There’s many reasons why Relient K will always be a band favorite, but suffice it to say, they write fantastic, and relatable songs. I’ve already ranked their albums in a previous post, and now I thought I would give it a go to whittle down their deep catalogue to what I consider to be their twenty greatest songs. It’s highly subjective, and I’ve love to hear your favorites in the comments below. So without further ado…
20. “Pressing On” – Anatomy Of Tongue In Cheek
Fast and loose punk rock with an ounce of maturity, this is a fun one that features a nice vocal breakdown to slow the pace before racing to its end. It’s a great opener for the follow up Anatomy Of Tongue In Cheek from the fun and charmingly sloppy self-titled debut.
19. “Sahara” – Forget And Not Slow Down
A great rocker from the “breakup album” Forget And Not Slow Down. It’s intense and bombastic in all the right ways. The heartfelt plea “Don’t ever turn me loose, even when I turn my back” is a well said, and deeply relatable line from an album full of good ones.
18. “Let It All Out” – Mmhmm
Piano ballad, this one is tender and a perfect follow up to the track before it on Mmhmm, “Which To Bury, Us Or The Hatchet.” His rage all expended, Theissen turns his thoughts inward as he hears from God, “You said I know that this will hurt/but if I don’t break your heart/things will just get worse/when the burden seems too much to bear/remember the end will justify/the pain it took/too get us there.” Wow. That’s lyrical masterclass as far as I’m concerned.
17. “Softer To Me” – Relient K
There are certainly other worthy songs from the debut for this list (“Hello Mcfly,” “Charles In Charge,” “My Girlfriend”) but the blood curdling screams of “Softer To Me” following the guitar breakdown has always stuck with me. Great use of dynamics utilized and a fantastic contrast to break up typical punk rock fare.
16. “Savannah” – Forget And Not Slow Down
As a whole, I wasn’t in a season of life where Forget And Not Slow Down really resonated with me at first, but it grew on me over the years. “Savanah” is just one of many well done songs from the album. I dig the acoustic guitar accents and the rhythm used in the song, and I detect a certain 90’s alternative vibe of which I’m always a fan. It’s a good simmering mid-tempo song to break up what is predominately a rock record.
15. “Forward Motion” – Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…But Three Do
Straight ahead punk with a great riff and catchy “whoa” part, this has been a long time favorite. “I struggle with forward motion…” Don’t we all. It’s just a fun song to sing along to in concert or in the car.
14. “Local Construction” – Air For Free
Piano pop at its finest, with Theissen’s typical lyrical turn of phrase on clear display, this is both contemplative and clever. I like that it’s observational, relatable, and universally true. This is just one of an entire album of absolute gems on album Air For Free, which I’m hoping is not the last we hear from the fellas.
13. “Forget And Not Slow Down” – Forget And Not Slow Down
Acoustic guitar features here again as a set up to what is really a driving alt/rock song. The sentiment is an important one, and they say it in just an off kilter way to keep it fresh. “I’d rather forget and not slow down/than gather regret for the things I can’t change now.” Indeed. This is about a breakup, but it’s easily applicable to any mistake we could make.
12. “Sadie Hawkins Dance” – Anatomy Of Tongue In Cheek
Perhaps, THE song they are best known for, I realize some will come after me for it being so low on the list, but it’s just a testament to how many killer songs that are in the band discography. It’s fun, it’s catchy, and it now spans generations. Youth Pastors the world over should make this a staple in my opinion. “Do you like my sweater?”
11. “Marigold” – Air For Free
This buoyant, whimsical song is a delight, and then achingly sad at the same time. Some may call it corny, but it strikes the right balance for me. Piano driven, until a mid-song Beach Boys vocal break transitions it to a more driving feel through to the end. The gorgeous harmonies would make it worthy of inclusion on this list alone. This song is only kept out of the top ten for me by the slimmest of margins.
10. “Be My Escape” – Mmhmm
This song brought with it a breakthrough into the mainstream music world and it may have the best ending of any of their songs. So. Good. The first twenty seconds would lead you to believe it’s punk Relient K, until it gives way to a piano?! Yes, and it works well the give further layers and depth to their songs moving forward. “All I was trying to do was save my own skin/but so were You/So were You.”
