What's My Age Again?
|"What's My Age Again?"|
|Single by Blink-182|
|from the album Enema of the State|
(San Diego, California)
|Blink-182 singles chronology|
"What's My Age Again?" is a song by American rock band Blink-182. It was released in April 1999 as the lead single from the group's third studio album, Enema of the State (1999). The song, written primarily by bassist and vocalist Mark Hoppus, lyrically revolves around the onset of age and maturity, and the failure to implement changes in behavior. A mid-tempo pop punk song, it was written by Hoppus based on personal experience. It was originally titled "Peter Pan Complex", an allusion to the pop-psychology concept, but MCA Records forced the band to retitle the song, as the label found it too obscure a reference. It was the first Blink-182 single to feature drummer Travis Barker.
It became Blink-182’s second hit single, peaking at number two on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart for ten weeks. The song hit number three in Italy and number 17 in the United Kingdom. Primarily an airplay hit, the song was the band's first to cross over to pop radio, hitting number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song's signature music video famously features the band running nude on the streets of Los Angeles. It received heavy rotation on MTV and other music video channels. As a result of this exposure, it gave the band an unwanted reputation for nudity, which would lead them to take more creative control of the group's image later in its career.
Production and composition
"What's My Age Again?" was written by bassist and vocalist Mark Hoppus, though it was credited to both him and guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge. Hoppus began creating the song primarily as a joke to amuse friends. The song was more vulgar in earlier incarnations. The track originally was titled "Peter Pan Complex" and went through a large number of changes before it was finally completed. The label felt people wouldn't understand the reference and the band felt acrimonious after renaming it. According to Hoppus, a few lines near the end of the song were written the day the final cut of the song was completed. Band management and label executives saw a strong single in "What's My Age Again?" although DeLonge felt otherwise: "I didn't understand it, because up to that point, we hadn't had a big single."
"What's My Age Again?" was written by Hoppus and DeLonge, sung by Hoppus and produced by Jerry Finn. The song is two minutes and twenty-eight seconds long. The song is composed in the key of F-sharp major and is set in time signature of common time with a driving tempo of 158 beats per minute. Hoppus' vocal range spans from C3 to F4. The song has lyrics which Hoppus describe as autobiographical "about being in my 20s and acting like a jackass teenager." The narrator describes various immature experiences, such as turning on the television as he receives fellatio from his female companion, and later making a prank call to her mother. The opening bass line is similar to that from the Pixies' "Debaser".
In the United Kingdom, critics were less on board: the New Musical Express (NME) derided the song as "more mindless, punk-pop guitar thrashing from the world's current favorite American brats [...] on the plus side, the song — much like Blink-182's career, we hope — only lasts for two-and-a-half minutes."
Later reviews have subsequently been positive. Jon Blisten of Beats Per Minute deemed it one of the record's "finest songs," calling it a "twisted, self-depreciating examination of man-children." In 2014, Billboard called it "the quintessential Blink manifesto — the story of a twenty-something who still acts like a child." Consequence of Sound, in a 2015 top 10 of the band's best songs, ranked it as number six, commenting, "The truth is that it was always a little strange for grown men to be writing songs about prom night and other high-school pitfalls, but "What’s My Age Again?" works so well because it tackles that strangeness head-on."
Commercially, "What's My Age Again?" became one of the band's best-performing singles. The song was first issued to radio in April 1999, premiering on Los Angeles-based radio station KROQ coincidentally when the band were mixing the final recorded song on the album, "The Party Song". The song gathered mass airplay over the course of the summer of 1999. The song did best on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart; the song first entered the chart during the week of May 8, where it debuted at number 21. It first hit the top five during the week of June 5, and hit number two on July 24, where it remained for ten weeks behind the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Scar Tissue". The song crossed over to mainstream radio during the summer, where it debuted at number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100 on July 17. It later peaked at number 58 in the issue dated October 23. The song had previously peaked at number 51 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart on September 11. The song charted within the top 20 in the United Kingdom, peaking highest at number 17 on the UK Singles Chart.
Clips of the single, as well as 30-second excerpts from album tracks "Aliens Exist" and "Going Away to College", were available online via the early digital distributor a2b Music in the weeks preceding the album's release.
The music video for "What's My Age Again?", directed by Marcos Siega, features the band running in the nude through the streets of Los Angeles, as well as through commercials and daily news programs. The trio only slow down when they spot porn star Janine Lindemulder (the model featured on the cover of Enema of the State). The trio wore flesh-colored Speedos for most of the scenes. "Watching people's faces in the cars as they drove past us was the best," Hoppus told Rolling Stone. "They almost got into accidents. They just saw these ugly blobs running down the street." Siega had known the band for many years at that point, having seen them play small clubs years before. "I knew they were just funny, crazy guys who would pretty much be up for anything. [...] I just kind of wrote the "What's My Age Again?" treatment with an idea that they would do just about anything," he said. The banana man who appeared in the video later re-appeared in the band's next video for "All the Small Things", which is the second single from Enema of The State.
