I certainly hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard from the Relient K fellas, but if it is then fans myself included have much for which to be thankful. What a body of work! At my last count their have recorded and released a whopping 193 songs in their time as a band. This of course makes for some difficulty to whittle down a Top 25, and believe you me, this was not easy. I have gone back and forth on what to include, but this is where I landed—for now anyway. Ultimately, it’s hard to go wrong with such a vast discography to choose from and a band that only released one “meh” album in it’s career. So—without further ado, here we go!
25. “Bummin’” – Air For Free
“You can have my life, I’m sad.” Sometimes you’re just feeling it and need to say it how it is. Upbeat tune with some bummed out (I’m sorry) lyrics, a nice juxtaposition.
24. “High of 75” – MmHmm
Its sunny and happy and it always brings a smile to my face.
23. “Those Words Are Not Enough” – The Anatomy Of Tongue In Cheek
Relient K does worshipful? And they do it well to boot. This and “For the Moments I Feel Faint” show some growing maturity and it suits them.
22. “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” – Veggie Rocks!
A song that could have literally been written by the band in their goofy heyday, they’re the perfect match to cover it—and they knock it out of the park.
21. “Jefferson Aeroplane” – Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…But Three Do
Harmonious vocals are my favorite on this melancholy tune.
20. “For The Moments I Feel Faint” – The 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.
19. “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?!
18. “The Lining Is Silver” – The Bird And The Bee Sides
This one quickly became a favorite when I first heard it. Wish it had made it on a proper album. Feels like a good fit for Five Score…
17. “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.” This tune is currently their most streamed at over sixty-two million!!
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. “Life After Death and Taxes (Failure II)” – MmHmm
“Death and decay can’t touch us now.” Oh what a glorious day that will be!
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
A song about pressing forward (or on) after relational heartache.
12. “Sadie Hawkins Dance” – The 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. “Collapsible Lung” – Collapsible Lung
A note about why a song from their weakest album made my top 10: I cannot and will not defend Collapsible Lung the album as a whole…I get what they were going for but just wish it had come more from Thiessen’s pen when he was ready to write it instead of utilizing outside pop writers. Though using pop hit makers did actually prove to further drive home the point of emptiness…which may have been purposeful on the part of the band, and therefore genius.
However, on the song itself I can make a case for it by simply saying it’s the culmination of a album long Story of a character (or perhaps autobiographical about Thiessen or Hoopes) who tried all the empty things in life and then looked back and realized all they really wanted was right in front of him. It’s a story of regret, but ultimately hope. I’ll leave you with some of the more poignant lines.
“Between the miles of open road
I lost sight of what might matter the most
I stumbled into the great unknown and found
That time won’t slow down”
“I’m getting by with my collapsible lung
And it’s a good time one hundred percent of the time
And I’m like a ladder with a missin’ rung
And it’s a slow climb headed back to the sky”
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
‘Cause I think that I’m supposed to be
Well on my way by now”
Anyway, that’s my take on the song/album but I understand why it’s not a beloved album on their canon. It is overall my least favorite as well.
9. “Which To Bury, Us Or The Hatchet?”/“Let It All Out” – Mmhmm
The above two songs must be listened to back to back…I consider them essentially one. The sequencing from one to the other is perfection in my mind.
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. “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.
6. “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.
5. “I Don’t Need A Soul” – Forget And Not Slow Down
“But I don’t need a soul
No I don’t need a soul to hold
Without you I’m still whole
You and life remain beautiful”
Sad, yet hopeful.
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. “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.
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.”
There it is! What about you, what are your favorites from Relient K! Let me know in the comments!