Random Song: Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus

I got lost on a nostalgic chain of thought this morning. It started when I was thinking about the gig I’m going to next week, where I’m seeing Journey supported by Whitesnake and Thunder.

I love Journey and their brand of soft rock, but I think we all know that their set is going to build up to end with their most famous track, “Don’t Stop Believin'”. This got me thinking about bands who have one song that they have to save to last because that’s what people have come for and gigs I’ve been too, which brought me to this song.

Wheatus was the second proper gig I went too, having mainly been to see mates’ bands play and to things like Radio 1’s One Big Sunday. I’d actually seen Wheatus before at the Radio 1 event, and owned their album, which is quite a good little pop punk record.

The gig was lots of fun, and the band were on top form, playing with real energy and a sense of fun. They built up to this track and their second single, a cover of Erasure’s “A Little Respect”, and the crowd went off when this dropped.

I love this song. It is hands down one of my favourite songs, although I regularly half-forget about it. It might not have the impact of Dylan’s “Hurricane”, the artistry of “Stairway to Heaven” or the heartfelt lyrics of “Tracks of My Tears” but it’s still got a place in my heart.

It treads fairly familiar territory- unrequited love for a girl who barely knows our lovelorn narrator exists but there’s a sense of humour to the track and a really catchy, singalong chorus.

I think it also has a special place because of nostalgia and personal reasons. I first heard about the track because a girl I fancied at school had heard it while on holiday to the states and used a line as her tagline on MSN chat. As I mentioned I also saw them live and the song got a fair bit of play when I first started going out drinking in Swansea, so it’s kinda connected to that period of my life.

It was also a pop song my Dad adopted. My Dad’s pretty set in his ways musically- it’s mainly Neil Young with bits of The Stones, Elton John and Dylan dropped into the mix now and then, but he has this habit of occasionally being charmed by random pop songs. This is probably the one he got into the most, I think he liked the kinda goofy charm of it all, but he also liked “Dilemma” by Nelly and Kelly Rowland.

So, for all those reasons I love it, but I also love it because it’s a well crafted pop punk song. The chorus is catchy and awesome, and there’s also something kinda sweet about how unapologetically teenage and “high school” it is. It’s got a kind of innocent charm to it, and I really love it. Also, it’s one of a handful of songs that even with long gaps between I can probably still sing word for word.

Come on, everybody, join in!

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


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