Ranking Hawk Nelson’s Discography
January 31, 2011Posted by on
With Hawk Nelson’s fifth full length album, “Crazy Love”, coming out soon I wanted to take a look back at the band’s discography before we look ahead to their future, but there’s something that you need to know about me before we get started here. I’ve listened to Hawk Nelson more than you have. I don’t care how big of a fan you are of the band, you haven’t listened to as much Hawk Nelson as I have. These days I don’t have as much time to listen to one band or one album over and over again as I used to, since for about 11 months out of the year there are new releases almost every week that inundate my mailbox. However, before I brought that upon myself by starting up CMZ back in ’08 I could listen to whatever I wanted and there was a time when that meant a lot of Hawk Nelson. When I was finishing up my last six months or so of Bible college I was pretty much broke, but somehow forked over money for the first two Hawk Nelson albums and listened to them every day. Everyday. Every. Day. I’m now 30 years old and I am still a fan of the band, despite not being a tween girl. So, Sue me. No, don’t sue me, that is opposite the point I’m trying to make. Now I’m quoting TV shows, so I should just get this thing started. In descending order from least to most favorite:
4. Hawk Nelson Is My Friend: How to say this delicately. If there was ever a defining moment for the phrase “hit and miss”, this album would be it. I bought it the day before I had to go to jury duty, so I was instantly in the mood to do some judging (I wasn’t selected, neither were the hundreds of people in the court house, good use of time to listen to music). This album actually starts off pretty strong with a gritty song in “You Have What I Need” and the catchy single “Friend Like That”, but after that it gets a little dicey. There are songs that I can take or leave, there are songs that sound way too sappy for my tastes (One Little Miracle makes me kind of roll my eyes) and there is a smidgen of angst in a song like “Just Like Me” that gets me pretty worked up in a good way. It isn’t that it Hawk Nelson Is My Friend was a terrible album by any means, it has some very good pop rock songs that work well on the right occasion, but it is hard for me to listen to it knowing that I have several other Hawk Nelson albums that blow it away.
3. Live Life Loud: After an uninspiring third album, it was good to see Hawk Nelson start to get back on the road quickly with a somewhat redeeming album in Live Life Loud, which really is just a better version of Hawk Nelson Is My Friend. Really, they didn’t change much between the two albums, they just did this one better. I don’t think it matches up compared to the first two albums, for different reasons, as I’ll get to explain later down the page, but it had better songs than the third so it gave me hope for the future. The title track seems a bit too poppy and aimed at the high school cheerleader crowd, but when you see it live it really helps you get it, because they blow the crowd away when they get to actually play these for people. Although I’m sure bands like to hear when people are listening to their albums at home, but they get to actually see people react at live shows and it makes it more fun for everyone when there are songs that get the crowd pumped. Like I said, though, this just felt like a better version of their album, with the pop track being better, the gritty song being better, the ballads being better, the song about the death of a family member being better and it had a pop punk song that ruled (which both brings us back to the days of their first album and was a prelude to their fifth album soon to come out, “Crazy Love”, which is full of pop punk tracks).
2. Letters to the President: It has taken me nearly half a decade to come to grips with putting this here. I rocked this album so many times I’m surprised that my iPod mini didn’t crash and burn. Oh wait, it did. Man, iPod minis were terrible compared to what we have today, huh? Rabbit, meet trail. Sorry. This is obviously the most sentimental and nostalgic album for any Hawk Nelson fan that came to know them after they signed with the label and still holds up to this day as a great pop punk album. It did have its flaws, mostly encased in the fact that the band was so young and inexperienced that it left things a bit less polished, a bit more raw and a whole lot more youthful. Instead of singing to kids half his age, vocalist Jason Dunn was singing to kids…well, three quarters his age, so, it came off as such. The title track is brave and bold, the opening track, “California”, is as fun as can be, 36 days can relate to anyone that has ever gone on tour and the whole thing was in an MxPx throw every track we’ve written in our lives onto the album kind of way.
1. Smile, It’s The End of The World: When you can mix that youthful raw energy with a polished sound and an emotional reality it is nothing less than a catalyst for success. Hawk Nelson melded the best of all their possibilities into their greatest album here, with every song bringing something great to the table. Bring Em Out may have been made for a movie, but the pop track that they have on every album (California to Bring Em Out to Friend Like That to Live Life Loud to Crazy Love) was at its peak with this one it brings attention to an album that has it all. “The One Thing I have Left” brings energy right out of the gate and it isn’t lost even on songs like “Zero” (a song about the results of suicide) or even on the epic closer in “Fourteen”. This album has the best songs, the best production and even the best music videos, if you remember what those are.
So that is my list, what is your order and why?