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What is the teenage dirtbag trend on TikTok?

Rachel Finn

| Last updated 

What is the teenage dirtbag trend on TikTok?

Another day, another TikTok trend. This time, the song Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus is trending on the social media platform - but what is it?

The song was originally released by American rock band Wheatus in 2000, but its having a resurgence on the app, with many users including the track in their videos.

With a catchy chorus and memorable guitar riff, the original song touched on themes of isolation and being a teenage misfit and that theme carries through into its newfound life on the app.

Here’s how TikTokers are using the song online over twenty years after its release…


What is the teenage dirtbag trend on TikTok?

Users on TikTok are using the song to soundtrack their embarrassing teenage years by sharing photos from their youth on the app. 

It seems many of us can relate to going through an awkward teenage phase. Searches for the trend have exploded on the app, with almost 800,000 videos being tagged with #teenagedirtbagtrend.


The clip used tends to be a higher pitched version of the original track, with the guitar riff intro playing as the user posts a picture of themselves today with a caption like: “Here’s my teenage dirtbag pic…”

The song then cuts to the chorus as a series of photos of the person as a teenager are shown on screen. Usually, they can be found doing things typically thought of as ‘teenage rebellion’ such as drinking, going to parties or getting tattoos and piercings. 

Users have also found themselves cringing at their teenage fashion trends and haircuts, with plenty of grunge-inspired outfits and old-fashioned hairstyles.


Singer Ruston Kelly, who covered the song, previously spoke about the meaning of the song, telling NPR: “I mean, if someone calls you a name, and then you call yourself that, you automatically have power over what that name would try to take away from you. 

“Maybe I am just a confused, h**ny teenage piece of s*** sometimes, and that’s OK.”

However, Wheatus lead singer Brendan B. Brown previously revealed that the song has a different inspiration, relating to a strange experience he had as a child. 

Speaking to Tone Deaf in 2012, he explained: “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. 


"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”.

Featured Image Credit: TikTok

Topics: TikTok, Social Media, Music

Rachel Finn
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