There are so many songs written about being a teenager. Why? Well, because growing up is hard! Everyone experiences some inner turmoil growing up, and sometimes, nothing can better express that pent-up angst then listening to some memorable songs about teenagers.
In this article, I’ve going to provide you with some of my favorite songs about teenage life and growing up, which hopefully allow you to discover some great new music.
Songs About Teenagers That Are Great
Let’s begin with a song by My Chemical Romance.
Teenagers by My Chemical Romance (2007)
Even though this song was released in 2007, it’s recently been making a resurgence on TikTok.
The song is pretty loud with a lot of shouting in the chorus, but that’s what makes it so fitting. Adults sometimes seem scared of teenagers, and this song is told through the point of view of a teenager that is sarcastically imagining what adults think of them:
Teenagers scare the living s**t out of me
They could care less as long as someone’ll bleed
So darken your clothes or strike a violent pose
Maybe they’ll leave you alone, but not me
Definitely a great, catchy song full of teen angst that’s recently become popular again.
Teenage Love Affair by Alicia Keys (2007)
Let’s now move a bit into the pop (or soul/R&B, depending on your preference) genre with this memorable track by Alicia Keys. Keys is known for performing very “grown” songs—moving records that speak to what life is like as an adult.
That’s why I think “Teenage Love Affair” is so memorable—it’s like a nostalgic trip back to high school were love is a bit more “dangerous” because you have you don’t fully control your life. You’re still under the thumb of your parents—you have to be home by the time the street lights come on, after all.
Keys leans heavily into this theme, as she speaks to “another secret meeting on the fifth floor staircase.” It’s such a cute, innocent way to portray “forbidden love.” If this song was about adults, this track would be much more akin to “Creep” by TLC or “My Little Secret” by Xscape.
But, because this record is set with the backdrop of teenage romance, it’s infused with a naive, carefree charm that really makes for a great song—especially with Keys’ vocal talent.
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8Teen by Khalid (2017)
On this track, Khalid speaks to the challenge of falling in love when you’re still a teenager. You don’t really know what you’re doing. You’re still fearful of your parents. And your emotions are always high, because life is still very much fresh and new.
But, what I really like about this song—and it’s quite subtle—is that it shifts perspective and time as the song goes along.
At the start of the song, Khalid speaks to the hopefulness of young love—because he was 18. But by the second verse, Khalid is actually looking back on those earlier years. He has now lost this woman that he fell in love with at 18.
By the end of the second verse, he wishes the old days would come back. He wishes he could go back in time, to the age of 18, with all of the knowledge he has as a slightly older, more mature person.
Seventeen by Alessia Cara (2015)
Written when Alessia Cara was nineteen, “Seventeen” reminisces her teenage years and how she wishes she could go back in time and enjoy being seventeen. Incidentally, I first discovered this song when I myself was seventeen and listened to it on repeat!
Her voice stands out from beginning to end and needs very little accompaniment – the track is mostly just the beat. It’s a beautiful song, but it’s really the music video that makes it shine. The video shows Alessia Cara going through different stages of her life, while remaining in the same seat on a train.
A lot of the lyrics talk about not wishing your life away too fast: “See I was racing and waiting for the day that I would be old enough / Guess I’ll be patient and pace myself gotta prepare for when goings rough.” I think that’s something that a lot of teenagers tend to do, because they want to grow up quickly; here, she is encouraging them to just enjoy the process of growing up.
It’s a really great song about being 17 years old.
We Are Golden by MIKA (2009)
This upbeat song really gives me Freddie Mercury vibes! The track is loud and happy, and the chorus really stands out because it sounds like a crowd of teenagers is yelling along with MIKA. The whole song is about enjoying your youth and being proud of who you are!
The chorus of “We are not what you think we are / We are golden, we are golden” is interesting because it speaks to the fact that older generations tend to look down on the youth. MIKA also speaks up against haters with “Looking for treasure in the things that you threw / Like a magpie, I live for glitter not you.”
