Fall Out Boy – We Didn’t Start The Fire | Lyrics Meaning Revealed

A lot of us may be familiar with Billi Joel’s infamous protest anthem “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” The song lists major events that had occurred from Billy’s birth in 1949 to 1989 when the song was written. Fall Out Boy tries to carry on this legacy with their own rendition of the song.

Fall Out Boy’s rendition of “We Didn’t Start The Fire” lists some major incidents from 1949 to 2023. Fall Out Boy took to Twitter to explain why they needed to do an update on this iconic song;

I thought about this song a lot when I was younger. 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. Hope you like our take on it…

Regardless of the incidents listed in both songs, the overarching theme here is the title of the song. We, common folks, had barely anything to do with almost everything listed in these songs. But, all of us, undoubtedly are affected by all of these incidents. So, who is playing this game? And why do common folk have to suffer?

Listen to Fall Out Boy “We Didn’t Start The Fire”

Fall Out Boy “We Didn’t Start The Fire” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review

We will not go through all the events mentioned in the song. However, we will try to cover some of the most important ones.

  • Arab Spring – a series of anti-government protests in Arab countries such as Tunisia, Lybia, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, and Bahrain in 2011-2012.
  • L.A. riots, Rodney King – a series of riots that broke out in 1992 following the police brutality incident of Rodney King, an African American man on March 3, 1991.
  • Deep fakes – digitally modified media (including videos) using artificial intelligence. It gained major traction on adult sites to substitute famous people’s pictures into existing adult videos.
  • Oklahoma City bomb – 1995 bombing of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killing 168 and 680 injured.
  • Kurt Cobain – the death of the legendary singer of the music group Nirvana. He took his own life in 1994 after years of struggle with addiction and mental health issues.
  • MySpace – a social media site that launched in 2003 and gained popularity rapidly but failed to sustain it.
  • Cambridge Analytica – a political analytics company that supported the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and was also revealed that Facebook sold 87 million personnel data to the company in 2018.
  • More war in Afghanistan – Afghanistan has been a country battled with war for decades. The rebel group Taliban took over the country in 2021 when America withdrew their forces from the country.
  • Unabomber – Ted Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber, used to mail or deliver bombs to certain areas that took three lives.
  • Bombing, Boston Marathon – refers to the terrorist bombing during the famous Boston Marathon in 2013. The bombing took three lives and injured hundreds.
  • Polar bears got no ice – a sentiment of global warming where the Northern and Southern ice caps melt due to increasing heat in the Earth’s atmosphere due to manmade causes.
  • Fyre Fest – known as the greatest festival that never was. Planned as a luxury music festival on a private island with models and celebrities, the festival ended up being a massive fraud and a failure.
  • Michael Phelps – the most decorated Olympic athlete in the history. From 2004 to 2016, he broke numerous world records in swimming and has 23 Olympic gold medals.
  • Kanye West and Taylor Swift – refers to the notorious 2009 MTV Video Music Awards festival where Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video. During her acceptance speech, Kanye West got on stage, grabbed the mic from her, and announced Beyonce deserved to win the award instead.
  • Stranger Things – refers to the ongoing TV series present featuring Millie Bobby Brown.
  • Sandy Hook, Columbine – refers to two notorious school shootings from 2012 and 1999 respectively. Both incidents took the lives of 23 children and 27 adults.
  • ISIS – an acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is a transnational extremist terrorist group.
  • George Floyd – another case of police brutality in 2020. The African American man was recorded laying on the street with a cop’s knee obstructing his breathing which led to his death. This death sparked the infamous Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Golden State Killer got caught – in 2018 the mass murderer and rapist, Joseph DeAngelo was caught, following his murder, rape, and burglary spree from the 1970s to 1980s.
  • Elon Musk – the wealthiest man at the moment and King of Twitter and crypto memes.
  • Texas failed electric grid – refers to the 2021 power outage in Texas following a record-breaking snowstorm that destroyed the arid county. This incident took out the lives of hundreds of Texans.
  • Great Pacific garbage patch – refers to the massive pile of garbage floating in the North Pacific Ocean. It is estimated to be around 1.6 square kilometers or twice the size of Texas.
  • Prince and The Queen die – Prince refers to Prince Rogers Nelson, better known by his stage name of Prince, a prolific singer, and performer who passed away in 2016. The Queen refers to Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, who passed away in 2022 at the age of 96.

The world indeed is burning. Did we really not start the fire? Maybe so. But we all are, in some way contributors to some fires.

Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Read the complete lyrics to the song on Genius.

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