The Young and the Hopeless by Good Charlotte

Good Charlotte was created in 1996 by Joel and Benji Madden, Paul Thomas, and Billy Martin. Their first album “Good Charlotte” was released in 2000 and did not propel them into the national spotlight. Their second album “The Young and the Hopeless” released in 2002 launched them into the public eye. The major themes of this album are pointing out the problems with society, overcoming struggles, and promoting individuality.

The Madden brothers suggest that society promotes a way of life that pampers the rich while forcing the common man to make it his life goal to become a celebrity. Good Charlotte proposes this problem in the third song of their album, “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous”. This song says that celebrities “want sympathy”, but that they couldn’t live “life out on the street”. They also point out that if you were famous “you could kill your wife and there was no such thing as 25 to life”. Celebrities that commit a serious crime do not have to face the repercussions of their actions because the general public idealizes them. In their song “Girl & Boys”, they acknowledge what society forces the women in our community to be. The chorus, “Girls don’t like boys girls like cars and money”, shows that society pressures women to be “gold diggers”, dating boys for only their material possessions. The boys also take advantage of this which causes many of the relationship to end.

The members of Good Charlotte hint that they have had many failed relationships in their life, but they offer hope to other people and their relationships. The fourth song on the album, “Wondering”, tells the story of a couple in the process of a break up where they are not sure if they should break up. The Maddens propose the idea that everyone deserves someone worth waiting for. The last song on the album, “Movin’ On”, is about getting over break ups, family problems and everyday struggles. They suggest that everything gets better, it just takes time. The Madden brothers have felt this personally because their father left them when they were young. The listener learns this from the song “Emotionless” which starts and ends with the phrase “Hay Dad”. This establishes that the Madden brothers are over their father leaving and they are better for it. This song gives the listener hope that every struggle yields a good consequence. The Madden brothers also draw attention to the idea that no matter what you are going through you are not alone in their song “Hold On”. It tells the story of a girl that has a terrible life. Her “mother’s gone and [her] father hits [her]”. It implies that she is suicidal, but the Maddens give hope at the end of the song with the words “Hold on … It gets better then you know”. This phrase gives them the ethos required to talk about such subjects. They indirectly tell us that they were in that same position earlier in their life, and they are better for it. This song acknowledges individuality in a minimal way.

“Hold On” implies that overcoming these struggles makes someone their own distinct person. This is one of the many songs that Good Charlotte uses to promote individuality. The most popular song on their album “The Anthem” tackles this issue head on. “I don’t wanna be you” is the controversial phrase that is the primary weapon in “The Anthem”. When they say “you”, they do not mean the listener; they mean society and the people that tell them what to do. They like being “weird” and encourage others to go against the status quo. This push is also relevant in “The Story of My Old Man”. The Madden brothers tell us, the audience, that their father is the epitome of what’s wrong with society, but they warn us not to be like their father. They use anaphora, when they sat “Woke up on Sunday miserable again…again…again”, to tell us that if we give into society our lives will be repetitive and boring. But they also advise us to voice our opinion in the song “Riot Girl”.

Before listening to this album, all I cared about was what other people think about me. Now I’m not afraid to be myself. I recommend this album to anyone willing to listen. Good Charlotte has some pretty important things to say all you have to do is listen. Are you willing to listen?

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