Arts & Entertainment'Mainstream Sellout' recycles pop-punk cliches

‘Mainstream Sellout’ recycles pop-punk cliches

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‘Mainstream Sellout’ is the sixth studio album put out by arguably the most polarizing artist in the rock scene, Machine Gun Kelly, who showed growth but delivered a mixed performance on the project.

This album was released on March 25, 2022, via Bad Boy Records and Interscope Records as Kelly’s second collaborative project with producer and drummer Travis Barker, following 2020’s ‘Tickets to My Downfall’. 

This is also Kelly’s second album where he has leaned away from his rap roots and aimed more towards rock, or more specifically pop-punk style. 

Prior to listening to this album, I went in with zero expectations to have a natural interpretation. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t hate his first album. 

It was highly successful and got a lot of new eyes on the genre, which is obviously great for the genre as a whole. Lots of that publicity was from peoples’ opinions on MGK, which I previously wrote about for The Printz.

I’ll be covering this album track by track, so let’s go ahead and jump right in. 

‘born with horns”: This was a decent track to open up the album. The lyrics were fairly cliché, but that’s sort of expected when it comes to MGK. The instrumentation was definitely the highlight of this song and it did its job as an introduction to the rest of the album. 

Track #2 ‘god save me’: This was an interesting track. The lyrics were much better and did a decent job of explaining this side of MGK that people don’t often see. He talks about his mental struggles and how he’s dealt with his dad’s passing, while still keeping his edge on it. I would’ve enjoyed this track more without his vocables towards the end of the track.

Track #3 ‘maybe (feat. Bring Me the Horizon)’: This was my least favorite of all the singles he released before the album and probably my least favorite track off of the album altogether. Oliver Sykes of the band Bring Me the Horizon is one of my favorite vocalists in all of music right now, so it hurt to hear him on this. MGK’s vocals just didn’t match up. The structure and chord progression in the post-chorus sound like an exact copy and paste of the post-chorus of the hit song ‘Misery Business’ by Paramore. MGK even covered that song on the deluxe edition of his last album “Tickets to My Downfall”, so the inspiration is definitely there. I’m not accusing MGK of intentionally plagiarizing the song, but the similarities are obvious and it turned me off of this track 

Track #4 ‘drug dealer (feat. Lil Wayne)’: This was a fairly fun song. MGK sings a lot about drugs as you can imagine but he still made this song sound decent. The chorus is catchy, and Lil Wayne’s feature definitely fits the structure.

Track #5 ‘wall of fame – interlude’: This was a 32-second spoken comedic track so there isn’t much to cover. This was primarily used to introduce the next song, which is the title track of this album. This honestly felt pretty pointless.

Track #6 ‘mainstream sellout’: This is obviously a track used to express how MGK feels about his haters. He sings this song from the perspective of his haters so I thought that part was a nice change of pace. IT is very catchy and I’m definitely a sucker for short, catchy, fast-paced songs.. This might be my favorite track off of the album so far. 

Track #7 ‘make up sex (feat. blackbear)’: This is the track that I saw most people talk about on social media when the album dropped, and for good reason. blackbear’s feature on the last album knocked it out of the park so the anticipation was high for this feature. The lyrics of this song are quite crude, but it’s to be expected with the title and I don’t think it took much away from the track. 

Track #8 ‘emo girl (feat. WILLOW)’: This is the second single from the album and honestly, I feel quite conflicted about this song. I won’t say this was a horrible song, but it was performed by the wrong person. If this was performed by someone much younger, perhaps even the guest feature WILLOW, it would make much more sense. I say that because all of these lyrics about being in love with an emo girl feel very juvenile. It feels odd for a 31-year-old man to sing it. 

Track #9 ‘5150’: The riff on the guitar really carries this song. The melody grows old after a while, but the instrumentation is what kept me intrigued. I give all of the credit in the world to MGK’s band for keeping me interested, because they’re the reason I haven’t tuned out early on a few of these tracks.

Track #10 ‘papercuts’: Here it is, the lead single to the album. I will be the first to tell you I am a fan of this song. This song is what really inspired me to review this album. I might have gotten my hopes up for this album hoping that the rest would be half as good as this track, but even then, I still loved it. I can’t compliment the production on this track enough. Whoever was behind on production for this track deserves all of the credit in the world. 

Track #11 ‘WW4’: I would bet money that songs like these were written solely as a tribute to blink-182. blink-182’s long-time drummer is one of the main producers and drummers on this album. This screams Travis Barker inspiration all over.  I’m assuming this is a sequel to ‘WWIII’ off of MGK’s last album as they are very similar in style. If you like really fast-paced songs that reek of early blink-182 and are just over a minute long, then this is the song for you.

Track #12 ‘ay! (feat. Lil Wayne)’: I might be in the minority here, but I loved this track personally. This song sort of felt like a throwback to MGK’s rap style. It still has influence from his current style, but this still feels like an homage to his past. I thought the beat was really smooth and did a good job of carrying the melody along. Lil Wayne’s feature wasn’t as good as his other track on this album, but it’s still an enjoyable track.

Track #13 ‘fake love don’t last (feat. iann dior)’: This track just felt like another cliché rock track from MGK. Not too much stuck out to me, even though I am a huge fan of iann dior’s work. I thought dior’s feature did its job as well as it could. This track felt fun, but nothing felt all that special to make me really enjoy it. 

Track #14 ‘die in california (feat. Gunna, Young Thug, & Landon Barker)’: Okay MGK we get it, you have a lot of friends, so you can stop adding them to every song now. In all seriousness, I did enjoy this track. It was a good change of pace but it could have been done without the features thought adding Landon Barker was weird since he’s Travis Barker’s eighteen-year-old son but Landon did well. I thought this was a fun and enjoyable track, even with the features that didn’t feel like they belonged.

Track #15 ‘sid & nancy’: The guitar riff was fun in this song as well. I actually enjoyed all of Kelly’s lyrics and melodies even if they did feel cliché. Out of all of the other rock-inspired songs on the album, I liked this one the most. The instrumentation is really good and the production was great as well. This track is really fun from top to bottom.

Track #16 ‘twin flame’: An acoustic love song is an interesting choice to put as the final track. This is the only acoustic track on the album, so putting it last made it feel that much more important. Since this is obviously a love song, I’m assuming it’s a love song for Kelly’s fiancé Megan Fox. MGK putting his voicemail with Fox in the track felt weird, but it still fit in the structure. Kelly’s vocals towards the end prior to the crescendo sounded great. They had a ton of effects on his vocals, but also didn’t sound over-produced, so props to the production team on that end. The instant crescendo and key change did a great job of really punching me in the face. The lead guitar riff is absolutely insane. I’m unsure if that was MGK playing guitar during that riff, but it sounded great nonetheless. The sudden ending made it all that much better. This is definitely one of the better tracks off of the album. 

Favorite tracks: ‘god save me’, ‘mainstream sellout’, ‘make up sex’, ‘papercuts’, ‘ay!’, ‘sid& nancy’,  and, ‘twin flame’

Least favorite tracks: ‘maybe’, ‘wall of fame’, ‘emo girl’, ‘5150’

Overall, this album had a lot of hit-or-miss songs. It really felt like a mixed bag and they sort of just placed songs where they wanted to without thinking about the flow of the album. You can tell MGK has grown since his last album with his little details here and there.

 I wouldn’t say I particularly loved it overall, but it served its purpose. I’d give it an overall 6/10. 

With that being said, this is all just my opinion so I recommend you check out this album if you want. Also at the time of this writing, this album just went number one on the billboard 200. Congrats to everyone that worked on this album and thank you for checking out my review.

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