This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race

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"This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race"
Single by Fall Out Boy
from the album Infinity on High
  • "G.I.N.A.S.F.S"
  • "It's Hard to Say "I Do", When I Don't"
Released January 16, 2007
Recorded 2006
Length 3:32
Label Island
Producer(s) Neal Avron
Fall Out Boy singles chronology
"The Carpal Tunnel of Love"
"This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race"
"Thnks fr th Mmrs"

"The Carpal Tunnel of Love"
"This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race"
"Thnks fr th Mmrs"
Remix featuring Kanye West
Remix featuring Kanye West

"This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" is a song by American rock band Fall Out Boy and the second single from their commercially successful third studio album Infinity on High (2007).[1] The song officially debuted on November 21 at the American Music Awards and was shipped to radio stations that night[citation needed] (with an impact date of December 5 in the United States).[2] The music was composed by vocalist and guitarist Patrick Stump and the lyrics were penned by bassist Pete Wentz, following the band's songwriting approach which first began with some songs on their 2003 album Take This to Your Grave. Production was handled by Neal Avron, who also produced the band's previous From Under the Cork Tree album. Commenting on the band's decision to pick the track as the first single, Wentz said "There may be other songs on the record that would be bigger radio hits, but this one had the right message."

The track was a commercial success and the band's major international breakthrough.[3] "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 with 162,000 first week sales and broke various records. It is the group's first single to chart worldwide in countries including Australia, New Zealand and most of the European nations, where it reached the top five in many. After its Platinum RIAA and ARIA certifications in 2007, in 2013 it was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for 200,000 sales.[4] In Australia, it spent nine consecutive weeks at either No. 4 or No. 5.[5]

The song was released as a downloadable track for the video game Rock Band on May 6, 2008, and is also on Rock Band Track Pack Volume 2.[6] The January 2009 issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine lists Fall Out Boy's "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" as second on its list of Rock Band's Five Most Unexpectedly Rockin' Downloadable Songs.[7] The song is also available as downloadable content for Guitar Hero 5.


The song was first made available for streaming on November 17, 2006.[8] The single was released as a CD single, digital download and also as a 7" blue vinyl and 7" purple vinyl. The vinyls' B-sides, "G.I.N.A.S.F.S." and "It's Hard to Say "I Do", When I Don't", were released as bonus tracks from Infinity on High in certain countries, with both included as bonus tracks on the deluxe editions of the album.



Vocalist and guitarist Patrick Stump called "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" the "funkiest thing we’ve ever done", and attributes the change in musical style to his love of soul music, which he acquired by listening to oldies stations as a child.[9][10] Bassist Pete Wentz describes the song "a bit of '70s funk mixed with [the band’s 2003 album] Take This to Your Grave with tight verses and big, fat choruses".[11] The song closing sing-along was influenced by Justin Timberlake's "Señorita".[12]


On "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race", Wentz uses wartime-inspired metaphors to discuss the band's newfound popularity; he called the song "kind of a tongue-in-cheek look at the way we are so addicted and obsessed with new arts, cultures and loves — to the point where it just becomes oversaturated."[11][13] He commented, "I think people are gonna read into it what they will. In the back of my head it's a call to arms, but not [in the traditional sense] — more in the way that you sometimes need to just talk to yourself in the mirror."[11] Slant Magazine called it "an unexpectedly funky battle cry that likens the quest for respect and fame to a combat situation."[13]

The song is reportedly about Wentz's frustration with the ever-growing "emo scene".[3] As he told Rolling Stone, "There may be other songs on the record that would be bigger radio hits, but this one had the right message."[12] Wentz's inspiration for the "arms-dealer" metaphor came from the movie Lord of War.[12] The song has also been interpreted to be a critique on artists making music just for the money and fame, an "arms race", instead of music for the fun of it.


Fall Out Boy tried to rush the remix for the song featuring Kanye West onto Infinity on High, but it was not ready in time. A remix to this remix leaked on featuring Kanye West, Paul Wall, Skinhead Rob, Lupe Fiasco, Tyga, Travis McCoy, and Lil Wayne. This remix was performed at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, along with Brendon Urie (of Panic! at the Disco).

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by bassist Pete Wentz; all music composed by lead vocalist and guitarist Patrick Stump.

