Ready to feel old? Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag” came out approximately 21 years ago, hitting the radio airwaves on June 20, 2000.
The angsty alt-radio earworm went triple Platinum, etching itself in early aughts history as a formidable anthem for misunderstood millennial teenagers.
The song’s unmistakable riff and angsty lyrics put Wheatus on the map.
Brendan B. Brown, the band’s lead vocalist, explained the song’s origins in an interview in 2012:
“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,” begins Brown.
“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.”
He says 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*ck 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 original Teenage Dirtbag is written from the perspective of a teenage protagonist crushing on a woman named Noel, who has a boyfriend, and whether or not “she gives damn about” him.
The singer Jax – American Idol alum who also grew up in Long Island- recently gave the song a clever interpretation on TikTok. Rather than covering the song verbatim, she reworked the lyrics from the perspective of the Noel – Iron Maiden shirt and all.
Teenage Dirtbag from Noel’s perspective
“My boyfriend’s a d*ck.
He drive his dad’s Ferrari.
He likes to mix.
Gatorade and Bacardi.
We’re prom king and queen, but that doesn’t mean.
He really knows who I am. Cuz he doesn’t give a damn about me.”
It’s a really fresh take on the song from another character’s perspective, sticking to the overall theme of the song. Hopefully we get a full cover soon.