Sum 41 – “Fat Lip”

Released: 7.3.01

Peak: #66

So sad about Deryck and Avril. Sure, they always came across as the kind of high school couple destined to split sometime between prom and graduation, but I’d hoped these two glorious posers could keep it together long enough to stuff a toddler or two into faux-vintage CBs onesies. Just think of the crippling embarrassment once the kids were old enough to understand just who their parents were. I mean, Ashlee and Pete just don’t come close.

Then again, my love for mall punk–even the real bottom-feeders like New Found Glory–exceeds all reason. Partly this was cross-generational jealousy: the music only cooler kids than I had hunted up in the ’80s had since degenerated into the public domain. But also, pop-punk owned its own sloppily eyelinered corner of this teenybop moment; the same fidgety adolescent energy that rejuvenated the sex comedy with American Pie also manifested itself in the sort of bristly, jumpy guitar tunes that power pop was generally too prissy (and dishonest about its girl problems) to cough up.

With rap-rock married to sociopolitical angst, and the dirty old Gen-Xers in Blink conceptualizing their bad influence, it was up to these losers–these Canadian losers–to confuse rap and punk and metal and–if only for three minutes–to make good on the promise of License to Ill and the promise of Dookie in one fell swoop (is there any other kind of swoop?) Because they understood that neither album ever promised shit, and “Fat Lip” distills that snotty unreliability into a simple message: “Don’t count on me.”

Given that the long-term effects of “political awareness” on the Beasties and Green Day, could you really be pissed that Sum 41 trashed their own houses instead of firebombing Nike Town or something? I’m not entirely sure what “a casualty of society” or “a victim of your conformity” is, but those do sound like very bad things and I hope to avoid becoming either myself. I also like that when Sum 41 did belatedly develop a conscience, they shipped off to the Congo with a Canadian NGO on a public awareness campaign, rather than grandstanding from the First World. And that “Fat Lip” has apparently become a favorite of college marching bands.

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  • Pete Scholtes  On June 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Love this piece, especially the coda. Song is kind of a mall punk variety pack–all it’s missing is a ska break.

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