I was angry in High School for no reason in particular. I lived for late night Xanga posts explaining all of my woes. It was such a rebellious part of my life. One time I even quoted the Madonna lyric, “If you can’t handle the heat, then get off of my street,” on my MySpace.
It’s almost as if Michael Jackson said “Who’s Bad?” and I raised my hand cordially.
During these difficult years of my life when my parents paid all my bills, the Madden Brothers, along with their Good Charlotte band mates, were often the soundtrack of my sorrow. I still remember picking up The Young and The Hopeless album and my mom almost refusing to buy it because Benji’s spikes looked to “hardcore.”
I discovered Good Charlotte in my freshman Oklahoma history class. That is also where I discovered my first crush, who also loved Good Charlotte. I think that explains why I instantly became a Good Charlotte expert.
In the end I didn’t get the girl, but I discovered some great music that I still listen to today.
Years later I still find myself listening to my Good Charlotte CDs. When I first heard Joel and Benji’s “We Are Done,” I was ecstatic about the new sound and their return to music (Did they really leave though?). To be honest, I’m not sure what has taken me so long to write about it. It’s just so painful to relive those years when my mom made all my meals.
As I did research on the album, I found that this album is intended to be broken into two different sides. Each side has different producers. The first side is intended to be more rock oriented and the second side is to sound like older 70’s pop. It’s clear on the album that there are two distinct ambiences upon each side, but I didn’t necessarily feel it achieved what I read.
Side A begins with the song “Dear Jane,” a song about an embattled relationship that needs to be over. In this time, where everything is done through “text,” I found this to be a cleaver tune. It has a great rock and slight dance vibe to it.
The album then goes on to its first single release, “We Are Done.” I love the guitar rift and the folksy vibe of this song. The point that as young people we are the ones that must stand up to change things is a message that needs to be taken more seriously.
Side A also contains “U R,” a dedication Joel shows to his children. If you’ve listened to any of Good Charlotte’s music you would quickly learn of the Madden brothers embattled relationship with their father. It seems he taught them what not to be. Being in a similar situation, this is a coming of age realization that many go through. Bravo for giving us this song and showing us we aren’t copies. They also echo this sentiment on side B with their eerie anthem (throw all your hands up!) “Brother.”
Although I haven’t exactly decided what the message of “Brother” is, it tends to perfectly reflect what divorced and abandoned children deal with in their older years.
Now on to the rest of Side B. This side was less pop and more indie. It begins with “California Rain,” cowritten with Pharrell. This song personifies how perceived paradise comes with its downfalls. Then comes “Bad,” which has a great guitar rift that oddly mirror’s Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” It’s 2014’s version of “Riot Girl.” The album closes with “Empty Spirits.” A song of a love you can’t let go that is wrapped in a dive bar, music, and “Lilac Wine.” Joel’s vocals soar on this track. It’s the most stripped down track on the album with minimal string instrumentation and a simple guitar accompaniment.
After listening and reflecting on this album there was something different listening to the Madden brothers in 2015. I began to go back and listen to older Good Charlotte material, literally going all the way back to “Little Things.” I am still in love with The Young and The Hopeless, but this music does not provide some fake rebellious out for me anymore.
I’ve simply grown up. Their older music is a time machine and their new music projects where I am today. Their albums are cemented in the soundtrack of my life. I’ve grown as their artistry has progressed. Their music is in my chronicles of life and death.
It was just such a hard time in my life when I would listen to my new iPod Video while be chauffeured around to hang with friends by my parents. I needed GC’s music for comfort and peace.
And now that I am older, I am thankful for what I had and am excited to see what is to come.
Cheers Benji and Joel!!
Excuse me while I find my MADE jacket….