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5SOS Are The Kings Of Fan Engagement

5SOS Are The Kings Of Fan Engagement

TW: Brief mention of suicide without detail.

As artists get bigger, fan engagement usually decreases. This is not the case for this Aussie pop-punk-turned-pop-rock group. For their 10th anniversary, 5SOS set up the 5 Seconds of Summer Show to celebrate and they proved that they’re the kings of fan engagement. The event was filled with performances and skits that referenced inside jokes between the band and the fans.

The 5SOS Fam catapulted the band into success, and 5SOS makes sure to let us know that they know. They’re the biggest band in the world, but they still engage with fans like it’s 2011. This gives them a foundation to fall upon. 

They have maintained the same quality of fan engagement since the start, and now they get to use it to sustain their connection with older fans and attract newer ones. This anniversary live show is a culmination of all the fan engagement they have had for the last ten years.

But you don’t have to take our word for it! We’ll show you just how much the 5SOS guys have invested in fan engagement over the years. 

First, as every fan knows, artists have eras, usually surrounding an album or piece of work. For 5SOS, that is six eras. Four eras for their four studio albums, and two for the time before their first album and now leading up to their 5th.

Somewhere New

The first is the Somewhere New era, named after their second EP (the first was Unplugged, an acoustic recording of four of their songs), which included ‘Out of My Limit,’ their first single. The cover features the four boys with their instruments in their respective childhood rooms. They have on boyish expressions full of youthful charm and charisma.

Image Source: Album Artwork via Capitol Records

This eagerness lives in the EP’s pop-punk tunes. They speak of taking over the world and leaving their deadbeat town behind. You know, teenage angst at its best. It’s truly endearing.

As their YouTube following grew, they prioritized as a group to be known as a live band. So, they started setting up live acoustic performances throughout their town. These took place in the middle of a park, outside of a shopping mall, anywhere where they could. Essentially, they were busking. 

Barely one year in, 5SOS was picked up by One Direction to open up their Take Me Home world tour. At 16 to 18 years old, 5SOS left Australia and moved to London, with Ashton being the oldest and Luke the youngest. They spent the next two months writing songs and rehearsing to prepare for Take Me Home. Their mothers took turns going to London and staying with them to supervise. Can’t let four teenage boys go rampant in an unknown city without supervision! 

Once in England, 5SOS set up pop-up performances for their English fans, which continued even during their tour with 1D. Before shows, they’d set up performances and meet-ups. But above all else, they used social media to their advantage. 

“I do what I want, I’m punk rock.” – Michael Clifford

“No, you’re not. You have pink hair.” – Calum Hood

During this period of incessant writing and rehearsing, 5SOS filmed everything. They posted Keeks (remember those?) multiple times a day, every day, and live-streamed quite occasionally. They breathed and lived music and fan engagement. From this content, fans immortalized iconic quotes as inside jokes such as “I do what I want, I’m punk rock.” “No, you’re not. You have pink hair.”

Essentially, through their strong social media presence and performances, 5SOS was asking the world to see them. They were saying, “’we’re fun, we’re funny, but mostly, we’re dedicated, and we want you to give us a chance.”

5 Seconds of Summer – Self-Titled 

Shortly after the Take Me Home tour, 5SOS released ‘She Looks So Perfect.’ The underwear song. You know the one. This followed with EPs full of fan favorites like ‘Disconnected’ and ‘Wherever You Are,’ before their debut album in June 2014. Mind you, the 5SOS guys were releasing all of this music as they toured with 1D. Still, they continued to set up acoustic performances and meet and greets outside the venue before the shows.

Then came one of the most iconic events to take place in the 5SOS universe: Derp Con 2014. This two-day fan convention, created and hosted by 5SOS, brought fans from all over the world to Los Angeles, California. All costs included. Fans would enter contests in their native countries via social media and radio shows. 5SOS would then fly out the winners to the states, give them free accommodation, and tickets to the band’s headlining gigs at the Forum. 

Throughout the day, fans could meet other fans, there was a mariachi band covering some of the 5SOS’ songs, a DJ playing 00’s pop-punk hits, people disguised as ninja turtles, Spiderman, and even a giant turkey, walking through the crowd. Fans also had chance to meet the band and take pictures. At the end of the day, before the show at The Forum, 5SOS held a small acoustic show outside the concert venue and answered questions from fans. A total dork fest (affectionate).

To this day, this is one of the band’s most iconic events and demonstrations of fan engagement. Fans still ask 5SOS if they will host another Derp Con. They vehemently oppose the idea, surely embarrassed by the dorkiness of the event and their past teenage selves, but still, fans yearn for the day the boys change their mind and hold another fan convention.

Sounds Good Feels Good

This appreciation for their fans carried on with the release of their second album Sounds Good Feels Good (SGFG). For the powerful anthem ‘Jet Black Heart,’ the 5SOS guys reached out to fans to participate in their music video. In it, clips of fans and 5SOS, showed them singing the poignant lyrics, “I’ve got a jet black heart, and there’s a hurricane underneath it, trying to keep us apart.” 

