Twitter is in a tailspin after pop punk bank Fall Out Boy created their own rendition of Billy Joel’s anthem “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and updated it to break down some of the biggest cultural moments from 1989 to 2023.
The rock band released the cover on June 28, along with a lyric video that included a list of all the major events sung about.
The original song — written by Joel and released in 1989 — highlighted significant global events between 1949 and 1989, including Watergate, the Cold War and Queen Elizabeth II’s crowning. Joel addressed most of the events in chronological order.
In Fall Out Boy’s cover, lead singer Patrick Stump lists cultural moments and figures out of order, spanning different decades from the past 34 years.
The song remains in the same tempo and tune as Stump sings about Robert Downey Jr. being cast as “Iron Man” (not sure if that’s a defining moment but…), Fyre Fest, Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift’s speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards, Meghan Markle, and deep fakes.
He also sings about horrific events of the past like the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the war in Afghanistan, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and 9/11.
“I thought about this song a lot when I was younger,” the description on the YouTube video reads.
“All these important people and events- some that disappeared into the sands of time- others that changed the world forever. So much has happened in the span of the last 34 years- we felt like a little system update might be fun,” it reads.
Fall Out Boy added, “Hope you like our take on it…”
After Fall Out Boy’s version of a beloved song went viral, the internet had some thoughts, and most of them dash that “hope” Fall Out Boy was talking about.
One big gripe from fans was the fact that the new version lists events and people out of order.
One Twitter user wrote, “Are you telling me Fall Out Boy made an updated We Didn’t Start The Fire except they missed the point about the events needing to be chronological and instead they just plugged in whatever rhymed – Those f**king HACKS.”
Another echoed, “I like the idea of Fall Out Boy updating the lyrics to “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” but I have one MAJOR issue with it: The lyrics are not grouped by decade and are all out of order chronologically. They put Captain Planet in the same verse as Harry Potter. WTF?”
Not only was the out of order sequence of events bothersome to many, others couldn’t help but cringe at the groupings of some of the cultural moments.
“Fall Out Boy’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ does not have bad lyrics. No no no. The choice of words and sequencing therein far transcends that very limiting concept. This might, in fact, be the very worst combination of words in the history of human language,” they wrote.
Some people just plain hated the new take on the classic song.
“The fallout boy We Didn’t Start The Fire sucks SO hard that the ice caps started refreezing, war stopped, and global harmony may be possible. We just needed this common enemy,” one user joked.
“fall out boy we didn’t start the fire is pop punk’s gal gadot imagine video,” another wrote, referencing the completely off putting and eye roll worthy “Imagine” video put out by celebrities in the early days of the pandemic.
Speaking of the pandemic, Fall Out Boy didn’t even mention one of the most absolutely devastating and polarizing times in the world in their new version of “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and um, people noticed.
“how did fob release a we didn’t start the fire cover and not mention THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC,” one user questioned.
One user reached out to the band directly, asking for answers.
“@falloutboy So can you explain your decision process on excluding any reference to the pandemic and/or worldwide lockdown? Feels like an odd omissions,” they wrote.
Despite how the internet might feel about the song, Fall Out Boy member and guitar player Pete Wentz is proud of the production.
“I remember listening to the original when I was little and I was like, ‘I don’t know what half this stuff is,’” Wentz, 44, explained on the Apple Music 1 podcast.
“And it made me look up a bunch of this stuff. So, it was just interesting thinking about the stuff we would include versus you wouldn’t. Because there’s some stuff that was in the original that kind of is lost to the sands of time. You know what I mean? So yeah, we just did it. We put it together. It’s just a fun, goofy thing.”
Wentz also addressed why COVID-19 was left out of their rendition.
“That’s all anybody talked [about],” Wentz explained. “It felt like there was a couple of things that felt, like, a little on the nose. And then there were a couple of things where it was like Bush V. Gore, [and] we needed the rhyme.”
As for what others think of the song, Wentz doesn’t seem to care either way.
“I think that the beauty of the way that music and art works now is that you put something out there,” he shared. “If it misses, it kind of just doesn’t go anywhere. And if people like it, then it becomes a thing. But you can put a lot more things kind of out into the ether and it just becomes white noise, if people don’t like it.”
Billy Joel has yet to say anything about the new version. Though he has taken his own heat when it comes to criticism of the song.
“The only thing I’ve heard about that song from people is, ‘I hate that song!’” he revealed during an October 2021 episode of the “We Didn’t Start the Fire: The History Podcast”, which dedicates an episode to every reference from the song’s lyrics.
“Some people hate that song. It’s one of the most hated things I ever wrote! And I don’t get the hate.”
Now that Fall Out Boy has created their own (mostly hated) version of the song, people might be yearning for the good ole days of the original.