Over the course of their fruitful career, Matchbox Twenty have been unfairly maligned. It’s easy to see why they were the target of a great deal of critical scorn when their breakthrough album Yourself or Someone Like You first hit the streets in 1996, as that album took the dynamics of alternative rock and smoothed out the edges to create a radio-ready version of post-grunge. In a world of Metallicas, they were Bon Jovi. But there are a few things you must remember: Bon Jovi totally rules, several of Matchbox Twenty’s songs (including breakout single “Push,” the surging “Long Day” and the breezy “3 A.M.”) are some of the best radio rock of the past quarter century, Rob Thomas is a super-cool frontman and their sophomore album Mad Season is a stone-cold classic. And on this day in 2000, “Bent” hit the top of the charts for a single week.
Yourself or Someone Like You was such a gigantic hit that it kept the band on the road and making videos for the better part of three years. Along the way, they developed into a killer live act and got together their ideas for Mad Season, which takes the approach of Yourself or Someone Like You and lends it some laser-guided precision. People were starving for new songs, and “Bent” gave them exactly what they wanted: A driving riff, Thomas’ pathos and a gigantic singalong chorus. “Bent” took over the radio and paved the way for the rest of the stellar singles from Mad Season (including “If You’re Gone” and the title track).