MACHINE GUN KELLY – TICKETS TO MY DOWNFALL REVIEW

When I was growing up, I would say that I enjoyed quite a few Machine Gun Kelly songs. He kind of came up with the group that included Mac Miller, Chance the Rapper, Vince Staples, and Action Bronson. I would not say I was a huge fan of his or anything, but I did like the energy that he was putting out in his music, especially when it was performed live. I can specifically remember him at a concert on a tour he did with Mac Miller back in the day performing all kinds of crazy antics on stage; the thing I remember the most is when he climbed the speaker tower on the side of the stage, singing and rapping while barely hanging onto the metal bars of the tower. Machine Gun Kelly has always had a Punk-Rock element to his music and his performances, and my little anecdote is one of many crazy things he used to do on stage back in the day. Admittedly, I had stopped paying attention to MGK and his career until he started going viral in early 2020 for all of his excellent quarantine performances. I honestly did not know until earlier this year that he had been dabbling in Rock music over the last couple of years; had I heard his song ‘I Think I’m Ok’ with Yungblud and Travis Barker in 2019, it probably would have been on my ‘Best Songs of 2019’ list. I know that Machine Gun Kelly grew up listening to Punk Rock music, and it is evident that he is very passionate about this genre. I am a huge fan of the lead single from this record, ‘Bloody Valentine,’ and when I heard it I was very excited what Machine Gun Kelly could do on a whole record in this genre. With that being said, here is how I feel about Machine Gun Kelly’s new album Tickets To My Downfall. Please let me know in the comments below if you agree with my review or not, and also let me know what your favorite songs from this record are down there as well.

I’m still young, wasting my youth. I’ll grow up next summer. I’m back on those drugs I quit. I kept my dealer’s number. I’m still young, wasting my youth. I’ll grow up next summer. I’m back on that girl I quit, I should have lost her number... – ‘drunk face’

Right from the start of this record, it is obvious that Machine Gun Kelly’s Tickets To My Downfall is going to be a very chaotic and emotional piece of music with many highs and lows. The first song from this record is called ‘title track,’ and MGK does not take long to show the listener that this track is not going to be for the faint of heart. ‘title track’ starts with an acoustic Rock feeling to it, which is not what I expected from hearing the singles from this record. It quickly morphs into a high energy Pop-Punk song though, with Travis Barker(the drummer from Blink 182) absolutely killing it on the drums. If you are a fan of Blink 182, you will love these instrumentals, because every drum pattern and guitar riff sound like they came right out of 2002. I like the fact that the melody and tone of this track is sort of upbeat and fun sounding, but the lyricism is very dark. On ‘title track,’ Machine Gun Kelly is singing about how he is being consumed with drugs, alcohol, and his deteriorating mental state; all of his friends just seem to be standing around watching him sink while they party with his resources, so it is in this sense that he is selling tickets to his downfall. Now, one might think from the title of the next song and its melody that MGK’s mood swings in an upward direction with the next track, but unfortunately this is not the case. Even though ‘kiss kiss’ has a really warm and fun Pop-Punk sound that is bound to get anyone bopping their head and moving their feet, the lyrical tone of the track is anything but happy. ‘kiss kiss’ is a song that is about drinking alcohol and smoking weed and/or cigarettes to distract yourself from how depressed you are. Instead of dealing with the pain, MGK just decides to get super messed up; this is a sentiment that is relatable to so many people. ‘kiss kiss’ has a really fun sound to it and an understandable meaning, and I am sure a lot of people(including myself) will be listening to this song frequently while in the mental state that the song is talking about. In some of the criticism that I have seen for this record, people have been saying that MGK is acting like and writing lyrics like he is younger than he is. One of the biggest criticisms about Pop-Punk is that some of the lyricism will pander to teenagers regardless of the age of the people writing and performing the music, and this I have seen people complaining about ‘drunk face’ in that regard. I do not understand why people would say that about this track because Machine Gun Kelly is not even old. I would still consider 30 years old to be pretty young; yeah, by this point, you are supposed to be a full-blown mature adult, but 30 is still way less than half of most people’s life expectancy, so I would consider it to still be young. ‘drunk face’ is supposed to be young people’s anthem in a way. This song has a similar lyrical meaning to the song that precedes it; it has a lot more of a positive and upbeat tone than ‘kiss kiss’ though. ‘drunk face’ is a song that is just about getting drunk and high and just forgetting about all of your problems. Instead of dwelling and being depressed, MGK is suggesting that we should just pretend like there is nothing wrong. One thing that is unique about this song is that it is the first one that has a Trap beat incorporated into the instrumental. I really like this new trend of Punk guitar riffs over Trap beats, and this song is a great example of how good it can sound. Following this comes the song ‘bloody valentine,’ which is one of my favorite singles of 2020. This song was the first time that most people heard MGK try his new Pop-Punk sound on, and the consensus from most people is that he crushed it. Everything about this song, from the riff to the drum pattern to the lyricism to the vocals, is just so awesome and fun to listen to. On ‘bloody valentine,’ MGK is singing about being in love with a girl that he knows it could never work out within the long term. Even though he knows this relationship will crash and burn soon, he currently is having so much fun in the relationship that he just does not care. ‘bloody valentine’ was such a great introduction for MGK into the world of Punk Rock, and it set a lot of high expectations for this album because it is so good.

