Fall Out Boy vocalist Patrick. Stump originally came forward with this fist-pumper while the band were on the Monumentour
concert tour with Paramore. The band then worked on the tune with lead vocalist of glam-punk band Semi Precious Weapons
Justin Tranter and Indian-American songwriter Raja Kumari. J.R. Rotem, who helmed Jason Derulo's debut album added his production talents.
"We never had a plan to jump right back into it after the whirlwind year we've had… but sometimes the song calls you," bassist and lyricist Pete Wentz said. "We started writing 'Centuries' while we were on tour. Traveling the world for the last year we have seen, and been a part of, the landscape and fabric of music — from tiny sweaty clubs in Australia to insanely huge festivals in the UK. It felt impossible not to react to it, to be inspired and to want to scream back."
The song was released as the lead single of Fall out Boy's sixth album. Speaking about the evolution of Fall Out Boy's writing process, Stump told KROQ's Kat Corbett: "We used to really, really stress ourselves out and really just, kind of, you know, I used to mad scientist forever in the studio. Just hours upon hours of just tweaking things. And the more that I do it, the more that I realize that when you're inspired it's just going to happen and you're going to be really fast. When you're not inspired, you're kind of beating a dead horse. So, we wait to have a song that has something inspiring and exciting to us. In this case, "Centuries," and then we just kind of take it from there and get the record moving for us."
Speaking with Kerrang! Pete Wentz described the idea of the song as a "David vs. Goliath story." He added, "It is us passing along the story of how we feel right before we step on stage, trading feeling small and human for all the sweat and grit and sheer power of belief it takes to stare down a giant."
The song samples Suzanne Vega's signature hit "Tom's Diner
" at the beginning and returns to it later on as a hand-clapping choral sing-along. Wentz and Stump came up with the idea with producer J.R. Rotem. "I feel like it was so ubiquitous when we were kids," Stump explained to Kat Corbett. "I mean, that song was absolutely everywhere and it just kind of disappeared. I haven't heard it in a minute. And I was like that's a shame. That was such an amazing song. I would love for that to get some kind of tip of the hat."
"And, it's definitely a song people know but they know [only] that part and they don't necessarily know the artist or the rest of the song or any of that. It's kinda cool to re-inject that into pop culture," Wentz added.
The band didn't actually use Vega's original vocal track. Instead, they reached out to label-mate Lolo to sing the trademark "do-do do-do-do-do," hook. "I think it may be cheaper for us," quipped Wentz.
The likes of Tupac ("Dopefiend's Diner") Aaliyah ("Hot Like Fire") and Drake ("Juice") have all sampled "Tom Diner's" distinctive hook in the past.
The song served as the official anthem of ESPN's 2014 College Football Playoff coverage. The song was featured in commercials for the event throughout the season and during coverage of the game itself.
Speaking with FoxSports.com, Pete Wentz admitted ESPN's overexposure of the song became annoying. "We realize that it was to the point where it was getting under people's skin," he said. We didn't really know that's how it was going to be, because obviously this was the first college playoffs and stuff."
"But, at the same time, there's was a lot of people who probably wouldn't have heard of our band who have heard of it," Wentz continued. "Hopefully we didn't annoy you too badly!"
Pete Wentz told Rock Sound magazine that he hopes people will take inspiration from the song's empowering lyrics. "A lot of legendary tales start from humble beginnings; people tend to forget that. When you're talking to kids who play guitar or DJ, people can be so dismissive. The expectation is that the kid should conform, because people are obsessed with the status quo," he complained.
"Change terrifies a lot of us. Centuries really bands on that. Just because you're being told what you're doing sucks, doesn't mean that you're not a leader. Leaders attract a lot of arrows."
The song's Syndrome-produced music video was shot at Fort Henry National Historic Site in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The clip features the band members in a gladiator-style battle, who find their huge opponent is clearly a mismatch for them. "Getting back up. Dusting it off. My dad used to tell me the most important part of any of it was getting back up on the horse - I didn't grow up on a farm - but it still applied," Pete Wentz said of the clip. "David vs. Goliath, us vs. them, you vs. the world… brains, talent and luck are great but heart will always trump them. That is the sentiment of this video."
Don't miss rapper Rick Ross' cameo appearance as their next opponent at the very end of the video.
Pete Wentz explained the song's meaning to Kerrang!: "'Centuries' is the idea that you've got to get back up... That anyone can become a legend. It's like The Wizard Of Oz - there's nothing special about you and to you believe there is. You are the engine and 'Centuries' is just meant to be the gasoline that let it rip! You have the chemical make of greatness, and this is just a recipe to put the chemicals in the right order. It's meant to be the alarm that wakes you up for the best day of your life."