My Ultimate 5 Seconds Of Summer Ranking
In late 2013, I was mindlessly scrolling through social media when a band came up on my feed. The four Australian teens were funny and went by the name 5 Seconds of Summer, commonly referred to as 5SOS by their fans. They hadn’t even released their first album, but the goofy teens had me hooked. Now, almost ten years later, those goofy teens have released four studio albums and have a fifth on the way.
Having recently celebrated ten years as a band, I started to think about their old music. I became a fan when I was thirteen. My music taste has changed a lot since then, so I wondered if my old favorites would still be in the top spots. After several hours of relistening and note taking, I’ve come up with my comprehensive list of top three songs off of every album.
Starting off we have the debut album, 5 Seconds of Summer. This album will always hold a special place in my heart. I remember the painstaking months spent waiting for this album to drop, and then staying up until midnight to download it. The self-titled album was one of my favorites at the time, but I haven’t listened to it in full since 2017. After listening to the album, and all the b-sides available on Spotify, here are my top three songs off of 5 Seconds of Summer:
3. Heartbreak Girl
When this album first came out, I don’t remember this being one of my favorites. Now, I understand why fans still request this song at their live shows. The story of unrequited love is set to an uptempo beat, keeping the song fun while also telling a captivating story.
2. Don’t Stop
The band hates Don’t Stop. They regularly call out fans of the song, nicknamed ‘Don’t Stoppers’, and question why they continue to request it. Aside from the iconic superhero music video, there’s something intrinsically fun about Don’t Stop. It isn’t a deep, soul shattering song. It’s a fun and catchy earworm that, for three minutes, allows the listener to jam out and not think too deeply. You get a sense that this song was written by four teenage boys in their bedroom, which is exactly what this era entails to me.
1. Social Casualty
If you’re surprised by this song being number one, so am I. I’ve always liked Social Casualty, but it never was THE song for me. Then I re-listened and put the song into context. 5SOS are high school dropouts (except for Ashton), who ran off to chase their dreams of being musicians. They liked pop-punk, had a member with colorful hair, and were considered ‘outcasts’. At the time, this song was addressing their fears of losing their individuality and becoming average Joes. Now that they’re international celebrities, this song has become a sort of time capsule. It’s a song you can look back at and see just how much their career has grown. For more casual listeners who may not know much about the band, this song is one of the stronger examples of the direction 5SOS wanted their music to go at the time. It emphasizes the rock sounds they were emulating from their favorite artists while blending in pop elements to create their own pop-rock sound.
Honorable Mention: English Love Affair
This song was not available in the United States for the longest time. I remember having to find audios on YouTube and learn the lyrics through videos. The struggle of loving non-US released tracks was real. A large part of my love for this song is due to nostalgia, which is why it wasn’t given its own spot in the top three.
The self-titled debut album still ranks fairly high in comparison to the other three studio albums. Aside from the nostalgic aspect, this album is great to look back on and compare to the music 5SOS releases today. It’s not a perfect album, and many of my favorites are no longer in any of the top spots (sorry Good Girls), but it was nice to see that this album still stands up almost ten years later. It definitely sounds like an album released in 2014, and I think that’s what makes it wonderful.
When I initially set out on this project, I wasn’t going to include live albums. I thought it would be redundant to rank the same grouping of songs twice. But the more I listened to the live versions, I found that some songs deserved praise for their live version. Here are my top three picks from the 2014 live album, LIVESOS:
3. What I Like About You
This is the only album that 5SOS has released with covers. They released a studio cover of What I Like About You on the She Looks So Perfect (EP), but the energy they bring to this song when playing live is something else. While they were still becoming comfortable performing their own material, this cover gave a glimpse of the type of performers they can be when comfortable and confident. They added their own spin on the song, making it a unique cover, and something uniquely theirs.
There was no way I could make an ultimate 5SOS ranking and not include Amnesia somewhere on that list. The live version of this song brings out a type of raw emotion that the studio version polishes away. I went to the Rock Out With Your Socks Out tour in 2015, the tour this album was recorded on, and the emotion felt through the crowd when this song was being performed was palpable. Many people connect deeply with Amnesia, and the live version makes it clear as to why.
