It’s not common for a rock album to top the Billboard charts in the 21st century. But Machine Gun Kelly did it in 2020 with Tickets To My Downfall and again in 2022 with mainstream sellout! Both albums explore pop-punk while also intertwining trap beats and hip-hop collabs to pay homage to his rap roots, and they’re arguably his most personal projects to date. The mainstream sellout liner notes describe the album as his “diary of the past 2 years,” making it a culmination of what he was going through while making Tickets To My Downfall and while basking in its success.
From lyrical parallels to seeming follow-up tracks and even talking about some of the same subjects, mainstream sellout almost feels like a sequel to Tickets. And with two returning collaborators and the same honesty of its predecessor with even more vulnerability, mainstream sellout comes off as what would happen if the current, more confident Kells was the one making his first pop-punk album.
And although we could talk about mainstream sellout all day long, we’ll spare you this time and just take a track-by-track look on how the album connects to Tickets To My Downfall. So let’s press play and dive right in!
‘born with horns’
‘born with horns’ kicks off the album with a bang, but it serves a greater purpose than that. It was originally the record’s title track before Kells changed the name to mainstream sellout, so it does what ‘title track’ did for Tickets. Both songs introduce the album’s themes of fame, and the dark side of the spotlight with a subdued intro before the guitars kick in – for ‘title track,’ it’s an acoustic guitar, but for ‘born with horns,’ it’s bass and drums.
The “in this film I know there’s no happy endings” even reminds us of Tickets To My Downfall. He’s more than proven himself in the rock genre, especially after scoring a #1 album with TTMD, but he still deals with skepticism and people claiming his success is a fluke.
“I’m afraid they’re awake, I’m cautious who I’m serenading
Summoned them by mistake, price you pay for entertaining…”
‘god save me’
‘god save me’ touches on the fame motif with a darker context, exploring death, mental illness, and loss. The lyric “you die, you’re iconic, more plaques for their office” hits harder after TTMD’s success – while he didn’t literally die, Kells has faced his own demons and the public’s opinions of the work he poured his heart into. The song also references his estranged relationship with his mother, who he seemingly reconnected with during his 2021 tour, as well as his father’s death, which he wrote the vulnerable Tickets track ‘lonely’ about.
“Can’t reconcile, both of my parents are gone
I wanna talk to my dad but rest in peace…”
‘drug dealer’ Featuring Lil Wayne
Did you know that ‘drug dealer’ was originally on the Tickets To My Downfall album with an iann dior feature? But Kells wound up changing it up and inviting Lil Wayne for a verse! Thematically, it’s a little similar to ‘drunk face’ as a song that plays up the party life with a carefree attitude. But this time, there’s a little bit of romance as Kells and Wayne are dating their main supplier.
“I wake up, my head hurts
But she got a couple blunts and Percocets in her purse…”
‘wall of fame – interlude’ Featuring Pete Davidson And Casie Baker
Take a trip to downtown L.A. with MGK, his daughter, and his bestie Pete Davidson on ‘wall of fame,’ a spoken interlude where they find Kells’ picture on a billboard of famous people. It’s the third interlude Pete has done with Colson – he did ‘A Message From The Count’ on Hotel Diablo and ‘kevin and barracuda’ on Tickets To My Downfall. Pete also did some background vocals on 2017’s ‘LOCO!’
“Pete: It’s a wall of famous people?
Pete: Wow, LA sucks…”
Like ‘title track’ does for Tickets To My Downfall, ‘mainstream sellout’ discusses fame in a sarcastic sense, while also talking about the criticism and backlash that Tickets received. It mocks the hateful comments that appear on his posts, rude headlines that the internet tries to capitalize on, and even the assumptions from some people that he doesn’t actually play guitar.
