You don’t have to be an Emo kid to appreciate Dashboard Confessional. But it sure doesn’t hurt. This solo project-turned-band formed around Florida’s Chris Carrabba in 1999 and had its biggest period of popularity in the 2000s. Combining Indie Rock with acoustic music and an emotive sensibility, this is one of the bands that defined Emo Music during that period.
This band has put out eight albums to date and is still active both in recording and playing concerts. So, what are the top 10 Dashboard Confessional songs to ever grace us with their wonderful sounds? I’ve got my list ready, along with arguments for why these are Dashboard Confessional’s greatest songs.
Dashboard Confessional Band History
Lucky for us, Dashboard Confessional doesn’t have a complicated history. Floridian singer, guitarist, and songwriter Chris Carrabba started Dashboard Confessional in 1999 as a solo project while he was still in another band, the Further Seems Forever.
By 2002, Carrabba had picked up band members…
And, in 2003, they put out A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar to critical success. Things picked up for this band, and their songs started to be recognized and used commercially. Their ranks swelled to include Mike Marsh on drums, Scott Schoenbeck on bass, and John Lefler on lead guitar.
They released three more albums in the 2000s, including Dusk and Summer (2006), The Shade of Poison Trees (2007), and Alter the Ending (2009). This decade saw the band’s peak of popularity, and the band spent it writing, recording, and touring extensively.
This was followed by a long period with no output…
That’s because Carrabba turned his attention to other projects, and Dashboard Confessional went through a lull. But, in 2018, they came back with a new album, Crooked Shadows. As well as new members, including Armon Jay (lead guitar), Chris Kamrada (drums), Dane Poppin (guitar and keys), and Schoenbeck, still on bass.
The band put out their latest album, All the Truth That I Can Tell, in 2002, and there seems to be more where that came from. So, hopefully, we can look forward to more excellent Dashboard Confessionals music in the future. For now, let’s look at the top Dashboard Confessional songs so far.
Top 10 Dashboard Confessional Songs
“The Swiss Army Romance” (2000)
“The Swiss Army Romance” was the first Dashboard Confessional recording back when it was a solo project by Chris Carrabba. Sort of. On this album, Carrabba played guitar and sang, and of course, wrote all the songs. But he also had other musicians help record guitar, keys, and backing vocals to flesh out his sound.
The title track for this record is one of his best songs ever…
Carrabba’s voice is raw and full of passion in this early recording. His songwriting is equally impassioned. And, even though there’s no drum beat here, there’s still a lot of angsty energy. The song ends with some slamming chords and accentuated vocals that add a lot of punch to this song about growing up fast in the modern world.
“Screaming Infidelities” (2000)
The Swiss Army Romance was also home to a song that ended up as Dashboard Confessional’s breakout hit. This song was first recorded on that album. However, it was also reworked for their The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most album with drums and bass included. The song went up to #22 on the Billboard charts and got the band the attention they needed to move forward.
“Screaming Infidelities” is, of course, a song about cheating. It focuses on the feelings of someone who was cheated on and then the relationship ending in ruin and sadness. There’s a lot of pain and passion in this song and a lot of melancholy as well.
The full band version has a slow groove and a guitar melody that carries the song away. Carrabba’s voice here is high and pained, which gives the song such a poignant, relatable feeling for anyone who has ever been hurt in love. And, who hasn’t?
“Saints and Sailors”(2001)
After The Swiss Army Romance put Dashboard Confessional on the map, Chris Carrabba came back the next year with his The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most album. This 10-track record hosted some great songs, including a new version of “Screaming Infidelities.” Among them, “Saints and Sailors” stands out for its pretty melody and heartfelt lyrics.
This is a song about turbulence and trouble in a relationship. Carrabba sings to confront his partner for being two-faced, which is reflected in the juxtaposition in the title. The song is very well put together. Both the verse riff and the chorus are well-composed, and the addition of tight drumming here really makes this track pop.
“Hands Down” (2003)
I hate to be so predictable, but I really have to say that this is one of my favorite Dashboard Confessional songs, hands down. “Hands Down” was first recorded for the So Impossible EP in 2001. But, it’s much better known for the energetic, full-band version that was included in 2003’s A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar. This track is faster and full of so much bright, shiny energy.
It’s a song that Carrabba wrote about the best date of his life. The lyrics are, in places, cute, loving, angsty, and even sarcastic. He sings about hoping to die from her kiss so that he can die at this high point in his life.
