What Makes Breaking Benjamin Songs So Addicting?
Ranking and reviewing the top 20 tracks, according to one super-fan
I’m not sure what possessed me, other than my minor obsession with this band, but I thought I’d attempt to compile my twenty favorite Breaking Benjamin songs and explain why each one made the list. I’ve been wanting to make a playlist for when I can’t listen to all their songs in one go, so this gave me the excuse to sort them as well. The top five were easy to rank, and everything after took way longer than it should’ve.
I wanted to get it right and really looked at each song as its own work and not in the context of the album. Yes, I’m an adult, and this is how I spend my time.
Read on if you’d like my commentary. If you’re just here for the list, then check out the titles and see if you agree. And if you don’t like Breaking Benjamin, what are you even doing here?
We Are Not Alone
So fly away and leave it behind / Return some day with red in your eyes
Listen. This will sound crazy, but my favorite part of this song are the three drum beats right at the start. Why? I don’t know. I wish I could explain it.
Ben’s voice sounds so amazing on these verses, and these alone bumped the song as a whole into the top twenty, since the chorus isn’t spectacular or anything. I love Ben’s voice on this whole album though. It sounds richer. Younger, I suppose. They should do more songs like this on future albums.
As far as the music during the verses, the bass is heavily featured and complements Ben’s voice well. Those verses are so clean. Sometimes their songs can get a bit muddied, so a track like this one stands out for that reason.
Dark Before Dawn
Close your eyes, drive away the cloud that hides the light
Can we talk about that breath in the intro for a second? I mean, who decides to include that breath? Does Ben say, “Hey, guys, I’m thinking about breathing here. What do you think?” Does the manager say, “You know what, Ben? The intro is missing something. How about a single breath?” I want to thank whoever had the idea, because I’m a big fan of Ben’s breathing. I wish I was kidding. I’ll be pointing them out as we go. Prepare yourselves.
I love how it starts soft. Love. Lyrically, the first verse is amazing. Ben must have been reading a self-help book when he was writing this. “Love left me hollow” is a pretty awesome line as well.
The guitar solo is exceptionally good. This is the first album with the current line-up, and I think Ben definitely upgraded. While Dark Before Dawn doesn’t get as much air time in my life as say Dear Agony or Ember, it’s a solid album for sure, or what I deem The Comeback Album.
18. Shallow Bay
I’m so inclined to make you mine / You’re out of line and out of time
I first heard this song on their concert DVD for Phobia, and I liked it instantly — which I can honestly say is not true for all Breaking Benjamin songs. I know, right? Strange, but I remember loving the way Ben’s fingers looked when he played the riff before every line in the verse.
Saturate is my least favorite BB album, so this is actually the only song to make the cut. It’s not a bad album; it’s just their other songs are so far and above. That’s natural for a band as they progress. Though some bands get worse as they go. I’m rambling now.
For me, this is the kind of song you play when you want to feel tougher than you really are. Since I’m not tough at all, this is pretty effective. Thanks, Ben.
Just a tiny detail, but for headphone users, I like how it starts only on the right side. #itsthelittlethings
And an outro with strings? Yes.
17. Sooner or Later
We Are Not Alone
Your scream is burning through my veins
This song also starts on the right. Weird. “Sooner or Later” is one of their more radio-friendly songs — hence why it was on the radio. Before Dear Agony came out, this track was much higher on my favorites list. It’s just so catchy. If you were to introduce someone to this band, this would be a promising start.
I like the small difference in the lyrics of the chorus as the song progresses, from “your life” to “my life” to “our life.” And the lyrics I quoted up there are delicious, 100%.
Calling someone an “infantile.” Does it get much more insulting? I think not.
As a side note, I’ve aways liked the music video for this song, with those weird kicks Ben does in the intro. He was a skinny little thing, wasn’t he?
16. Lights Out
You are such a pretty mess
Listening to this one back-to-back with “Sooner or Later” is quite a jump in Ben’s overall manly energy. We go from, “Just call my name. You’ll be OK,” to lines like…
I will remember how you scream.
Some are not worth saving.
I will drag you down again.
What can I say about this one? The single line I quoted at the start is one of my favorite lyrics of any BB song.
The rest of the song is awesome too, of course. It’s almost like “Crawl: Part 2.” They have a very similar vibe. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. Spoiler alert: “Crawl” is ranked fairly high.
