Adolescence has occupied a prominent position in modern culture. As a result, people have released numerous songs about teenagers. Some came from people who were either teenagers or not far from being teenagers. Others were by those for whom adolescence was a much more distant thing. Between them, they have performed music covering just about every aspect of being a teenager.
Here are ten of the best songs about teenagers ever released:
10. “You Belong With Me” – Taylor Swift
It shouldn’t take interested individuals long to realize the narrator in “You Belong With Me” is still in high school. After all, she mentions several often-used tropes associated with such settings. For instance, there’s the self-deprecating comparison with a romantic rival who is a cheerleader. “You Belong With Me” is an excellent reminder of how messy romantic feelings can be for people experiencing them for the first time.
9. “We Are Young” – Fun Featuring Janelle Monae
This song doesn’t reveal the focus characters’ exact age. Even so, there’s no mistaking the zest for life that’s widespread among people who are still young. Indeed, the song’s title says as much.
8. “Breakaway” – Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson released “Breakaway” early in her career. It was cut from her debut album but salvaged for the soundtrack for The Princess Diaries 2. Subsequently, “Breakaway” proved so popular that it was included in Clarkson’s second album before being released as a single a second time. The song’s lyrics portray a young narrator dreaming about the things she’ll accomplish and the places she’ll visit once she ventures into the wider world. As such, it resonated with younger listeners in the early 2000s.
7. “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” – Britney Spears
Britney Spears released her self-titled album in 2001. People see it as a transitional work because it marked the start of her musical maturation. “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” is the most memorable song from the album. In considerable part, that’s because it’s the crystalization of everything Spears said. Even now, it’s said to be one of the artist’s personal favorites.
6. “Just a Girl” – No Doubt
It’s normal for teenagers to chafe at the rules of their parents. However, some have more cause for this than others. It seems safe to say that Gwen Stefani was once one of them, seeing as how she wrote “Just a Girl” because of a time when her father reprimanded her for driving from her bandmate’s house during the night. The song stands as one of the feminist anthems of the 1990s.
5. “Land of Confusion” – Genesis
Many people become more aware of politics and other social matters during adolescence. As such, it isn’t uncommon for them to express frustration at the world’s ills, which can come hand-in-hand with the desire to change it. “Land of Confusion” has two well-known versions. The Genesis original had puppets in its music video, while the Disturbed cover used animation. Either way, the song’s message remains as relevant as ever.
4. “Good Riddance” – Green Day
“Good Riddance” came from negative emotions. After all, its song name is often voiced with spite. As the story goes, Billie Joe Armstrong wrote it because he wanted to vent about his girlfriend moving to Ecuador, thus resulting in one of Green Day’s first ballads. Funny enough, “Good Riddance” became a prom favorite because people interpreted it as a nostalgic reflection on bygone experiences. Something Armstrong and his band have embraced rather than rejected.
3. “Young, Dumb, and Broke” – Khalid
Khalid released “Young, Dumb, and Broke” to an enthusiastic response in 2017. The song peaked at the number 18 position in the United States but was a chart-topper in New Zealand and the Phillippines. Its name might sound self-deprecating. However, it shows a profound sense of self-assurance. After all, the song is all about accepting the name to be accurate before shrugging its metaphorical shoulders at any outside judgment based on it.
2. “Royals” – Lorde
“Royals” wasn’t meant to compliment the people referenced in the title. Of course, the song isn’t referring to the literal members of royal families. Instead, it talks about the celebrities held up by pop culture, which have swallowed the literal members of royal families into their ranks to a considerable extent. Specifically, the song criticizes the materialism on display. Something alien in truth yet familiar in illusion to the narrator and her young friends, who have come from much humbler circumstances. Regardless, “Royals” was a huge success when it was released in 2013. It was a number-one single in the United States, United Kingdom, and several other countries. On top of that, it is often considered one of the best songs of that decade.
1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
Grunge predated Nirvana. The movement was born in the mid-1980s. In contrast, the band didn’t form until 1987. Due to this, it would be an extreme overstatement to credit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with the birth of the grunge movement. However, it did play a pivotal role in propelling grunge into the mainstream, meaning it can claim a share of responsibility for every grunge and post-grunge band that followed in its wake. Some go as far as to credit the song with doing the same for alternative rock as a whole. Whatever the case, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has been much-analyzed. The song’s title comes from when Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna painted “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” in Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain’s bedroom. This refers to how he had been “marked” by her bandmate Tobi Vail’s deodorant. Cobain rejected the notion that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” had any deep meaning when the song started soaring in popularity. In contrast, his bandmate Krist Novoselic has said it was fueled by Cobain’s dislike for what he saw as his generation’s apathetic conformism in considerable part.
You can also read:
- The 10 Best No Doubt Songs of All-Time
- Ranking All Nine Britney Spears Studio Albums
- The 10 Best Lorde Songs of All-Time
- The 10 Best Nirvana Songs of All-Time
- The 10 Best Rachel Platten Songs of All-Time