If you see us crying while belting this song on a midnight walk, please, look the other way.

‘Jet Black Heart,’ along with the rest of the album which included sensitive topics like depression, broken homes, and suicide, helped create the New Broken Scene, a social movement started by the band to unite with fans in their struggle and let them know that they were not alone.

SGFG became an anthem for the disenfranchised and suffering youth; it was a refuge where fans felt seen and heard and knew they were not alone. For many, this is still their favorite album because it saved their lives. If that doesn’t scream fan engagement, I don’t know what does.

After approximately six years of non-stop touring, 5SOS had to take a break for the longevity of the band. If they had kept going, there might have not been a band to come back to. This hiatus lasted almost two years, but it was worth it.

Youngblood

5SOS had reinvented themselves – they were no longer the angsty pop-punkers we knew and loved. They were men who had matured and refined their taste and sound. This was the start of their new era Youngblood, one that completely revolutionized who they were as artists and completely altered the perception fans and the media had of them. 

Soon after the release of their third studio album Youngblood, 5SOS embarked on their Meet You There tour. The band continued to include their fans in their universe by releasing tour video diaries. These clips gave us an insight into tour life behind the scenes. Most importantly, they gifted us with inside jokes between 5SOS and the fans like “fake betch.”

5SOS also gave us the Cocktail Chats, a series of YouTube episodes where the band talked about the behind-the-scenes process of creating each tune on the album while they drank cocktails, getting progressively drunker as each episode went on. Towards the end, the fans had an arsenal of meme material that has lasted us to this day. 

Still, we got more. They wanted more lines of communication with their fans open, so they set an email account. Fans could reach out to the band and they would respond whenever they could. They said it was “something small that we can do to speak to more of you.” 5SOS is the gift of fan engagement that just keeps on giving! 

CALM

Fast forward, and almost a year after releasing ‘Easier’ and ‘Teeth’ in 2019, 5SOS put out CALM, their fourth studio album. The title is an acronym of all of their names created by the fans – Calum, Ashton, Luke, and Michael. Naming the title as so, was paying homage to the fans and their support. 

Yet, there was a little hiccup that complicated their album promo plans… that-which-shall-not-be-named-but-we-will-for-the-sake-of-clarity: COVID-19. With pandemic restrictions starting in March 2020, the band had to do all of their promo from home. But given Derp Con and Cocktail Chats, we already know these four Aussies are creative about their content creation. 

After countless pleas from fans to participate in James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke segment, the band put out their own version: Carpool Karabloke (Luke Hemmings Host Mode™). They filmed themselves on their way to their interview with radio show host Zane Lowe, while they listened to their newly released album.

They also participated in a series of quarantine-friendly games like Vogue’s quiz on Aussie slang and put out two video conferences. 

The one they released themselves, titled Spill the Quarantea (seriously, whoever is coming up with these titles needs a raise), showed them talking to each other about their comings and goings (more like their comings and stayings) during quarantine. They were supposed to record a track by track of the recent album, but we know how sidetracked 5SOS can get when jokes and banter are involved.

Amazon hosted the second video. Nonetheless, the hour-long livestream solely consisted of the four band members and their constant laughter and teasing of each other. It truly felt like you were in a room with four normal young adult best friends hanging out together. 

As the promo period for CALM ended, the 5SOS guys retreated into themselves for the remainder of quarantine. They rested and continued to work on their craft, with two of the members even releasing solo music. They came together on an Instagram live in March 2021 to celebrate CALM’s first anniversary, but soon went back into hiding, only popping in and out on social media and even streaming on Twitch. 

Pre-5SOS5

By this point, the boys had already hinted at their production of 5SOS5, the placeholder title for their unnamed fifth album coming up. The fans knew that they were cooking up something, and we could hear it simmering. After a long while of silence, 5SOS joined Michael in streaming on his Twitch account. In it, they created a tier list of their entire discography. 

In all their self-deprecating humor, the band continued to diss some of their earlier work. They labeled the lowest tier as “everybody makes mistakes” and put some fan favorites like ‘Heartbreak Girl’ under it. 

The band continued to banter with the fans in the chat group who were criticizing their decisions. “Don’t compare just feel,” Ashton tells the rest of the boys while deciding which song goes where. “Don’t f***ing p*ss me off, or I’ll block you,” Calum jokes with the fans watching. 

A few months later, 5SOS announced a series of podcast episodes. The YouTube videos were released on a rolling basis, ten days before the day of their anniversary. Each episode would cover the events of one year, one episode per day, starting in 2021 and going back in time.

The fans were ecstatic! This was the kind of content that we loved. We were learning so much about our favorite band, the highs and lows, and we truly thought that was it. 

