These songs bottle up teen angst perfectly – some focus more on heartbreak, some on lust, some of the fear of growing up, and some manage to include all of them. Lyrics and sound alone are powerful, but together they create achingly beautiful masterpieces that transport you back to your teen angst days or allow you to reimagine new ones.
Here are 10 songs that encapsulate teen angst.
The energetic synth-pop intro will hook you in right away, just like it hooked me. This song is all about celebrating youth and is full of angst and naivety. It’s a perfect balance between Alisa’s shouted vocals and Thom’s whispered vocals, and it showcases the energy and tiredness of youth against a synth bass background.
This song is a more upbeat look at teen angst that just makes you feel happy inside. I imagine the person Majia is singing to has been her best friend since childhood and now they’re teenagers testing the waters of a relationship together. She’s happy to give him time because she needs it too. A slow build-up with a strong, lively baseline and gentle handclaps, this song is full of hope.
This is the song that brought Aussie legend Amy Shark to fame and rightly so. The infatuation and ache are so clear in Amy’s voice as she lusts over her crush. The brutal honesty in her lyrics and the ambiance differentiate it from other pop songs on the radio. She perfectly takes you back to your angsty teenage turmoil days.
Matty lays himself bare in this song with his emotional lyrics about someone he loves who either left him or cheated on him. Placed against a synthesized dreamscape backdrop, Matty’s lyrics are raw and real. It’s about trying to get over someone, but also stuck thinking about them, a conflicting feeling that’s all too relatable.
As much as I love the original, the remix just provides an extra layer of angst.
The second it starts, the layered and repetitive lyrical echoes throw you straight back into your angsty teenage years. It’s about being scared of growing up and the uncertainty that ensues which comes through in the lyrics. The electropop music and beat drops push to the forefront and make your heart relive its angsty memories.
Full of angst, this song makes you relive your teenage years through its nostalgic chant. It’s about looking back at your awkward teenage days and realising you’re not an awkward teenager anymore. The song is divided into sections of different repetitive lyrics which provide a melancholic chant and the perfect look inside a crush-infused teenager’s brain.
A mix between R&B and pop, this song is about wanting to have a casual relationship when you’re young, knowing it’s not going to last but still wanting to give as much love as you can anyway. It has a breezy beat and a summery vibe, and it perfectly captures those long lazy days of being a teenager.
This song is about Dev, the singer, wanting to have a sexual encounter with a person he lusts, whether they’re in a relationship or not. His vulnerability comes across in the lyrics as he expresses his desires. Set against an alluring beat, the song has a strong, seductive hook showcasing Dev’s passion.
I discovered this song when the second half was on the Skins season six trailer. The trailer shows teen angst between the third-generation characters perfectly. This is exactly what I think teen angst sounds like. There are a few lyrics, but this song is all about the range of synthesized sounds which convey so much emotion.
Birdy perfectly covers The Naked and Famous’s Young Blood, which I included earlier, and makes it her own. She transforms the message from recklessness to pensiveness, as she takes on a melancholic tone. The piano is the key instrument in this bittersweet look at teen angst.
Do any of these songs provoke particular feelings of teen angst for you? Which one is your favourite? What are your favourite songs that encapsulate teen angst that I haven’t included?
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Julie is currently studying s Bachelor of Arts (Professional and Creative Writing) at Deakin University in Australia. She's a hardcover book and journal collector, she owns way too many planners, and she keeps telling herself that one day she will go to Paris.