Overall, it’s a pretty happy song about being a teenager! Of course, it is a MIKA song, so some of the lyrics do get a bit darker despite the blissful tune (“Now I’m sitting alone, I’m finally looking around / Left here on my own, I’m gonna hurt myself”). For the most part though, it’s a joyful take on youth and staying true to yourself.
Suburbia by Troye Sivan (2015)
This song is about leaving your hometown – and then revisiting it to find that nothing has changed. While this isn’t strictly about teenagers, many people do move out as part of growing up.
The track itself isn’t that interesting here; it’s really the lyrics that make it so touching. I think a lot of people can relate to the line: “There’s so much history in my head / The people I’ve left / The ones that I’ve kept.” As we grow up, some people become memories, and some stick with us forever.
Another line I really like is from the second verse: “Swallow nostalgia / Chase it with lime / Better than dwelling / And chasing time / Missing occasions / I can’t rewind / Can’t help but feel I’ve lost what’s mine.” Part of growing up is realizing that we can’t rewind the past, which is such a heartbreaking realization. An emotional song that talks about growing up and changing.
Teen Idle by MARINA (2012)
In “Teen Idle,” MARINA talks about how her teenaged years weren’t quite what she imagined or wanted – it’s kind of a song that is a stark contrast to the idolization of youth that is prevalent in our society.
Her music definitely isn’t for everyone. MARINA’s voice is pretty distinct, and her lyrics are brutal sometimes (“I wanna drink until I ache / I wanna make a big mistake / I want blood, guts and angel cake / I’m gonna puke it anyway”).
But I do think that this song deserves its place on the list; the honesty in her lyrics is really refreshing and she always has a unique take on whatever she writes about (being a teen, in this case).
I particularly like the exaggeratedly happy “Feeling super, super (Super!) suicidal” because it creates a huge contrast with the darkness of what she’s actually saying. Honestly, just a unique song about a less-than-perfect experience of being a teenager.
Changes by David Bowie (1972)
An iconic Bowie song! As always, his voice is great and the song itself is so catchy. The instrumentals are good too, with mostly just piano and string instruments. The lyrics discuss the changes we go through as we grow up:
“And these children that you spit on / As they try to change their worlds / Are immune to your consultations / They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”
It’s definitely worth a listen.
Gone Days by Stray Kids (2019, re-released in 2020)
The title of this song is actually a pun! The English phrase “gone days” (meaning days of the past) has a similar pronunciation to the Korean equivalent of “boomer.”
The lyrics are directed at older people, and basically telling them to trust the new generation and stop hating younger people. You can find the English translation here.
What’s nice about the lyrics is that they do actually recognize that a lot of the time adults tend to say these things because they care (“Stop saying ‘back in my days’ / I can’t stand it anymore ey / Gone days / I get it / You’re doing this because of worries / But trust me once ey / I’ll take responsibility for the future / Let me be myself”).
But even so, they point out that “You think you’re right, nobody’s right / Only opinions.”
This track is very playful and lively – it’s really got a young spirit!
7 Years by Lukas Graham (2015)
I’ve heard “7 Years” played on the radio so many times, but it really never gets old. Graham’s emotional voice can easily bring you to tears.
The lyrics tell the story of growing up and growing old from ages seven to sixty. The ages seven, eleven, and twenty all take place in the past, while ages thirty and sixty are what they imagine for the future.
The track is really great – especially at the beginning where we hear something that sounds like a music box that you would have as a kid. There are a lot of sound effects throughout the song that help tell the story, like the cheering of a crowd and children playing in the background.
There’s also a great buildup to the final chorus where the instrumentals get more intense: “Soon I’ll be 60 years old.” At the end, the story goes back to the beginning – it’s a cycle.
It’s really a beautifully told story.
Forever Fifteen by Mothica (2021)
Mothica tells the story of her suicide attempt at the age of fifteen; had she been successful, she would have been “forever fifteen.” This might seem like an odd one to include on this list, but some teens really do struggle with their mental health, so it’s important to tell their stories so they feel less alone.
