Slacktory

Wheatus Teenage Dirtbag sucks

My first exposure to Wheatus was in 2007, on the old community-run website flashflashrevolution, a Dance Dance Revolution ripoff that involved tapping the keyboard instead of dancing on a pad.

When the site was still being run as a for-profit venture, it partnered with bands and gave them little widgets to put on their MySpace pages so people could play DDR files (or “stepfiles”) for said band’s song. We had some slightly big names — 5 Finger Death Punch, Disturbed, Reel Big Fish. I would play these widgets for quick fun. One day, I came across a widget for a band that seemed familiar. It was Wheatus.

Now I, being 12 years old at the time, had pretty much no sense of what good music was, so what I listened to at the time included, but was not limited to:

  • 64kbps speedcore songs
  • whatever came on the top 40 rock radio station in town
  • metal remixes of video game music
  • the Diggnation podcast
  • a podcast dedicated to They Might Be Giants
  • more speedcore

Given my luck, the first song I picked on this widget was Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag”. No lie — I played DDR with my fingers on a keyboard to Teenage Dirtbag and liked it. Now, to excise my past demons, I’m going to give you a play-by-play reason as to why “Teenage Dirtbag” is the worst song ever made.

The best way I can describe Wheatus’ target market for this song is that the first time I heard “Teenage Dirtbag”, it was in a fan-made anime music video using clips from both Bleach and Naruto. The song starts off with the typical late 90s college indie rock bullshit; vague record scratches and a hiphop beat to lure the listener into thinking that this song might actually have some artistic merit. The same kind of thing Limp Bizkit pulled for a decade and a half.

Then the acoustic guitar comes in playing the most fucking contrived melody you could ever image in a song. Imagine if you could take the most generic indie rock melody ever, make it even more generic, out of tune, and coming from a dollar store guitar. It might as well be a ukulele. In fact, Teenage Dirtbag sounds like it took about as much talent to play as most “ukulele cover” videos on YouTube.

Then the vocals kick in. There’s no word in the English language for how horrid the vocals are. There is honestly no way to describe the aural assault this whiny 20-year-old with a guitar puts into your ear-holes. Imagine if Beverly Hills-era Weezer got singing lessons from the Black Eyed Peas but will.i.am forgot to mention that they use Auto-Tune. That’s what it sounds like.

This song reminds me of what Weezer’s “In the Garage” would sound like if it were written by someone about 5 years younger. See:

In the garage, I feel safe. No one cares about my ways. In the garage where I belong. No one hears me sing this song. In the garage.

— chorus to “In the Garage”

Her name is Noel, I have a dream about her. She rings my bell, I got gym class in half an hour. Oh how she rocks, in Keds and tube socks.

— opening lines to Teenage Dirtbag.

They’re both the exact same concept; “Oh woe is me I’m a lowly nerd”. The difference being that “Teenage Dirtbag” shoots for the vibe of “I’M A LOWLY NERD AND I HAVE A CRUSH ON A GIRL BUT SHE DOESN’T LIKE ME IM NERDY HAHA!” angle, while “In The Garage” goes for the “Hey, I like weird things, and I get mocked for it, but I don’t really give a shit. I’m just gonna chill in the garage and play some DnD, fuck all y’all”.

Worse yet, there are times in the song where they play cheesy sound effects to accentuate the godawful lyrics. There are some bands that can pull this off (my thoughts go to That Handsome Devil’s “Charlie’s Inferno“, one of my all time favorite songs), but here it’s just too much:

Her name is Noel, I have a dream about her. She rings my bell.

$20 if you can guess the sound effect. Ding ding, that’s right! It’s a bell.

He lives on my block, and he drives an Iroc

No lie, they play screeching tires that sound like they came from a low-budget ripoff of The Last Action Hero.

After the first chorus, the lyrics devolve into what I can only call a word apocalypse. The second chorus is a veritable destruction of the human language and songwriting itself. Let’s break it down line by line:

Her boyfriend’s a dick

Alright, so we’ve established conflict. The girl the nerdy dude beats off to in gym class has a girlfriend and he’s “a dick”. Presumably he’s a dick to the narrator simply because he’s dating the girl of this shitbag’s wet dreams. No evidence is really provided of him being a “dick”.

And he brings a gun to school

Given when this was written, this would be rather out of the ordinary, especially since the guy who wrote this is from Long Island, but I think I’m missing out on the whole Having A Gun = Being A Dick correlation here? It really seems like he’s grasping for whatever he can.

And he’d simply kick my ass if he knew the truth

My biggest problem with this line is “simply kick”; is there a complex way this anonymous boyfriend would kick your ass? Would he set up a Rube Goldberg machine, with such accurate timing that it trips you while you ride home on your shitty bike, sending you tumbling down a giant hill into a broken glass factory, launched into the air, landing your ass square on this man’s foot? Is he going to verbally kick your ass with the teachings of the ancient philosophers?

He lives on my block and he drives an Iroc

The best part about this line is that, since the vocalist’s voice is so hard to understand, it sounds like he says “He drives and I rock” as if the narrator is forced to ride to school with this “dick” and spends the whole time presumably headbanging while the poor guy has to take this wimpy asshole to class.

But he doesn’t know who I am, and he doesn’t give a damn about me

At this point I think we can assume that this kid, who beats off to people in gym class and thinks no one cares about him, has some serious issues; paranoia, depression, probably is a stalker. There’s a list of shit this kid needs to get checked out for.

