A new TikTok trend is taking over the internet and giving us all the nostalgia. The “Teenage Dirtbag” challenge first surfaced on social media last summer. Inspired by the 2000 Wheatus single of the same name, the trend recently caught fire again online, returning to TikTok with a vengeance.
However, many TikTok users are confused as to what the “Teenage Dirtbag” trend is and how to participate. For those of you who are late to hop on the bandwagon, here’s an explainer.
What is the “Teenage Dirtbag” challenge? Details on the TikTok trend.
More than 20 years since the song was first released, the internet is using the “Teenage Dirtbag” trend as an opportunity to take a trip down memory lane. When the trend first came to be last year, users took the opportunity to show off their fashion faux pas from their past lives.
Now, TikTokers have taken it up a notch with flashbacks from the early 2000s — when the world was emo.
However, many users (yes, we’re looking at you, Gen Z) have mistaken the challenge as a chance to show off their prom pics. One commenter on TikTok spoke for all of us when they said, “If you weren’t on MySpace, this trend is not for you.”
Another user wrote on Twitter, “Who's gonna tell TikTok that being a ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ means being a loser and not being [a] rebellious drinking monster?”
So, what is the real meaning of the lyrics of Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag”?
The meaning of Wheatus’s 2000 single “Teenage Dirtbag” explained.
Since the release of the “Teenage Dirtbag,” the song has been covered by artists like Ruston Kelly, One Direction, and YouTuber Alex Melton. In a 2019 interview with The Guardian, the original songwriter — Brendan B. Brown — broke down how the song came to be.
"I’d had the riff in my head since college. I wrote 'Teenage Dirtbag' lying on a futon staring at the ceiling in a rented apartment on Long Island, New York. The song is fictional, but has a bit of scenery from my childhood," he said.
He continued: "I wanted the chorus to be defiant. When I was 10, there was a drug-induced, satanic ritual homicide by some teenagers in my neighborhood. This guy lured his friend into the woods and stabbed him in the name of Satan. The murderer was wearing an AC/DC T-shirt, and after the murder, those letters came to mean Anti-Christ/Devil Child. I was an AC/DC fan, so I became a dirtbag in the eyes of the authorities of my little seaside town."
He described his adolescent years as “intensely lonely,” much like the main character in “Teenage Dirtbag.”
“When I sing, ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag,’ I was like, “Well, what difference does it make, because you’ve made your mind up, haven’t you?”