Listen to Iron Maiden maybe with me :: VOTD

Teenage Dirtbag :: Wheatus
from the album, Wheatus

Teenage Dirtbag is a song by American alternative rock group Wheatus. It was released in July 2000 as the lead single from their eponymous debut album. It was included on the soundtrack of the movie Loser.

The single was massively successful in Australia, spending four weeks at # 1 and becoming the second-highest selling single of the year. It also reached # 2 in the United Kingdom and Germany.

The song was ranked # 69 on the Top 100 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time countdown by British music channel, “The Hits“. It is performed by singer Brendan B. Brown, including the segment in a ‘female’ voice. When the group arranged a joint tour with MC Frontalot, MC Frontalot contributed a nerdcore rap verse to the song. For the radio version of the song, the sentence “He brings a gun to school” has been removed due to the Columbine High School massacre. It is replaced with the line “He brings his mates to fights”, or alternately replaced with an inhale sound.

In March 2011, the song returned to the UK Singles Chart at # 43 and climbed to # 35 the following week, nearly 11 years after its initial release. Bigtop40.com suggested that this was due to a promotion on iTunes. In April 2012, it re-entered the UK Singles Chart again, this time peaking at # 36; and then once again in March 2013, where it entered at # 46.

In June of 2013, Triple J ranked the song as # 82 on their “Twenty years of Triple J’s hottest 100“.

Ayhan Sahin of Billboard magazine reviewed the song favorably, calling it a “gritty, on-the-edge track ” and saying that its “keen melody, inventive production, and cool lyric about those who have felt like underlings during high school will entice listeners who prefer hanging out behind the gym with a smoke to Latin club.” He went on to say that it “stands strongly on its own as an emphatic anthem and a song many teens will be proud to push hard from their car speakers.”

Brendan B. Brown describes Teenage Dirtbag as a song about, “a skinny guy with a mullet who probably didn’t have a lot of friends.”

He has also explained the story behind the song in a 2012 interview with Tonedeaf.com: “It came from the summer of 1984 on Long Island, when I was 10 years old. That summer in the woods behind my house, there was a Satanic, drug-induced ritual teen homicide that went down; and the kid who did it was called Ricky Kasso, and he was arrested wearing an AC/DC T-shirt,” he begun.

That made all the papers, and the television, obviously; and here I was, 10 years old, walking around with a case full of AC/DC and Iron Maiden and Metallica – and all the parents and the teachers and the cops thought I was some kind of Satan worshipper. So that’s the backdrop for that song.”

Brown added that the sing-a-long chorus, remains an act of defiance: “so when I sing: ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag’, I’m effectively saying: ‘Yeah, f–k you if you don’t like it. Just because I like AC/DC doesn’t mean I’m a devil worshipper, and you’re an idiot. That’s where it comes from.”

The music video (above) alludes to the film Loser, with Jason Biggs playing a nerdy character similar to that in the movie and Mena Suvari as the love interest who unexpectedly invites the protagonist to an Iron Maiden concert. In some versions of the music video a large glitter ball falls from the ceiling and strikes him on the head, after which he wakes up having fallen asleep while doing his homework revealing his brief romance with Suvari to be a dream.

Both Biggs and Suvari appear in the movie American Pie and its sequel American Pie 2, causing the popular misconception that the song appears in one of these movies. There are two versions of the video. The first video received airplay on MTV channels in the UK and is the one without the Loser slogan, whereas the second version got airplay on EMAP channels across the UK, and is the one with the Loser slogan.

Editor’s Note: This song, and Bran Van 3000’s cover of Slade’s Cum On Feel the Noise, used to be back-to-back selections on mix tapes I made during the Summer of 2000. I still love to listen to them together. To me, they express a certain teenage outcast emotion that I think we can all relate to, or reach back and remember.

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