You want me to forget you? Okay, forget me too. You tell me you hate me, baby. Yeah, I bet you do. I’m keepin’ you waiting, but I won’t wait on you. Want me to forget you? Okay, forget me too… – ‘forget me too’ feat. Halsey

When I first heard the previously mentioned ‘bloody valentine,’ I did not know if there would be a song from this project that I like more just because I enjoy it so much. That feeling changed when I heard the next song, ‘forget me too,’ which features Halsey. This track has become my favorite track from this record, and I would also say that it is becoming one of my favorite songs from 2020 overall. This song has one of the hardest guitar riffs on the record, and it feels more like a true Punk song than a Pop-Punk track. It is a song about a super toxic relationship, where both participants are only able to see each other while under the influence because when they are sober together they are constantly fighting. The thing, or person, rather, that stands out the most about this song is Halsey. Her attitude and voice are perfect for this song. You can tell the lyrics must be somewhat personal to her by the punch that she leaves when she sings them. The next song, ‘all I know’ featuring Trippie Redd, has quickly become a fan favorite for a lot of Machine Gun Kelly’s fan base. This is not the first time these two have worked together, and they have an undeniable chemistry that Hip Hop and Pop-Punk fans all seem to enjoy. To me, this is probably the most basic and generic song on the record. There is nothing that stands out lyrically or sonically. To me, it feels like this was a random song they did together a while ago and they have had no project to put it on until now. It does fit into the themes of Tickets To My Downfall and does have a catchy Pop-Punk sound, but to me, it is not very special. I can understand why people are into it since it is a fun song to listen to, but it is one of my favorite tracks from this record. The next track, ‘lonely,’ probably has the least “Punk Rock” feeling out of everything that is on this record. It has more of a hard 2000s Pop-Rock ballad feeling( similar to bands like Three Days Grace and Three Doors Down) to it than a Punk Rock one, which I think is okay considering the lyrical content of the song. ‘lonely’ is a deeply emotional song about how Machine Gun Kelly feels about his dad recently passing away. His aunt, who helped raise him, also recently passed away, so now the only family that he ever had, no matter how tumultuous his relationship was with them, is gone. It is cool that MGK is willing to put himself out there like this and make himself so vulnerable, and I know that this song will and has helped a lot of people who are dealing with similar feelings or situations. The next track, ‘WWIII,’ is a one-minute explosion that I think is supposed to shock the sadness from the last song out of us a bit. ‘WWIII’ is the most distorted and brash track up until this point, and it is the most unapologetically Punk song on this record. Most of the album has a clean Pop tint to it, but this one does not have any Pop tendencies at all. On ‘WWIII,’ MGK seems to be talking to his haters, telling them that he has not and will not forget all of the negative stuff they continue to say about him. This negativity motivates him and gives him the need to prove these people wrong. After how dark and intense the song that precedes it is, ‘WWIII’ is a much-needed shock that brings us back to the level of energy the rest of the record has.

