No. 42: 3 Doors Down, “Kryptonite”

And the award for most harrowingly extended metaphor goes to…

3 Doors Down! This band predated, yet somehow out-awfuled, the faux-emo sad-bastard macho chest thumps of Puddle Of Mudd, Stone Sour, Breaking Benjamin, and Daughtry. They are pretty much the worst thing to come out of Mississippi since racism, and their biggest hit, 2000’s “Kryptonite,” bridged the gap between post-Seven Mary Three lite-beer grunge and the constipated douchery of Nickelback.

“Kryptonite” was written by 3DD singer Brad Arnold from the perspective of a 15-year-old sitting in math class—which makes sense since the lyrics are maybe one step up in maturity from “Milk, Milk Lemonade.” He wails in its chorus, “If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman?”—underneath those words’ overt sappiness is a pukeworthy mix of bragging that he’s “unhinged” and bragging that some girl thinks he’s God’s gift. He will “Keep you by my side with my Superhuman might.” He adds the word “Kryptonite” in there too. The metaphor couldn’t be more stretched unless he closed with “I’m torn like Mr. Mxyzptlk between the two dimensions of the Multiverse, yeeahhhh.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this in the five billion times you’ve heard this song, but Arnold never says exactly what his “Kryptonite” actually is! It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel! Except it’s two pages long and it always ends with me throwing up.

We’ll let the genius himself “explain” the lyrics:

That song, seems like it’s really just kind of like asking a question. Its question is kind of a strange one. It’s not just asking, “If I fall down, will you be there for me?” Because it’s easy to be there for someone when they’re down. But it’s not always easy to be there for somebody when they’re doing good. And that’s the question it’s asking. It’s like, “If I go crazy, will you still call me Superman?” It’s asking, “If I’m down, will you still be there for me?” But at the same time, “If I’m alive and well, will you be there holding my hand?” That’s kind of asking, “If I’m doing good, will you be there for me? Will you not be jealous of me?” That’s the basic question that song’s asking, and maybe throughout the years of singing that song, I might have come up with more meanings for it than it actually might have originally had.

Thanks for clearing that up, dude! Beyond his dream-journal sentimentality, Arnold also played the egregiously overplayed drums, adding a skipping beat that sounds like what a five-year-old might imagine “swing music” would be. They’re called tom-toms, doofus. Use them.

3 Doors Down – Kryptonite [Dailymotion]
3 Doors Down [Official site]
3 Doors Down Frontman Brad Arnold []
F2K: Idolator Counts Down The 50 Worst Songs Of The ’00s, One By Ear-Splitting One

  • DJP

    hahaha I knew this would be on here, I just didn’t expect it here! (I was certain this spot or the next one would be Das Racist)

  • Chris Molanphy

    This band predated, yet somehow out-awfuled, the faux-emo sad-bastard macho chest thumps of Puddle Of Mudd

    Sorry, but as deadly as these guys are, I’ll take their earnest awfulness over deserving Onion snark target Puddle of Mudd, with their pushy, macho bullshit, any day.

    Who’s with me? (Or are we gonna see PoM on this list later? God I hated them.)

  • Audif Jackson Winters III

    @Chris Molanphy: Puddle of Mudd were brought to you by Fred Durst, and thus by necessity worse than 3DD. The real question is, were they a greater crime against humanity than those other Bizkit-asssociate neogrungers, Staind?

  • Jerkwheat


    So many songs to place them here for. But, yes, Puddle of Mudd deserves more scorn. Just for being named Puddle of Mudd.

  • Nicolars

    I always thought that lyric was “Keep you by my side with my Superhuman mind” which seemed funny considering how moronic the song is.

  • baddbob

    @Audif Jackson Winters III: I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but—> Staind > Puddle of Mudd

  • Evie

    So you got Mr. Mxyzptlk into one of these posts, which right away blows my mind. But the real question is, did you have to look up the spelling? My heart hopes no.

  • KingofPants

    Holy shit.

    To use another literary reference, do we really want to know who the Kurtz is at the end of this particular river?

  • ObtuseIntolerant

    @KingofPants: Haha!

  • joshservo

    When I was at my absolute brokest, I took a gig writing vague linking material for a Kidz Bop DVD. Then I spent a weekend in Orlando watching it get made. “Surreal” does not begin to describe the experience, but all in all, I think you’ll agree that “Kryptonite” sounds better sung by children.

