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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and in the past I’ve been accused of not picking on the mainstream enough, so here you go. I work at a factory these days, and at that factory there are three radio stations we rotate through: country, classic, and top 40.

Played most frequently these days on the “popular music” channel is the song “Gives You Hell,” by the All American Rejects. It is probably the most unintentionally hilarious song the station plays right now, lyrically at least. It couldn’t more obviously say the exact opposite of what it’s trying to. And it does so very, very pathetically.

I once knew a girl at my university. In the first conversation I ever had with her, she stated at least six times that she was very confident and self-assured. Her facebook was loaded with information about her, why she was awesome, and quotes like, “If you don’t wanna be my friend, YOU’RE the one missing out, and I won’t miss you!”


The point is, for all that she went on and on about her own confidence, when it came down to it, she was probably the most timid person I’ve ever met. It’s called “overcompensation.” The more you talk about how confident you are, the clearer it is you’re just trying to fool everyone. People who are truly happy almost never talk about it.

But let’s dig in to the song at hand. First verse:

I wake up every evening, with a big smile on my face
And it never feels out of place

And your still probably working at a 9 to 5 pace
I wonder how bad that tastes

Well, okay. That’s…that’s the whole verse. Well, it’s a pitifully short verse, but I’ll let that slide. The first stanza says the singer wakes up every day happy. Remember what I said about the girl who overcompensates?

Yeah, his next stanza insults her job. Nevermind the fact that a 9 to 5 job actually sounds pretty sweet to most people in this economy, myself included. How bad that tastes. Probably tastes like a reliable check, there Mr. What’s Audience Relatablilty?

But let’s move on to the stunning chorus:

When you see my face
Hope it gives you hell
Hope it gives you hell
When you walk my way
Hope it gives you hell
Hope it gives you hell

That’s the desperate cry of someone who desperately wishes they were over their ex, but aren’t. It’s also the desperate cry of a 16-year-old who has yet to learn what “moving on graciously” means.

Verse two:

Now wheres you picket fence love
And wheres that shiny car,
And did it ever get you far

I’m going to stop us right there. Rhyming “car” with “far”? Really? And again, equating money and possessions with happiness? I think Mr. Reject needs a priority check.

You’ve never seem so tense love
I’ve never seen you fall so hard,
Do you know where you are

Yes, sure, she’s the one that’s tense. Not the guy who wrote a 5-verse song about how much he hopes his ex is miserable. That’s just the sign of a well-adjusted grownup.

…And why’s he observing his ex’s behavior? That’s a bit off.

And truth be told I miss you
And truth be told I’m lying

Whoah ho ho! A “PSYCH!” joke! I must have completely forgotten that it was 1995. “I miss you…NOT! Haha I got you!”


If you find a man that’s worth a damn and treats you well
Then he’s a fool, your just as well, hope it gives you hell


Tomorrow you’ll be thinking to yourself
Where’d it all go wrong, the list goes on and on

And the list probably starts somewhere along the lines of “You’re as mature as a six-year-old and relatable as a cinder block.”

Now you’ll never see, what you’ve done to me
You can take back your memories they’re no good to me
And here’s all your lies,
You can look me in my eyes
With that sad sad look that you wear so well

Haha, yes. Yes yes yes. Honestly? This whole song is completely pathetic and does the opposite of what the singer obviously wanted. The title might as well be “Overcompensation for My Misery Oh God Come Back To Me”

It’s a whiny, shallow tantrum written by someone who’s probably never been in an adult relationship in his life.

What I’m saying is, stop trying to be Beyonce. All of you.

5 Responses to “Breakin’ it Down: All American Rejects”

  1. on 11 Aug 2009 at 12:09 am Brandon

    What makes you think “And truth be told I miss you
    And truth be told I’m lying” is a “PSYCH” jokes?

    Couldn’t that be the clue that the writer intends exactly what you say–that the guy is pissed off at his ex because he still wants her? Songwriters do that sort of thing.

    Just throwing it out there.

  2. on 13 Aug 2009 at 2:50 pm Anna Jane

    What a lovely analogy. I don’t know what’s considered emo and what’s not these days, but I can only assume these all american rejects (who aren’t at all big in the UK…I wonder why…) are trying to fit into this rather strange category, with their supposed “deep and meaningful” lyrics. Kill them all I say!

  3. on 13 Aug 2009 at 4:38 pm Karen

    I don’t know, Brandon, coming from the band that wrote “Dirty Little Secret” and “My Paper Heart” I really don’t think the Rejects’ forte is subtlety.

  4. on 25 Oct 2009 at 12:27 am bacontime

    Hey I just stumbled on in here from somewhere in the internet and wanted to say THANK YOU for writing this. I was thinking the exact same thing while being force-fed this song alll summer. Can you imagine how stupid someone would look if they said all of these things to a person?? Such a pathetic song.

  5. on 13 Jan 2010 at 1:33 am Jessica

    Finally! I thought I was the only one who felt this way! Everyone I knew loved the song, and played it 24/7. I couldn’t grasp how such a song could make it out to mainstream. It was a quite frustrating experience. Thank you! It is great to know that someone somewhere shares the same feelings as me.

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