Albums You May Have Missed: Machine Gun Kelly Transitions to Pop-Punk with “Tickets To My Downfall”


Alec Willard-Herr

With Machine Gun Kelly’s album, “Tickets to My Downfall,” the artist has switched genres, going from rap to pop-punk.

Kendall Whiteside, Assistant Editor

The following article discusses music that contains explicit content.

From rap to pop-punk, Machine Gun Kelly has made a drastic shift in his sound with his album, “Tickets To My Downfall.” With over 65,000 album sales in the first week after its release and a number one debut spot on the Rolling Stones Top 200 Albums Chart, the change in genre seems to be working out well for the former rapper.

Although it has been several months now since this album was released, it has remained a favorite among listeners months later, especially as one of the songs, “my ex’s best friend,” is currently number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.

“Tickets To My Downfall” redirects MGK as a successor of the early 2000s pop-punk genre that included bands such as Green Day and Blink-182. This album has marks of the producer, Travis Barker, on each of the songs, and it has removed MGK from the world of rap battles and his life as a rap star. 

With 15 songs in the album, MGK collaborated with many artists, including Halsey, Iann Dior, and Blackbear — all who had not formally produced any work in the pop-punk genre. Each of these songs are brilliant in their own style. 

“title track”: 

This is the first song on the album, which sets a wild and chaotic tone paired with MGK’s softer tone that the entire album has. The song starts off slow, and then, about 30 seconds into the song, transitions into the pop-punk sound that is carried throughout the album. 

With a heavier drum sound in the background of the second half of the song, we can identify even more of Barker’s presence. Towards the end of this track, it starts to slow down into the tone that the song started with. 

“kiss kiss”:

With a guitar-heavy introduction to the second song on the album, MGK continues with a similar tone to his first track. His clear and concise lyrics are easy to follow, allowing for any listener to sing along, even if it is their first time listening.

This song is filled with three-chord melodies, much like the rest of the album, and keeps a familiarity with new sounds and beats that stray away from the original pattern present at the beginning of the song. 

“drunk face”:

With more of a laid-back feel to this track, MGK adds a heavier drum presence than in his previous tracks. This is one of the tracks that display MGK’s vocal abilities effectively and shows the audience a different side to the former rapper. 

This song is one that could be appealing to listeners who aren’t into pop-punk and just want to dip their feet in the pool of the genre. 

“bloody valentine”:

This track is the fourth song on the album and is arguably one of the best songs that it holds. With over 100 million listens and taking the spot as the second most popular song on the album, it shows that many others felt that this song was one of their favorites as well. 

“bloody valentine” screams pop-punk, especially with the guitar solo towards the two-minute mark of the song. With very upbeat and catchy lyrics, you will find yourself dancing around your bedroom or singing along while doing homework.

“forget me too”:

There is a heavy sense of nostalgia present at the beginning of this song, with a prominent guitar riff setting the tone and pace. Halsey, another famous artist who had never produced anything like this before, enters the song after the one-minute mark, giving listeners an angsty heartbroken anthem. 

With MGK starting off the first part of the song, Halsey joins at the bridge. Listeners can hear the differences in vocal ranges and how they complement one another as they sing the verses together after their solos earlier in the song.

“all i know”: 

Much like “drunk face,” this song has a laid-back feel to it. 

Trippie Redd, a rapper famously known for his lead single from his debut mixtape “Love Scars,” adds soft vocals to the center part of the track, continuing the tone that MGK is trying to express with the song. 


This song starts off with a guitar solo, but it is not the same type of solo we heard in “forget me too.” It is more of a casual sound accompanying MGK’s lyrics compared to the shredding in “forget me too.”

Around two minutes into the song, all of the instruments drown out, and for a few seconds, we just hear MGK singing, which relates to the title of the song “lonely.” 


This track allows for a 59-second break in the middle of the album, as it is much shorter than all the other songs. However, it does have a hard and loud sound that holds a lot of emotion and a little bit of chaos.

While this track feels like it could get removed from the album and go unnoticed, I think it adds to the tone, the overall message, and the genre of the album with the heavy guitar intro and fast-paced beat.

“kevin and barracuda”:

This song starts off with a very strange yet creative beginning, as the track begins with MGK answering a FaceTime call from the comedian Pete Davidson, who is one of MGK’s close friends. The entire interaction is a casual one between two friends.

During the call, MGK and Davidson talk about their “alien names,” Kevin and Barracuda, which hints at the next song. 

“concert for aliens”:

MGK’s entire album is similar to the type of music Blink-182 produced, but this track is the most similar to that style. The extraterrestrial feel to the song pays tribute to the studio album Blink-182 that produced “Aliens Exist.”

With a heavy drum and guitar presence from the beginning, the track explains what it means to call out for help. This is another track that will get you up and dancing or singing along at the top of your lungs. 

“my ex’s best friend”:

With over 190 million listeners, this song tops the album as the most listened to track, even though it doesn’t have the same feel as the others. While the other tracks have a pop-punk tone, this song reverts back to the past genre of music MGK produced. 

Since Blackbear is featured in this song, it makes me wonder less about why the song is so successful. With many hits of his own, such as his album from 2017, “Digital Druglord,” Blackbear continues down the path of success, as this hit is one that anybody could fall in love with. 


This song begins with MGK talking and then transitions into him singing. It gives off the feeling of background music that would play in an early 2000’s movie with a plot of a teenage girl losing a boy. 

With MGK hitting notes that create voice cracks on purpose, he adds to the feeling and tone of the entire song, and the simple lyrics make it easy so that anyone could sing to the song in the car.

“nothing inside”:

With another hit that pays respect to the entire pop-punk genre in the early 2000s, this track has a catchy and upbeat drum rhythm that almost anybody can find themselves tapping their foot to.

Iann Dior, another big artist, became famous after his singles “Famous” and “Gone Girl.” Much like MGK and Trippie Redd, Iann Dior abandoned his rapping skills and traded in his vocals, which are featured on this track quite well. 

“banyan tree ”: 

With another interaction between MGK and a friend, the first part of this song starts off with talking and then transitions into a short ballad. This short track includes a message from MGK that claims how he never wants to feel like he hasn’t lived.

“play this when i am gone”:

In this slower-paced song, MGK showcases the vocals that the audience discovered throughout the rest of his album. This song almost seems like a goodbye, and specifically, could be interpreted as a goodbye to his rap career.

This track is one of my favorites because we get to see a different side to the tough rapper we formerly saw. 

With 2021 being a new year, MGK is talking about putting together another album, but will he continue to write love letters to the pop-punk world or return to rap battles with Eminem? Only time will tell.