Machine Gun Kelly’s Hotel Diablo marked a change in pace for the rapper turned musician. Celebrating his thirtieth birthday this past April in quarantine, MGK has spent the last decade building a career — fine tuning his alt-rock-hip-hop style while cameo-ing in big budget movies and starting beef with Eminem.
Released last summer, the rapper’s fourth album featured the likes of Yungblud and Travis Barker, the long-term drummer of Blink-182, whose name might ring a bell for some millennials and punk rock fans. MGK, whose real name is Colson Baker, has been busy during this pandemic, gracing his fanbase with self-proclaimed #LockdownSessions on Instagram. While live performances may no longer be possible with COVID-19 restrictions, Baker’s frequent updates and consistent content have catapulted his popularity to its peak in the history of his career. From freestyles, to mixtapes, to covers, Baker has been experimenting with a range of sounds, some true to the aggressive rapping style that launched him to success, and others — like his guitar cover of Avril Lavigne’s 2002 “Sk8er Boi” — allowing the musician to fully flesh out the pop punk sound of his adolescence.
And it doesn’t get more pop punk than “Bloody Valentine,” released May 1. The single features an energetic beat, courtesy of Barker, who has lent his drumsticks to Hotel Diablo’s “I Think I’m OKAY” and remotely to Baker’s cover in late March of Paramore’s iconic “Misery Business.” Baker’s aggressive vocals, featured in #LockdownSession covers of “Love on the Brain” and “Champagne Supernova,” are devoid of any rapping verses, just as they are in the collaboration, “Sick and Tired,” with up-and-comer Iann Dior and, you guessed it, Travis Barker. Just as “Sick and Tired” made use of its ironic release during the pandemic (Baker stares down a giant CGI germ outside his window at one point in the MV), “Bloody Valentine” offered a comical socially-distant and remote performance on the Late Late Show with James Corden. Baker jams out in the middle of a road, flails as he ‘runs’ over to Barker’s house, and finishes the song while maintaining a distance of six feet from the drummer.
But most notably, perhaps, is the music video cameo from the queen of the 2000s silver screen herself. Megan Fox is a true femme fatale in the bubblegum-pink accented MV, a spitting image of her character in the 2009 black comedy Jennifer’s Body, whose soundtrack ironically contains pop punk band All Time Low’s “Toxic Valentine.”
In recent months, pop music has witnessed an ‘80s revival (we’re looking at you, After Hours), but with Baker’s fifth studio album, Tickets to My Downfall, slated for release on September 25, fans of the noughties can rest assured that pop punk won’t be missing out this year.