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ONTD Original: White Guys With Guitars of the Oughts

The mid 2000s were a glorious time to be an average looking white guy with a guitar and some feelings to share. Their popularity inspired thousands of college guys who knew a few guitar chords to corner unsuspecting women at parties with their versions of “Hey There Delilah.”


Ryan Cabrera

Most Popular Song: On the Way Down (2004)
“On the Way Down” peaked at number 15 on the Billboard charts, and the video also featured Ashlee Simpson. Cabrera’s subsequent songs failed to gain the same kind of traction, but he kept pumping them out and he’s still sort of vaguely around the music scene, with his most recent single “House on Fire” coming out in 2014.

James Blunt

Most Popular Song: You’re Beautiful (2005)
Blunt’s song “You’re Beautiful” was one of the most popular (and most mocked) songs of 2005. He was the first British artist to top the American singles chart since Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” in 1997. There’s no accounting for taste.

The American Idol Guys

Most Popular Song(s): “Gone, Gone, Gone” (Phillip Phillips, 2012), “I Love You This Big” (Scotty McCreery, 2011), ???? (Lee DeWyze, 2010), “Live Like We’re Dying” (Kris Allen, 2009), “The Time of My Life” (David Cook, 2008)
White guys with guitars dominated American Idol wins for five straight years. Teen girls love the soft, non-threatening crooning of indistinguishable guitar strummers. However, none of these winners have been particularly successful after winning, with the minor exception of Phillip Phillips, who is probably just sneaking into success because people confuse his songs with Dave Matthews Band songs.

Josh Kelley

Most Popular Song: “Amazing” (2003)
Confession time: I used to totally jam out to Kelley’s album “For the Ride Home” after I saw him home for Third Eye Blind. He’s a pretty charismatic performer.  He’s now probably most famous for being married to Katherine Heigl.

Matt Nathanson

Most Popular Song: “Come on Get Higher” (2008)
Nathanson’s songs have been featured in five billion TV shows, from NCIS, Private Practice, One Tree Hill, and Scrubs. He was also on Season 16 of The Bachelor and serenaded bachelor Ben and his date. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Howie Day

Most Popular Song: “Collide” (2004)
Day had some tepid success in 2004, but his real notoriety at the time was several high-profile arrests. In 2004, he was arrested after locking a fan in toilet of his tour bus and destroying the phone of another fan. The next year he was arrested for verbally assaulting a flight crew while under the influence.

John Mayer

Most Popular Song: Hard to call, probably “Your Body is a Wonderland” (2003)
Mayer is the king of White Guys with Guitars, and never more so than in the mid 2000s. He’s dated celebrities from Jennifer Aniston to Katy Perry, and he also gave a charming interview to Playboy where he called his dick “a white supremacist” and used the n-word.

Honorable Mentions: Plain White Ts, Dave Barnes, Jason Mraz, Tyler Hilton, et al

Add your favorite WGWGs!

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Tags: american idol (abc), john mayer, katherine heigl, music / musician, nobody, nostalgia, ontd original
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