rock alive in my life, and they help me approach it from a place of love and appreciation and admiration. They’ve made this record the place I like to go when I want to feel in touch with all of my emotions from the good to the bad. They’re for outcasts, and I’m for them.
Here’s a version of “Youngblood” that I really want you to hear.
Before you go off and judge this band, even after everything I’ve written about, this is a video of 5 Seconds of Summer remaking “Killer Queen” by Queen for the Bohemian Rhapsody movie that came out last November. I’m including it here because the way that they reimagine the track is so true to 5SOS’s Youngblood sound, but also so so so true to Queen’s too. I was SO proud of them when they released it because I can only imagine what kind of shoes they had to try to fill when recording this, but it still came out so amazing. Their appreciation for good rock music, good artistry, and concern with expression and performance is so evident in this video. I swear I watch it at least once a week, and they also just make me laugh.
The Making of Killer Queen
I’ll probably be back to write about all the actual light they’ve brought to my life.
They are such an incredible band, and that is always going to be my opinion about them. They’re undeniable musicians. Just listen to the live album, and you’ll be convinced. They’ve grown so much as songwriters and performers. They have such and appreciation for good much and for their fans. They’re always going to be a part of me, and I’m so so excited to see what their future holds for them. I love them so so much.
The 5SOS III era happened during a super transitional time for me, and I remember when they came back and dropped the album, there was this revelation for me of being okay with growth. This album told me it was okay to grow, and that I didn’t have to be afraid of it, but even if I was, I wasn’t going through it alone. Because they were too … and that alone was enough to get me to be okay with growth.
It’s been a minute since crying alone in my apartment to “Ghost Of You.”
Happy First Birthday, Youngblood. I love you, and I will never get tired of you. Ever.
Why Won’t You Love Me by 5 Seconds of Summer 2018