Follow TV Tropes


Music / Goo Goo Dolls

Go To
Left - John Rzeznik. Right - Robby Takac.
And I don't want the world to see me,
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand.
When everything's made to be broken,
I just want you to know who I am.
— "Iris"

Goo Goo Dolls are an alternative rock/pop band that have been around since 1986. The band began as The Sex Maggots, formed by John Rzeznik, Robby Takac, and George Tutuska; they changed to the Goo Goo Dolls after being banned from playing in a club because their name was too 'obscene'. Tutuska was replaced by Mike Malinin in 1994 (who later left in the end of 2013), just before the band released their fifth album, A Boy Named Goo, and the success of their single "Name" pulled them into the public eye.

The band would have probably have been a One-Hit Wonder if not for the 1998 movie City of Angels; Rzeznik was asked to write a song for the movie and thus was born "Iris", one of the most played songs of the nineties. Placed on their sixth album, Dizzy Up the Girl, alongside other popular singles such as "Slide", "Broadway", and "Black Balloon", the band enjoyed quite a bit of fame into the early 2000s.

The band continues to play and release albums, but their popularity has decreased quite a bit since the late 90s. Their singles are somewhat successful and they have a contingent of loyal fans. Their sound has changed from punk and music similar to bands such as the Replacements in the late 80s and early 90s to focus more on the power ballads and more pop-friendly rock that made them successful in the 90s.

The band's current line-up, not including musicians hired for touring:

  • John Rzeznik: guitar, vocals
  • Robby Takac: bass, vocals

The band has released eleven studio albums, one live album, and three compilation albums. Their latest album, released in May 2019, is titled Miracle Pill.


  • Goo Goo Dolls (1987)
  • Jed (1989)
  • Hold Me Up (1990)
  • Superstar Car Wash (1993)
  • A Boy Named Goo (1995)
  • Dizzy Up the Girl (1998)
  • Gutterflower (2002)
  • Let Love In (2006)
  • Something for the Rest of Us (2010)
  • Magnetic (2013)
  • Boxes (2016)
  • Miracle Pill (2019)
  • It's Christmas All Over (2020)
  • Chaos in Bloom (2022)

Now we're grown up tropes that never knew their names:

  • All Drummers Are Animals: Averted by Mike. He was easily the quietest in the band, and he was also the best-educated musically.
  • Audience Participation Song: John will usually have the crowd sing most of "Iris"'s chorus during concerts.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: "Broadway"'s second verse is this for Johnny.
  • Concept Video: Every music video except for Stay With You is this.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Their early Hardcore Punk work (e.g., "Up Yours") bears no resemblance to the band they became.
  • Flanderization: The band has always put at least one acoustic song or power ballad by Johnny on each album, but until A Boy Named Goo, most songs were harder and sung/screamed by Robby. After "Name"'s success, the band began to add more of John's songs and take away Robby's - in every album after Let Love In, Robby only had two songs. The band has also gone from harder rock to more acoustic, slower and more ballad-style songs over the years.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: Try explaining to high schoolers that "Naked" is about being emotionally open, not about girls or sex, before they've actually heard the song. And of course, we already mentioned the problem with band's original name.
  • Lighter and Softer: Let Love In is much more upbeat than the usual fare. Most fans dislike it partially because the tone is more happy than usual.
    • One could argue that this trope as a whole (in relation to their earlier work) since Johnny "took over" the band after A Boy Named Goo.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Supposedly how the band ended up with their current moniker; after being told to find a new name or they wouldn't be able to play at a club, they scrambled... and saw an old magazine with an ad for the titular doll on the back.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • One of their most upbeat sounding songs, "Slide", is basically a teenage boy trying to get his girlfriend to come back home and not having an abortion after getting her pregnant.
    • "Broadway" sounds peppy but is half about getting older and just waiting to die because there's nothing left for the singer and half John being pissed off about his father.
  • New Sound Album: Superstar Car Wash drove down some of the snot on their earlier albums and cranked up the guitars. A Boy Named Goo balanced that style with a couple of acoustic ballads ("Name" being the most famous). Dizzy Up the Girl has some power-pop but mostly saw the band moving towards ballad-style pop rock, a style replicated later on Gutterflower, Let Love In and Something for the Rest of Us. Magnetic has electronic elements scattered in its sound.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Iris".
  • Punny Name: The name of the album A Boy Named Goo is based on Johnny Cash's A Boy Named Sue.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Downplayed as they both have somewhat rough voices, but John is definitely the soprano to Robby's gravel. John has a slightly husky but mostly pretty boy tenor while Robby has a deep, raspy punk voice.
  • Teen Pregnancy: "Slide" tells a story about May, a teenage girl in a Catholic environment, who ends up getting pregnant (by her teen boyfriend, no less) and gets her family upset; she and said boyfriend are both discussing on whether they can get married or get an abortion.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: They were called The Goo Goo Dolls for three albums (Dizzy Up the Girl, Gutterflower, and Let Love In), but their name officially lacks the definite article.
  • Video Full of Film Clips:
    • "I'm Awake Now" features the band watching Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare on television. They fall asleep, get chased by Freddy, watch more clips of the film in a movie theater and are chased off again by him.
    • "Iris" features clips from City of Angels.

Alternative Title(s): The Goo Goo Dolls