Andrew McMahon has been a busy force in alternative music since the early 2000’s. His high school band, Something Corporate, had a cult following before their breakup in 2004, when McMahon shifted focus to his most popular project, Jack’s Mannequin.
Recently, Andrew McMahon has abandoned the Jack’s Mannequin name to focus on his solo career under the moniker Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. As McMahon gears up to hit the road with Panic! At The Disco and Weezer this summer, it’s a good time to look back on some of the best tracks his career has to offer.
10. “The Mixed Tape” (Jack’s Mannequin- Everything in Transit)
“The Mixed Tape” was the first single off of Jack’s Mannequin’s wildly popular Everything in Transit, and is one of the more popular tracks in Andrew McMahon’s catalog. Bitter and guitar-heavy, “The Mixed Tape” spoke to every angsty teen that came of age in the late 2000’s.
9. “My Racing Thoughts” (Jack’s Mannequin- People and Things)
Each Jack’s Mannequin album revolves around a central theme from McMahon’s personal life. 2005’s Everything in Transit centered around a breakup, while 2008’s The Glass Passenger detailed McMahon’s battle with leukemia at age 23, and 2011’s People and Things discussed McMahon’s married life. Due to the major developments in McMahon’s life post-Transit, People and Things is far more matured, lyrically and sonically, when compared to his pre-2005 work. However, “My Racing Thoughts” is a Springsteen-esque track that captures the youthfulness and excitement McMahon previously displayed on his early work.
8. “If U C Jordan” (Something Corporate- Audioboxer)
While this is the most juvenile song in McMahon’s catalog, “If U C Jordan” is the only reason I’m able to write an article on McMahon’s career in the first place. “Jordan” was Something Corporate’s breakout single, and remains SoCo’s biggest hit to date. Though “Jordan” isn’t the most complex song, it’s one of those songs that beg to be screamed along to, especially if you have a Jordan in your own life. Plus the music video is so stereotypically 2000’s that it’s hilarious to watch.
7. “Holiday From Real” (Jack’s Mannequin- Everything in Transit)
Giddy and summery, “Holiday From Real” is an ode to doing absolutely nothing productive. “Holiday From Real” makes for a quality vacation anthem, but part of the song’s fun is hearing McMahon grow self-aware about how boring it is doing nothing all the time: “We’d waste our weeks beneath the sun/We’d lie and tell our friends it’s so much fun/Out here”
6. “MFEO” (Jack’s Mannequin- Everything in Transit)
The penultimate track to Everything in Transit, MFEO is split into two parts. Part one is so bubbly and optimistic that it’s almost overwhelming. Part two acts as a step back into reality, allowing the listener some time to breathe (get it???).
5. “Konstantine” (Something Corporate- Songs for Silent Movies)
It would be impossible for me to write a top ten list about McMahon without including “Konstantine”. “Konstantine” is a universal favorite amongst McMahon’s fanbase, and rightfully so. The nearly ten-minute long epic is one of the most emotionally raw songs from any of McMahon’s projects. “Konstantine” was a rarity off of a Japan-only Something Corporate release, but fans became so passionate about it that it was officially released on Something Corporate’s greatest hits compilation in 2006- it’s also the most-requested song at any McMahon concert. It’s tough to listen past the four-minute mark without feeling like you’re thirteen again and life is so full of drama but Andrew McMahon just GETS you.
4. “Caves” (Jack’s Mannequin- The Glass Passenger)
Much of The Glass Passenger touches on the subject of McMahon’s cancer treatment and subsequent recovery, but no song is more explicit about it than “Caves”. A haunting piano line plays under McMahon’s strained and vulnerable vocals, as lines such as “‘We’re not gonna lie/Son, you just might die/Get you on that morphine drip, drip’” give every listener a clear glimpse into what McMahon had to deal with.
3. “Miss California” (Jack’s Mannequin- The Glass Passenger)
By far my favorite Andrew McMahon song about murder (sorry, “Me And The Moon”), “Miss California” has some of the most clever songwriting in McMahon’s career. Much like The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”, “Miss California” plays like a poppy love song until red flags start to come up: “You’ll be missed, Miss California/We’ll be married in the rain/When they can’t find you I’m sure I’ll be the one they blame/But they can’t prove anything, Miss California”.
2. “High Dive” (Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness- Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness)
When I first got Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness I spent a decent portion of my day just listening to “High Dive” on repeat. Thanks to some gorgeous lyrical imagery and an infectious piano-driven melody, “High Dive” is arguably the most addictive song McMahon has ever written.
1. “Miss Delaney” (Jack’s Mannequin- Everything in Transit)
“Miss Delaney” will always have a special place in my heart. This is the song that kept me coming back for more when I started getting deep into Jack’s Mannequin. A breezy musical backdrop contrasts the song’s theme of unrequited love, but it’s hard to imagine “Miss Delaney” ever being a sad song. If I attempt to pick a favorite line out of this song I’ll end up quoting the whole thing, so I’ll leave that up to interpretation.