Sunday, June 23, 2013

Harnessing Your Inner Teenager with Music

Musical Notes and Lyrical Lines Series

I write about teens. Teens in love. Teens going through tough times. Teens just realizing they have some awesome superpowers. But yeah, teens. And guess what? Alas, I am not a teenager anymore and haven't been for about nine years. The scary day has come when I go over to my parents house and my still-teenage sisters show me something on their iPhones in which I reply "Huh?" because I've never heard of the app before and I need them to show me one more time what it does and how to work it. Oh, and also explain to me why it's cool. Like apparently this new app called Vine? Say again?

Anyway, I'm lucky to have them in my life to stay in-tune with what the average teenager is doing these days. I probably won't ever put the app Vine in a book but it is knowing those collective kind of things that help keep my "teenage" self up to date.

Another thing that I like to use is music. Unfortunately I'm not a huge fan of all the music that is put out today for the generic pop public. I'm more into acoustic and indie artists because there is a lot less electronics put into the tracks and a whole lot more passion. I'm not the biggest fan of let's-rub-up-against-each-other-in-the-club kind of music. Unless I'm going out with my best friend for her bachelorette party next weekend in Chicago. Then by all means, play that dirty music.

For getting into the zone for writing my book I have two methods:

Listen to music from when you were a teenager: This is going to be different for everyone. When I was a teen I listened to music ranging from 'NSync and the Backstreet Boys to Matchbox 20 and the Goo Goo Dolls to Fuel, Live, and Our Lady Peace. You don't even have to base it off of the music that was popular when you were growing up because maybe you didn't listen to that. Whatever songs pop into your head when you think about high school or getting over your first crush or hanging out with your girlfriends cruising around when you first got your license, listen to those songs. It will bring you back, trust me. And that is what you need to do to reign in the feelings that are usually associated with being a teenager. They are universal for the most part.

Listen to music that specifically talks about being a teenager: I've been compiling a list recently about songs that relate to being a teenager. There are a ton out there but these are just the few that came to me fairly quickly. It helps when they mention age or about being a teenager or about high school specifically.
  • Freshman - The Verve Pipe
  • I'm Eighteen - Alice Cooper (although I prefer the Creed version)
  • Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus
  • School's Out - Alice Cooper
  • Teenage Dream - Katy Perry
  • Be the Young - Yellowcard
  • A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me - Fall Out Boy
  • 22 - Taylor Swift (I know being 22 is technically not a teenager but hey, we're including New Adult in here as well!)
These songs, even if I didn't listen to them all when I was a teen, help me feel a little closer to my teen-self because they are specifically targeted at that timeframe is a person's life. Teens feel invincible, vulnerable, unsure, confident, young, confused, naive. It is a wide gamut of feelings depending on your character and their situation but a lot of songs that I mentioned above became popular because so many people could connect to the feelings. I'm not eighteen anymore but when I listen to "I'm Eighteen" while driving around in my car, I raise the volume to the top and remember the feeling of invincibility.

Check out my first post in this series if you missed it - Building the Soundtrack to Your Story

So are there any specific songs or types of music you listen to in order to connect with your ever-living teenager inside? I'd love to expand my collection!


  1. I tend to listen to Taylor Swift and Paramore (their first couple albums) to get into the teenager mindset. It doesn't matter what type of story it is (chick lit, thriller), these always help me start thinking more like I did when I was in high school.

  2. I love Paramore!! Yes, there is something about their songs that just screams teenager hah :)

  3. This is an oldie, but a goodie.
    Parents Just Don't Understand by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the fresh Prince