There are almost no words for just how strange an experience watching the eleven videos Fall Out Boy did for their last album is. They basically took the money for music videos and made a horror film instead. It's a thing of utter weirdness even before Elton John shows up as God.
Look, I realize that talking about Fall Out Boy is like sending out a Bat Signal for flame wars. But this isn't about the music. It really isn't. Because you actually have to remove music from the equation of most of these videos. If you try to match the words to the images, your brain will shut down trying to reconcile the what your eyes are seeing to what your ears are hearing. It's like Cognitive Dissonance: The Movie.
But once you do that, "The Young Blood Chronicles" is amazing. And awful. And then amazing again. Basically, it has a commitment to its ridiculous premise that I just can't help but admire. It has drug-induced maybe-cannibalism, demonic music possession, and Courtney Love. Most of the time you're going to be cheering at the insanity or cringing at the awful. There's no middle ground at all.
There are 11 videos for each of the songs from the album Save Rock and Roll, and here are the best, worst, and best/worst moments from each of them. Warning: There's one NSFW thing in part 3.
1. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up).
Longest title, shortest entry. The only thing to mention here is that, in the grand tradition of serials, this was clearly made long before the others and then had to be retconned into fitting into the mythology.
2. The Phoenix
This installment gets points for the Pulp Fiction suitcase. But the real star of part 2 is this moment right here:
Things to love:
- The kidnappers have helpfully cut off the hand of lead singer Patrick Stump that has the distinctive tattoo.
- Pete Wentz's "acting." Your friend's severed hand is left on your doorstep and the reaction is dull surprise. This is just the start of this, so get ready. Wentz's acting is comprised entirely of dull surprise. It is simultaneously awful and hilarious.
- The plastic bag. Some kidnappers deliver you body parts by courier in a box. Others just throw them in an environmentally-unsound bag, hang that on a doorknob, and ding dong ditch it.
This part also features: Wentz and his expression of dull surprise releasing a bird, which acts as a handy distraction so the rest of the band can be kidnapped. Points for the fact that, because of this, you get the classic horror movie "WATCH OUT!" yelling. No points to Stump singing while being tortured. That's par for the course for music videos. Also this is what the kidnappers wore:
3. Young Volcanoes
This is a strong contender for biggest mindfuck. It has the biggest gulf between song and image. It has a giant gulf between images and logic. To write this, I've rewatched it probably a dozen times, and I'm still not sure what exactly happened. Well, I mean, I know this NSFW moment happened:
And I think what happened is that the kidnapping ladies sat the band down at a nice dinner table and drugged them with IVs. Then they force-fed them Patrick Stump's organs, while the band hallucinated the party of half-nude pig-women. It's pretty much filler, but very weird filler. Note: I pretty much missed the implied-cannibalism the first time I watched this but thank you, Internet, for jumping on that. It makes this 100% more awful/awesome.
4. Alone Together
You could spend a lot of time dissecting the different personal hells given to each of the band members here. But I think the star of this part is definitely the part where Wentz beats one of the kidnappers to death with the hook he stole from her. Especially since it's obvious that Stump's getting that hook soon.
Other points of amazing are these evil, dancing, food-throwing schoolgirls and the perfectly blunt "Evil Meter." Here's a gif of those girls, which you will certainly need:
5. The Mighty Fall
Now, if you managed to escape your evil-but-hot kidnappers, and you were confronted with this:
Roving gangs of children are never a good sign. Sadly, this did not turn into the Warriors homage I hoped it would.
As for horror movie tropes that should have been avoided: Yeah, they kill the black dude first. Big Sean shows up being tortured along with them, escapes, goes to help them, and is the first dude killed. Sigh.
6. Just One Yesterday
100% spot-on hilarity. After a night of running from a gang of murderous kids, it's morning at the park and the band is just trying to get out. Every single second of this is just a disaster.
Guys. That's the guest vocalist so wrapped up in her singing that the hooked hitchhiker she picked up has to drive from the passenger's seat. I want to marry this moment.
Also, she's totally evil. She picks up the whole band and delivers them RIGHT TO A HOSPITAL OF HORRORS. And she turns on the music that makes Stump into a demon-possessed murder machine. BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE'S EVIL. All the normal people were terrified of the blood-covered people. Only someone in on the kidnapping would be willing to let them into their car.
7. Where Did the Party Go
Kind of a retread of "Young Volcanoes," except only Stump's the one hallucinating. And he's hallucinating a "Thriller"-style ghost hospital. And he ends up killing his friend. All you need to know is that the possessed-Stump (a product of his extended torture) kills Joe Trohman.
However, this is the moment I realized that Stump was acting his ass off and that Wentz had about three expressions. Somehow, the contrast brought a whole new level of hilaribad to the experience of watching this. As an example, their reactions to the death of Trohman:
8. Death Valley
Look, if these three things don't convince you that these videos are a national treasure, I don't know what will:
1. Tommy Lee is the Devil
2. The police print Stump's stump.
3. DRUM CROSSBOW
9. Rat A Tat
Courtney Love as an anti-music cult leader who gets people killed is, honestly, pretty close to how some people view her. And, as she is very litigious, that is all I'm going to say about that.
I also deeply appreciate that Stump is playing the Princess Peach role throughout these videos. Dude spends most of these videos being captured, tortured, or possessed. First of the band to be kidnapped, then picked up by the crazy driver lady, and then held by corrupt cops, who then turn him over the Courtney Love. And he sings through it all because that's how music videos work.
Points off for slitting Andy Hurley's throat before we got to see the Drum Crossbow in action. But points for how gory that death was.
10. Miss Missing You
Obligatory black and white, post-apocalyptic/ghost town-style episode. Including creepy dolls.
And it all ends with some manly slap-fighting and wrestling that ends with whole band dead. This is another moment that is surely meant to be very serious — friends fighting, one of them not in his right mind, blah blah blah — but is effectively one of the funniest fights ever.
11. Save Rock and Roll
No. Fuck you. This is already a hilarious mess, but at least it was a tonally consistent mess. Just because you love Star Wars doesn't mean you have to do this. It's not even so bad it's funny, it's just bad.
So evil creepy people in masks and hoods get the Pulp Fiction suitcase. But it doesn't matter because Elton John is here. And he is God. NO, I'M NOT KIDDING.
There is something uncomfortably earnest about the last part. There's a guitar pick communion. Elton John God makes the band into his, I don't know, angels or disciples or whatever and they defeat evil with the power of their rock. If only the Darkness hadn't done the "lightning from musical instruments" thing so much better.
Now, you could spend your time figuring out the plot to this and dissect the message they're trying to send. But I don't recommend that. For one thing, the last video (which is the weakest), makes it really obvious. For another, that's way less fun.
I do recommend taking the 50 minutes it takes to watch these and marveling at them. They are impressively insane. There are better music videos, better concept videos, and better flat out weird videos. But "The Young Blood Chronicles" is weird at such a sustained level and is punctuated with moments of sheer hilarity, both intentional and not, that it's a very enjoyable 50 minutes. It's every single B-horror movie idea, thrown into a blender, and ejected onto the screen with abandon. I love it, even when I hate it.
Watch the whole thing here.