The song ends with, for some reason that no one fucking knows, the girl of this shithead’s dreams comes up as he’s all woe is me outside the school on prom night and, with literally no pretense, I don’t think she’s ever even talked to this dude, offers him *drumroll* Iron Maiden tickets. Yep! That’s right. The band that this song has been shamelessly namedropping the whole time is the fuckhead nerd’s dream girl’s favorite band. The whole time she reveals this, by the way, the lead singer somehow cranks up his voice another 5 octaves, making it sound like someone kicked his dick with helium-filled spiked boot.

Ultimately, Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” is a clusterfuck of horrible writing, horrible music, every college rock stereotype you could ever imagine, with lyrics that really only help to either make college kids nostalgic or to make junior high kids feel understood and an overall message of “if you just sit around and rub your cock in the middle of class some hot girl’s going to leave her boyfriend and invite you to a metal concert, you sad sack of shit.”

I’m glad Wheatus never really got commercial success outside of having a song on the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack.

  • http://www.20somethingawesome.com 20 Something Awesome

    Forgot about this song. Thanks for the reminder. Listening on repeat all day.

  • PusBucket

    Dumb premise. Bad article. More of a baseless rant.

  • Bitchtits

    You’re really clutching at straws here.

  • Ehlija

    you rant like a 12 year old

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimmi1984 Jimmi Terry Taylor

    Fail. This song is great in a fun and cheesy way.

    You’re doing a lot of whining about the lyrics. Its a cheesy 90′s pop punk song, they all sounded like that. Watch American Pie 1&2 and I expect you’ll want to rip your ears off.

    Regarding some of your particular issues:

    “And he’d simply kick my ass if he knew the truth

    My biggest problem with this line is “simply kick”; is there a complex way this anonymous boyfriend would kick your ass?”

    NO you muppet. He’d simply kick my ass, as in, that’s all he’d do – no warning, no talking it over, simply kicking his ass. How was that hard to get?

    “but I think I’m missing out on the whole Having A Gun = Being A Dick correlation here?”

    Bringing a gun to school makes you a dick. I think that an easy thing to appreciate?

    “No evidence is really provided of him being a “dick”.”

    What? is it supposed to be a essay now? Get a grip, its a jokey song.

    I dunno, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt but I think you’re clearly too young to appreciate it for for the way it coincided with the American Pie films (Which defined my teenage years). That in conjunction with the fact that you’re desperate for something to hate on.

  • http://twitter.com/ross_drew Ross Drew

    Yea, you don’t really get irony do you? The song is a parody of woe songs, written at the behest of SONY, the sound effects (added by the talented Phil Jiminez) are comical, as is the concept of the song. Go along to any Wheatus gig and they prefix the song with a piss take of the subject matter.

    “is there a complex way this anonymous boyfriend would kick your ass?” …you also don’t seem to get English either. If I simply don’t like your review style, it doesn’t mean that I only dislike it simply, it means that simply…I don’t like it.

    “whiny 20-year-old with a guitar” …Brendan was in his early 30s when he wrote this.

    “coming from a dollar store guitar. It might as well be a ukulele.” …yes, the guitar parts were played with a rebuilt, cheap guitar from a second hand store, so?

    “I’m glad Wheatus never really got commercial success outside of having a song on the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack.” …soundtrack to Bully, Loser, Dawsons Creek, Invasion of the Not Quite Dead, April Showers, featured on Generation Kill, every “Top Rock Songs of the [Century/Year/Decade]” and covered by bands the world over.

    Nah, think you’re just being a whiny 20 year old.

  • Brian Santiago-Yoest

    Your obviously pmsing. And when he says that “he’d simply kick” it doesn’t mean that he would kick him in a simple manner, it means he would definitely kick him. Or like: I have simply had enough with assholes trashing Wheatus= I have just had enough with assholes trashing Wheatus. It’s as simple as that. He’s stating a fact, not describing the actual action.

  • Peter Smith

    If 90% of your review is lyric criticism, you’re doing it wrong. You lose more points if you declare something bad because it uses similar lyrical concepts to another song.

    Try again when you actually understand what the word ‘melody’ means.

  • Joe jackson

    Awesome review! Love it! Finally someone had the balls to tell it like it is so this horrible band.

  • http://twitter.com/ArredWade Arred Wade

    Calling someone a whiny 20 year old has no critical impact when you’re under 20 yourself.

  • lol woops

    except that you even admit to the fact that you used to like this song. so clearly either the top 40 pop hit writing works and you’re embarrassed so you’re killing lost time by panning a song that’s a decade old, or….?

  • Gordon

    Ouch! Tough crowd, only one person agrees with you.

    This song recently came in at number 82 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of the last 20 years.

    People enjoy listening to this song simply because it’s catchy. Each to their own, eh?

  • Brigid

    You were only 12 years old in 2007, so you wouldn’t understand the references in the song, since you were still a little tadpole in the late 80s and early 90s. Don’t write about something you don’t know unless you’ve done your homework.

  • a person

    LOL, you are pretty lame to put this up on the web

  • You love Nickelback

    It’s probably better than the song you wrote…
    Oh wait, those who can’t do critique…

  • Lydia

    It means simply as in I’d kick your ass without hesitation…get a life

  • %fred

    Fat kid on xbox who never got laid write this? I think so!

  • Ben

    worst writer ever

  • ohoohoh

    fool shut yo mouth

  • DEFCON_1

    Literally kill yourself, thanks.

  • a person

    Please do not put your likes and dislikes on the web. I’m sorry but nobody cares.

  • Jade

    This article is beautiful.

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