Good Charlotte hasn’t released a new album in nearly four years. But if you happened upon “She’s Kinda Hot” on the radio or online and didn’t know any better, you might think the band’s self-imposed hiatus was over. Turns out this attitude-drenched rock anthem from Australia’s 5 Seconds of Summer was co-written by Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden.
The song’s initial acoustic stylings soon give way to a pop-punk tsunami that brings to mind not only Good Charlotte, but all sorts of other bands from that scene, such as Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Blink-182, Sum 41 and Simple Plan. (The latter two also co-wrote material for the sophomore 5 Seconds of Summer album from which this track comes.)
It’s definitely a heavier sound than anything on the group’s eponymous 2014 debut. But that vibe seems to be connecting with fans, if the song’s surge straight to the top of iTunes’ singles chart immediately after its release is any indication.
“I’m surprised that people love that song because it’s heavy as h—,” guitarist Michael Clifford said in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. “I’m so happy that people are supportive of that type of music again, which is always the type of music that we’ve wanted to make.”
The song’s title implies that it’s going to focus on a young woman who is, in the band’s adolescent objectifying estimation, “kinda hot.” And that’s exactly what we get in the first three verses, after which the song takes a Jekyll-and-Hyde turn in a more empowering, less objectifying direction.
Things begin crankily with a profane description of what sounds like a guy’s live-in girlfriend: “My girlfriend’s b–chin’ ’cause I always sleep in/She’s always screamin’ when she’s callin’ her friend.” Not a very flattering bio, to be sure. But this sleepy dude is willing to overlook these character flaws because, well, “She’s kinda hot, though.”
He continues: “My shrink is telling me I got crazy dreams/She’s also saying that I got low self-esteem.” And you know where all this talk about his counselor is going, right? Yeah. “She’s kinda hot, though.” The next verse adds, “She put me on meds, she won’t get out of my head/She’s kinda hot, though.”
But just when you think there’s nothing more to this lame-brain song than lusting after “kinda hot” females, 5 Seconds of Summer turns an unexpected corner.
When we hear about a guy who “left college ’cause it felt like a job/His mom and dad both think he’s a slob,” that “kinda hot, though” refrain morphs into “You’ve got a shot, though.” And the lyrical proceedings soon become a full-on underdog affirmation party as the band raises a flag for anyone who’s ever felt alienated or misunderstood: “They say we’re losers, and we’re alright with that/We are the leaders of the not coming backs/But we’re alright, though/ … We are the kings and queens of the new broken scene/Yeah, we’re alright, though.”
What we get on “She’s Kinda Hot” is kinda confounding, though: half a song that leers at “hot” girls and half a song that empowers kids who don’t feel so hot about life but are determined to press on anyway.
It’s a combination that leaves me feeling … lukewarm. Though.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews.