I feel like I grew up with Relient K. Not just in an “I’ve been listening to them for 15 years” way either.
I mean, I grew up with them. I matured with them.
As their sound got more refined and mature, so did I. I was wearing sweatbands on my arms when they were “In Love with the 80’s,” starting to grow up when they were “Pleading the Fifth,” and experiencing the same kind of freedom that Forget and Not Slow Down seemed to exude. If there was a soundtrack to my life, give me the entirety of Relient K’s body of work and I’ll make it fit.
That said, naturally, some songs are better than others. We all know this. And today, I thought I’d share my completely personal, completely non-objective, and completely correct Top 10 list of RK songs. They may not be your top ten, but just remember, mine choices are the best.
So, please, since we all love Skittles and Combos here, just press on when your list doesn’t match with mine.
Firstly, one that just missed the cut: Boxing Day. Call it a Christmas hangover if you like, but I really like this one. It just doesn’t belong on a Top 10 RK songs list. But we must hold out through the frozen winter, for Christmas makes way for spring.
10.) Don’t Blink/Collapsible Lung
If there’s one thing Relient K always gets right, it’s the opening track of an album. It happens every time, so it can’t be an accident. So it’s surprising to me that there are only two openers on this list. It also speaks to the depth of their discography.
This song hits home because it’s from their most recent album and as I said above, that’s what RK does with my life. We all need a little reminder now and again to go and attain what we desire to attain, and this song says that excellently.
Okay, I promise this whole article won’t be full of personal this and that. It’s just good and hits home. You can afford to give me one of those.
9. Must Have Done Something Right/Mmhmm
Full disclosure: I didn’t want to include this one, but it seems to be everyone else’s favorite so I’m throwing you a bone. The catchy tune and excellent opening line drive this one to the top of most people’s lists, but considering it’s not even the best song about relationships on its own album, I have a hard time with this one. Just seems overrated compared to other, much better, RK songs. But this one is good and I understand why you like it. Just a little, you know, cliché.
8. Collapsible Lung/Collapsible Lung
This one is all about Thiessen’s rhyming ability. Really can’t believe I’ve gotten this far without mentioning his propensity for writing lyrics that roll off the tongue so smoothly. Maybe that’s the kind of intricacy that not everyone catches in RK’s songs, but it’s part of what keeps me coming back. It’s also what inspires me to memorize every song. Relatable lyrics that are fun to sing are always a winning combination, and Collapsible Lung hits both.
7. Forget and Not Slow Down/Forget and Not Slow Down
Speaking of rolling off the tongue, “I could’ve done better but what good do what-ifs do?” is so fun to sing it’s like a good potato chip. Can’t just listen once. Also, excellent opening track. And excellent title track. This one brings the goods. The real challenge of an opener is that you have to set the tone for the listener with it. That’s a special challenge for Relient K because their sound constantly evolves as they grow.
Another opener, and another winner.
Writing about it almost makes me raise its ranking. Almost. The next six are just too good to drop.
6. Pressing On/The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek
When I set out to make this list, this song and numbers 1-3 were the first four I thought of. It’s my first favorite. It will always hold a special place in my heart, in the same sort of way your first elementary school girlfriend holds a special place in your heart. You’ll never forget it, but you’ve grown up enough to move on. That’s Pressing On. Still awesome. Still fun. Still everything it used to be. But you’ve grown up, and some things are best left behind. Ya know, you press on. Metaphoric, really.
5. Savannah/Forget and Not Slow Down
One of my more recent favorites, Savannah holds a special place in my heart because my girlfriend (now wife. Hi Jess!) used to sing the line “MMMM but until then!” when we lived four hours apart and had to bid farewells after a weekend visit. It was also convenient that Savannah and Jessica are both three syllables. That made for easy lyrical substitution. I promised I wouldn’t get too personal, but how sweet were we? So sweet, right?
Another thing about Thiessen’s writing that I haven’t mentioned is his use of imagery. This song does that really well.
Sometimes I can close my eyes, listen to it, and see myself in Savannah, Georgia. Quite the accomplishment when you consider I’ve never been there.
4. Deathbed/Five Score and Seven Years Ago
Metaphor for life. That’s what this song is. Bad thing after bad thing. Disappointment after disappointment. The man in this track has a life that reflects both the sum total of his personal choices and the harsh results of the things he can’t control. He suffers, he struggles, he loses. But he finds Christ and suddenly, it’s okay. Sure, it’s not perfect. Death still comes, but it has no sting.
I can relate. Sure, I don’t have it that bad, but I can relate. I’ve made my bed and had to lie in it. I’ve dealt with circumstances beyond my control. You have too. Thank God for grace and redemption.
3. Up and Up/Five Score and Seven Years Ago
Up and Up is just a good, feel good song. Improve and move on. Don’t count yesterday’s success or failure for today. Nor today’s for tomorrow. Get better. Use the past to move forward.
I feel like a life coach.
But that’s what RK does for me. They have the right songs at the right time. Plus, this track has an acoustic version that’s as good or better than the original. Acoustic versions were a common thing for a few years in the late 00’s, but RK did them better by viewing them as an opportunity to improve a song that was already really good (see next entry for further proof).
That I’m at #8 and haven’t mentioned acoustic versions means two things:
1. The previous seven entries didn’t have acoustic versions (except that really strange Pressing On Back Porch Acoustic Version. Weird.)
2. The best acoustic versions are also the best songs.
2. Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been (Plus Acoustic Version)/Mmhmm
I’m very tempted to split #2 into 2a and 2b. The original and acoustic versions are good enough and different enough to deserve distinction, but I’ll spare you that level of gushing.
Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been encompasses every Relient K strength in one song: The fun to sing lyrics, motivational message, and the as good, or better, acoustic version are all present and accounted for.
Truthfully, this song comes in at #2 for one huge reason. The build from the second verse to the chorus was almost perfect in the original cut. And then, you guessed it, acoustic version. The same build reached perfection in the acoustic version. Maybe that’s just a small thing that I love because I’m a Relient K nerd, but this is a geek blog so you have to accept that. I love it.
1. Sleigh Ride/Let It Snow, Baby…Let it Reindeer
“THIS SONG?!” You just said out loud to yourself? “THIS SONG!!” I respond from somewhere in your head. I don’t know how I got there. Just roll with it.
How can I pick a song Matt Thiessen didn’t even write as the best Relient K song? Because it’s the best Relient K song, and it’s really not even close. He reinvented Sleigh Ride so wonderfully that I feel like he wrote the song. The jazzy themes perfectly melded with pop punk undertones and Christmas theme combine into three minutes and 33 seconds of pure joy (THREE THREES! SO PERFECT!). It’s so good that it gets stuck in my head in July and I’m okay with that. I just fire it up, blast the A/C, and accept the awesome into my heart.
Agree? Disagree? Love the choices but hate the order? Let us know in the comments below!