Reel Big Fish – Cheer Up!: #855 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Reel Big Fish - Cheer Up

Why is Reel Big Fish’s Cheer Up! on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

RBF can rock you with their specialty of snarked up ska punk, but it’s the more mature power pop material that really stands out here.

What does Reel Big Fish’s Cheer Up! mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

You might say that I’m card-carrying ska punk apologist-meets-superfan. And therefore I’m sensitive to the boom of popularity that occurred in the mid-1990s for a number of ska punk bands that is still often framed as a “fad” or passing trend.

And this Reel Big Fish album, Cheer Up!, is a great example of the sub-genre’s staying power. Released in 2002, it shows the band’s continued evolution and incorporates a wide array of styles as opposed to relying simply on great ska punk hooks (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

Really, the best thing about Cheer Up! is that it features a bunch of strong songs with great vocals from Aaron Barnett and one of the best horn sections in the biz.

“Suckers” is more ska than punk, more ska power pop really. Most of all it’s just a great song – super catchy, great musically, funny and snarky in only the specific that Reel Big Fish can do, with a great booming chorus that RBF perfected on the Why Do They Rock So Hard LP.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Bitchin’” used to be one of my favorite songs on the album but it feels slightly jokey and played out to me these days. I’m more drawn to the maturity of the band’s songwriting and power pop-y chops in “Where Have You Been?” Relationship songs have always been one of Reel Big Fish’s strengths, as this one attests.

“Sayonara Senorita” is a song where RBF shows off and blows most other bands off the map with its outstanding horn section and Barnett’s guitar skills.

“Good Thing” to me has that classic Reel Big Fish vibe that could have been on any album of theirs from any era. It’s just solid fun and a good time.

I’ve seen Reel Big Fish live a number of times, and they always put on a fantastic show. Energetic, fun, and the sound is tight as hell. The most recent time was when my wife and I caught them at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California. It was probably three or four years after Cheer Up! was released, and the band was in top form.

I wrote a review of the show for Blogcritics, a blogging community I was helping to run at the time. Unfortunately, that review – and the many hundreds of pieces I wrote for that site – were nuked from the Internet at some point. Whaddayougonnado?

Well, start another website within which to house my pop cultural ruminations, categorizations, and other such critical minutiae of our existence, I suppose. Because that’s how we do.

Some stats & info about Reel Big Fish – Cheer Up!

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock, Rock Music, Pop Punk, Ska, Ska Punk, Alternative Rock, Punk Revival, Power Pop, SoCal Bands
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating4.5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Cheer Up! released? 2002
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #855 out of 1,000

Reel Big Fish’s Cheer Up! on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.