Thursday, February 26, 2009

#993 Wheatus "Teenage Dirtbag" [Columbia, 2000]

One meathead high-school loser with an unrequited crush.

One classmate chick who rocks, in Keds and tube socks.

One asshole, glock-toting boyfriend.

Two tickets to Iron Maiden, baby.

Toss in some squeaky guitar slides, DJ-scratch wickety-wack, and leftover hooks from Weezer's Pinkerton and you've got the recipe for adolescent existance-of-soulmates delusion - a millenial John Hughes fairytale that makes more sense as a fluke single than it does a realistic event.

The video treatment almost writes and films itself. Of course the boyfriend's blonde and has a bitchin' ride. Of course no-one cares about the protagonist; he's invisible, intangible, a self-loathing non-entity. Of course the love interest enjoys the musical stylings of Iron Maiden and invites our hero - in pinched Joey Adams voice, no less - to accompany her to an Iron Maiden concert.

Of course; it's a fairytale, which is why we never find out how the asshole bf reacts when he eventually discovers that his squeeze is actually a teenage dirtbag who's been making time with, well, another teenage dirtbag.

There's an air of naïve escapism around "Teenage Dirtbag" that's stirring even today - otherwise, I wouldn't have included it on this list - but the song stands as a stark reminder that wanting desperately for relationships to endure and mean something profound is bullshit wishfulness, that willing others to need you is a fool's obsession. Random John Ashbery interjection: "You have it, but you don't have it." Think about this: "Teenage Dirtbag" smoked, but even though Wheatus are still a going concern, they're not on the tips of any wagging tongues and hip young bands aren't covering them. Like the rap-rock revolution, your twenties, and the random distractions that crowded them, Wheatus are essentially over. Nothing is static.

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