Machine Gun Kelly sells tickets to his evolution

By Cara McCarthy, Associate Editor

Colson Baker, better known as Machine Gun Kelly, MGK, or Kells, shocked the music scene when he announced he was putting his “wild boy” persona down to produce his first pop-punk album.

The album, “Tickets to My Downfall,” was released by Interscope Records, Sept. 25.

While MGK has been in the scene since the early 2010s, he has become more popular in the last few years after collaborations with big names such as YUNGBLUD and Camila Cabello.

The record, executive produced by Travis Barker of Blink-182, features several songs with other world famous artists including Halsey, Trippie Redd, blackbear, and even a new song with YUNGBLUD featured on the deluxe edition of the album. 

While the album strays away from MGK’s typical sound, he still manages to hold true to what he loves most – his family, girlfriend, and music.

Fans were equally as shocked as they were excited to learn that Kells had recently begun dating Megan Fox when she was featured in his music video for his first single off the album, “bloody valentine.”

As MGK sings in the chorus, “I don’t do fake love / But I’ll take some from you tonight / I know, I got to go / But I might just miss the flight.”

Throughout the album, there are several songs that seem to be written about Fox, including “banyan tree (interlude),” which starts with a conversation between the two of them.

While this interlude is somewhat slower than the rest of the album, MGK is quick to speed the record up in “forget me too,” featuring his close friend Halsey.

The song, accompanied by heavy drums by Barker, is one of the heaviest tracks on the album with powerful guitar and drum beats. MGK’s grunge-like vocals mixed with Halsey’s wide vocal range makes the perfect cocktail for a song as intense as this. 

On the saddest, but also most beautiful song on the album, “play this when i’m gone,” Baker shares a song he wrote just for his daughter to help her cope with his eventual death. In a way, he is giving his daughter a gift he wishes he got from his father, who died earlier this summer. 

“I’m not gonna lie and tell you it’s all right, it’s all right / You’re gonna cry and baby that’s all right, it’s all right,” MGK sings on the chorus.

While many fans are used to Kells vulgar rap style, he is willing to pack a lot of that up for this album and focus more on the art rather than shock value. 

The first track on the album, appropriately named “title track,” sets the tone for the rest of the album. Similar to how the rest of the album has it’s heavy moments followed by slower and more emotional tracks, “title track” does the exact same thing in a matter of three minutes. 

The track starts slow with Kells voice accompanied by an acoustic guitar as he sings, “I sold some tickets / To come see my downfall / It sold out in minutes / I saw friends in the front row.”

He keeps this slow tempo up until the pre-chorus when Barker’s heavy drum beats are incorporated into the track, “I use a razor to take off the edge / ‘Jump off the ledge,’ they said / ‘Take the laser, aim at my head / And paint the walls red,’ I said.”

This momentum remains throughout the rest of the song, setting the tone for the remainder of the album and is perfectly placed as the first track you hear. 

“Kiss kiss” and “drunk face” are two tracks on the album that reflect the pop-punk style of music people are used to. Again, Barker provides the heavy drums and MGK uses incredibly strong vocals to accompany the beat. 

Baker also took the time to write a song in memory of his aunt and his father titled “lonely.”

The track, which starts off slow and picks up slightly in the chorus, centers around his rocky relationship with his father and his regret that they didn’t mend their relationship sooner, as he died July 2020.

Due to COVID-19, MGK was unable to see his father in the final days of his life as he sings in the third verse, “The last time I saw you / I cried, I wish you had more time left / The last time I heard you / They held the phone, you took your last breath.”

He then shared the same testament toward his aunt, who acted as a mother after his biological mom abandoned him in his childhood. His aunt died in 2017. 

“You called your sister / She cried when she picked me up / Goddamn, how I miss her / ‘cause she didn’t give a f***.”

The track ends with his father’s voice telling the story of Baker’s birth which reveals he had a heart problem, his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, and his parents didn’t think their son was going to survive. 

MGK revealed in Kerrang! magazine he kept that story in there because “Even before I came out of the womb, I was already trying to take myself out of this world – almost feeling like I shouldn’t be here or something.”

As good as this album is, it did not come without its fair share of controversy.

Earlier this year, Kells and his label launched a contest to decide what the album art would be for the record. Unbeknownst to Baker or the label, the artwork that won the contest was copyrighted, forcing Kells to change the cover last minute. 

Due to COVID-19, the release date for “Tickets to My Downfall,” was pushed back. 

Instead of letting the record sit on a shelf until it was time to release it, MGK wrote several more tracks, and even covered several other artists’ songs throughout the summer and put them on YouTube.

Immediately, fans were asking if his covers would be available on popular streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

In the deluxe version of the album, fans got just what they asked for.

While not all of the songs he covered are on the album – namely his collaboration with YUNGBLUD to cover “Champagne Supernova,” by Oasis – he did include his cover of Paramore’s “Misery Business.”

Surprisingly, the only rap element in the entire album did not come from MGK himself, instead, blackbear hopped on “my ex’s best friend” to add a rap element to the record.

While Kells is on vocals singing the chorus, “I swear to god, I never fall in love / Then you showed up and I can’t get enough of it.”

Meanwhile, blackbear joins in for the second verse, “First off, I’m not sorry, I won’t apologize to nobody / You play like I’m invisible, girl, don’t act like you ain’t saw me.”

Finally, blackbear gradually speeds up towards the end of the verse, “But look at this damage you did to me / I still want nothing to do between you and me / Please don’t say nothin’, it all sounds so true to me / We don’t got nothin’ to say.”

While the cover MGK did with YUNGBLUD did not appear on the album, the duo did release a new song in the deluxe version titled, “body bag.”

Equally – if not – the heaviest track on the album emerges from “body bag,” with even stronger guitar from Kells and mysterious drum beats from Barker. 

While the album itself is significantly different from the wild boy’s typical style, his evolution is something to be acknowledged. 

Despite rap battles between him and Eminem and being called a sell-out by several fans who preferred his older style, Machine Gun Kelly’s latest album shows his evolution after nearly 10 years in the business. 

Although I fell in love with the MGK who relied heavily on shock value in his lyrics and would rap about smoking weed and dodging the cops – I can’t help but admire MGK shedding his skin and letting Colson Baker take the spotlight for a little while. 

Grade: A

Colson Baker proves he’s more than just The Gunner.