“Lights Out” also has a “Hopeless” feel, as far as being aggressive. Ben’s manly energy, if you will. It’s like saying, “you suck” to someone and having no remorse about it whatsoever. Also worth mentioning: when the beat drops after the guitar solo. Well done, well done.
Dark Before Dawn
Tired of wasted breath / Tired of nothing left
“Failure” marks the band’s first song after their hiatus when Ben fired everyone. It’s a bit more complicated, but I’m assuming you already know the tragic tale that left us Benless for years. The point is, Dark Before Dawn was Ben’s much anticipated return to the music scene. And I wasn’t disappointed. (“Ashes of Eden” is on this album, so.)
My quirky favorite part of this song is how Ben sings “home” in the line, “Look for the light that leads me home.” Especially in the second verse. Again, I can’t explain why I like these seemingly insignificant parts of the songs. I’m just sharing. Although, the “We bury the sunlight” section is the overall highlight for me.
These lyrics are some of his more relatable. (More so than, “I will remember how you scream” anyway, right?) Really though, failure itself is such a universal feeling.
AND the new version on Aurora is a standout with those added strings.
Promise me you’ll try to leave it all behind
Honorable Mention Lyric: “Forgive me, my love.” *sigh* No problem, Ben. You got it.
This song is seriously underrated, no? Why isn’t it higher on the list, you ask?That, I don’t know.
I’d like to think people just forget about this one and not that they don’t like it. I love how moody it is, the verses especially. Although, Phobia is pretty moody in general. The verses are a bit reminiscent of “Away.” But more moody.
I love the outro, starting low in the vocals and going up an octave. Get it, Ben.
The moody mood is different than most of their songs, so I love how we get a new flavor on the playlist.
13. Dear Agony
Love pull me down/Hate lift me up
Ah, the title track of my favorite Breaking Benjamin album.
What a feel good tune! Look, there have been songs about depression in every genre in every decade since music’s history. I don’t think Ben is doing anything super original here by personifying agony. That said, it’s still effective at really capturing a mood. What would you say if you could talk to your pain as if it were a person? I like this concept. Calling it his “faceless enemy” is perfect.
While making this list, I listened to these songs repeatedly and closely, and I must say, this is better than I remembered. What a powerful piece of music.
The bridge, lyrically, is worth mentioning, as it is some of the most depressing of all Ben’s lyrics, and therefore awesome. I mean, “Leave me alone. God let me go.” Come on. That whole section. Damn.
“Dear Agony” isn’t a song you put on to rock out, but when you need it, it does the trick. And I couldn’t imagine this list without it. Well done, Ben. From reading comments on YouTube, I know this song especially means a lot to people.
I must mention the new acoustic version featuring Lacey Sturm. As much as I LOVE Lacey’s voice, truly, and shed a tear at first listen, I prefer this original version. Why? I’m glad you asked.
Depression is just about the loneliest place there is. You don’t share depression. You don’t experience it with other people. It’s all for you. The raw, personal feelings expressed in the song should be sung by one person. Ben. So to make this song a duet doesn’t make sense to me. Perhaps that’s a silly way to look at it, but it’s no sillier than anything else I’ve mentioned up to this point.
12. Until the End
Why give up? Why give in? It’s not enough. It never is.
But I will go on until the end.
The “Don’t Give Up” song! I’m a fan!
There are a handful of songs that really helped me get through a trying two or so years of my life, this being one of them. The theme is not original; it’s not even original for this band. Ben comes back to this “never give up — don’t let go — it’s all right” message in many of his songs, but I’m fine with that.
Fun fact: this one starts on the left side. Way to keep us on our toes.
“I live to die another day” may or may not have been a daily thought at the end of every work day for two years. Middle school teachers, I bow down to your greatness. Perhaps the personal connection made me rank this higher.
As in “Failure,” these lyrics are just as universal. It’s what being human is all about. Trying your hardest but not quite getting there. And trying anyway. Ben knows what’s up.
Just stop it with those ending “OOOs.” Stop it right now.
“The final fight I’ll win.” Damn straight.
11. Without You
Holding the hand that holds me down
Lyrically, this is in the top ten, perhaps top five, but there are just too many great songs here that this one ended up at number eleven. The line I quoted is my favorite Breaking Benjamin lyric by far because I relate to it more than I want to talk about. But believe it, I hear that. I feel that. 100%. When you’re in a dark place and you think you’re never getting out, so you end up embracing it. The very thing that is holding you down, you end up accepting as your only choice. You take comfort in the pain because it’s familiar and an almost safe place. Yeah, I get that.
