Now owned by the Warner Music Group, the label was founded in 1996 by John Janick and Vinnie Fiorello (the latter left the company in 2006), who aimed to discover and distribute the talents of punk inspired rock and pop bands – getting their name from their reliance on instant noodles to fuel their hard work and ambition.
Faced with an uphill struggle, the label refused to give up on their dreams, and, over the years, this hard work paid off; the company went from selling 500 records a week to a massive 225,000. Of course, the success of any label is down to the bands they sign, and, luckily for Fueled By Ramen Bands, the “FBR” family managed to capture the imagination of a whole generation of teens – who just happened to be the first that were able to discover new music via the internet.
The Fueled By Ramen Bands fandom exploded, fueled by inter-band collaborations, fan fiction, edgy quotes and, thanks to the gossipy nature of burgeoning social media, an insatiable need to know all of the ins and outs of the band’s relationships and personal lives. To be part of the Fueled By Ramen fandom was to be part of an exciting and accepting subculture which, powered by excellent music and live performances, seemed to have endless possibilities.
Over the years the label has signed some of the most talented and exciting acts modern rock music has to offer, and this countdown will attempt to rank these great bands. It is inevitable that when a band reaches a certain level of success, they will sign to a larger and more prestigious label, so for the purpose of this list, any band signed to Fueled By Ramen at any point in time is eligible for inclusion.
#10 – Cobra StarshipIf any act perfectly encapsulates the Myspace-era of music, it’s got to be Cobra Starship. From their painfully good-looking frontman Gabe Saporta to their “Nu-Rave” inspired bright 80’s fashion and hugely quotable song lyrics, the band had all the necessary ingredients to hit it big in the blossoming social media driven industry. Perhaps this is most evident by their inclusion on the Snakes on a Plane soundtrack, which was one of the first movies to fully embrace social media and online word of mouth advertising.
Snakes on a Plane (Bring It!) (2006) is an effortlessly catchy pop-rock song, and it’s a shame that the band never really managed to outdo their debut. This didn’t stop them trying, though, and their 2009 collaboration with Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meester Good Girl’s Go Bad was a big hit which charted all around the world. Though the band split up in 2015, over the course of four albums, they entertained us with their distinctive blend of rock, synth pop, and dance. Although they were very much a product of their time, Cobra Starship are still remembered fondly for their catchy tunes and bright visuals.
# 9 – Cute Is What We Aim For
The 00’s were a time when pop culture was obsessed with the tumultuous lives of the elite. From The OC to Gossip Girl, and the adventures of pre-Kardashian socialites like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Whether they meant to or not, Cute Is What We Aim For’s debut album The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch provided the perfect soundtrack to this drama-obsessed pop culture landscape. The sharp, cutting and witty lyrics of the band’s songs (“Drama doesn’t follow me / It rides on my back”, “Everyone’s a let down / It just depends on how far down they can go”) allowed CIWWAF’s fans to escape into a world of exciting social drama, likely quite different from their boring reality.
Living precariously through the art and ideas of others is nothing new, but the power pop-punk of Cute Is What We Aim For, and their barbed, edgy take on social relationships was something really exciting at the time.
# 8 – Gym Class HeroesGym Class Heroes were a truly unique Fueled By Ramen band, in that compared to the more traditionally rock and indie acts signed at the time, they focused more on rap rock, bordering on alternative hip hop. They are also notable thanks to half-Haitian front man Travie McCoy and guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo, who both provided some much-needed diversity to the predominantly white label (and, in fact, to rock music as a whole).
In the 00’s Gym Class Heroes were most known for their song Cupid’s Chokehold (2004), a rap-rock track chronicling the tendency of Travie McCoy to easily fall in love. The song features a monumentally catchy vocal hook, which is actually a sample from Supertramp’s 1979 hit Breakfast in America.
Unlike the previous two acts on this list, GCH have managed to achieve some success this decade, thanks to 2011’s Stereo Hearts, a collaboration with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, as well as Ass Back Home, which made use of the contemporary trend for pop/reggae-rap fusion.
# 7 – Jimmy Eat WorldDespite only releasing a single EP through FBR, it seems churlish to preclude Jimmy Eat World from this list. Having formed in 1993, and releasing their first studio album a year later, the band are one of the longest running acts associated with Fueled By Ramen.
Jimmy Eat World are known for their guitar-driven alternative rock sound, and emotive sing-a-long choruses. They managed to achieve breakout success thanks to The Middle, a pop punk cut from their fourth album Bleed America. In fact, the song has now become so ubiquitous that a recent advert for Apple Music featured Taylor Swift lip-syncing to the track. The band’s other stand out tracks include Always Be (2007), a sweet take on love lost, and 2004’s Pain, a harsher alternative/emo track.
With such a long tenure (their ninth album Integrity Blues was released in 2016), there can surely be no doubt that the pop punk/emo sound of Jimmy Eat World has, at least in some way, influenced the majority of the bands on this list.
