Jimmy Eat World has been around for over a quarter of a century and released 10 albums. Some unfairly dismissed them as just another emo band. While they were probably more responsible for taking emo music into the mainstream than anyone else their music definitely transcended one specific genre. Others wrote them off as a one hit wonder. “The Middle” was certainly a hit when it was released in 2001. It is at nearly half a BILLION plays on Spotify at this point, but their catalog is so much deeper than just one song. We are here to celebrate that (entire) catalog! To do so I’ve decided to rank my top 15 Jimmy Eat World songs. It should be pretty obvious when you read through these rankings which albums I consider their best work. Even so, seven of their albums are represented on this list. Let’s get to the countdown.
15. Nothingwrong (2004)
Futures is the loudest record in their discography and “Nothingwrong” is one of their loudest songs. It’s also the closest they ever sounded to Def Leppard. The gang vocals on the verses are what I am here for. The song is angry, but when you are performing a song about the dangers of apathy, anger is an understandable emotion.
14. Surviving (2019)
If there was any doubt, this opening track on their newest album proves they still have it. I dig the crunchy guitars and the way the song keeps building. One of their most fun songs to listen to.
13. Dizzy (2007)
Of all their stronger albums it felt like 2007s Chase this Light got the rawest deal on this countdown. Several of the songs just missed the cut for my top 15. “Dizzy” made it on the list though and it is very deserving of a spot.
12. Table for Glasses (1999)
Many critics have argued that 1999s Clarity was the album that put emo music on the map. This song perhaps more than any other on the record captures the vibe of that specific style of music at a specific point in time. Just listen to the bridge and soak in all that angst!
11. Cautioners (2001)
True story – In 2008 my Tennessee Titans had the best record in the NFL and were favorites to win the Super Bowl. In the playoffs we played our most hated rival the Baltimore Ravens and somehow lost the game. I was bummed out to say the least. My wife and I went out to eat with our two young children and even food did not taste good to me. On the way home I had my Bleed American CD in our car and this song came on. I had never listened to this particular song before (I know I was late to the party) When the “ahhh ahhh ahhh ahhh” part came on I was stunned by how great it was. And somehow I knew that things would be okay. It has been a favorite song ever since.
10. Authority Song (2001)
I am a sucker for any song the references another song. So any a song that is basically about picking out a song to play from the jukebox is right up my alley. Not to mention this is the most fun song to listen to in their catalog. You simply have to sing along on all the “Do I-I-I-I” parts.
9. The World you Love (2004)
Not only is Futures their loudest record it is also their darkest. Tracks 3 and 4 are called “Work” and “Kill”. Tracks 6 and 7 are “Pain” and “Drugs or Me”. Sandwiched in between these four songs is the upbeat “The World you Love.” Not only is it a welcome break form the somber songs surrounding it, it is also a great song in its own right.
8. How You’d Have Me (2013)
I love the way this song feels like it is about to careen out of control the entire time and somehow it never does. The lyric “like two adult children engaged in separate play” is such a great way to describe a relationship that just isn’t working.
7. Invented (2010)
The song could have ended at about the 4:15 mark. It would have been a solid, acoustic driven ballad with good vocal harmony. Instead the band decided to give us three more minutes of greatness including a complete change of direction into a more aggressive rock song. I applaud their decision.
6. Lucky Denver Mint (1999)
The best song on their breakthrough album. Great drum work on this one and an early glimpse of the heights these guys could reach.
5. Coffee and Cigarettes (2010)
Full Disclosure – I don’t like coffee OR cigarettes, but I do love this song! Singer songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews lent her wonderful vocals to several of the songs on this record and this is the best of the bunch. Jimmy Eat World is not a “guitar solo” type band as they generally let the instrumentalists serve the song instead of taking center stage. I do appreciate the guitar solo on this rocker though.
4. A Praise Chorus (2001)
A few years ago my brother David was putting together a work out playlist and he was asking for recommendations. This is the first song that came to my mind. You can’t help but want to run through a wall when listening to this song, and I say that as a person who runs as little as possible. As I stated earlier in this article, I am a sucker for songs that mention other songs. This songs references “Crimson and Clover” the 1958 classic by Tommy James and the Shondells. And they don’t just mention “Crimson and Clover” they do so over and over.
3. Kill (2004)
Even though I could not quite bring myself to put this at number one, in many ways this is my favorite Jimmy Eat World song. It is not one of their louder songs, but there is an intensity bubbling just below the surface that I really love. I appreciate that while they keep the same music for the chorus the lyrics are different each time. Also, I just really dig the base line in this song. If there is a better “feeling stuck in a bad relationship song” I haven’t heard it.
2. The Middle (2001)
If you just stumbled on this article and are not really a Jimmy Eat World fan, first I want to say “Thank you for reading this far, I am not sure why you would do so, but I appreciate it.” Second I would be willing to bet that this is the one song from the band that you have heard before. It is a perfect pop punk song that will absolutely get stuck in your head. I not a big fan of the term “earworm” but this song would qualify. I remember hanging out with my brother Phill a few years ago and this song was playing. He said something like “If you write a song this good you are basically set for life.” His point being that this song was so good and so popular it set up the band to have a career on their own terms that would last as long as they wanted it to. While not every great song finds an audience I am glad this one did.
1. 23 (2004)
There was never any doubt which song would be number one. This is their masterpiece. Clocking in at nearly seven and a half minutes the song is epic in its scope, but remains grounded by lyrics that explore the emotions of what it’s like to be in your early 20s trying to figure everything out. We get a minute and a half of music before the vocals start. We get the jangly guitars in the background on the second and third verses, followed by a melodic guitar solo, and then capped off with some great backing vocals. “23” isn’t just their best song it’s an all-time great song for any artist.
That is the list. Feel free to comment and let us know which songs I should have included. Below you will find a Spotify playlist with these 15 songs plus several more of my favorites from the band. Enjoy!