So we can all agree that last night was an insufferable fever dream.
As I watched two disgruntled old white men hash out whether white supremacists have rights and whether my girlfriend gets to keep her health insurance, I found myself dissociating and was soon struck with a question that has since plagued me for the last 24 hours: Whatever happened to The Ataris?
It turns out, the “Boys of Summer” are very much still together, but in my search, I continued to delve back into the 2000s pop-punk catalog and, in turn, found myself fondly yearning for the high school days that included Scene Kids, the Lizzie Mcguire movie, and friendship bracelets. Here’s a collection of the silly, nonsensical bands that soundtracked the 2000s. Hopefully, they can take you back to a simpler time and help you disengage from the hellscape that is our current existence.
Bowling For Soup
The fact that a doltish band like BFS achieved mainstream fame goes to show how asinine the early 2000s were. In the music video for “Girls All the Bad Guys Want,” A window-shopping woman fondly watches the Texas quintet on TV as they sing puerile lyrics like, “She is watchin’ wrestling, creamin’ over tough guys, listening to rap metal.” Bowling for Soup conveyed a specific frat boy energy that would have never taken off in 2020, but for a brief moment in the early aughts, goofy pop-punk groups like BFS thrived in the mainstream.
They’re a band rank with teenage hormones and forever stuck in high school, so if the phrase “the whole damned world is just as obsessed with who’s the best dressed and who’s having sex” makes you feel something, BFS can scratch that angsty itch.
Another lunatic pop-punk band that rose to prominence alongside BFS, Simple Plan presented themselves as goofy renegades, but their music was surprisingly candid in reflecting childhood hardships. Unlike BFS, the Canadian-rockers focused less on teenage hormones and more on just how being a kid can be absolutely miserable. “I’m Just a Kid,” which soundtracked countless early aughts movies like Cheaper by the Dozen, was at one point the song for hormonal teens.
Not to mention their lyrics are still applicable to how we all feel in this current moment. “Maybe when the night is dead/I’ll crawl into my bed/I’m staring at these four walls again/ I’ll try to think about the last time/ I had a good time.” Other tracks like “Welcome to My Life” and “Perfect” were just as helpful in navigating the frustrations of growing up, and revisiting them brings pangs of nostalgia with it.
Fountains of Wayne
While most people only know the NYC rockers for the charmingly lewd “Stacy’s Mom,” Fountains of Wayne actually offered a surprising amount of transparency with their garage power-pop. “Sink to the Bottom,” while slightly derivative of a Weezer song, is a candid exploration of a toxic codependent relationship, which was a thing rarely dissected in the suppressed era of the 2000s. Other songs, such as the buoyant “Hey Julie,” are just plain fun in their anti-corporate message: “Working all day for a mean little man, with a clip-on tie and a rub-on tan.” The band is raucous and fun, and that’s what makes it all the more heartbreaking that COVID and the “mean little man” in the White House took Fountain’s Adam Schlesinger from us earlier this year.
The Click Five
It’s sometimes hard to remember that The Click Five was a brief flash in the pan, but these Boston boys were the hottest pop group in the country for a split second. Their pop music was utterly innocuous, with themes that included heartbreak, infatuation, and more infatuation. After the success of their debut, Greetings From Imrie House, the band would quickly switch lead singers from Eric Dill to Kyle Patrick and release one more project before dissolving. But on the infectious “Just the Girl,” it was nothing but good vibes.
Boys Like Girls
Another vapid Boston-based power pop group of the early aughts, Boys Like Girls emerged as indie sweethearts before completely selling out and going full pop on their sophomore effort, Love Drunk. But on their self-titled debut, and more specifically “The Great Escape,” the quartet really makes the idea of #VanLife sound appealing. With a raucous chorus and a charismatic music video that shows a group of friends indulging in a last-minute road trip, Boys Like Girls was the soundtrack to spontaneity. When revisited in 2020, the idea of leaving our confined apartments for a new life elsewhere has never been so appealing.
Forever The Sickest Kids
While Forever the Sickest Kids garnered a more indie following, the pop-punk band focused solely on meshing pop-punk power chords with synthesizers and dancey beats. What resulted was a collection of rowdy pop songs that turned any moment into a dance party. On “Whoa Oh! (Me vs Everyone), the band’s debut single, they touch on themes of isolation and how it feels to have the whole world against you: “I candy-coat and cover everything that I’m still hiding underneath,” frontman Jonathan Cook belts. “It’s been a long time, It’s been a long time.” That sentiment definitely remains true in 2020.