9. “For The Moments I Feel Faint” – Anatomy of Tongue In Cheek
Acoustic guitar, strings, and desperately dependent lyrics like “never underestimate my Jesus/You’re telling me there’s no hope/I’m telling you you’re wrong.” Pure worship from a punk band, and a big step up in maturity this one has always meant a lot to me. Vocals are another strong point as well.
8. “Mood Rings” – Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right…But Three Do
Essential listening for all dudes, especially the youth group aged ones. I kid, but only partially as I believe Theissen is on to a win win for everyone here. I’ve always admired his ability to cleverly turn a phrase, or add a double meaning to common phrases. And to add pop cultural references to boot? C’mon! “She’s so pretty but she doesn’t always act that way/her moods out swinging on the swing set almost everyday.” Classic. (P.S. all in fun here, tongue firmly planted in cheek if you will 😉
7. “In Love With The 80’s (Pink Tux to the Prom)” – Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right…But Three Do
This song makes me smile, I can’t hear it or sing it, and be in a bad mood, impossible. “Do do do do do/pink tux to the prom.” With its chugging 80’s riff, combined with Relient K’s punk stylings and Theissen singing about the breakfast club and tears for fears… what else could you want?!
6. “Deathbed” – Five Score And Seven Years Ago
Sprawling story song. Eleven minutes long. Matt Theissen lyrics. Multiple song styles within a song. Jon Foreman. Epic. Enough said.
5. “Collapsible Lung” – Collapsible Lung
Easily the best of three good songs (“Don’t Blink” and “Lost Boy”) from the most disappointing Relient K album. “Collapsible Lung” redeems the whole thing from being a wasted effort. I mean, I get the story being told, it was just so un-Theissen like lyrically that the musical direction couldn’t be compensated for. The song is classic Relient K though, “Between the miles of open road/I lost sight of what might matter the most…” A song to wrap an album where he searched for God in every wrong thing, he ultimately and hopefully states, “And I’m feelin’ backwards when I’m tryin’ the most/And I hope I haven’t heard the last words from the Holy Ghost.” It’s a Heartbreaking and hopeful sentiment that we should all be able to relate to.
4. “I Need You” – Five Score And Seven Years Ago
Maybe I have this too high on my list, but nevertheless this is an excellent song much deserving of top twenty Relient K status. One of the harder rocking songs they ever did. In it he recognized his need for a Savior and that his prayers have been heard and answered as well. “I have not been abandoned/No, I have not been deserted/And I have not been forgotten.”
3. “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” – Mmhmm
“So sorry for the person I became/So sorry that it took so long for me to change/I’m ready to be sure to become that way again/’Cause who I am hates who I’ve been.” It’s quintessential Relient K and speaks for itself. Great song.
2. “Getting Into You” – Two Left’s Don’t Make a Right…But Three Do
I love this song because it so clearly articulates the beauty of grace, and more specifically the gospel. Surely God can’t want the trade of me, a messed up human, for his perfection? And yet, it is so. For this reason, He is worthy of all glory and honor and praise. Yes, He knowns exactly what He’s getting and He wants it all the same. “I’ve been a liar and I’ll never amount to/The kind of person you deserve to worship you/You say you will not dwell on what I did but rather what I do you say/I love you and that’s what you are getting yourself into.” Well said sir, well said.
1. “I So Hate Consequences” – Mmhmm
How can you possible go about choosing a clear favorite song from a longtime favorite band? It wasn’t easy, but he combo of lyrics and music make “I So Hate Consequences” the choice. If “Getting Into You” preceding it on album and on this list is such a great picture of the gospel, then so is this…only it ups the ante. Punk rock. Screams. Piano. A Realization. An unearnable offer from God. “When I got tired of running from you/I stopped right there to catch my breath/There your words they caught my ears/You said, “I miss you son. Come home.”/And my sins, they watched me leave/And in my heart I so believed/The love you felt for me was mine/The love I’d wished for all this time/And when the doors were closed/I heard no I told so’s/I said the words I knew you knew/Oh God, Oh God I needed you/God all this time I needed you, I needed you.
Hope you enjoyed reading, please leave your comments, and rankings below!