After experiencing the major high and lows that the last two songs gave us, a little interlude is something that listeners could use. This interlude comes from a conversation between Machine Gun Kelly and his friend Pete Davidson, and is called ‘kevin and barracuda.’ This interlude is a little funny phone conversation between the two, where they are pretending to be aliens and chatting about how the world sucks(which is a very relatable sentiment for sure). I know not everyone is a fan of interludes and skits, but sometimes they are needed to reel the emotions of the record back in. Following this is ‘concert for aliens,’ which to me sounds like a Blink 182 cover. I feel like Travis Barker may have a little bit too much of an influence on this track because it sounds more like one of his songs than an MGK song. ‘concert for aliens’ is probably a favorite for those people who like Blink 182, but to me, it just sounds too much like one of there songs and in a way feels out of place here. For me, it just does not fit in as much to the sound of the record as it probably should just because it sounds too much like a cover even though it is an original song. This should not make sense, but in the context of the rest of the record, I feel like it does. The next song, ‘my ex’s best friend,’ which features blackbear, has become the most popular song from this record up until this point. It took some time to grow on me, but this song has become one of my favorite songs from this record as well; it is just one of the more unique tracks on the record, as it is a little bit more Pop sounding than a lot of the other stuff and it incorporates a Trap beat into the second verse. ‘my ex’s best friend’ is another song where Machine Gun Kelly is being super problematic and not necessarily doing the right thing. He is a person that acts on all impulses and emotions, and this in track, he is hooking up with someone that he really should not do so because it can affect a lot of his relationships. But hey, MGK is a rockstar, and he just does not care at all. Whether or not the premise of the lyrics is positive, this song is a banger and it will be frequently played in my playlist for the foreseeable future.

After the last song, which is a bit softer and more Pop, it only seems right that we are given another harder Punk song, and ‘jawbreaker’ definitely fits that mold. Most of the songs on this project definitely have more of an early to mid-2000s sound to them, but ‘jawbreaker’ is decidedly a lot more 90s sounding than the rest of the record. This song reminds me a lot of bands like Lit, Sum 41, and Eve 6. I like the switch up in sound on this track, as it keeps the record from being too mundane and shows us that Machine Gun Kelly can excel at yet another style of music. The next track, ‘nothing inside’ featuring iann dior, is yet another song from this record that I like. It brings us back to the portion of the record that sounds very similar to Blink 182; in fact, the instrumental of this song straight up sounds like it could have come from an album of theirs that came out in the early 2000s. Machine Gun Kelly’s and iann dior’s performances on this track are superb, though, and they keep it from sounding too much like a copy of their favorite band. I specifically love iann dior’s performance on this track; his deeper voice and unique flow that he uses to provide a necessary layer to the track that makes it fun to listen to. Lyrically, this song is anything but fun. On ‘nothing inside,’ Machine Gun Kelly and iann dior are explaining how their mental health and substance abuse problems are ruining their relationships. As much as they try to show that they care, their significant others can look in their eyes and see that they are too depressed to care, and it is driving the significant others away. ‘banyan tree(interlude)’ is another conversational break in the album, this time between Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly(Megan and MGK have been dating for the last few months). During this interlude, Megan Fox is asking MGK how he feels about her, and if he remembers all of the stuff that they do together. She knows that he is constantly so high and drunk that there is a chance that he remembers nothing, but he reassures her that he deletes all of the other memories in his head to remember what happens between them. It is a very sweet moment, but also shows off some of the issues in their relationship. I appreciate how open and honest and real Machine Gun Kelly is on this record because it makes him seem so relatable. Surprisingly, Tickets To My Downfall closes out with an acoustic track. ‘play this when i’m gone’ is a super sweet and soft Pop-Rock track that is being sung directly to Machine Gun Kelly’s daughter. On this track, Machine Gun Kelly is admitting all of his problems to her. He knows that he could be so much better but does not know how to get there; above all, he knows that he loves her more than anything and just wants the best for her. ‘play me when i’m gone’ does not round out the album on a sweet and positive note. Similar to the feeling of the rest of the album, this song does not assure the listener or his daughter that everything is always going to be happy and positive. Just like in life, the album kind of leaves us knowing nothing about how the future will be. All we know is that he do not know anything, and that is okay.

Machine Gun Kelly has always been an artist that can easily succeed in every medium that he wants to pursue. Whether it is Hip Hop, Pop, or Rock, he has always proved that he is easily adaptable and able to provide quality content in everything he tries. I mean, he has even become a popular and successful actor at this point, having been in multiple movies and TV shows over the last few years. Tickets To My Downfall is MGK’s first dive into making a full album with no Hip Hop in it, and he killed it. This record is emotional and fun and hard and awesome; MGK takes us into his brain and shows us all of his insecurities and everything problem he is going through, and shows us how he gets through them. If you are into early 2000s Pop-Punk and Rock music, this is a record you should love. I can not wait to see what MGK does in the future, because I know whatever it is, he will kill it.

Favorite Tracks: kiss kiss, drunk face, bloody valentine, forget me too(feat. Halsey), lonely, my ex’s best friend(feat. blackbear), jawbreaker, nothing inside(feat. iann dior), play this when i’m gone

8.1/10

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