Whether you ask Megan Fox or Kourtney Kardashian, bad boys are having their moment this summer. Fox has been dating rapper-turned-pop-punk singer Machine Gun Kelly since March 2020 and Kardashian has been dating blink-182 drummer Travis Barker since January 2021, and neither will let us forget it. Every day we get new paparazzi photos of the couples’ latest outing, PDA-overloaded Instagram photos, or other declarations of love. They are easily the coolest couples of the summer (sorry, Jennifer and Ben!), and with each Instagram upload, they’re declaring it “Bad Boy Summer” (trademark pending).
If you want to hop on the trend, you can recognize a bad boy by his outward appearance — think tattoos and leather — or perhaps by his music taste (both Kelly and Barker make pop-punk music). In general, rock music is having a mainstream resurgence this summer. Look no further than Olivia Rodrigo’s pop-punk influenced chart-toppers, or Willow’s success. Therefore, it is no surprise that Kelly and Barker are not the only bad boys making waves this summer. Italian rock singer Damiano David has been all over my For You Page, and Pete Davidson (who is also in a new, albeit more private, relationship) is a longtime favorite.
One thing that the men have in common beyond their music taste is their interest in fashion and ability to express themselves through their clothes, including with pieces considered feminine. Rock music has a history of blurring gendered fashion boundaries and can account for some of this influence on our bad boys, but it is certainly not the only place where we see this happening. The LGBTQ community has had a notable influence along with many rap and hip-hop artists. Whether it was David Bowie, Prince, Kurt Cobain, Lenny Kravitz, or more recently Frank Ocean, Lil Nas X, Billy Porter, 5 Seconds of Summer, or even Harry Styles, more and more men are embracing their femininity. You’re not a bad boy until you’ve worn eyeliner.
Ultimately, however, being a bad boy is about more than the external things. Kelly, Barker, and the others are expressive, unique, and a little strange. Their individuality and emotional sides make them the perfect halves of our latest favorite celebrity couples.
I have to admit it — I’m kind of obsessed with both relationships. Fox and Kelly met on the set of the upcoming thriller Midnight in the Switchgrass, and even though production was halted a few weeks into filming, it was still enough time for the pair to realize their power couple potential. Meanwhile, Kardashian and Barker have a long history. They have been family friends for years and even live in the same gated community in Calabasas, but they finally announced that they were a couple in January 2021. Once famously called “the least interesting [Kardashian] to look at,” by her own sister, Kardashian has been surprising fans since she started dating Barker, showing off a slightly edgier style and more relaxed Instagram persona.
Beyond the origin stories, their day-to-day behavior is what makes me keep up with the couples. The pairs are certifiably obsessed with each other, tweeting sweet messages about their relationships and uploading pictures packed with PDA. Barker got “Kourtney” tattooed on his chest in April, and by May, he let Kardashian try her hand as a tattoo artist who permanently marked “i love you” on his arm. Fox and Kelly have been making appearances everywhere, killing their red carpet appearances but even their paparazzi photos show just how cool they are. The relationships also seem to be moving very quickly. Both have been reportedly talking about getting engaged and sparking marriage rumors despite their young relationships.
Sometimes their behavior is straight-up weird. For example, Kelly posted a picture announcing to the world that he wears a necklace of Fox’s blood, and Barker uploaded a video of Kardashian sucking on his thumb — two posts I could have gone without seeing. But, just like leather jackets and band tees, this weird behavior is integral to Bad Boy Summer. How else would everyone know that two people are in love? If my relationship isn’t giving off Twilight vibes, I don’t want it. Between thumb sucking and blood and Kelly saying that he is “only sucking one pair of toes” from now on (Kelly has a foot fetish, by the way), I have come to expect strange demonstrations of love from the couples.
Most importantly, the couples seem happy — if their Instagram posts, never-ending PDA, and blended family vacations are any indication. Kardashian and Fox are very successful and could have pretty much any partner they wanted, and they chose tattoo-covered rockers Barker and Kelly. While Megan Thee Stallion declared it Hot Girl Summer for the girls, Megan Fox and Kourtney Kardashian have clearly declared it Bad Boy Summer for the guys. Brb, on my way to Hot Topic.