Across the 26 years (!!) that they’ve been a band, Jimmy Eat World have written a lot of great songs. So many, in fact, that some have slipped through the cracks and never been fairly recognized for their brilliance. And I’m not talking about songs like “For Me This Is Heaven” which were never hits but which were quoted in roughly 324 million yearbooks and love letters. I’m talking about the uncelebrated tracks that sit well outside the band’s Clarity-and-then-Bleed American zenith and that even their fans might not have spent a lot of time with. So let’s get into it: These are the ten best Jimmy Eat World deep cuts.
10. “Seventeen” from Static Prevails
Considering that the band still hadn’t decided whether Tom Linton or Jim Adkins was going to be its primary singer—or if they were going to pull a Blink and alternate songs—Static Prevails feels like a band going through puberty, trying to discover who they really are. Despite that, there are a few moments on the band’s major label debut that are worth returning to, “Seventeen” and it’s era-appropriate angst chief among them.
9. “You Are Free” from Integrity Blues
A solid twelve years after Futures ended the era of peak-Jimmy Eat World, much of Integrity Blues represents a return to the early-2000s sound that earned the band so much of their fandom (and album sales). “You Are Free” is big pop-rock song, its chorus a stereo-filling sing-a-long asking to be blasted out of your car’s speakers. If you told me this was originally a Futures B-side, I’d believe you.
8. “Heart Is Hard to Find” from Invented
Invented opens with the acoustic strumming and clapped drumming of “Heart Is Hard to Find” and it’s hard not to argue that those first few moments are the album’s best. Adkins’ earnest vocals grow increasingly distraught over the course of the song—including a rare f-bomb along the way!—but it’s that initial pulse, which carries through the entire song, that is so enduring and endearing.
7. “Here It Goes” from Chase This Light
For years, one of Adkins’ strengths as a songwriter and singer has been his ability to take an adequate melody and elevate it through his subtly excellent studio performance, often utilizing piles of overdubs and backing tracks. “Here It Goes” is pretty much that model to a T. With the exception of Adkins’ performance and hooks, there’s little going on here but those hooks are so strong that it’s hard not to love this one.
6. “Pass the Baby” from Integrity Blues
Every now and again Jimmy Eat World decides to go all in on aggressive guitar work (see: “Your New Aesthetic”, “Bleed American”, “Get It Faster”, “Futures” and “Pain”) and the outro of “Pass the Baby” takes that impulse to its logical conclusion. After four mostly listless minutes, the song explodes into an absolutely crushing, chunky riff. It’s bold and brilliant and absolutely worth getting through the first part of the song to experience.
5. “Action Needs an Audience” from Invented
No one will ever confuse Jimmy Eat World for a punk rock band but occasionally they like to push their songs into a decidedly punkish, combative sound. Tom Linton steps back to the mic to deliver the ragged vocals of “Action Needs an Audience” which rocks surprisingly hard for a late-stage Jimmy Eat World track.
4. “Through” from Integrity Blues
Another Integrity Blues entry and another comparison to Futures, as “Through” would have fit right in with the sound of that album, too. With another big, bold chorus as well as a searing guitar solo that steals a page from Weezer’s playbook as it mostly apes the song’s vocal melody, “Through” is probably the best-case scenario for the dad-rock era of Jimmy Eat World. It’s somewhat confounding that this one was never released as a single.
3. “Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues” from Chase This Light
This is basically the exact opposite of the “Pass the Baby” entry from a few spots up. “Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues” is fairly unique among the Jimmy Eat World catalog: It’s slow and soulful, driven mostly by a simmering string arrangement. It’s hard to tell where this sound came from and why Adkins and Co. never tried to capture it again because this song, in all its smoky, sultry wonder, is fantastic.
2. “Polaris” from Futures
Due in part to some commercial success and also plenty of fan appreciation for the album’s less radio-friendly tracks, this is the only song from Futures that I even felt comfortable labeling a deep cut. And, like the rest of that album, it’s phenomenal. “Polaris” takes a laid back tempo and a practically-whispered verse and uses them both to set up a wall-of-sound chorus that unquestionably bops. An absolute gem of a bridge also features some quality lyrics from Adkins: “Are you happy where you’re standing still? Do you really want the sugar pill?”
1. “Ramina” from Singles
You could probably make the case that “Ramina”, an instrumental track from an unpopular collection of pre-fame B-sides and outtakes, is the deepest of all Jimmy Eat World deep cuts. It’s also the best. Before Explosions in the Sky burst onto the scene and dictated that all instrumental bands had to write expansive post-rock epics, “Ramina” was the Platonic ideal of an instrumental track: It features all the fuzzy guitar work and capable songwriting that you’ve come to expect from Jimmy Eat World, except the earworm of a melody is played by guitars and phaser effects rather than sung by Adkins. It’s a killer track, the best of Jimmy Eat World’s quarter-century worth of deep cuts.