Some lyrics that stand out are, such as: “When they say that it’s not that bad / ‘You’re too young to be this sad’ / Makes you wanna do something that you can’t take back / And be forever fifteen.”
Many struggling teens are greeted with statements like this when they try to talk about their problems, almost dismissing their feelings, and this statement really criticizes people who say things like this.
The track is guitar-heavy, and Mothica’s powerful voice stands out. My only complaint is that the chorus feels sort of empty because the guitar from the beginning makes it seem like we’re building up to something loud and in-your-face. Instead, the chorus sounds light and airy.
When I Grow Up from Matilda The Musical (2011)
I was lucky enough to see this on Broadway, and I was immediately touched by this song. It starts off with kids singing about all the things they want to do when they grow up. It’s endearing, what they imagine adulthood to be: “I will eat sweets everyday on the way to work / And I will go to bed late every night.”
Unfortunately, once you’re an adult, you often no longer want to do these things anymore.
Once Miss Honey joins in at the end, it becomes truly heartbreaking. We hear an adult singing the same lyrics that have been sung previously (“I will be brave enough to fight the creatures / That you have to fight beneath the bed / Each night to be a grown up”) but here she is still wishing to grow up.
It makes us wonder if we ever truly grow up. And even if we do, do we really know any better than when we were kids?
Happy Death Day by Xdinary Heroes (2021)
While this is not technically about being a teen per se, it is for sure a teen angst anthem! It’s practically seeping with the angst that you only experience in your teenage years. The track sort of reminds me of an older Panic! At The Disco song with its creepy circus vibes. And it’s also pretty rock-heavy for a group that’s technically considered K-pop.
Looking at the lyrics, they scream teen angst: “I’m so sick of the fakes / Run run for your life” and “Everybody looks the same like me / It’s boring, boring, boring, boring (Yawn).” The whole song is full of lyrics like this. It really sounds like something a teen rock band would write.
Brutal by Olivia Rodrigo (2021)
This is the album that truly launched Olivia Rodrigo into stardom. This song in particular is popular with teens and adults alike – after all, we can all relate to the teen experience!
The song starts off with violin, and then quickly gets into the guitar that remains for pretty much the rest of the song. The verses are kind of wordy and sound a lot like venting – “And I’m so sick of seventeen / Where’s my f**king teenage dream?” and “If someone tells me one more time / ‘Enjoy your youth,’ I’m gonna cry.”
The chorus is really what makes it with its iconic “Ego crush is so severe / God, it’s brutal out here.” She’s referring to growing up, but also to her experience in the entertainment industry. The outro is also really interesting because it slows down and plays with the violin from the intro. It seems like a totally different song at the end! Really great.
Grow Up by Stray Kids (2018, re-released in 2020)
This song has possibly the most comforting lyrics I have ever heard. This is the second Stray Kids song on this list, but it really deserves its place here. While “Gone Days” speaks to the adult perception of teenagers, this song talks directly to the teens themselves and even attempts to comfort them.
The song starts off with whistling, and then this tune gets repeated in their own voices. It’s a great transition and the track is really great overall, especially with its use of piano. The lyrics tell teens that it’s okay to make mistakes – “That’s how it is, even adults made mistakes / Practiced and grew when they were our age / There’s still so many firsts for us” and “You’re doing fine (Yeah) / Have strength, just endure a little more.”
I think, although the song is directed at teens, adults can feel comforted by these lyrics too. Sometimes all we need to hear is that we’re doing well! I particularly like this line: “Just the fact that you’re running toward the end / You’re doing enough, you’re doing just fine.”
This is a really comforting song about growing up! I know that I would have been really touched if I had heard it when I was a teen.
Our teenage years can compare to nothing else! It’s a time in our lives where we are saturated with emotions – these years are full of firsts and of trial-and-error because we are growing up and becoming adults. Listening to songs about teenagers and growing up is definitely comforting, even if you’re already an adult.
Or, perhaps, especially if you’re an adult.
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