Fall Out Boy's new single has rap in its DNA and 2 Chainz in its video



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I've always considered Fall Out Boy a pop-punk band with a hint of third-wave emo, and through the years the four-piece did a great job of turning its sound into a Flubber-like substance that could form all sorts of crazy shapes to include stylistic elements of other genres while retaining its original sugary and anthemic essence. Fall Out Boy made a big splash Monday after announcing its return from an "indefinite" hiatus with a new single, "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)," from a forthcoming full-length called Save Rock And Roll. That's a typically tongue-in-cheek album title for a band that found the kind of success that leaves fans ravenous after a few years apart by essentially eschewing straightforward rock for a range of pop sounds, though it's an oddly sincere statement; Fall Out Boy is making rock relevant to an entire population of listeners that might not otherwise care about it.

What does that have to do with rap? Well, Fall Out Boy is no stranger to hip-hop, and it often feels like the Chicagoland group is the preferred pop-punk act of MCs everywhere. After all, Jay-Z provided a spoken-word intro to the first track on 2007's Infinity on High, "Thrillier," and the band snagged Lil Wayne to appear on Folie à Deux's "Tiffany Blews" in 2008, which was when Weezy had the best-selling album of the year. (Let's just forget about Kanye's lame remix of "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race.") Now there's a video for that new single, which features big-time Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz and a couple female assistants setting fire to Fall Out Boy's musical gear, records, and paraphernalia.

I'd say plenty of FOB detractors would probably enjoy watching 2 Chainz stoke a flaming pile of the band's material with a blowtorch, but that would require them to also listen to the music—which I highly recommend. If you pay attention you can hear the subtle way the band imbues the song with a little hip-hop.

Start the song, skip to the 50-second mark, which is when the chorus first kicks in, and pay attention to Andy Hurley's drumming. The big thunderclaps rumbling beneath the band's layered Thriller-on-bath-salts vocal harmonies should sound familiar—it's a riff on John Bonham's part in Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks." Well, it's a "riff" on it insofar as it sounds just like it, and it sounds just like many rap tracks that came out long before Fall Out Boy recorded "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark."

Bonham's drumming on "When the Levee Breaks" was distilled to a classic rap break decades ago, and it's provided a sturdy, powerful backbone for tracks by Dr. Dre, the Beastie Boys, and Eminem, and a host of others. The fact that Bonham's drum pattern was reinvented as a break for a lot of hip-hop songs seems rather fitting considering Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" was a reinvention of a Delta blues song from 1929. It's fascinating to see the way a musical idea has transformed from what's considered a documentary of the Great Flood of 1927 to a building block of hip-hop.

And now Fall Out Boy liberally borrow from a strand of rap DNA for the pivotal part of their new single. That beat gives the chorus of "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark" a shot of rap swagger that's sure to help any band trying to save rock and roll.

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.

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