The video first began receiving airplay in early May, debuting on MTV, MTV2 and The Box. The video was MTV's second-most played video for the week ending August 1, and remained a popular video on the channel for over two years. The video was nominated for Best Alternative Video at the 2000 MVPA Awards, but lost to Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly". The band referenced the clip at the 1999 Billboard Awards, which opened with a clip of the band streaking through Las Vegas. The trio also appeared on Total Request Live (TRL) and Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place in the nude as well. The video gave the band a reputation for nudity that plagued the group's career, leading many critics to pigeonhole them as a joke act. "It became something of an albatross as band members grew up," wrote Richard Harrington of The Washington Post. "You know, when we were filming the video for "What's My Age Again?" the whole naked thing was only funny for like 10 minutes. Then, I was the guy standing naked on the side of the street Los Angeles with cars driving by me giving me the finger and shit. It’s funny watching the video now, but at the time, it stopped being funny ten minutes in, and it definitely wasn’t funny three days into it," recalled Tom DeLonge.
This reputation would lead the band members to take control of their marketing and image, as DeLonge later commented in 2014:
|“||We were so naïve that we would run around naked, but they’d make it all glossy and put it on posters and make it look like we really were some kind of erotic boy band or some shit. We were coming from the punk scene, but the label fashioned a whole thing around us that we didn’t even understand; we were just kinda caught up in it. So it took us a little bit to dig out of that and come back to who we really were. And it’s hard to do that once people spend millions of dollars making you into something visually that we weren’t.||”|
By the late 2000s, club promoters in the United Kingdom created nights based around lasting appreciation of the pop punk genre, including one named after "What's My Age Again?", described as a night celebrating "pop-punk, youthful abandon and teenage riot". Rolling Stone's Nicole Frehsée wrote that, "For a new generation of emo fans and bands, Blink's irreverent, upbeat take on punk rock with hits like "What's My Age Again?" and "All the Small Things" was hugely influential."
The Hollywood Reporter's Mischa Pearlman, in a review a 2013 concert by the group, wrote that the song "visibly infects every member of the audience. Because it's a song that recalls the reckless abandon of youth, and the carelessness of growing up." Although the magazine gave the song a scathing review upon its initial release, NME placed it at number 117 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years" nearly thirteen years later, writing, "Few songs capture the urge of wanting to act stupid and be immature as well as this 2000 single does. [...] This is everything pop punk does well. Its guitar riffs seem to have been soaked in Relentless and its chorus makes you want to jump around the room. It's been imitated thousands of times since, but nothing's come close to this..."
British radio station BBC Radio 1 have a section on one of their shows named after the single and using it as the theme song. Greg James originated the game on his drivetime show, and has moved it to The BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show. The game sees Greg pitted against an opponent, typically a fellow Radio 1 DJ/presenter or celebrity guest. In the game, three listeners phone in and talk to the competitors, who take it in turns to ask questions, then try to guess the listeners' age.
The song has also been covered numerous times; most notably by Atlanta ambient artist B.E.N for his album "Benema of the State."
Formats and track listings
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US CD #1 (1999)
US CD #2 (1999)
UK CD #1 (1999)
UK CD #2 (1999)
German CD (1999)
European CD #1 (1999)
European CD (1999)
European 7" Picture Disc (1999)
Italian 12" (1999)
Australian CD (1999)
UK Cassette (1999)
Mexican Promo CD (1999)
Credits and personnel
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Enema of the State.
- Recorded at Signature Sound, Studio West, San Diego, California; Mad Hatter Studios, The Bomb Factory, Los Angeles, California; Conway Recording Studios, Hollywood, California; Big Fish Studios, Encinitas, California
- Mixed at Conway Recording Studios, Hollywood, California; South Beach Studios, Miami, Florida
- Mark Hoppus – bass guitar, vocals, songwriting
- Tom DeLonge – guitars, vocals, songwriting
- Travis Barker – drums, percussion
Charts and certifications
- Enema of the State (CD Promo) (liner notes). Blink-182. US: MCA Records. 1999. UMD-9991.
The CD promo, distributed to radio stations, includes a press kit and an info sheet that reads: "Enema of the State was recorded from January to March 1999 in the band's hometown of San Diego at Signature Sound."
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