I love the honesty in the lyrics, and I think most people can relate to this song on some level. It’s very human, and oh so real.
Another highlight are the strings at the end, since this is the last song on the album.
Ben has some anger to his voice, and he can unleash a RAWR with the best of them, but to me, songs like “Without You” are where Breaking Benjamin shines, vocally in particular. Like a happy medium between “Ashes of Eden” and “Hopeless.” I think it’s easy to hit one end of the anger spectrum or the other, but to find the balance of both is impressive.
If I were to make this list a second time, this song would most likely crack the top ten. It’s an amazing, powerful song.
I cannot hold on. I will not let go.
Time to get angry. I had to move a few songs around to get this into the top ten but it definitely deserves to be here.
“Hopeless” shares a lot with “Until the End” thematically. That whole idea of being at the end of your rope but holding on anyway. #relatable
But “Hopeless,” as the title suggests, is more about not being able make a choice; you can’t move. While “Until the End” is about staying the course despite hardships, “Hopeless” is almost like being trapped. You fail if you try and you fail if you don’t. So you’re stuck somewhere in the middle. #relatable I lived in that place for years, so this song was very therapeutic for me.
Ben RAWRs are extremely effective in a song like this. What better way to convey that hopeless, trapped feeling? It would be so interesting to hear this stripped down, because the lyrics would take on such different feeling. Strip the anger away and you can really feel the hopelessness of a song like this. They should’ve explored this idea on Aurora. Had Ben returned my calls, there would’ve been a very different track list on that album.
I know I made this list, and I’m essentially praising myself, but I’m so glad “Hopeless” made the top ten.
9. Give Me a Sign
I’m already dead / I’ll rise to fall again
Ah, this is one good song. The lyrics are perfect, as most of Dear Agony is. I find its tracks the most relatable, which is a word I don’t think I’ve mentioned anywhere in this post so far.
I love the ending build with the layered vocals. YES!
Ben, I’m right there with you. You need a sign, and I feel that.
If you really listen to the lyrics, this is pretty depressing stuff, but the song still manages to have a hopeful quality to the music. But Ben can do that, because he’s Ben Burnley.
This one is definitely a radio-friendly tune. It’s softer. No Ben RAWRs. And that’s fine. It’s actually necessary. As much as I love this band, the RAWRs can be overdone, and you need that balance. Songs like this one are perfect for that reason.
The melody is more intricate than the other tracks. I have trouble singing this chorus. Those Ben runs. He’s a real Mariah, no? In all seriousness, the melody lines are beautiful in this track.
And this is one of the few music videos of theirs I can get on board with. It fits. (I love Breaking Benjamin, obviously, but their Ember music videos are a hot mess.)
You take the breath right out of me. You left a hole where my heart should be.
“Breath” is one of the earliest tracks I’ve heard by this band. It’s also one of my favorite videos of theirs because it’s just live shots, and that’s what I prefer to see from bands I like — just show them playing. It’s a band, not a bunch of actors. We don’t need CGI. What is even happening in the music industry.
The bass line! I’d love to hear a vocal+bass track. If anyone has the capabilities to make this happen, do us all a solid and get busy. Then send me the link, thanks.
The whisper, “This will be all over soon” is a nice addition. Any Ben Whispers are always welcome. We need more of those, come to think of it.
Why they didn’t include a signature Ben-breath in “Breath” a la “Hollow” is beyond me. What a missed opportunity.
As far as lyrics go, I used to play this before school, as a teacher. It just fit, you know? Because that school certainly left a hole in me that I’m still affected by years after the fact, but this is not that kind of post. I’m also drawn to lyrics which show the darker/negative side of love and relationships.But this is not that kind of post either. Moving on!
7. Dark of You
With every dream we find, we feed, we burn, we lie
Time to dim the lights.
I’ll be honest. This song started off as an “Ashes of Eden” wannabe to my ears. But after now countless listens, “Dark of You” stands on its own just fine. While it’s not quite as amazing as “Ashes,” it deserves a spot in the top ten.
I love the atmosphere of the intro, that whole stormy vibe. I’m all about that. rainymood.com anyone? And the piano! But the best part of this song are those harmonies, sung by Derek Hough. I thought he was just a dancer. I’ve never been more wrong. Anyway, those harmonies make the song. So bravo, Derek, bravo.