CD single

  1. "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race"
  2. "The Carpal Tunnel of Love"

7" blue vinyl

  1. "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race"
  2. "It's Hard to Say "I Do", When I Don't"

7" purple vinyl

  1. "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race"
  2. "G.I.N.A.S.F.S."

Music video[edit]

The video was directed by Alan Ferguson. Beginning with the end of the "Dance, Dance" video, it shows the band members leaving the video shoot among the supposed "fans", all but a few of which turn out to be cardboard cutouts. The video portrays the band in a series of "celebrity" situations such as dealing with paparazzi, as well as recording their song in a very out-of-character hip-hop studio (a reference to a song they recorded on Timbaland's album). Patrick starts singing and making strange movements with his hands, much like Joe Cocker. Guitarist Joe Trohman knocks a bottle of liquor out of a rapper's hand, and a tabloid headline reveals that the rappers proceeded to assault the band and throw them out of the studio. The next scene shows the band playing in a hotel room, making a huge mess partying.

It transfers to Pete, at a photo shoot. The photographer takes a cell phone from his coworker and takes pictures with it, and prompts Pete to show his penis, making it look like Pete took them (in reference to real cell phone photos leaked from Pete's cell phone after he took them to send to his girlfriend). Several teenage girls are outraged after they see the pictures and realize Pete has a small penis.

Following the incident, drummer Andy Hurley goes to a party at a parody of the Playboy Mansion with a crotch-stuffing. The scene goes back to the hotel room. While partying, a heavy set man (who bears slight resemblance to rapper Fat Joe) jumps onto the other side of the bed that Pete is on, causing him to fall through a closed window to his death.

At his funeral, cameo appearances are made by several characters from their previous music videos, such as Pete's date in "Dance, Dance", the teenage girl from "Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy"'s music video, their stunt man and close friend Dirty, the deer-boy from "Sugar, We're Goin Down" (Donald Cumming of The Virgins), William Beckett of The Academy Is... as the vampire from "A Little Less Sixteen Candles..." and Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes (who also danced in "Dance, Dance") and celebrities Seth Green and Michelle Trachtenberg, among others. Joe is performing a guitar solo on top of Pete's coffin as it rises out of the burial, before Pete bursts out. Joe claims this is a reference to guitarist Slash in the Guns N' Roses video for November Rain although some fans have likened it to Synyster Gates's solo in Avenged Sevenfold's video for "Seize the Day".[citation needed]

The ending of the video reveals that the entire video is nothing more than a dream of Pete's. Andy (who was sitting next to Pete) then realizes that they are late for a performance at a school and as they make their way on stage, they continue playing the rest of the song from the last chorus. The end of the video shows Pete attempting to stage dive.


In most public performances of the song, as well as in radio edits, the word "God" is removed from the song, to avoid using the profanity "Goddamn", although "damn" is simultaneously removed in some other versions. This censor was also kept on the Rock Band downloadable track of the song, though it was not censored in the United Kingdom, on United States Rock radio, or in Guitar Hero 5.

Commercial performance[edit]

The single was a commercial success worldwide. In the United States, the song debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100[14] where it stayed for two weeks (behind Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable"), spending its first nine weeks in the top 10 out of a total of 20 chart weeks. In its Hot 100 opening week with digital availability, the song soared to No. 1 on the Pop 100 chart up from its previous week's position of No. 86. In its opening week, it sold 162,000 digital downloads, setting a new record for the highest bow for a band since radio only titles joined the chart in 1998. Fall Out Boy's multi-format sales for their "Infinity" On High" album opened at approximately 260,000 in the album's first three weeks. Many of these sales were in response to the leading single "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race."[15] In addition, its download totals are the largest opening-week tally for a group since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking digital sales in 2003.[16][17] It also set a record as the highest debut of 2007[18] and is the eighth song to debut at the runner-up position in the history of the Hot 100.[19] Prior to its digital release, "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" spent several weeks doing well on Pop radio airplay. In its first week of digital availability the single catapulted to the top of the digital downloads chart as well as the overall pop singles chart. It is Fall Out Boy's first number one hit song[20] and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of one million units.[21]

