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What does 'teenage dirtbag' mean? TikTok trend inspired by Wheatus' 2000s track explained 

Joe Jonas took part in the "teenage dirtbag" trend (Image via @joejonas/TikTok)
Joe Jonas took part in the "teenage dirtbag" trend (Image via @joejonas/TikTok)

The 2000 hit song Teenage Dirtbag is going viral on TikTok, and people are sharing pictures of their teenage years to the beat of the track.

The song was created by the American rock band Wheatus and became a global success right after its release, featuring in the Billboard charts across multiple countries. The song went platinum in the UK and spent four weeks in the top spot on the Australian charts. It also became the second most-selling single of 2000 in the country.

TikTok is full of various trends, many of which are inspired by old music, a good example of which is the It’s All Coming Back To Me Now trend that recently went viral on the app. At the moment, it is Teenage Dirtbag that has taken Tiktok by storm.


What is the Teenage Dirtbag trend about?

Wheatus' popular song from the 2000s is supposed to celebrate the rebellious side of being a teenager. However, in a hilarious turn of events, people are now using the track to show how they used to look during puberty.

Users are sharing every kind of picture, from cool to embarrassing, while participating in the trend. The hashtag #teenagedirtbagtrend has been used in more than 800,000 videos, while the hashtag #teenagedirtbag has over 371 million views.

The videos created following the trend mostly use a higher pitched version of the original track and begin with the person showing how they look in the present, with the caption:

"My Teenage Dirtbag photos."

The video then cuts off to show multiple pictures of their teenage years. While some show their rebellious phases and emo hair cuts, others show snippets from when they were awkward and funny during the most tumultuous years of their lives.

Celebrities like Michael Barrymore and Joe Jonas have taken part in the Teenage Dirtbag trend as well.

Michael Barrymore showed off some of his old black and white pictures where he posed, making funny faces at the camera. Joe Jonas, on the other hand, shared his iconic Disney-era haircut with a bit of a twist and sneaked an image of his older brother Kevin at the end.


What is the meaning behind Teenage Dirtbag?

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Singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly, who debuted a live version of the song to mark the band's 20th anniversary, guessed the meaning behind the song by saying:

"Maybe I am just a confused, horny teenage piece of s*** sometimes, and that's OK."

However, Wheatus' guitarist and lead singer Brendan B. Brown revealed a completely different story behind the creation of the song. While talking to Tone Deaf in 2012, he explained that the song was based on a strange incident he had experienced as a child. He explained that the incident occurred on Long Island in the summer of 1984 when he was only 10 years old. The guitarist releaved:

"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 further described his experience during that time:

"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”.

Teenage Dirtbag has somewhat made itself into a teenage anthem and has been covered numerous times by various artists like One Direction, SZA, 5 Seconds of Summer, Phoebe Bridgers, Mary Lambert, All Time Low, Rex Orange County, and Amy Shark.

The viral trend, once again, brought attention to the hit original song. It is not entirely unreasonable to think that it might rise in the charts once again, as was seen with Master of Puppets by Metallica and Running up the Hill by Kate Bush, both of which topped the charts after being featured in the last season of Stranger Things.

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Edited by Susrita Das
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