Fall Out Boy: We Didn’t Start the Fire updated song explained - lyrics in full and reaction explained

The new song from the pop-punk band makes reference to significant events and people that occurred after the release of Billy Joel's original song in 1989
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In 1989, Billy Joel released his hit song We Didn’t Start the Fire, which referenced 118 significant cultural, political, scientific and sporting events that occurred between 1949 (the year Joel was born) and 1989, mostly in chronological order. 

Now, 34 years later, pop-punk band Fall Out Boy have taken it upon themselves to release an updated version of the Grammy Award winning song. 

In a statement shared on the Fall Out Boy Twitter account, bassist Pete Wentz wrote: “I thought about this song a lot when I was younger. All these important people and events - some that disappeared into the sands of time - others that changed the world forever.

“So much has happened in the span of the last 34 years - we felt like a little system update might be fun. Hope you like our take on it…”

Here’s everything you need to know. 

The lyrics

Per Genius, the lyrics to the Fall Out Boy version of We Didn’t Start the Fire goes as follows:

[Verse 1]

Captain Planet, Arab Spring

L.A. riots, Rodney King

Deep fakes, earthquakes

Iceland volcano

Oklahoma City bomb

Kurt Cobain, Pokémon

Tiger Woods, MySpace

Monsanto, GMOs

Harry Potter, Twilight

Michael Jackson dies

Nuclear accident, Fukushima, Japan

Crimean peninsula

Cambridge Analytica

Kim Jong Un

Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man

[Chorus]

We didn't start the fire

It was always burning since the world's been turning

We didn't start the fire

No, we didn't light it but we're trying to fight it

[Verse 2]

More war in Afghanistan

Cubs go all the way again

Obama, Spielberg

Explosion Lebanon

Unabomber, Bobbitt, John

Bombing Boston marathon

Balloon Boy, War on Terror

QAnon

Trump gets impeached twice

Polar bears got no ice

Fyre Fest, Black Parade

Michael Phelps, Y2K

Boris Johnson, Brexit

Kanye West and Taylor Swift

Stranger Things, Tiger King

Ever Given Suez

(L-R) Patrick Stump, Andy Hurley, and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy perform onstage at the 2023 iHeartRadio ALTer EGO Presented by Capital One at The Kia Forum on January 14, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)(L-R) Patrick Stump, Andy Hurley, and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy perform onstage at the 2023 iHeartRadio ALTer EGO Presented by Capital One at The Kia Forum on January 14, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)
(L-R) Patrick Stump, Andy Hurley, and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy perform onstage at the 2023 iHeartRadio ALTer EGO Presented by Capital One at The Kia Forum on January 14, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

[Chorus]

We didn't start the fire

It was always burning since the world's been turning

We didn't start the fire

No, we didn't light it but we're trying to fight it

[Verse 3]

Sandy Hook, Columbine

Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice

ISIS, LeBron James

Shinzo Abe blown away

Meghan Markle, George Floyd

Burj Khalifa, Metroid

Fermi paradox

Venus and Serena

Michael Jordan 23

YouTube killed MTV

Spongebob

Golden State Killer got caught

Michael Jordan 45

Woodstock ‘99

Keaton Batman, Bush v Gore

I can’t take it anymore

[Chorus]

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning since the world's been turning

We didn't start the fire

No, we didn't light it but we're trying to fight it

[Verse 4]

Elon Musk, Kaepernick

Texas failed electric grid

Jeff Bezos, climate change

White rhino goes extinct

Great Pacific garbage patch

Tom DeLonge and aliens

Mars rover, Avatar

Self-driving electric cars

S-S-R-Is

Prince and the Queen die

World Trade, second plane

What else do I have to say?

[Chorus]

We didn't start the fire

It was always burning since the world's been turning

We didn't start the fire

But when we are gone

It will still go on, and on, and on

And on, and on, and on, and on, and on

We didn't start the fire

It was always burning since the world's been turning

What has the reaction been like?

Reaction to the song online has been mixed, with responses ranging from simply calling the updated lyrics bad to some actively describing portions of the song offensive. 

One person tweeted: “Fall Out Boy's "We Didn't Start the Fire" does not have bad lyrics. No no no. The choice of words and sequencing therein far transcends that very limiting concept. This might, in fact, be the very worst combination of words in the history of human language.”

Including a screenshot of some of the lyrics, another wrote: “I don't think I was actually prepared for how misguided and offensive the Fall Out Boy "We Didn't Start The Fire" lyrics actually are. I did not make these up; this is real.”

Billy Joel released the original song in 1989 (Photo: YouTube)Billy Joel released the original song in 1989 (Photo: YouTube)
Billy Joel released the original song in 1989 (Photo: YouTube)

“I think Fall Out Boy’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is one of the most embarrassing things we’ve gotten the chance to witness in a long time. I also would’ve paid so much to get to be in the studio and watch while they recorded that s**t. I would’ve had the time of my f**king life,” another tweeted. 

One person wrote: “One of the things that makes billy joel’s we didn’t start the fire a great song is that the events and people referenced are in chronological order. this is just a bunch of words slapped together by a terrible songwriter.”

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