1. Teenage Dream
Similarly to when they played other covers while on this tour, Teenage Dream brought out a confidence in the group that sometimes lacked in their live performances of original music. It’s fun, upbeat, and has an undeniable 5SOS quality. They took a cover and added in elements that made it unique to the band and not just an exact copy cat of the original.
Honorable Mention: 500 Years of Winter (Pizza)
This song is ridiculous, and it’s peak 2014 5SOS. In the US, the live version of Pizza was only available on the Target version of the CD upon initial release, but has since become available to stream on Spotify. The song is forty seconds of chaos and gives a glimpse into who the band was at this time.
As we head into 2016, I am going to be bluntly honest: I did not like Sounds Good Feels Good (SGFG for short) when it came out, and it is still my least favorite album from 5SOS. I had hoped this re-listen would change some of my feelings, but many of my thoughts have stayed the same. Personally, I don’t believe Money was a strong enough song to start the album, and She’s Kinda Hot was not an ideal choice for a leading single. As I further listened through the album, I found there wasn’t a cohesiveness across the entire album like there had been with self-titled. My dislike of the album aside, there are still some standouts on the album that deserve a moment of praise. My top three song from Sounds Good Feels Good are:
3. Story of Another Us
The lyrics of Story of Another Us are complex, showcasing just how tumultuous relationships can be. It’s a story of starting over, which I find fitting for this being the last song on the album. In two years, 5SOS would release their third album that would shift the group’s sound and image entirely. Whether intentional or not, this last song signifies that a change was coming to the group.
Drawing parallels between a shipwreck and a toxic relationship is something we’ve all heard several times. What I liked about Castaway was that the wreck wasn’t the main focus, but the aftermath of the collision. 5SOS focused on the feelings of loneliness that can make you feel stranded and alone after a breakup, and just how frustrating these feelings can be.
1. Jet Black Heart
To me, this is the song that showed the most growth between the first and second albums. There is a unity between all four voices, a cohesiveness that takes each voice and blends it into one. No song on the first album achieved this level of sync. Additionally, this unity brings an emotional strength to the song, making the sentiment that much more powerful.
What I realized when starting this project is that I hadn’t ever listened to Youngblood, the album, front to back. There wasn’t much of a reason for this, but now that I’ve listened to the entire album, I can’t believe I hadn’t done this earlier. Youngblood had a lot of hits for me, and it was incredibly hard to pick just three favorites, but my top picks for the Youngblood are:
One thing I love about this album is the unity all of the songs have. Being the ninth track on the album, More could have been where the album started to veer off in a different direction. That certainly isn’t the case. Its distorted synth beats perfectly fit in with the eight songs that come before and the seven songs that come after. This song is the perfect midway point for the album. Also, this chorus is one of my favorites on the album. The way Luke’s vocals are almost floating over the guitar line, building the intensity before the beat drops, is what earned this song a spot in my ranking.
2. If Walls Could Talk
Three Words: Ashton Irwin vocals. It’s not often that we get vocal solos from the drummer. I’ve always wished Ashton would take the mic more often as his voice fits with the other band members while simultaneously adding a unique quality to their music. Not only does Ashton take a solo in this song, but his solo is mostly high notes, showing off his impressive vocal ability. Aside from Ashton’s vocals, I also like the overall feel of the song. The lyrics tell the story of a secret love affair and the music creates a mysterious feel. It’s almost like the listener gets a look into the metaphorical room as a fly on the wall. This ability to be brought into the song is something that songs on previous albums tried to do, but it was perfected on Youngblood.
The third time I saw 5SOS live was the day Youngblood was released. I hadn’t been a regular listener at that point, so I didn’t even know that they had released new music. The first song they performed off the new album was Youngblood, and then Valentine. I was immediately enraptured by the track. It was so different from anything they’d released before and even distinct from its album mate played earlier. Experiencing this song live, in a theater full of people, definitely enhanced the experience. When looking at the album as a whole, this song is placed fourth, and for good reason. That placement helps solidify the experience you’re going to get from the rest of the album. It’s sultry, tells a love story that’s based on a deep connection, and is an all around solid song.
