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On Our Stereo: Good Charlotte - The Young and The Hopeless

With their return to the UK imminent, we thought Good Charlotte's 2002 breakthrough album, 'The Young and The Hopeless' would be the ideal candidate for the latest 'On Our Stereo' instalment.

Back in 2002 the mainstream "pop-punk" scene was dominated by blink-182 and Sum 41. Like them, Maryland's Good Charlotte were influenced by bands like NOFX and Social Distortion. The band's 2000 self-titled debut got left in the shuffle with numerous other bands within the genre.

With 'The Young and The Hopeless', the Madden twins and company took a more guitar-based pop approach and saw the band work with producer Eric Valentine, who had previously worked with Smash Mouth and Third Eye Blind. Lyrically the band built upon the catchy pop-punk style that was seen on their previous effort, and incorporating an accessible, "mainstream" sound that would ultimately prove to be a winning combination.

'The Young and The Hopeless' ended up being one of those albums that is remembered for its singles. Tracks such as 'Girls and Boys', 'The Anthem' and 'Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous' were heavy rotated on TV and radio, with the latter being influenced by the Madden's frustration of unappreciative celebrities; Joel and Benji had gone through family troubles in their late teen years and were therefore thankful for the opportunities their band had been given.

The touching and inspirational 'Hold On' showed a more mature side with a strong anti-suicide message, which would leave an important and lasting impression on many of the bands (mainly) young fan base.

Throughout the Madden's autobiographical lyrics gave the album, as a whole, a good balance between the latter and the bands fun pop side. Tracks like 'The Story of My Old Man' and 'Say Anything' showed the bands honestly, whilst 'The Anthem' and 'Riot Girl' were nearly lyrically harmless and gave the listener to enjoy themselves.

Musically the band subtly kept to their roots; 'The Young and The Hopeless', 'Movin On'' and 'My Bloody Valentine' were guitar-driven with a thriving interior that had elements of punk rock. Nevertheless the favourable pop-punk side would dominate throughout.

8 years since its release, 'The Young and The Hopeless' is looked backed on somewhat nostalgically for several reasons; their teenage fan base has grown up and reminded of happier times by the record, whilst their most recent material proved to have mixed reactions. The "pop-punk" genre itself has somewhat become saturated by copycat bands, whilst the so-called "scene" was slightly different in 2002. The Internet and its countless forums, websites, blogs etc were less important and influential, with fewer bands "breaking out".

Like blink-182, Sum 41 and Simple Plan, Good Charlotte are now seen as "veterans" of the scene and have influenced the "mainstream" pop-punk sound of today. Shaping it to the extent where music cliques, have been broken down. Whilst the genre has become more widespread, but equally it can argued that the genre is more pop then punk, and it has become anything but pop-punk.

Nevertheless 'The Young and The Hopeless' is a record that is nearly faultless, with several memorable songs (both singles and non-singles) that were perfect examples of how to write an accessible rock song without alienating certain audiences. Good Charlotte had (and to an extent still do have) the ability to draw in fans of various genres, and provide them with a memorable soundtrack, that connected with their audience.

Sean Reid

Alter The Press!