Why did they not include a second verse though? It’s not like it’s missing anything. I don’t stop and think, “Hey, where’s the rest?” But I’m not sure why there’s no second verse.
For what it’s worth, the idea of “I become the dark of you” to me, refers to how a person/belief/thing in one’s life can transform from a light, something positive and healthy, to a darkness, something that weighs you down in body and/or soul. In the context of the song, maybe not, but that’s how I interpret that line on its own. Love it.
With BB’s albums getting exceedingly better, I’m anxious to hear what the boys come up with for their next one.
And all that I regret, I have before, I will again.
Not since “Crawl” have I binged a song quite like “Blood.” Repeat! Repeat for days! It’s so catchy, I can’t stand it. I love the bridge, and when Ben sings all soft and angel-like afterwards. Ah. I have no words. That’s a bit of a problem when writing a blog post. I’ll do my best here.
I find the lyrics pretty relatable, go figure. I’m always making the same mistakes and experiencing the same regrets. Aren’t we all? Ben nailed it.
By including “Blood” in the top ten (almost top five), I seem to be contradicting my previous statement about the happy medium as far as Ben’s manly energy. However, this song is such a powerhouse, that it breaks the rules, and I’m OK with that.
I don’t have much to say about this one, which is surprising since it made it so far up the list. I just love this song. Simple as that.
Presenting the Top Five:
5. Dance with the Devil
I remember hearing this one relatively early on in my Breaking Benjamin discovery. I didn’t have Phobia at the time and was just searching for songs individually. This one stuck with me and instantly became one of my favorites.
There’s a certain tone to this one that makes it seem darker. I don’t know what it is or even how to explain. Maybe you know what I mean? I’m not referring to the lyrics but to the music itself. Maybe it’s the key it’s in? Who knows. Well, Ben does.
Melody-wise, this track is a standout. Some really nice progressions in here:
I believe in you/I can show you that/I can see right through/all your empty lies/I won’t last long in this world so wrong.
My favorite part is the subtle pause Ben adds to the final, “Say Good-bye” in the chorus. So simple, yet so effective. Of course, I have to mention the breathy goodbye at the end because it’s everything, and as previously established, Ben’s breaths/whispers mean a lot to me.
4. Ashes of Eden
Dark Before Dawn
Heaven above me, take my hand. Shine until there’s nothing left but you.
Ben took his awesomeness to new heights with this song. You know, I wish I could intelligently articulate myself when it comes to this band — or music in general — but instead, I become a total fangirl. I’m no Rick Beato when it comes to explaining why songs are great.
Anyway, I don’t know where this song came from or what holy goblet Ben was drinking out of. “Ashes” is simply on another level than any other song they’ve ever made. (“Dark of You” fits in this category too, but falls just short of this one.) They’ve made other slower/softer/lighter tracks, but this one is so far and above. There’s something comforting and soothing about this track, and I’ll never forget the first time I heard it. I had to literally stop what I was doing and just listen. It’s just so…pretty.
I do not have the words to describe how beautiful this song is nor how I feel when I listen to it, really and truly listen to it. It’s an experience. Put some headphones on, crank it up, close your eyes.
I love how we get to hear Ben, like really hear Ben. Ben can RAWR and scream and all that, but strip that away, and you’re left with this. I don’t think Ben’s voice is as versatile as Chester Bennington’s — my God, that voice. Chester had range for days. He could scream like a demon and be melodic af in the same line. BUT Ben has two sides to his voice as well. Songs like this one showcase his range for sure.
I brought you to life so I can hear you scream.
Apart from the singles, this one is my favorite. I cannot get enough of this song. I like it loud and looped. I don’t know what it is about “Crawl” that makes it so awesome, but I will now attempt to explain why it deserves the number three spot.
It starts with what I like to call a punch-to-the-face opening. It has Ben’s RAWR going on. It has an awesome bridge. I love the lyrics.
Show me where it hurts and I will make it worse
But I think, no, I know, what makes this song a standout is the melody of lines like, “I’m not like you…” “You pull me in…” and THIS ONE:
I’ll break you in and let this die. Your hope is gone and so is mine.
That melody in there? So. Good.
I love the drumming in this one. I need an instrumental, for the love of Ben! Why does it not exist?! Someone needs to make this happen. To the person making me a bass+vocal track of “Breath,” I’d also like a clean instrumental of “Crawl.” No, I need it. I’m serious. I’ve been waiting for a decade.
