When it comes to a crush tale, I was absolutely enamored with what Rachel McIntyre Smith had to say about her middle school crush. The singer-songwriter fumbled big time but was in good spirits about it as we talked about the skater boy who stole her heart once upon a time. In hindsight, she was much braver than me at that age. See, I’ve never been the type to approach a boy first. Like, ever. It’s just not in my nature as seen with an already mentioned middle school crush and even through college. Was not happening, but that didn’t stop the middle school daydreams, especially when it came to the first rebel outside of a boy band my heart stopped for near the end of 8th grade, Joel Madden.
For much of my life up until that point I’d given my love and devotion to Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and honestly, I swore up and down that fact would likely never change. Well, teen angst can make you do a lot of things, including putting your favorite boy band on the back burner to entertain your new obsession; pop punk. Heavy on the pop, light on the punk because Good Charlotte was basically a Tiger Beat centerfold straight from a Hot Topic catalog…if those had existed. They were 20-somethings singing shit that felt tailor-made for my 14-year-old self, and I was like, yup, this is my – no pun intended – anthem.
At the forefront of this new musical must was Joel Madden. Good Charlotte’s lead singer with an older guy next door who lives with his parents and works at the car wash when his band isn’t touring vibes was the most attractive thing to me at the tail end of middle school and very much influenced the type of guy I’d give too much head space to moving forward throughout high school…college…and most of my 20s. So yeah, replacing Nick Carter at the top of my heart’s mountain was a huge deal and really, Joel Madden should feel so honored because I couldn’t have been the only one at that time shifting gears.
Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC were still pushing out hits in the early 2000s but with the rumblings of pop punk, and later the emergence of emo, my generation started to look elsewhere. Plus, let’s be real – what captures the teenage experience more? A love song or a song about being pissed at your hometown? With new music in our CD players, new crushes followed for many my age. So in many ways, I think Backstreet Boys and Good Charlotte are very…I’d say communal in the crush experience because it wouldn’t be hard to find people my age who sort of went from one to the other around the same time.
Anyways, with a new band to love and a new man “I was 100% going to marry one day,” Joel Madden sat atop of my crush list from the end of middle school until about…sophomore year when a band with banshee-like cries entered the picture and gone were my mall punk days and in their place was a screamo-shaped crush, but that’s a story that has yet to be flushed out here, but you can find out who that crush was here.
Like Rachel Mcintyre Smith, I too can look back on this middle school crush of mine and laugh but for different reasons. Find out hers by checking out this week’s episode!