Honorable Mention: Talk Fast
I love the plucky intro and retro beachy vibes. It’s a song that works in the modern music landscape but could also be the soundtrack to a beach drama from the 90s.
For me, Youngblood rivals the self-titled debut for my favorite 5SOS album. It revamped the band into something I had been searching for since the first album. This album brought out a confidence in the group that their prior albums didn’t. Their ability to tell stories through music improved greatly, creating stories that were deeper and less superficial than what we saw on self titled and SGFG. Also, each song on this album compliments each other. No song sticks out like a sore thumb, allowing the album to be seen as a complete work of art, instead of several pieces haphazardly thrown together.
After releasing Youngblood, 5SOS embarked on the Meet You There Tour. During this tour they recorded one of the performances for a live album. While LIVESOS was a good live album, Meet You There Tour (Live) has some of my favorite live 5SOS performances. It was this album that helped solidify my opinion that 5 Seconds of Summer is a band that you need to see live. They’re live arrangements enhance their music in ways that, in some cases, make the studio versions obsolete. Without further ado, my top three songs on Meet You There Tour (Live) are:
Since this album was released I’ve had a place in my heart for Babylon, but the live version blew me away. They alter the instrumentation, emphasizing the guitar parts more than the studio version, which adds a unique layer to the arrangement. A song about a fast burning relationship needs to be epic, and this live version delivers. Overall, the sound is more encompassing, more intense, and blows the studio version out of the water.
The studio version of Youngblood is great, but this live recording changes the song significantly, and in the best way. Luke’s vocals stand out more and the backing instrumental is more whimsical thanks to the larger space it occupies. Then the chorus comes in, adding in headier drum beats that the studio version smoothes away. Both Youngblood and Babylon create more epic experiences live, which is why they are ranked high for the live versions but were left out of the ranking for the studio versions.
1. Ghost of You
A heartbreaking song in the studio version, a devastating song live. The live version begins with isolated piano notes echoing around the performance space. These notes are present in the studio version but are much more prominent live, adding an almost haunting effect to the performance. One of the things I find most beautiful about this version of the song is the crowd participation. This is a song about loss and heartache, yet thousands of people sing in unison, creating a sense of warmth and togetherness. This live version is what pushed me to include the live albums in this ranking, as this song is not just my number one for this album, but for all live recordings that 5SOS have released.
Honorable Mentions: Better Man, Meet You There Remix/Live
In both the studio and live versions, Better Man has a groove to it, but that groove is emphasized when performed live. When it comes to the vocals, you can hear more of Michael’s high notes in this version. When listening to live performances, I enjoy hearing more diversified vocals, and this song delivers.
Meet You There Remix/Live takes the studio version and completely throws it out the window, in the best way possible. I felt like I needed to be running through an obstacle course in a spy movie when listening. This remix is mostly instrumental, allowing the boys to show off their skill, and giving them a rockstar moment.
The Youngblood era brought me back into being a fan of 5 Seconds of Summer. Their new attitude and musical direction was far cry from where they started, and I was excited to see where they would go from here. More laid back than Youngblood, their fourth studio album, CALM, brought upon a new era for 5SOS. The band is currently touring this album on the Take My Hand Tour. I hope that they’ll release a live recording of this album, but for now, here is the ranking for my top three songs off of CALM:
Released as part of the 13 Reasons Why: Season 3 soundtrack, Teeth is the bridge between Youngblood and CALM. There are still some elements of Youngblood, like an intense chorus and the heavy use of synth, but it also fits in with CALM. The distinct bassline aides verses that are less intense and serve to build to the chorus. This was a brilliant single release as it teased what would be coming from CALM, but didn’t give too much away as the Youngblood era came to a close.