And the ending! The triplet after the second, “I’m one step behind.” It’s so amazing, I can’t talk about it.
If they ever make an acoustic version of “Crawl,” my heart may just explode.
2. Torn in Two
Broken, I crawl back to life
Easily the best song on the album, “Torn in Two” ranks number two on my list. I love the question-answer style in the verses, a la Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” Wait, did I just compare Breaking Benjamin and Led Zeppelin?
This song has all the Breaking Benjamin essentials: killer intro, killer guitar solo, Ben RAWRs, Ben OOOs, soft Ben, Ben’s manly energy, a reminder to “hold on,” repeating said reminder to “hold on,” and overall awesomeness that can’t be described in words.
But really, that guitar solo? Who is responsible for this awesomeness? It’s their best by far. No contest.
The highlight of the song for me is the juxtaposition of the last chord of the verse and the first chord of the chorus. Those two notes in succession are magical. In the instrumental, it really stands out.
(In case you don’t believe me, here’s the instrumental.)
The entire song is just so, so good. It’s quintessential Breaking Benjamin. Something I often see in YouTube comments is how they haven’t changed their sound over time. So true. But still, I think Ben has upped his game. Judging by the tracks on Ember, Ben has grown both as a musician and lyricist.
I must say, I’m not a fan of the music video. It’s super distracting if you’ve never heard the song before. I won’t hold that against them though.
Before I unveil the obvious number one (have you guessed it?), here are a few songs that just missed the cut. It was a close race.
Here We Are — Into the Nothing — Medicate — Psycho — Evil Angel — Bury Me Alive — Red Cold River — Forget It — Home — Lie to Me — Never Again
and just about the rest of them.
The man. The myth. The reason for this post.
Time for my number one Breaking Benjamin song.
Drum roll please……….
1. So Cold
We Are Not Alone
You’re so cold, but you feel alive
I’ve ranted about this song on previous music posts on my Wordpress blog, simply because this is the first BB song I ever heard, and it’s the one that started it all. Of course it’s number one. It has to be. Is it number one on all fans’ lists? I doubt it. I remember seeing a YouTube comment from a BB fan who didn’t like this song. Bite your tongue, young man!
The song is amazing. From its slow building intro to the repeating “it’s all right” outro. It’s also the perfect mix of Ben’s power voice and softer, melodic sound. His manly energy shines. The guitar solo is awesome sauce, and the transition back into the chorus immediately afterwards is the best! And that soft, “It’s all right”?? I can’t even. And the outro?! The outro vocals! The outro drums! The outro guitars! Yes, please.
I mean, listen, when Ben says, “It’s all right,” it is, in fact, all right. Know what I mean?
This is hands down my favorite Breaking Benjamin song. I don’t think Ben and the boys can top this one. As much as I love the other songs on this list, they will never surpass “So Cold.” It can’t be done. Ben set the bar too high.
As a bonus, I feel it’s my duty to share the single best acoustic version of “So Cold.” You’d think it would be the one released on the EP, but you’re be mistaken.
The best version is this one here. And to reward you for making it to the end of this rant-n-rave, you can watch it below right now. (And if you right-click on the video, you can click “Loop” and it will repeat until you drift off into a Burnley-induced state of complete and utter relaxation.) You are so welcome, my friend.
But wait. There’s more.
I hate to leave this song off, but because it’s an instrumental, it doesn’t feel quite as Breaking Benjamin as the rest and I couldn’t give up a spot for it. But believe me when I tell you, this song is PERFECT and my favorite album closer by a million and two. It starts with his son’s heartbeats, and his wife sings too! They’re a modern day Partridge Family. I wonder what their Christmas cards look like.
So there you have it! My favorite Breaking Benjamin songs all in one place.
If you haven’t experienced Breaking Benjamin with headphones, do it. And if you haven’t read YouTube comments for their songs, do that too. I’d never done this before making the list, and there’s something about reading how people appreciate a song/band/album that makes you appreciate it even more. It’s strange how that works.
If you made it to the end, do you agree with my list? Did I leave out your favorite? What are your top twenty Breaking Benjamin songs? I’d love to know!
Thank you for spending some time here. Ben Burnley is the man. Rock on, all!
Originally published at http://laurenseewrites.wordpress.com.