The writers at All Punked Up are here to celebrate the holiday season with a unique kind of gift exchange. Each writer reviewed a song chosen by an anonymous writer—their “Secret Santa”. Check out what everyone had to say about the song received by his or her Secret Santa!


“Teenage Rockstars” by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Gifted by Tatiana

“This song talks about the beginning of a dream becoming reality and the ups and downs of going through the path of reaching what you love the most. The beginning of the music video shows a very young Andrew McMahon talking about what he aspires and desires for writing and playing music. The video also shows compilations of footage from tours and live shows that the band has played since they started, as well as the studio process. Andrew McMahon is a family man still living the dream of writing and playing music. The message this song gave me is that if you wish hard enough, if you really want it, you can be ‘Teenage Rockstars’. Work hard and never give up.” – Camila


“I Won’t Let You Go” by Confide

Gifted by Livy

“Having never heard much from Confide before, I was excited when I was gifted ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ because who doesn’t like discovering new music. However, I’m a bit more into softer pop punk and the song immediately started off with heavy screaming riffs. Not to say there wasn’t definite and pure talent in the composition, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. Beyond that, the energy of the song was very consistently powerful. The contrast between the power in the musical aspects and tenderness of the lyrics created a unique juxtaposition of sincerity. Confide relied heavily on the musical aspects to drive their themes, which is often something lost in modern music. After listening to it a few times, I was pleasantly surprised. While I still don’t think it’s truly my taste, I definitely respect and admire the song objectively.” – Alex


“Cleveland OH” by Little Brother

Gifted by Alex

“I thoughtfully enjoyed ‘Cleveland OH’ by Little Brother. I’m not a big fan of acoustic songs, as I binge heavily on fast punk rock music, but it was a nice change. It felt like a homage to a place once loved but change was needed, and I really felt that. The melody and lyrics smoothly went along with one another and I’d definitely listen to this song again. Hell, I might even add it to an acoustic playlist if I make one.” – John


“Momentary” by Ever Elsewhere

Gifted by Ian

“Momentary by Ever Elsewhere was an extremely enjoyable surprise when I first heard it. The lead singers voice is extremely smooth, and the instrumentals are beautifully done teetering somewhere between delicate and the classic pop punk sound. The lyrics are raw and emotional, depicting a relationship that didn’t quite go as planned. Where upon looking back, both people were only halfway in the relationship, never fully giving each other a try and yet it still felt real. I truly enjoyed this song and highly recommend it! I even added it to my 2018 playlist. Favorite lyric: Kind of feels just like how it began — one foot in the door while we’re holding hands” – Tori


“A Reason to Fight” by Disturbed

Gifted by Nicole

“The song I was assigned was ‘A Reason to Fight’ by Disturbed. I really liked the song because it reminded me of an early 2000s rock song. I even had to check the date it was released to make sure that it wasn’t one! It gave me a nostalgic feeling that made me want to listen to Hinder or Five Finger Death Punch. It is a great blend of soft and heavy rock.” – Kennedy


“Get Better” by Frank Turner

Gifted by Natalie

“On the first day of Christmas my Secret Santa gave to me ‘Get Better’ by Frank Turner. In all honesty, I don’t care much for the tempo of the drums or Frank’s vocals. This just isn’t exactly my style of music, a little too upbeat and British for my taste. However, I do love the lyricism of the song. I always get excited to hear positive music coming out of this scene because so many of the songs are about depression and heartbreak. While this song still deals with those topics, it looks at it from a different perspective at the end, making light of a bad situation. ‘Get Better’ is ultimately about fighting to keep on going after things went horribly wrong and I admire Frank for his positivity and optimism. I found it really refreshing even if I didn’t fall in love with his music.” – Lexus