# 6 – Less Than JakeAlthough they have only ever released EPs and live albums through Fueled By Ramen, similarly to Jimmy Eat World, it would be a shame not to include such a unique and influential band. Wholly embracing the left-field genre of ska punk, Less Than Jake have an instantly recognizable sound, melding pop-punk-style strumming with uplifting trumpets and trombone. This blend of genres is truly arresting, especially when witnessed live, making it almost impossible not to dance or mosh at one of the band’s concerts.
All My Best Friends Are Metalheads, from 1998’s Hello Rockview, is the band’s best-known track, and it serves as a passionate introduction to the bands body of work. It’s not unfair to say that Less Than Jake’s sound has barely evolved over the years, but with such a successful and genuinely distinct sound, no one is asking them to. The band has been releasing music for almost thirty years, and, frankly, long may they continue to.
# 5 – ParamoreProviding some much-needed Girl Power to proceedings, Paramore’s lead singer Hayley Williams is somehow the only front-woman on this list, and, indeed, is one of very few women to have ever been signed to FBR. Of course, this is a reflection on the male-dominated rock genre rather than anything to do with the label itself.
Releasing their first album in 2005, it wasn’t until its follow-up Riot! two years later that Paramore hit the big time, thanks to their hugely infectious pop punk anthem Misery Business, and since then they’ve truly gone from strength to strength. Varying between shouty bangers like Ignorance and Brick By Boring, and slower, sweeter songs like Still Into You and The Only Exception, the band has a great knack for capturing the very essence of what their young fans are going through.
Although other members of the band have come and gone, Williams has always proudly been at the heart of the band, acting as a punk rock role model for girls (and boys) across the globe.
# 4 – All Time LowDespite having been associated with various Fueled By Ramen Bands since their debut, All Time Low only signed to the label in 2017, and one can’t help but feel that they’re finally where they belong.
With their cheeky tongue in cheek lyrics and captivating pop-punk, there’s something immensely likable about All Time Low. The band have been friends since high school (they actually got a record deal before they’d even graduated), and their obvious affection for each other really comes across. Their live shows are like being invited to party with a group of friends, and, although ATL’s songs deal with superficial topics like partying and sex, the sheer joyfulness of the band’s melodies and chords make it almost impossible to ignore or dismiss the band. They might be a late addition to Fueled By Ramen, but All Time Low could not be better suited to the brand.
# 3 – Twenty One PilotsAlthough a lot of the Fueled By Ramen Bands on this list are either no longer active or are enjoying continued success from when emo and alternative rock were the genres du jour, Twenty One Pilots’ current monumental success shows that Fueled By Ramen still know exactly what they’re doing.
TOP are without a doubt one of the hottest acts out there at the moment, having recently won a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The band is made up of just two members, with Tyler Joseph on lead vocals and Josh Dun on drums, and, together they create a unique blend of alternative rock, indie pop, and hip hop. Their most successful song Stressed Out (2014) perfectly encapsulates the struggles of moving from teenage life into adulthood, and can’t help but generate some childhood nostalgia from even the most hardened of folk. There can be no doubt that the future is bright for Twenty One Pilots.
# 2 – Panic! At the DiscoIt is not hyperbole to describe A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2007) as one of the most ambitious debut albums of recent times. P!ATD clearly had a very specific vision in mind whilst writing and composing this album. One which they effortlessly managed to achieve. The extraordinary fusion of pop punk, emo, and baroque elements work flawlessly together to create a genuinely revolutionary sound. The album is split into two parts, the first focusing on more dance and techno based tracks whilst the second is concerned with more traditional wind instruments.
Unfortunately, the band never really managed to capture the huge success of their debut, with follow-up Pretty. Odd. (2008) living up to its title, and subsequent albums lacking the magic which departed lyricist Ryan Ross brought to the table (though are by no means terrible). Still, the fact that a single album earned them second place on this list should give you some idea just how brilliant A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is.
# 1 – Fall Out BoyIt seems only right that the band most associated with Fueled By Ramen Bands turns out be the top one on this list. In fact, Fall Out Boy’s bassist Pete Wentz even went as far as to found an imprint of the label, called Decaydance (now known as DCD2). Along with Panic! at the Disco, these godfathers of 00’s punk rock are responsible for much of the label’s early success, with their breakthrough album From Under the Cork Tree being a phenomenal smash for all involved.
The band’s follow-up album Infinity on High cemented their place in the annals of rock history, with lead single This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race (a reflection on the band’s fame) charting well all over the world. The next album Folie á Deux was a comparatively low point for the band, so it was no surprise when they announced a hiatus in 2010.
Thankfully, in 2013 the band reformed and managed to surprise naysayers by releasing some of the best and most successful songs of their career. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark and Centuries took the band’s trademark sing-a-long choruses, and turned them up to 11. It’s really heartening to know that a band whose naysayers believe they peaked back in ’05 can still surprise their fans.
Although most of the band’s albums were not released through FBR, Wentz’s association with the label has, without a doubt, been key to its success, and as such, they absolutely deserve their place at the top of this list.
Top 10 Fueled By Ramen Bands
Written by Ollie Dean