It perfectly captures the feelings of nervous excitement of looking for love with an open heart and meeting someone who makes you feel amazing. The band really rocks on this track – the drums hit hard, and the guitar soars along with the feeling of falling in love.
Dusk and Summer, the album that the full band put out in 2006, presented a more polished sound and less raw approach to songwriting. “Stolen” is a beautiful song from this album that sticks in your head. It’s a swirling, romantic melody over a very sweetly orchestrated song with violin and backing vocals from Susan Sherouse to make the whole thing pretty.
The theft in question is Carrabba’s heart. This is a song about falling in love and losing yourself in the beautiful bliss of romance. “Stolen” shows maturity in both songwriting and emotions for Carrabba. After all, he was 30 when he wrote it and had left behind a lot of his younger angst.
“Don’t Wait” (2006)
Dusk and Summer is also home to the deep, emotional song “Don’t Wait.” This is another perfectly produced song that hints at earlier Dashboard Confessional sounds but has a more Pop-Rock ballad feel to it. The record debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts, and this song is one good reason why.
The song is about seizing the day and opening up your heart to love. Carrabba sings about laying your heart open and putting aside past hurts to be truly open to a relationship. It’s oozing with romance and tenderness, as well as an explosive final chorus that really pulls at the heartstrings.
The next track in my list of the Top 10 Dashboard Confessional songs is “Vindicated.” Unlike the other songs we’ve seen, or heard, this song wasn’t written for any album, though it was included as a bonus track on Dusk and Summer.
Instead, this song was written specifically for the Spiderman 2 Soundtrack and ended up as the lead single for that movie’s soundtrack. Carrabba actually watched the film and then penned this track in just 10 minutes, inspired by the storyline.
This is a song that sounds a lot more like Dashboard Confessional’s earlier work. It has a quieter, sweet verse followed by a loud, passionate chorus. The Rock sound in the chorus contains big energy that’s perfect for a troubled superhero, and for regular folks, too.
“Where There’s Gold” (2007)
The Shade of Poison Trees record came out in 2007, just after Dusk and Summer. But it was a very different-sounding record. There’s no big wall of sound here, no violin, and no synth to fill the space. It sounds stripped down, or maybe stripped back to the band’s earliest days.
“Where There’s Gold” sounds like it might be a sweet song. But, in reality, this is a song about gold diggers and choosing this path in life. So, this is a sad song while also being somewhat damning. It has a great melody that helps to tell the story and expresses the loneliness of an insincere life so well.
“Belle of the Boulevard” (2009)
To finish off the 2000s, Dashboard Confessional put out their last 200s album, Alter the Ending, in 2009. This was another record that reflected changes to the band’s sound. It was again widely orchestrated and perfectly produced. The songs here are less raw and more smooth and mature. And “Belle of the Boulevard” is definitely the best on this record.
This is a sweeping, pretty song sung as an impassioned plea to the “Belle” to keep her head up and keep on moving forward in life. The song has a huge sound with pounding drums, a driving piano, and sweeping strings. So, it gets its power from this wall of sound that builds up and sweeps you away.
“We Fight” (2017)
After the band went on, well, not a hiatus, but a period of low activity, they came back with 2018’s Crooked Shadows. The songs on this record include electronic sounds, samples, and programming. But, the sound is also more intense and, in a way, back to the more raw and energetic earlier work of this band.
The track “We Fight” has great intensity. It uses the band’s Rock instrumentation with synth sounds to fill things out and make them sound huge. The drumming here is heavy and hard, and the group vocals are sort of chanted to add energy. Carrabba sings very forcefully here, his voice even cracking in some parts. With a new sound and new energy, this track is pure fire.
Looking For More Great Music From the 2000s?
If so, check out our thoughts on the Top Songs from The Lumineers, the Top Smash Mouth Songs, the Best Blue October Songs of All Time, the Best Pop Songs of the 2000s, and the Best Songs of The 2000s for more fantastic song selections.
Of course, you’ll need to listen to them. So, why not have a look at our reviews of the Best Noise Isolating Earbuds, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Earbuds for Running, the Best Headphones for Music, the Most Comfortable Headphones, and the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones you can buy in 2023.
The Top 10 Dashboard Confessional Songs of All Time
This band started as a solo project by Chris Carrabba but grew into so much more. From the earliest days of Emo angst, this band developed into a softer band, then a more full-sounding band. And, finally, into something that combined all they’d done before.
After almost a decade of not doing much, the band’s latest records came out in 2018 and 2022. So, they’re back with a very cool, updated sound. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to hear what they’re going to create for us to listen to next.
Until next time, enjoy the music.