“Love It If We Made It” by The 1975

Gifted by Kennedy

“Love It If We Made It’ is the powerful lead single off The 1975’s critically acclaimed third album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. I actually hadn’t listened to the song when it initially came out and believe it or not I still haven’t listened to the new album yet either. But I’m glad I got this review this because MY GOD, I can’t stop listening to it. This track is absolutely incredible. From frontman Matt Healy’s powerful vocal performance to the lyrics to the instrumentation, everything left me in awe. ‘Love It If We Made It’ is not only is it one of the band’s best songs, it’s one of the best songs of the year. The song finds the band giving a scratching review of today’s social climate, highlighting things such as current president Donald Trump, the late Lil Peep, saying things online just for the hell of it, among so many other things and I couldn’t agree more with the lyrics. The song’s instrumental has a bombastic 80s new wave influence which I absolutely adore. It’s one of the reasons I was drawn to the band in the first place. The bridge with the saxophone where the 80s influence really kicks has caused countless rewinds because of how good it was. Overall, ‘Love If It We Made It’ is a MUST-LISTEN. If you’re like me and hadn’t listened to it until just recently, stop whatever you’re doing and listen to it now. It truly is one of the best songs of the year.” – Ian


“Mess” by September Stories

Gifted by Jina

“I enjoyed the song I was given for our Song Secret Santa. ‘Mess’ by September Stories is an incredibly honest song in the lyrics. It talks about the type of relationship that is currently so commonly seen; i.e one night stands and simple flings, and how rare it is to find true love. It follows the story of someone talking to a friend who had found this type of love, but she left and broke his heart, and now they’re trying to comfort their friend through this, while also talking to the girl that broke his heart, telling her “you don’t know the mess you made.” Overall, I really enjoyed the song, not only the story behind the lyrics but the way it was structured. The melody of the chorus is strong and catchy while the verses are spoken, which I found very interesting.” – Natalie


“Pineapple Boy” by Authentic Pines

Gifted by John

“The song I was given is ‘Pineapple Boy’ by Authentic Pines. I really enjoyed this song. I loved the contrast in the music between the verses and the chorus. You have a very soft melodic sound throughout the versus, and when the chorus kicks in the guitars and drums get heavier. This helps bring a lot of emotion into the song. When listening to the song it really hits you in your feelings. You can almost feel the emotion in the singer’s voice. If you focus on the story, you can conclude that this boy is in pain and he is using drugs to combat that, but ends up overdosing, or almost overdosing. This song is one that I feel like I could imagine someone blasting in their car if they were having a bad day. Overall, I really enjoyed the song I was given, and I definitely think I’ll be checking out more from Authentic Pines.” – Nicole


“Just a Feeling” by Paradise Fears

Gifted by Tori

“When I listened to this song for the first time, I was very critical of it and picked out a couple flaws. After listening to it more and more I have come to really like it. The flaws that stuck out to me at first are hardly noticeable now. It’s super upbeat and is in the classic pop rock style of the 2000s. My favorite thing about the song is the beginning when it’s acoustic and then switches. A perfect jam in the car song!” – Brittiany


“Move Me (from the Hideout)” by BadFlower

Gifted by Lexus

“This song is powerfully emotional right from the start. From the opening lines to the end, the lyrics as well as the raw emotion emanating from the lead singer, Josh Katz, is captivating to listen to and watch on screen. The lyrics deal with profound heartbreak so relatable that hearing their emotion is a truly cathartic experience for anyone who hears it.” – Tatiana


“Bad Machine” by Boston Manor

Gifted by Brittiany

“I would consider myself a casual fan of British rock band Boston Manor. The song ‘Bad Machine’ is a track from their most recent release Welcome to the Neighbourhood, which I have listened to once or twice. In all honesty, the delivery of the vocals reminds me of modern Fall Out Boy, while the instruments sound like the subgenre of space rock. In terms of the lyrics, I imagine a guy having an unhealthy obsession with a girl who is ultimately a ‘bad machine’. While he is aware of this, he is having trouble letting go of the idea of her—a situation that exists in real life. Ultimately, this ‘Bad Machine’ is probably one of the strongest tracks of the band’s new album.” – Jina