2. Lover of Mine
This second place was hard to choose. I was between three different songs but ultimately I chose Lover of Mine because of the lyrics. 5SOS has a discography full of songs focused on relationships, both the good and the bad. What makes Lover of Mine such a standout is the maturity of the song. The love the singer holds for their partner isn’t based on looks or some other vain attribute. This love is true; a relationship bringing out the best in each partner. It’s an ode to love. This song is made even more special by the fact that Luke wrote it with his then girlfriend, now fiancé, Sierra Deaton.
1. Old Me
CALM is the album where I feel the band has felt the most comfortable in the career they’ve created. There has been many eras, many ups and downs, but now I feel as though the group are the most confident in who they are musically. This realized confidence is why I love Old Me. It’s a song that’s retrospective, but also thankful for all that 5SOS went through to become the musicians they are today.
Honorable Mention: Red Desert
THIS is how you open an album. It’s explosive and sets the tone for what’s to come. Comparing Red Desert to the opener of Sounds Good Feels Good shows just how much growth and maturity the band have experienced in the four years between the albums.
That’s it! I’ve covered my favorite songs on each 5 Seconds of Summer album. But before I end this ranking, I wanted to take a moment to talk about their upcoming album, 5SOS5.
The upcoming fifth studio album is set to drop in September, with the track list having been released earlier this summer. So far, four songs have been released off this album. While I can’t give a full ranking for this album just yet, I need to talk about BLENDER.
On a random Wednesday, 5SOS released the studio version of BLENDER. They had started to play the song at their live shows, but didn’t hint that they were going to drop the studio version. I have had this song on repeat since the day it was released. BLENDER is a unique edition to the 5SOS discography, with its most distinguishable aspect being the chorus. The lyrics are continuous, leaving very little space for pauses, and every other beat is emphasized to create an illusion of going around in circles. You can feel the frustration that the partners in the relationship are experiencing. It’s an exciting release that has me impatiently waiting for the full album to be released.
Singles and EPs
For as many hits that the albums have produced, there are also songs that haven’t been released on studio albums that deserve praise as well. Some of these songs are well known, while others are hidden gems. I wanted to give a shout out to these songs for people who may not know that these songs exist.
From the She’s Kinda Hot (EP): Lost In Reality, Broken Pieces, Over and Out: These songs were perfect transitions from the first album to the second album. An essence of the pop-punk sound is present throughout, but the overall sound could have fit on the Sounds Good Feels Good album. These songs bring out the best parts of early 5SOS.
Girls Talk Boys: This single was released on the album for the Ghostbusters 2016 revival. Now, this isn’t a hidden or underground 5SOS song. Most people know of it, but I wanted to take a moment to appreciate the chorus. The way the song slows down and highlights Luke’s vocals seamlessly interrupts the fun beat and adds an emotional layer to the song. There are also several Ashton vocal features, which makes any 5SOS song better.
Teeth (Live From The Vault): If 5SOS does a live album for CALM, then we may see a live version of Teeth on a released album. Until then, this version of Teeth needs appreciation. This live version brings out the rock elements of the song, amping up its overall intensity and bringing a new life to an already great song.
2011: Released as a tribute to their ten years as a band, this song is one of 5 Seconds of Summer’s most sentimental songs. The lyric that got me the most is “We fantasized about the future/But now we dream about the past.” Having grown up with the pressures of being a public figure, this song looks back on how their lives used to be, and reminiscences on the things that were easier before they became famous. It’s a truthful and honest song that brings out emotion in long-term fans, but still stands on it’s own for casual listeners.
From the Don’t Stop (EP): Rejects, Wrapped Around Your Finger, Try Hard: This EP is still not available for streaming in the United States, and it holds three of my favorite early 5SOS songs. Audios are available to view on YouTube and I highly recommend checking them out. They encompass the early 5SOS sound when they were most influenced by pop-punk.
Now that you’ve seen my rankings, I want to hear from you! Do you agree with my picks? Maybe I overlooked some of your personal favorites. Comment down below and let me know! If you liked my favorites, check out the playlist below.