“I heard the feedback, I’m a poser
With a guitar and a choker…”
‘make up sex’ Featuring blackbear
Some fans see ‘make up sex’ as a sequel to MGK and blackbear’s Tickets collab ‘my ex’s best friend,’ thanks to its melodic rock vibe and, of course, the feature. We also noticed a little connection to ‘forget me too’ – the “you’re gone when I wake up” lyric is similar to the “you left before I woke up” and “I left before you woke up” lines.
“Yeah, break up just to make up
You’re gone when I wake up…”
‘papercuts’ is a triumphant celebration of the mainstream success Kells found with Tickets To My Downfall that also acknowledges the hate he’s gotten after fully diving into the pop-punk genre. Meanwhile, the added rap verse on the album edit combats claims that he “switched genres,” instead insisting that he “saw the limit and took it farther.” He also shouts out his late father in the song, which is a sweet mention after ‘lonely.’
“Everybody’s so nice lately (Everybody’s not nice)
Polarized feelings, I don’t wear them on my face lately
Internalized everything the headlines say lately…”
‘WW4’ is a high-energy, almost frantic, sequel to ‘WWIII’ that clocks in 13 seconds longer than its predecessor. Both songs talk about the criticism Kells faces from the media and music fans, but ‘WW4’ comes off more aggressive, with a no-nonsense approach to calling out skeptics.
“Hold me under this frozen ice you call your heart
There’s lightning and thunder
The armageddon’s ’bout to start…”
‘ay!’ Featuring Lil Wayne
While ‘ay!’ is mostly about being high because of drugs, with Kells’ last album playing on his Downfall, we think the key lyric on the chorus plays on his fears of losing what he’s built over the past few years. He’s truly bloomed with his last few albums, from mainstream success and radio play, to a deeper connection with his fans more than ever. Or maybe it’s a sneaky reference to how he climbs balconies and stage rafters during his live shows… we’re half-joking.
“I don’t ever wanna fall when I’m this high…”
‘fake love don’t last’ Featuring iann dior
It’s become a tradition for every MGK pop-punk album to include a breakup anthem with iann dior! While Tickets To My Downfall’s ‘nothing inside’ sees each of them blaming their own bad habits and mindsets for a relationship crumbling, ‘fake love don’t last’ turns the blame to the other person. Whether they’re describing two separate circumstances or the guys are reevaluating the breakup from ‘nothing inside’ and realizing they didn’t ruin the relationship, we’ll jam out.
“I want you to know that you can’t come back
I want you to know that fake love don’t last
So go ahead and pose like that and post like that…”
‘sid & nancy’
From the first time we heard ‘sid & nancy,’ it instantly gave us ‘jawbreaker’ vibes. They even share some of the same chords! It feels like a more serious view of the relationship described in ‘jawbreaker,’ adding more depth to the story and sharing their devotion to each other. The lyric below reminds us a bit of the “she wants him to steal her breath” line from ‘banyan tree’:
“Once we met, I cannot love someone again
Cut my chest, gave you my heart and soul…”
Everyone get your tissues ready, because it’s time to discuss the album’s closer, ‘twin flame.’ Like ‘play this when i’m gone,’ the closing track of Tickets To My Downfall ends the album with a mostly acoustic message to someone he cares about. This time, it’s an ode to his fiancé Megan Fox, and like ‘banyan tree,’ it has audio clips of them talking to each other – both ‘banyan tree’ and ‘twin flame’ can be described as tainted love songs. Touching on the darker parts of their relationship while celebrating the passion and comfort of their romance.
There’s even a link to ‘bloody valentine,’ whose music video revealed Megan and Kells’ connection. The “maybe ask you earlier, be mine” lyric of ‘twin flame’ ties into the ‘bloody valentine’ lyric “be mine, be mine, baby.”
So there we have it! Those are the connections we noticed between Machine Gun Kelly’s two #1 albums, Tickets To My Downfall, and mainstream sellout. Are there any links you missed? Were you excited to see mainstream sellout top the charts? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! And if you want more Kells content, we gotchu.