Its title is an allusion to the Who song "The Kids Are Alright" (from My Generation). Despite not being as commercially successful as its predecessor singles, probably due to the more serious subject matter, the song remains the most-listened to Offspring song amongst Last.FM and Spotify (where it also is the most popular song of the 90s) users, and still receives some radio play. The song was used in the opening scene of the film The Faculty, and appears on the soundtrack album. It is also available as downloadable content for the Rock Band video game series.
The song also appears as the ninth track on their Greatest Hits album of 2005.
It features a room with a background of abandonment or family activity at different times. In the center of the room, there are scenes of various persons, including an appearance by Bif Naked, doing stereotypical things and moves; occasionally band members show up. The camera pans around the room and the changing of the scenes of persons.
The background can be seen shifting between two time lines, one where the scene is the past, where things are new and white, and modern days where it is dreary and drab. This is a clear connection to the songs lyric 'when we were young the future was so bright...' and the overall feeling of the song to be looking to what has happened since and 'how can one little street swallow so many lives'.
The music video, directed by Yariv Gaber, released a month before the CD single, received heavy airplay on MTV. It was later nominated for Best Direction on the MTV Video Music Awards. The visuals in the video are made with rotoscoping techniques.
The album art features two different drawings for this song. The first depicts a scarecrow falling into the tentacles shown prominently in other single and album covers from "Americana". This art also appeared in the accompanying booklet for the album (however, this drawing appeared with the song "Have You Ever"). The second, alternative cover shows a young child reaching for a gun, with ominous blood near to it (the drawing that actually appears with the song in the "Americana" booklet).
Melodic hardcore band Evergreen Terrace recorded a cover of The Kids Aren't Alright for their album Writer's Block, which is comprised almost exclusively of covers.
The "blue cover" version of the "She's Got Issues" single includes as B-sides a remix of The Kids Aren't Alright by The Wiseguys, and an instrumental of this remix. The remix takes a different approach to the song, removing the energetic, angry guitars and instead trying to create something bleaker, more of a sad lament than an angry one. This version also appears as a bonus track on the European and South American releases of the band's Greatest Hits.
The college marching band version can be heard in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during home football games of the USC Trojans. The USC Trojan Marching Band plays the song during referee time-outs for viewing replays of critical plays; it is played at least once each home and away football game. The song has thus been broadcast on network television on weekly ABC network College Game Day broadcasts, several Rose Bowl broadcasts, and at least two BCS National Championship game broadcasts. The marching band added the song to its game day repertoire back during the year Offspring appeared with the band during a half time show for fans.
One of the two versions of the "Want You Bad" single released in the UK has a live version of the song as one of the B-sides. The guitars in it are slightly different from the original's.
Another live version of the song appears on the "Hit That" single. This version comes from a session recorded for BBC Radio 1, and features more subdued instrumentation than the original.
On The Making of the Da Hui Video, in the Music DVD Bonus Material, a Hawaiian guitar version of the song can be heard. This version is also included as an MP3 download on the Splinter album as "The Kids Aren't Alright (Island Style)".