This is going to make us all cry but that’s ok. We’re in this together. (@OxMiamiMike)
This quote was left under the comments section of Blink-182’s new music video for “ONE MORE TIME.” Of the hundreds of other comments expressing similar sentiments, this one topped the list, perfectly describing the emotional conclusion of Blink’s surprising reunion.
The band that every 1999-2003 high school graduate remembers as the guys singing, “Say it ain’t so / I will not go….na na, na na, na na na na na” times infinity over the groggy mono speakers that backgrounded every party is back with their original lineup and churning out new music. Except this time they’re (mostly) skipping past the irreverence and 12-year-old-skatepark humor and unloading into the airwaves life lessons learned from tumultuous years of separation.
Of all the supergroups in recent memory, Blink’s strange history tops the charts in terms of intrigue. Their first major rupture dates back to 2005 when Tom Delonge (whose nasally vocals have been immortalized on TikTok: “Where R yeeeyuuooooo? ‘N I’m souh sorreeeeeeyyy”) departed the group after tensions escalated with Mark Hoppus (bass and vocals) and Travis Barker (the drummer who just started a family with a Kardashian).
Historically, groups with two lead singer-songwriters often produce melodic gold, but unfortunately struggle to subdue the competitiveness intrinsic to their genetic composition. The same fire that ignites radio hits also ticks the internal time bomb that implodes the group (think The Beatles or Oasis). Fast forward to 2008 and the group picks up communications after Travis Barker emerges as one of two survivors of a plane crash, rekindling the brotherhood triad and squashing beef in between Barker’s jet fuel burn-induced skin grafts.
Boom. “Blink-182 is back!” they announced at the following Grammy’s ceremony. Fans were ecstatic as they awaited the reunion album, which was, strangely, delayed for years. Turns out, the plane crash hadn’t brought about the enlightened maturation Blink fans hoped for: the trio barely met in person, recording their comeback album in separate studios and only coordinating its production through email, managers, and publicists. By 2015, Barker and Hoppus got fed up with Delonge’s lack of commitment to the band and sought legal separation so that Hoppus, Barker, and new singer/guitarist Matt Skiba (from Alkaline Trio) could keep recording and touring under the Blink name.
Delonge, as many headlines have pointed out in recent years, took his lifelong obsession with UFOs and aliens to the professional level. He founded the media company To the Stars, which surprisingly garnered an impressive staff of ex-governmental officials, media executives, and legitimate scholars. Some of the early photos posted on their site were subsequently confirmed by the Federal Government to be legitimate classified photos of UFOs. (Let it sink in that the nasally voice that sings “All The! Small Things!” actually helped prove the existence of UFOs.)
All that to say, the newly reconstituted Blink toured for a few years and released two albums, but without Delonge’s touch most fans felt alienated from the group’s original appeal. Then, in 2021, Hoppus revealed a stage-4 throat cancer diagnosis and Blink disappeared from the public eye. Apparently, Hoppus & Co. weren’t sure if he was going to survive the verdict.
But, almost miraculously, Hoppus made a total recovery. In late 2022, Blink released a new song featuring Delonge, and they performed live together for the first time in a decade after taking over for Frank Ocean’s awkward Coachella cancellation. Blink-182 was back (again)!
Fans watched the trio pour their hearts out to each other in a teaser for a Zane Lowe interview. Barker explained their collective frustration at letting petty fights get in between their friendship, only to reconcile when one of the members had a near-death experience. The new album’s titular single found the band evolving past their odes to unrequited love and skatepunk and actually musing heartfelt lyrics to each other: “I wish they told us / it shouldn’t take a sickness / or airplanes falling out the sky,” Hoppus sings before Delonge takes over on the chorus: “Do I have to die to hear you miss me?”
Thousands of emotions flooded their Youtube comment section of the “ONE MORE TIME” music video, which intersplices sentimental footage of the band’s early days. If you had to sum up the comments, it’d be something like, “I’m crying and didn’t know I needed this as much as I did.” Or my personal favorite from @stockandgray: “Fighting cancer. I have lymphoma like Mark. I’ve grown up with you guys and you’re getting me through a horrible period in my life. You were my first concert with green day in 99’ [sic] I’ll never forget it. Glad I lived long enough to see you guys reunite.”
Blink’s reunion struck an empathic chord with an audience that’s frankly not the most usual crowd to strike an empathic chord with. Blink went from the immature, forever-young idiots garnering a fan base of like-minded bachelors, to viscerally-matured-via-microwave grown-ups broadcasting folk wisdom to fans who’ve resisted growing up alongside them, and who now find themselves with wrinkles and graying hairs, chiropractor appointments, high cholesterol, referrals to healthcare specialists, and broken relationships.
What’s odd is that Blink basically made a career off of rejecting wisdom, and now they’re crooning about all the lessons they wished they’d learned sooner. Their fans, who grew up in post-Christian, postmodern, post-everything confusion also learned their lessons the hard way.
