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My name's Clifford Stumme, and I explain the deeper meanings of popular songs. Let's have a conversation about what you think about the songs and go deeper together. Feel free to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

What does "Champion" by Fall Out Boy mean?

What does "Champion" by Fall Out Boy mean?

"Champion" Lyrics Meaning

I've honestly not been that big a fan of Fall Out Boy in the past, but I do love how they give something deeper in their lyrics. They give us a meaning, and they often use allusions or pop culture references that add a layer of complexity to their lyrics. This depth is probably the reason that you're here after Googling something like "champion lyrics meaning Fall Out Boy." I knew you'd be here, so I've explained the lyrics below in an attempt to help you better understand and connect with the lyrics of this band that we both respect. 

"If I can live through this / I can do anything"

Pete Wentz, the bass player and main lyric writer for Fall Out Boy, recently teased this song with a handwritten note to fans on social media. The note referred to many music and sports "champions" and contains his idea that "champions aren't born, they're forged." Wentz makes a statement against predestination or fate here--something that Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons is all too ready to believe in--and it makes sense for him. His band appeals to an alternative/emo crowd that often finds community through shared suffering. This song's theme promise these listeners that their suffering doesn't have to be in vain. They can use it to become something more, something that the band already finds themselves as--a champion.

Verse 1

I'm calling you from the future
To let you know we made mistakes
And there's a far gone past that's giving me, giving me such a headache
And I'm back with the madness
I'm a champion of the people who don't believe in champions
I got nothing but dreams inside, I got nothing but dreams

in the first verse, Wentz, via lead singer Patrick Stump, tells listeners that he has been where they're going--old (or at least older) age. He's seen what they have to look forward to, and he has advice for them. Using this newfound perspective, he realizes that he and his listeners have all "made mistakes." They've been wrong about things or misunderstood the world around them. His own "far gone past" is "giving me such a headache." It's difficult to remember his past because of those mistakes.

But he's not trying to run from the scene of people like him, his fans. He's "back with the madness." He wants to reach out to them and be "a champion of the people who don't believe in champions." His audience is skeptical of anyone who claims any perfection or any knowledge of absolute direction in life, but he's up for the challenge. And he's honest about it too. He doesn't have much to offer them but "dreams inside." He has dreams about who he could be and who his fans could be, and he wants to offer that to them. 

Pre-Chorus

I'm just young enough to still believe, still believe
But young enough not to know what to believe in
Young enough not to know what to believe in, yeah

He continues the awareness of his own age relative to his audience's because he sings, "I'm just young enough to still believe." He hasn't been completely spoiled by harsh realities of life, and he's not cynical, but he still lacks purpose and direction when he sings that he's "young enough not to know what to believe in." He's willing to believe in something--some ideal or goal--something he wants his audience to be able to do, but he's still not sure which direction to point that imagination and enthusiasm. 

Chorus

If I can live through this
If I can live through this
If I can live through this
I can do anything

In the chorus of "Champion," Pete Wentz writes the lyrics "If I can live through this / I can do anything." And what is this epic struggle? It's the quandary he's mentioned in the pre-chorus. He wants to believe but doesn't know what to believe in. If he can find purpose--one of the hardest tasks for anyone--he knows he can do anything else. And that's not just because he'll have done such a hard thing. It's because that purpose will guide him through other obstacles and strengthen him.

Verse 2

I got rage every day, on the inside
The only thing I do is sit around and kill time
I'm trying to blow out the pilot light, I'm trying to blow out the light

The lyrics of verse two describe Pete Wentz and Fall Out Boy's mental state. Patrick Stump sings that he's "got rage every day on the inside." Wentz is angry and directionless, so he doesn't know where to point his passion and emotion. So, with lack of focus, he just sits "around and kill[s] time" waiting for something real to warrant his efforts.

And he even seems to hint at suicide in the last line of the verse. He's "trying to blow out the pilot light, I'm trying to blow out the light." This works on three levels. One, blowing out a pilot light on a gas fireplace or stove will fill the room with gas that can kill a human. This refers to suicide. Two, a "pilot" is someone who gives direction and leads other. Wentz may be giving up on the pilots he already has in his life. And, finally, when he wants to "blow out the light," he could again be referring to suicide, and the light could be referring to his own life, but he could also be blowing out his own ability to believe in something more. 

The Deeper Meaning of "Champion": "Blow out the light"

I think a deeper discussion of the lyrics of "Champion" can take two routes. First, Pete Wentz talks early on in "Champion" about having the ability to believe in personal purpose, but he admits that he doesn't quite understand it. And second, the lyrics grow dark as he confides that he's desperate for it, and, when it seems like it's not coming, that he considers giving up on it completely. 

Part of me wonders if this, since Fall Out Boy is coming back from a long hiatus, is them trying to feel out and identify with their fans again. It has the flavor of pandering to an audience who may feel this exact way, and the overly dramatic nature of the second verse makes "Champion" feel just a tiny bit insincere, but it's almost impossible for me to know for certain, so I want to assume that it is sincere, but that being true means we all need to feel supreme sympathy for Pete Wentz, the rest of Fall Out Boy, and the fans.

I know what it feels like to be purposeless and purposeful. There's a big difference, and it means everything to a person. Hopefully, the question that is "Champion" finds an answer on Mania.

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