Good Charlotte came to be during a time when rock was in post-grunge misery and feeling about for new direction. Dozens of bands emerged thereafter in the ’90s — bands such as blink-182 and Lit — and it was clear from the outset that the new rock was neither punk, nor was it very hard. Instead, it was friendly. An audience could sing along. Music writers began calling it power pop. Adolescent themes and toilet comedy replaced violence and angst, and melody replaced random guitar-and-drum thrashing. For the most part, power pop was a goofy good listen that owed as much to boy bands and hardcore as it did Duran Duran.
Founded during the late 1990s by twin brothers Joel and Benji Madden in Maryland, Good Charlotte appeared as a somewhat gloomy version of all the above. They had a clean and distinctive sound with raw teen emotions kept boiling at the same sonic pitch of their guitars. Years later they would craft fine, if psalm-ish prose for “The River”: “As I walk through the valley/ Of the shadow of L.A./ The footsteps that were next to me/ Have gone their separate ways.” Otherwise, most Good Charlotte lyric content in the first couple of releases carried about as much cerebral heft as your average light-beer commercial.
By 2002 they had a winner with the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” single, runaway sales of which surely made the band members rich as well. “Lifestyles” was an attack on such social buffoonery as the O.J. Simpson trial and former Washington DC mayor Marion Barry’s (alleged) drug issues. But at the heart of the song is a juicy commentary on power, money, and the entertainment industry’s nouveau riche. Does life imitate art? You decide: Joel Madden lives in Glendale with actress Nicole Richie (the two have a child together), and earlier this year brother Benji began dating Richie’s friend, Paris Hilton.
Boys Like Girls also perform.
GOOD CHARLOTTE, Viejas Concerts in the Park, Sunday, July 20, 6 p.m. 619-445-5400. $25.