For this writer, “ONE MORE TIME,” came right in the wake of my best friend moving away. And I know the fact that I can say “best friend” as a 25+ year-old male is a bit astonishing even for my own ears, but it’s reality. He and his family moved across the country, and despite our best intentions, the truth is we’ll inevitably grow apart; I won’t see his kids grow up, nor will he see mine.
I didn’t even have this best friend until I was 23. I’d had plenty of close friends, guys you’d explore suburbia on razor scooters with, drinking buddies I’d rarely have a meaningful sober conversation with, partners in crime or coworkers I’d hustle alongside, friends who’d inspire creativity. And all these relationships disintegrated in one way or another (one study found that some friend groups have a complete turnover once every seven years). Some would transfer schools; some would try to elevate their social status and leave your unpopular self behind; some would descend so far down the status chain that your unformed frontal lobe rationalizes ghosting them as your wisest option; some cross lines you don’t have the maturity to forgive or vice versa; and some just age out, serve their purpose, or dead end. Point is, they’ve all basically gone, passed their expiration, or been intentionally removed.
Interestingly, the feeling afterward isn’t usually sadness, at least, not at first. Initially, I always find myself trying to rationalize how they weren’t that good of a friend anyways and I’m better off without them. And I’m aware of how emotionally unhealthy that sounds. It’s not like an abandonment-issues/toxic-masculinity type of thing, it’s just a psychological defense mechanism: when we face deep pain or trauma, our psychological immune system tries to contend with it by offering thousands of mini-coping mechanisms in the form of, “I’m probably better off this way,” that roll in like logical equations. So, when my best friend left, that’s the first place I went to: it’s fine, whatever, you’re somehow better off this way.
But I, like so many others, found wisdom in the oddest place: the comment section of a band that got famous from a 1999 music video (Content warning: nudity) where they streak naked around Los Angeles (“Nobody likes you when you’re 23!”). Do I really want to wait for some sobering disaster before I tell my friend I miss him? Is letting my bitterness cloud my mental patterns the best idea for anyone?
It’s not ideal, but I’d rather tell my friend that I love him when I remember that I do, tell him I miss him when I miss him, and know that even though we’re never gonna be as young as we were when we lived on the same street, it’s better to celebrate the friendship in whatever form it shapes into than rationalize it into non-existence with a splash of resentment.
I follow Jesus, so I believe the Gospel is where authentic truth and wisdom are found. But the extemporaneous emotionalism behind the raw lyrics of three pop-punk rockers is significant, unusual, and hard to ignore. To me, it’s emblematic of a hole in popular culture that needed filling: what do you do when time has its way and you really can’t blame all your problems on being young, like in all the songs you used to karaoke?
It’s in those moments of sobriety that our belief systems, our plausibility structures, our reasonings for why things are the way they are become pliable and our spiritual sensibilities get more lucid. Generations that missed out on proper spiritual leadership are in search of guidance, and right now they seem to be trafficking in guidance from even the most unlikely of sources. “ONE MORE TIME” isn’t spiritually deep, but it’s moving people out of their auto-pilot and challenging them to think, love, and connect in ways vastly atypical for the modern self.
We all need guidance, and when guidance is missing in the public sphere, in academic institutions, and in relationships that should be about mentorship, we tend to just graft in wisdom from whatever channels we’re exposed to. And the fact that both Christians and non-Christians are sourcing life advice from a pop-punk trio makes me realize that there are dimensions of our souls that our systems of knowledge aren’t tapping into. Realistically, where do you go to find commiserating solace for strained friendship as a male who didn’t just recently graduate college? We’re a generation that struggles to see that relationships with conflict are better than non-relationships, that reconciliation is a virtue that’s good not just for Christians but for everyone, and that ghosting friends or even enemies isn’t all that wise.
In a world where artists in their fifties are still penning songs about how “tonight, we are young,” or “blame it on my youth,” it’s refreshing that Blink seems aware of their phase of life. Rather than singing “We are young,” they sing “WHEN WE WERE YOUNG”; instead of writing about how they’ll “fall in love tonight,” they’re writing, “Do you remember the time we fell in love?” Music is treated like it must be inherently youthful, but displaying an awareness of aging is far more graceful than slapping on plastic surgery and belting out another teen-pop song.
We’re all getting older, and that doesn’t have to be negative. Blink seems to use that to their advantage, and it’s a message that’s cathartic to a culture so resistant to becoming irrelevant. “ONE MORE TIME” reminds us of the urgency of mortality, of the freedom that righting wrongs provides, and of the joy that only long-term human connection can give us. For the church, it’s a reminder of the liminal space in the general public’s centers of emotion and connection, a reminder that there’s a longing to live with less detachment and more certainty, and that we can be the place that reaches those who need to reconnect.