Today’s music landscape has shifted to render the term “genre” more or less obsolete. One of the most recent examples of an artist flipping genres is Machine Gun Kelly, who scored his first #1 album last year with his pop-punk smash Tickets to my Downfall.
The 31-year old’s last 4 studio albums have been hip-hop releases containing major alternative themes throughout, none of which found much mainstream success. His harsh lyrics centered around drug use and childhood trauma proved too edgy of an image for hip-hop purists, but his rapid fire flow blocked him from being considered strictly an alternative artist. Turns out all Colson Baker (AKA. Machine Gun Kelly) needed to get his message across was a guitar and power chords.The seeds for Colson’s transition into pop-punk were planted in the closing track on his 2019 album Hotel Diablo. Alongside Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and Uk pop-rocker YUNGBLUD the song “I Think I’m Okay” was an undeniable pop-punk hit, and proved that maybe this new image could work. His lyrics focused on his careless lifestyle meshed so effortlessly alongside an electric guitar and Traivs Barker playing drums. Some covers of essential alternative hits like Paramore’s “Misery Business” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” further reinforced this point. Until the first single from Tickets to my Downfall landed in May of 2020 with a music video featuring his new romantic partner Megan Fox. Colson’s relationship seemed to give him a new lust for life, allowing him to put aside his troubled past and express his emotions in the most honest state of his career. Tickets to my Downfall is not a perfect album by any means. It comes across as mostly an imitation of 2000’s pop-punk bands like Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy, and features the occasional trap-drum sound for some reason. However it proved that Colson’s chaotic energy that was littered across his discography just needed a different sound to truly shine. Tickets to my Downfall is by far his most natural body of work and for that reason it connected so well with listeners and earned him the Billboard 2020 award for top rock artist. Most importantly, it marks a clean slate for Machine Gun Kelly to start a new chapter in his career.