The Juliana Theory reimagine “We’re At The Top of the World” as… black metal and jangle pop
Back in 2000, The Juliana Theory released their sophomore album Emotion Is Dead. It was a cleaner, more power pop-inspired album than their rawer, second-wave emo-style 1999 debut Understand This Is a Dream, and it helped set the tone for the new wave of emo-pop that was about to explode. It's an absolute classic that still sounds timeless today, and it's home to the band's most popular, beloved, and enduring song, "We're at the Top of the World." They've now re-imagined that song -- along with six other classics -- for A Dream Away, their first album in over 15 years, which also features the new song "Better Now." The album arrives March 26 via Equal Vision (pre-order), and the new version of "We're at the Top of the World" and its amazing video premieres in this post.
It opens by turning the peppy, upbeat song into raw, real-deal black metal (yes, really), and the grainy, extremely black metal-looking video follows suit, with The Number Twelve Looks Like You frontman Jesse Korman decked out in corpse paint in the middle of the dark, snowy woods. It quickly turns out to be a red herring. We realize it's actually daytime and The Dillinger Escape Plan's Ben Weinman is filming Jesse on a camera that makes it look otherwise, and then the song turns into jangly acoustic pop -- even lighter than the original version -- with Jesse Korman singing along and looking as happy and upbeat as a corpse-painted person possibly can.
“’We’re At The Top Of The World,’ while being some people’s favorite TJT song, was always one of my least favorite songs from the band," guitarist Joshua Fielder said. "However, now that we recorded it for this ‘reimagined’ record, this is THE version for me. When I initially wrote the chords and bassline at home ages ago, I always envisioned this song as an ode to the Beatles. This new rendition is exactly the way I imagined it to be back in 2000. We were just too young then to truly pull it off in this way. If I could have a time machine I would go back to put this version on Emotion Is Dead."
Frontman Brett Detar says:
When you’re a songwriter sometimes it can take months or literal years to write a song. On those very rare and magical occasions it feels like the universe steps in to help and a song almost writes itself. When this occurs it’s usually very fast and the song is basically written before you really even know it. In my experience these are the rarest songs but they tend to be the ones that resonate the most with listeners. "We’re At The Top Of The World" was one of those songs. When Josh came to band practice with the insanely catchy bass-line and guitar part for the verse the rest of the song fell into place in what felt like minutes. I remember grabbing my microphone and as a joke singing the lyrics "Sha la la la. Sha la la la la la la" over the chorus. It was the first thing that came to my head and I wasn’t serious but Josh just looked at me and started laughing with that laugh of “oh that’s awesome” and from then on the chorus just stuck. We all grew up listening to the radio - pop and pop rock and oldies. Songs on the radio (which tend to be hit songs) were our foundation as music fans and music makers. Although we cut our teeth early on in a scene that sorta rejected anything too poppy, hook based songs were always just in our DNA. I remember getting some flack early on from diehard scenesters for releasing a song that was so unabashedly bubblegum but at the same time our fanbase grew quickly very much in response to this one song. I guess whatever it was that happened that day in my parent’s unfinished basement worked because the song ended up on tons of TV shows and movies. And I agree with my bandmate Josh that this reimagined version is my favorite recording of this song.
Speaking about the video, Brett adds:
"Let’s talk about “guilty pleasures." We all have them and for a lot of people The Juliana Theory (and the song "Top of The World" in particular) is one of them. I can’t tell you how many times some big burly guy who looks like he only listens to Slayer would almost look around to make sure no one was listening before quietly telling me that he secretly loves that song. I basically did the same thing with certain songs I enjoyed until a few years ago when I decided to banish the concept of a "guilty pleasure" from my own life. Truthfully, I would always blast "Party In the USA" by Miley Cyrus if it came on the radio while driving the streets of LA but now I don’t care what any ultra hip kid thinks when I roll past them as I am singing along. The joy of completely losing yourself in a song, dancing like no one is watching, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. The video for "Top Of The World" tells the ultimate story of this very abandonment. So put your hands up: they’re playing your song and the butterflies fly away.
Take Brett's advice and do that very thing by checking out the song/video below. Previously, TJT released remimagined versions of "If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop?" and "Into the Dark," both also from Emotion Is Dead.