  • anthonyisright

    I’m really jealous of anyone who thinks this song is Three Doors Down’s worst, cuz I have to assume they haven’t heard anything else by them. They’re all groaners, but “Kryptonite” is the only one with a beat.

  • anthonyisright

    Just try to argue that this isn’t worse.

  • BradNelson

    @anthonyisright: Yeah, as awful as “Kryptonite” is, everything they released after it is increasingly more awful.

  • Christopher R. Weingarten

    The beat is what makes me hate it!

  • dabug

    Worst thing about “Citizen Soldier” is that you get to watch it Clockwork Orange style before previews start in the movie theater. Though it’s not like it was exactly easy to avoid 3DD when this song was big.

  • Lucas Jensen

    I see this as a lifetime achievement award, really.

  • MhS

    Golly gee, there better be some really awful crap to come on this list, because I don’t find this song objectionable at all.

  • kicking222

    @Lucas Jensen: If this was a lifetime achievement award- that is, adding up all of a band’s crap as opposed to just putting their biggest song on the list of crap- Three Doors Down would be way, way, way the hell higher. I’ve probably only heard a total of four or five of their songs in my life, but every one of them was balls-shrinkingly horrible.

  • othertim

    For the first time so far I have to completely disagree with a selection here. At least take something they released later, such as “Here Without You,” a song that I still believe to this day was such a big hit because the band came out in support of the Iraq War and were thusly rewarded by Clear Channel by having their power ballad played incessantly. yes, it’s a wacky conspiracy theory, but I don’t care.

    (Holy crap, “Kryptonite” actually went to #3 in 2000. I woulda thought “Here Without You” was their biggest hit. Anyway, “Kryptonite” is far, far from offensive. Nearly everything else they’ve put out sucks, though)

  • anthonyisright

    @Christopher R. Weingarten:

    Would you kick Alex Van Halen out of bed for playing clumpy, crowd-pleasing diddlybop beats, too? Hopefully you’ll use your unique “behind the kit” perspective to find us the worst Dream Theater song later, rather than exempt them from criticism.

    I’d like to point out that this song was Robert Christgau’s #17 single of 2000, which would be more impressive if he didn’t place “Who Let The Dogs Out?” at #7 and three Eminem tracks in the top 4 (“Kim” at #1, because really what could be more impressive).

  • Christopher R. Weingarten

    @anthonyisright: Dude, I’m taking A LOT into account here, not just the drumming. Come on now!

  • bonkers09

    It is true that this songs lyrics are terrible. Also I never REALIZED how much moaning and groaning bands were doing in the early 2000′s. It’s like the music industry was trying to turn EVERY band into the next Nirvana and came out with a pile of shit. That aside, I don’t feel this song is THAT bad (especially when compared to all horrific/idiotic/whattttt???? songs already listed. Actually, I’m kinda nostalgic…reminds me of listening to the radio back in the day. Though, listening to this now makes me think, “What the HELL was on the radio back then??”

  • dsven

    I guess I’m in the minority here…don’t actually find the song that bad. It is the only 3DD song I actually can tolerate (which isn’t saying much). I won’t defend 3DD but I don’t think that “Kryptonite” is bad enough to warrant a top 50 placement.

    …but if we’re talking lifetime achievement, well that’s another story entirely.

  • bonkers09

    @dsven: yea, I agree that this does not deserve worst 50 placement.

  • MhS

    let us not take Robert Christgau as a font of wisdom

  • cryptosicko

    Kryptonite > My Humps

  • vbr

    I don’t believe any other rock band has had more corporate synergy than 3 Doors Down. I once saw an entire column about one of their albums on Not an ad, an entire web page on a sports website. I don’t believe I clicked on it though, I might have blacked out. God they suck.

  • solanine

    Agree with others upthread. This song is much better than the vast majority of radio rock produced in the past half-decade; it has a nice funkiness to it, IMO. And it also marks the turning point right *before* Three Doors Down became The Worst Shit Ever.

  • Digiturk Lig tv

    Very interesting stuff many thanks :)

  • http://a-look-at-nipple-covers-chapter-two Ying Cychosz

    I am trying to come up with a novel truthfully pretty much nothing is coming to me. I continually come up empty, will you get over writers-block?