The Academy Is… “The Phrase That Pays”

The Academy Is...Artist:
Marvin Jarrett
Add Date:
August 10th, 2006


A rocking hello to all of my fellow music video lovers, it’s Andy Gesner and the staff from HIP Video Promo! Here at HIP, we truly love contemporary punk rock – but even we concede that the critics don’t always agree with the verdicts passed by the kids who make this kind of music so popular. We’ve heard all the complaints: the albums aren’t great all the way through, the songs are too confessional to be properly hooky, the frontmen lack star-quality. To all the naysayers, we give The Academy Is…, the Chicagoland quintet who have become one of the biggest bands in the indie underground, and who are poised at the threshold of international fame. Almost Here, their debut, contains no filler at all – it’s one powerfully-written and direct pop-punk anthem after another. And in William Beckett, they’ve got a singer who is a budding superstar: a rock-star skinny, acrobatic, charismatic vocalist with the kind of command and camera presence associated with legends like Jagger, Vedder, and Steven Tyler.

Think that’s just hyperbole? How many other rock stars could create some genuine chemistry with John Tucker Must Die’s drop-dead gorgeous Brittany Snow? Okay, so in the video to “The Phrase That Pays”, Beckett is in a straitjacket, and Snow is just the sympathetic (or is that conspiratorial?) nurse. You’d still have to be blind not to see the sparks fly when they interact.

Beckett has been a video star before. His portrayal of a sinister, urbane agent of chaos in Cobra Starship’s hilarious “Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)” nearly steals the clip. In the promo spot for Fall Out Boy’s “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me”, he plays the stylish leader of a vampire gang that also includes bandmate and co-songwriter Michael Carden, Shleprock of Gym Class Heroes, and several members of Panic! At The Disco. Decaydance Records honcho and FOB bassist Pete Wentz recognized Beckett’s star quality from the moment he first heard The Academy Is…, and since then, he’s been one of the public faces of the Fueled By Ramen empire.

None of that would matter if he wasn’t also a dynamic singer. His performance on “The Phrase That Pays” builds from a confessional purr to an explosive wail, and his voice crack like a whip across the indelible chorus. Behind him, Carden generates a tense, stuttering chug on the guitar, and then leaps into a squall of distortion and feedback. The song has become a gigantic fan favorite, and is a highlight of the live experience. Rockers all over America have sung along with “The Phrase That Pays” this summer – The Academy Is… have played every date on this year’s Warped Tour.

The clip for “The Phrase That Pays” is bright, white, beautiful, and destabilizing. It opens with a shot of Beckett on a gurney, his head connected to electrodes and confined beneath a plastic shield, a sinister-looking doctor hovering over him and taking notes. Some sort of experiment is about to begin – and when it does, the band begins to play. Liberated from his constraints (if only in his mind), he roars into his microphone as flashes of light burn through the middle of the frames; later, he watches as Brittany Snow dances in her tight white nurse’s uniform in front of a television screen. After the second verse, the music abruptly stops – and once again, we’re back in the hospital room. But this time, the doctor is nowhere in sight, and Snow bends over him to offer some reassuring words. She leans close, and smiles as Beckett whispers something in her ear – and intense Internet speculation about the words he tells her have been swirling ever since.

Here at HIP, we’ve been hooked on Fueled By Ramen for years now and it’s our greatest pleasure to be working with John Janick and the FBR crew. Not only will The Academy Is… be on Warped Tour for the rest of the summer, but we also have plenty of copies of Almost Here available for all of your on-air giveaway needs. If you need more info, call Andy Gesner at 732-613-1779 or e-mail us at You can also visit to find out more about The Academy Is…

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