The Middle (song)

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"The Middle"
Single by Jimmy Eat World
from the album Bleed American
B-side "A Praise Chorus" (Radio 1 Session) (7")
Released November 5, 2001
Length 2:46
Label DreamWorks
Songwriter(s) Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World singles chronology
"Bleed American"
"The Middle"
"Bleed American"
"The Middle"

"The Middle" is a song by American rock band Jimmy Eat World. It was released in November 2001 as the second single of their fourth album Bleed American. It was a top five Billboard Hot 100 hit in 2002. The song was a breakthrough hit for Jimmy Eat World (who had self-financed the recording of the Bleed American album after having been dropped by Capitol Records in 1999).

Background and composition[edit]

"The Middle" was written after Jimmy Eat World had been dropped from Capitol Records after their previous album Clarity had been released. Their second album Static Prevails had sold just 10,000 copies in 1996 and Capitol Records decided to drop the band in 1999 due to a change in priorities. Singer/guitarist Jim Adkins explained to the Dallas Observer: "We were just about invisible there and it wasn't going to get any better."[1]

"The Middle" reflects these trying times for the band with lyrics about "Don't write yourself off yet" when feeling "left out or looked down on."[2] The band decided to finance the recording of the album and decided to keep things simple on the new record rather than experiment, as they had done on previous records. "On our new stuff, rather than challenging ourselves [by] getting real experimental, we kind of went in the other direction, challenging ourselves by getting very simple."[1]

Once completed, Jimmy Eat World took Bleed American to record companies and was signed to DreamWorks Records. Bleed American was released in the middle of 2001 with the title track as the lead single. However, following the September 11 attacks the album's title was changed to Jimmy Eat World and the lead single failed to win airplay, although it reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks.

The song has been characterized under genres such as alternative rock,[3] pop punk,[4] and power pop.[5]

Release and reception[edit]

When "The Middle" was released, the success of the album and the band was dependent on the single breaking through. By early 2002, the song had reached the top of the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song then crossed over to Top 40 radio, resulting in it reaching a peak of #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.[6] The song also charted in the UK, reaching a peak of #26 in 2002.[7] The band toured extensively behind the album, touring with Weezer, Tenacious D, Green Day, Blink-182, and the Vans Warped Tour as well as the band's own headlining tour. "The Middle" was the most commercially successful single released from Bleed American.[6]

Pitchfork Media named the track #165 on its list of the top 500 tracks of the 2000s. Reviewer Mark Richardson wrote of the track: "And if your band delivers that message of hope with the kind of power-pop chorus hook that gives the best couple of Weezer songs a run for their money, you've accomplished something."[8]

In 2012, The A.V. Club published an article entitled, "How Jimmy Eat World's 'The Middle' Became the Best Song for a Bad Time", with Jason Heller noting, "'The Middle' wasn't a sellout. It was a return to form, one made by a band that had a lot more wisdom, scars, and songwriting talent than it did seven years prior—and a band that was in a position where do or die looked like the only options."[9]

Music video[edit]

The song's video (directed by Paul Fedor) featuring young people in underwear received plenty of play on MTV, especially on Total Request Live.

The music video features a fully clothed teenage boy (Josh Keleher) who attends a pool party at which Jimmy Eat World is playing, only to find everyone, except the band, in their underwear. Much of the crowd is making out, but the boy is excluded. Finally, out of frustration, he starts to strip to be like the others, only to bump into a teenage girl doing the same thing in the closet he is in. The kids keep their clothes on and leave the party, arms around each other, as the song concludes.

Usage in media[edit]

The track is featured in the videogames Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour[10] in addition to the TV show The Blacklist.

Singer Taylor Swift lip-synched the song in an Apple Music commercial that debuted on April 18, 2016. [11]

The song was used in the TV show The Middle's pilot episode. [12]

Track listing[edit]

7-inch single

  1. "The Middle"
  2. "A Praise Chorus" (Radio 1 Session)


  1. "The Middle"
  2. "No Sensitivity"
  3. "The Middle" (early demo)
  4. "The Middle" (video)


  1. "The Middle"
  2. "If You Don't, Don't" (acoustic) (XFM session)
  3. "Game of Pricks" (Guided by Voices cover) (Radio 1 Session)
  4. "The Middle" (video)

The Middle/A Praise Chorus AUS Tour EP

  1. "The Middle"
  2. "A Praise Chorus" (album version)
  3. "Bleed American" (live from the 9:30 Club, Washington DC 6/4/02)
  4. "Firestarter" (The Prodigy cover)
  5. "The Middle" (acoustic)


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2001–03) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[13] 49
Brazilian Singles Chart (ABPD)[14] 31
France (SNEP)[15] 98
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[16] 92
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[17] 28
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[18] 26
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 5
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[20] 2
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[21] 1
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[22] 39
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[23] 4
US Billboard Top 40 Tracks 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2002) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[24] 14
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 3
Preceded by
"Youth of the Nation" by P.O.D.
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
April 13 – May 4, 2002
Succeeded by
"Seein' Red" by Unwritten Law


Specific references
  1. ^ a b Jim Adkins interview with Dallas Observer replayed in Contemporary Musicians 2002 Galenet
  2. ^ Lyrics at Jimmy Eat World's website
  3. ^ "Live Review: Jimmy Eat World + Panic! At The Disco + Alkaline Trio - The Hi-Fi, Sydney (24.02.14) - the AU review". the AU review. Retrieved July 19, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Top 10 Albums & Singles of 2002 - Feature - Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 19, 2015. 
  5. ^ "The 100 Best Singles of the Aughts - Feature - Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 19, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Bleed American - Jimmy Eat World. AllMusic. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  7. ^ JIMMY EAT WORLD - THE OFFICIAL CHARTS COMPANY. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  8. ^ Pitchfork Staff. The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s: 200-101. Pitchfork Media. August 18, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  9. ^ Heller, Jason. "How Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" became the best song for a bad time". Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ The Middle By Jimmy Eat World. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  11. ^ Taylor Mic Drop. YouTube. 18 April 2016. 
  12. ^ . 14 August 2017  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ " – Jimmy Eat World – The Middle". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  14. ^ "Brazil" (PDF). ABPD. October 6, 2001. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  15. ^ " – Jimmy Eat World – The Middle" (in French). Les classement single.
  16. ^ " – Jimmy Eat World – The Middle" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  17. ^ " – Jimmy Eat World – The Middle". Top 40 Singles.
  18. ^ "9, 2002/ Archive Chart: February 9, 2002" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  19. ^ "Jimmy Eat World – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Jimmy Eat World. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  20. ^ "Jimmy Eat World – Chart history" Billboard Adult Pop Songs for Jimmy Eat World. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  21. ^ "Jimmy Eat World – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Jimmy Eat World. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  22. ^ "Jimmy Eat World – Chart history" Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs for Jimmy Eat World. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  23. ^ "Jimmy Eat World – Chart history" Billboard Pop Songs for Jimmy Eat World. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  24. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 2002". Archived from the original on March 4, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-31. 
Other sources

External links[edit]