Machine Gun Kelly has had an eventful few years. His 2012 feud with Eminem gave him a lot more publicity, which is not always a good thing. He received a lot of backlash in the media, which affected his commercial success, especially for his 2019 hip-hop/rap album “Hotel Diablo.”
MGK decided to switch things up with his 2020 album “Tickets To My Downfall.” Working with Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker, MGK brought back music trends from early emo 2000s bands with a twist of modern-day pop music. Whether it was because of the public’s initial shock at this new genre or because of the music itself, the album became an instant success. With hit songs like “bloody valentine” and his collaboration with blackbear on the song “my ex’s best friend,” MGK had his first certified platinum album.
After this big achievement, Machine Gun Kelly decided to take it a step further with “Mainstream Sellout.” He starts off the 16-track album with the hardcore songs “born with horns” and “god save me,” involving themes of self-deprecation and lyrics about his past struggles with drug abuse and suicidal thoughts. He continues this trend of emotional distress with the next song “maybe” featuring the iconic screamo band Bring Me The Horizon. This song is very nostalgic for former or current emo fans — although let’s face it, are there really any former fans? Does anyone really leave their emo phase?
Some other songs on the album are closer to MGK’s hip-hop/rap roots, such as “ay!” and the album edit version of “papercuts.” MGK is not afraid to address his musical changes and is proud of what he’s done, claiming in “papercuts,’’ “Y’all said that I switched genres / I saw the limit and took it farther.” He also mentions this in “mainstream sellout,” with the opening line, “I heard the feedback, I’m a poser / With a guitar and a choker.” Kelly claims that changing up his genre of music has nothing to do with backlash and is simply because of his flexibility and creativity as a musician.
Whether or not this is true, he definitely has a creative vision when it comes to this new genre. The most popular song on the album thus far is “emo girl,” featuring none other than WILLOW, who took the stage at Binghamton University just a few months ago. Although very generic, this song has become a big hit and a popular TikTok audio.
The strongest songs on the album are the ones that are at a somewhat slower pace and more creative in terms of lyricism. In “fake love don’t last” and “die in california,” MGK talks more about his mental health struggles and some things he has learned from past relationships. These songs come across as more authentic than the more aggressive songs like “WW4” and “5150.” Closing out the album is the most genuine song, “twin flame,” which is about his new fiance Megan Fox. MGK sings the lyrics, “I cannot kiss you, yeah, you’re magic / So I’ll just stare at you instead.” The song also includes a short phone conversation between MGK and Fox.
All in all, this album is worth a listen for fans of older emo bands or current pop-punk. While some artists release an album with similar-sounding songs, MGK has a wide and unique variety, ranging from hardcore emo to laid-back alternatives. He chose guest artists such as blackbear, Lil Wayne, iann dior and others who add a lot to the album vocally and creatively. Although not as strong as “Tickets To My Downfall,” Machine Gun Kelly seems to really be branching out as a person and discovering the music he is most passionate about. Since he is constantly changing up his style, who knows what is next to come?
Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars