September 27, 2021

"Z-Gen Degen" (parody of Wheatus, "Teenage Dirtbag")

It took me awhile to think of how to adapt the early 2000s power-pop / pop-punk classic "Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus to today's youth culture. Original lyrics here.

At first the setting was IRL, like an alt-dude crushing on a normie girl who toils in his favorite thrift store. But Zoomers are so online that the whole "girl next door" from the pretty, popular crowd would have to be more of a social media star in the normie genres of lifestyle / fitness / vlogging, and the guy would belong to an online sub-culture.

Despite their mostly online existence, they still feel the same kind of pining and crushing that earlier generations of teenagers did. They just express it in a more online kind of way. But as far as I know, there isn't an anthem with the same punch as earlier power-pop classics, set in the online world. So here it is. I'm pretty sure most of them know the tune, as it has found decent revival success on TikTok.

There's no single inspiration for the girl here, more of a composite of various social media types. The Zoomer guy singing is not me, but what I'd imagine my teenage self to be like if youth culture of the late '90s had been entirely online, as it is now.

Pronunciation guide: "limited" as "LIM-i-DID" to match the stress pattern of the original. "Followers" is contracted to "FALL-wers". "AVE-ree-EL" has just 3 syllables, combining popular Zoomer names "Avery" and ones ending in "-elle" or "-ella", plus a hat tip to Avril (also, a match made between a ballet girl and an alt-dude).

* * *

Her name's Averielle
I watch her stream for hours
Click on that bell
My feed's not complete without her
Ballet TikToks
And day in my life vlogs
But she doesn't know my @
And she'll never pause her chat
To shout me out

'Cause I'm just a Z-Gen degen, baby
Yeah I'm just a Z-Gen degen, baby
Jam out to "Black Parade" on Rock Band with me

Her mods are too quick
Enforcing their petty rules
I just said "she thicc"
My fanart is rarely lewd
Account insta-blocked
And privileges locked
But they don't know I'm her stan
And they won't remove the ban
Upon me

'Cause I'm just a Z-Gen degen, baby
Yeah I'm just a Z-Gen degen, baby
Jam out to "Black Parade" on Rock Band with me

Let's go, degen
Oh, be my limited edition
Let's go, degen
Oh, be my limited edition

I'm still not paroled
Just watching her million followers'
Special unfold
When she shares my portrait of her
I double-take
"Guys, feast on that cake!!!"
How did she know my @?
And why is she pausing her chat
To shout me out?

There's karaoke for "Black Parade" a bit later
Sing a duet with me, don't be fraidy
I'm just a Z-Gen degen baby, like you

Let's go, degen
Oh, be my limited edition
Let's go, degen
Oh, be my limited edition


  1. The voice is gender-neutral, so this could appeal to Zoomer girls who are lesbian, bi, or "girl crushing but will never eat an actual pussy" bi, as well.

  2. Some synchronicity with the Red Scare fandom, or rather a blogger who also posts on their subreddit. A late 20s straight woman writing structured posts? They really did used to make up like half of the blogosphere back in the late 2000s. Quite the rara avis today, though, and deserving some signal-boosting.

    Her musings on power-pop:

    I would add to the take about power-pop being the most masculine / high-T genre, that it's really the most heterosexual genre. Guys love pretending to be the singer, girls love pretending to be the one being sung about.

    It's all about courtship and woo-ing, meant to lead to pair-bonding monogamy. Not about scoring with a bunch of sluts, or hating on bitches, etc. Those things are entirely compatible with gayness. But not with two high school sweethearts who are going to marry and have kids together.

    That's why there are basically no homos in power-pop, and why they don't worship the genre like they do others by heterosexuals (e.g., the torch song, the resilience anthem, etc.).

    And that's why the post correctly intuits that there's something off about Michael Stipe to qualify REM as power-pop -- he's too gay. You can say "geeky," but it's really just gay.

    Gays don't court and woo for long-term pair-bonding. Their minds are more stuck in the pre-adolescent stage of "ewww, girls are yucky". They're pre-social, where everyone is disposable and interchangeable.

    Power-pop is not for those who have settled into married life, which is more adult contempo. It's more about those initial stirrings of not just attraction to the opposite sex, but the exciting game of courting them in order to win them over for the long haul.

    And that's why it's generally men leading the genre -- men woo, women are wooed.

  3. Female power-pop: "In Your Room" by the Bangles, fronted by perma-hottie Susanna Hoffs.

  4. Last power-pop hit: "Just the Girl" by the Click Five, from 2005 (a year after Juul's final marker of "1985" by Bowling for Soup from 2004).

    Written by the songwriter from Fountains of Wayne, Adam Schlesinger. And definitely a one-hit wonder, not an album band.

    Reached #11 on the Hot 100 weekly charts, and even landed on the year-end chart, at #89.

    From there, it morphed or devolved into Disney / Jonas Brothers territory, but you can't say that genre didn't go out with a bang. Awesome song.

    (Also, congrats to the blogger for not having a distinctly Millennial voice. Thought she was a Gen X-er until the age reveal.)


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