Break Yo’ TV: Good Charlotte – “I Just Wanna Live”


To be fair, Good Charlotte used to be catchy. Back in 2000, when the Waldorf troublemakers first hit the scene, their self-titled debut fused together pop, punk, and rap to precision. Like it or not, they set a high bar for themselves, which they matched – sort of – two years later with their followup, The Young and The Hopeless. While more of a commercial product than a good album, it brought them national attention, especially with their hit single “The Anthem”, in addition to four other charting singles. Bottom line? Good Charlotte figured out how to write pop. They steered away from the punk aspect as much as they could and followed the genre’s blueprint to a T, producing elaborate videos to re-brand their image. Something went terribly wrong, though.

They kept making music. The result was The Chronicles of Life and Death. This took Good Charlotte from the top of MTV video rotation and made them nonexistent. They tried so hard to move away from what made them popular that they completely missed the mark. The only song from the album to chart was “I Just Wanna Live”. The title is ironic in that it makes you wanna die.

To their credit, they were just trying to write a hit. But they failed, considering it’s incredibly cringeworthy and only creeped up to 51 on the Billboard Top 100.  Okay, so technically it’s a hit, but more in line with a multiple Oscar contender walking away with Best Sound…and that’s it. Then there’s the video.

What starts with the band playing for an empty room at a Baltimore bar cuts to a job search in their local periodical. In keeping with the theme of “failure”, the best job they could muster up, even in their own music video, is distributing fliers for a supermarket, dressed as different types of food. It’s hard to believe that five grown men in eyeliner and make up couldn’t find a nice cozy office job somewhere. Well, actually…

Just when it looks like things couldn’t get any worse for the boys, a creepy man in a limo approaches and sees their potential. Still in costumes, the guy gives them a lift and, shortly after, they’re superstars. (Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure that’s how 98 Degrees got together.) What does this all mean? Clearly it’s a lesson for all the publicly costumed dreamers out there who want to make it “big”. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

Like any good food group knows, you will one day spoil. Eventually, the band gets caught up in scandals, and the public turns its back on them. It also becomes apparent that the band themselves know they suck, and they give up the whole “Food Group” act. This could actually be Good Charlotte poking fun at themselves, but it’s probably unintentional. Art mimicking life mimicking art? Yeah, no.

Since the success of this song, Good Charlotte has turned into more of a dance-style band. Their new album, Cardiology, after several delays and uncertainty, hit stores earlier this month. Not surprisingly, the band claims it brings them back to their roots. Odds are it’s a little too late. After all, once you’re processed food, you’re always processed food. No expiration date on that.

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