It is to date Fall Out Boy's highest charting song (albeit not their best-selling), and on the strength of 162,000 opening week downloads earned the band their first No. 1 Billboard Hot Digital Song and also a No. 1 on the now-defunct Pop 100 chart. It stayed atop the Digital Songs chart for four consecutive weeks, gathering over 500,000 downloads in that period. Internationally, it reached the top position in New Zealand and No. 2 in the UK, making it their largest hit in those countries.[22] In New Zealand it peaked at No. 1, while in Australia it reached No. 4 and was certified Platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).[23] The song was ranked No. 40 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007.[24] Fall Out Boy reached international fame and success in 2007, with "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" also charting all over Europe, reaching No. 9 on Billboard's European Hot 100 chart.[25] On July 22, 2013, it was eventually certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for 200,000 sales.[4]



  1. ^ John Norris (June 5, 2006). "MTV News Raw: Fall Out Boy". (Podcast). Retrieved 2006. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ " Alternative eWeekly". AllAccess. November 28, 2006. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Top 10 Fall Out Boy Songs. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Certified Awards Search" (To access, enter the search parameter "Fall Out Boy"). British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  5. ^ "FALL OUT BOY - THIS AIN'T A SCENE, IT'S AN ARMS RACE (SONG)". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  6. ^ DLC Week of May 6th - Rock Band - Forums Archived 2008-05-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Rock Band’s Five Most Unexpectedly Rockin' Downloadable Songs", PlayStation: The Official Magazine (January 2009): 58.
  8. ^ "Fall Out Boy post audio of first single off new album". Alternative Press. November 17, 2006. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  9. ^ Sciaretto, Amy (December 27, 2006). "Fall Out Boy: Interview with Patrick Stump". The Aquarian Weekly. Diane Casazza, Chris Farinas. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  10. ^ "Friends of Fall Out Boy". Chicago Magazine. The Tribune Company. March 4, 2007. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  11. ^ a b c Montgomery, James (November 14, 2006). "Fall Out Boy Exclusive: Pete Wentz Reveals LP Title, Details On Single". Vh1. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
  12. ^ a b c "Exclusive: Fall Out Boy Album Deets". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. November 16, 2006. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Shetler, Scott (February 16, 2007). "Fall Out Boy: Infinity on High - Music Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  14. ^ "Fall Out Boy - Chart history | Billboard". Retrieved 2015-09-24.
  15. ^ Mayfield, Geoff. "Billboard Charts: Over the Counter - Fall Out Boy's "High" Time; Glimpses of Ertegun." Billboard - The International Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment 119.8 (2007): 65. Music Periodicals Database. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.
  16. ^ a b Beyonce Slips By Fall Out Boy To Remain Atop Hot 100 Billboard. Retrieved July 13, 2011
  17. ^ Beyonce, Fall Out Boy lead U.S. singles chart Retrieved July 6, 2011
  18. ^ Chart Watch Extra: Out-Of-The-Box Smashes Yahoo Music Blogs Chart Watch Retrieved July 6, 2011.
  19. ^ Chart Beat Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  20. ^ US Pop Music Charts January 25, 2007 Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  21. ^ "American single certifications – Fall Out Boy – an Arms Race". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  22. ^ "Artist Chart History: Fall Out Boy". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  23. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2007 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  24. ^ No byline (December 11, 2007)"The 100 Best Songs of 2007" Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-21
  25. ^ a b c d e f g "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race - Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  26. ^ "Chartifacts". ARIA Charts. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2013. Fall Out Boy. In 2007, the American pop punk band scored two top ten slots on the ARIA singles chart with This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race (No.4 Apr. ‘07) and Thnks Fr Th Mmrs (No.3 Sep. ‘07).
  27. ^ "Fall Out Boy - This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race". Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  28. ^ "Fall Out Boy - This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race". Ultratop. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  29. ^ "Brazil" (PDF). ABPD. October 6, 2001. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  30. ^ "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). Hitparáda – Radio Top 100 Oficiální. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 200719 into search.
  31. ^ "German single certification - Fall Out Boy - This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race".
  32. ^ GfK Entertainment Charts|German Singles Chart
  33. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  34. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2007 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  35. ^ "British single certifications – Fall Out Boy – This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  36. ^ "American single certifications – Fall Out Boy – This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  37. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles 2007". ARIA. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  38. ^ "Official UK Singles Chart of 2007" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  39. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Year-End 2007". Retrieved 2012-04-15.

External links[edit]