Mark or Tom? Blink-182

Everyone’s favourite pop-punk band, Blink-182 returned with their new album California last year. However, the return was somewhat bittersweet for die-hard Blink fans with the change of line up in co-founding member Tom DeLonge not returning. His shoes were instead filled by that of guitarist Matt Skiba. Though the album didn’t receive the proper coverage it deserved as a piece of music due to the interest lying in DeLonge’s absence as opposed to the songs on the record, it was still nice for fans to see the band return in some carnation of their former selves, even if the sibling-like relationship between the two frontmen Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge was definitely missed by some fans.

It’s easy to forget just how big the band were back in the very late 90’s and early-mid 00’s. It may have been Green Day’s Dookie which propelled the pop-punk genre into the mainstream, but it was Blink who managed to perfect the sound and go on to become the quintessential band of the movement. The shared nasally and imperfect vocal partnership between Hoppus and DeLonge would become an instantly recognisable characteristic of the Blink sound. Blink’s most recent effort hasn’t been able to capture the success which the band experienced at their peak. Why is this? Comparative advantage.

Comparative advantage is a concept in economics used to show the gains that can be made from trade. For example, Ireland has a comparative advantage in producing chemical products because we have an educated workforce in science and the infrastructure to produce the products with more ease than other countries. However, we have a high minimum wage rate so we don’t have a comparative advantage in producing clothes. So, when we need clothes we trade with a country like China who have a comparative advantage in this area, and when China needs medical products they’ll trade with us because they aren’t as well equipped to produce those particular products. Everyone gets what they need and does so by doing what they are best at.

We can see there is too a comparative advantage in Blink-182 when either Mark or Tom take the lead vocal role on a song, or indeed share the vocal responsibility. To see where this comparative advantage is in Blink-182, I have taken a look at all of Blink’s songs which charted on the US Billboard charts from their 1999 album Enema of the State to their 2011 effort Neighbourhoods and seen whether Mark, Tom or Both sang lead vocals on the track.

Vocal Allocation

Out of Blink-182’s songs which charted, the band were most successful when the two shared the lead vocal role. 42% of Blink’s songs in this sample were songs where Hoppus and DeLonge duetted. In terms of individual performance, DeLonge has the greatest advantage with 33% of the songs and Hoppus then singing 25% of them. Whatever the case with regard to individual performance, it is nice to see that the pop-punk legends were strongest when they were together.

by Daragh O’Leary

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