The Middle (Jimmy Eat World song)

"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 number-five hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2002 and reached the top 50 in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. 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

"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."
"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." 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 getting real experimental, we kind of went in the other direction, challenging ourselves by getting very simple."
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.

Release and reception

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 number five on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the band's only appearance on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, peaking at number 39. The song also charted in the UK, reaching a peak of number 26 in 2002. "The Middle" was the most commercially successful single released from Bleed American. 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 played song on radio in Canada in 2002. "Pitchfork Media named the track number 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."
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."

Music video

The song's video 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 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

The track is featured in the videogames Rock Band 2, and Guitar Hero World Tour.
The song is featured in a season 4 episode of the American television series The Blacklist.
Singer Taylor Swift lip-synched the song in an Apple Music commercial that debuted on April 18, 2016.
The song was used in the TV show The Middle pilot episode.
The song is featured in the movie Zoom.

Track listing

7-inch single
  1. "The Middle"
  2. "A Praise Chorus"
  1. "The Middle"
  2. "No Sensitivity"
  3. "The Middle"
  4. "The Middle"
  1. "The Middle"
  2. "If You Don't, Don't"
  3. "Game of Pricks"
  4. "The Middle"
The Middle/A Praise Chorus AUS Tour EP
  1. "The Middle"
  2. "A Praise Chorus"
  3. "Bleed American"
  4. "Firestarter"
  5. "The Middle"

    Charts and certifications

Weekly charts

Year-end charts