Then 5SOS announced that on their anniversary, they would host a livestream with comedy skits, commercials, and performances. This included a first-time performance of their newest single ‘2011.’ The band wrote the song to “celebrate 10 years of this band, 10 years of adventures through life, and 10 years of you, our fans.” 

See Also

5SOS wrote the song, and Michael and John Feldmann, who had already worked with the boys in their two earlier albums, produced it. The song’s production is reminiscent of the band’s older sound but still true to their sonic evolution over the years. Michael replied to a fan on Twitter confirming our suspicions: “as crazy as it sounds that was totally the intention – for it to sound like a summary of our last 10 years.” 

The song included two lyrical easter eggs: the line “nothing lasts forever and nothing stays the same” which are the exact lyrics from the bridge in ‘Wherever You Are,’ one of their earlier songs from the She Looks So Perfect EP, the music video to which, 5SOS originally dedicated to their fans, and the line “maybe it’s just too late for the old me” referencing one of their singles off of CALM ‘Old Me.’

When the 5 Seconds of Summer Show went live, all hell broke loose as the start of ‘Don’t Stop (Acoustic)’ played. The livestream included skits that referenced inside jokes between the band and fans from back as far as the self-titled and SGFG eras. Fan engagement at its finest!

The hole won’t close, it didn’t heal very well.

Luke hemmings

The most prominent one was the funeral they held for pop-punk. In the skit, each 5SOS guy gave a brief eulogy for an iconic piece of clothing that defined their pop-punk phase. Michael said goodbye to his black skinny jeans, Calum bid his graphic tees adieu, Ashton shook his head as he placed his bracelets into the casket, and Luke held back tears as he grieved a picture of himself with a lip ring, which he promised he’d always remember because “the hole won’t close, it didn’t heal very well.”

The skit ended with Calum, Ashton, and Michael saying goodbye to pop-punk as a whole, and a zombified version of Luke dressed in punk fashion, popping out from the casket and wallowing that “pop-punk will never die.”

Another skit included a dining table setting where each band member, except Michael who played a house guest, represented a member of a typical 50s nuclear family. In it, Luke, dressed up as the mother, introduced “5sauce,” which is the phonetic pronunciation of the band’s name as an acronym.

Michael’s character points out that the sauce’s ingredients are the same as that of ketchup, and the rest of the band members glare at him and deny it. The skit is obviously hilarious but what stands out to fans is not only the use of “5sauce,” which has been an alternate spelling of the band’s name by the fans for years now, but also it might also be referencing Ketchup, the plastic dog pet they had during the earlier eras and included in their Keeks and livestreams. 

But most importantly, the band recreated old but iconic performances like ‘Gotta Get Out’ and ‘Out of My Limit,’ which they’ve dubbed as the “founding fathers” of 5SOS, sitting in the same arrangement and using the same instruments they used on their first tour with 1D. They even wore the same wardrobe and wigs to recreate their famous ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ cover video on YouTube for a skit. 

The most noticeable performance, though, was their 2021 rendition of ‘Pizza‘ in the ending credits, a short 40-second song they wrote and produced as a joke for the fans in 2014. In the song, Ashton repeats the only but poignant lyrics: “Michael wants another slice of pizza! Pizza!”

5SOS recreated their website as their Tumblr page back in 2011 and opened up their store to sell merch from all of their eras. They even slipped in a joke, selling “draw it tee” shirts with the band’s name and a black marker for the fans to design their favorite 5SOS logo or “at least, our favorite logo…you know the one.”

Image source: 5SOS Merch Store
Image source: 5SOS Merch Store

This references their first logo as a band, a tally mark, which they had to change to avoid a lawsuit from a shop that used the same design. All band members have tally mark tattoos (except Michael, we don’t know if he has gotten his still).

This ad-less hour-and-a-half long spectacle is on YouTube for free. They truly wanted everyone to enjoy this in its entirety without interruption. The event commemorates and leans back on a foundation of established fan engagement by referencing that content to this day. 

Artists release content all the time, 5SOS are not the only ones. But they also reference moments from past fan engagement that fans have immortalized and meme-fied. They are letting their fans know that they see us, that they’re part of our fandom as well. They give as much as they receive. 

From the beginning, 5SOS has prioritized fan engagement, and that hasn’t changed even as they’ve gotten bigger and bigger. 5SOS have reached the summit, and they have taken the 5SOS Fam along to see the view from the top because, ultimately, we did it together. 

What do you think? Are 5SOS really the kings of engagement or do you have another favorite artist in mind? Let us know by tweeting us at @thehoneypop or visiting us on Facebook and Instagram. And go stream ‘2011!’

Want even more 5SOS love? We gotchu, we’ll always have you!

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT 5 SECONDS OF SUMMER:
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TIKTOK | TWITTER | WEBSITE | YOUTUBE

 Featured Image Source: Andy Deluca, @andydeluca via Instagram

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