I was listening to Queens of the Stone Age’s fantastic, eponymous debut while running the other day, and Josh Homme side project, the Eagles of Death Metal, crossed my mind for probably the first time since 2015’s Paris terror attacks.
I didn’t linger on that tragic train of thought long because soon, their sleaze boogie single”I Gotta Feeling (Just Nineteen)” crossed my mind. Somehow, this led to me racking my brain for songs with similar themes, and ultimately, the realization that musicians really, really like to document their attraction to teenagers.
Because I hadn’t thrown together a listicle in a while, I thought I would throw together a playlist and a breakdown of each song’s ephebophilia related content. Winger and The Police both have super famous on topic songs, but I tried to only pick songs that are both creepy and good, so Winger and The Police were ruled out fast.
The songs are listed from least creepy to most creepy, but man oh man, do they get creepy in a hurry.
- “Only Sixteen” by Sam Cooke.
This song is about a perfectly chaste, sweet and truncated relationship between two adolescents. It came out in 1957, and it is probably the most 1957-y song imaginable. Perfect listening for any wistful soda jerk. It is not creepy in anyway.
- “Teenage Love” by The Magic Wands
Once again, this is a love song that focuses on a teenaged relationship. It’s spacey, sedate and super fun, but there’s a sort of schoolyard chant, Miss Susie moment where you expect an F-bomb, so that makes it slightly more creepy than the past entry.
- “Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles
This song would be just behind Same Cooke, but the whole, “You know what I mean?” part supposedly penned by Lennon is undeniably a little creepy. Even Jerry Seinfeld, who once dated a 17-year-old has a bit about it seeming a bit out of place. Given that the lovable lads from Liverpool were wee mop-topped moppets at this point, I’m chalking it up to being all in good fun.
- “Sixteen” by The #1s
These Irish garage rockers remain impossible to Google, also no one else seems to have liked their music as much as me, so verifying the lyrics has been an impossible, but I’m pretty sure the gist of the song is that the speaker has conflicted feelings about his attraction to a 16-year-old. “Just 16,” are the operative words that create a palpable tension for the speaker, so we’re officially into the creepy territory.
- “I Got a Feeling (Just Nineteen)” by The Eagles of Death Metal
This song isn’t really about anything particularly alarming. A 19-year-old woman is an adult by just about anyone’s definition, but Jesse Hughes and Co. absolutely will an uncomfortable amount of perversion into the song by making it clear the youth of the woman involved is particularly alluring. Also, “I touch you there because I know the spot,” pretty much guarantees this song separates the sort of problematic songs from the really creepy ones.
- “Teenager in Love” by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
This song is super bouncy and twee, as was pretty much every single song on The Pains self-titled album. Of course, the full phrasing of the chorus the titular teenager is in love with Christ and heroin, and someone’s overly aggressive touch and intent to try new things are mention. It’s not a song about teenagers and romance the way the others are, but it does fit the theme, and it is unsettling, so yay!
- “The New Style” by The Beastie Boys
The bit that qualifies this song off of the massively successful album, License to Ill, is pretty tongue-in cheek, “If I played guitar, I’d be Jimmy Paige/ The girlies I like are underage,” is most definitely a reference to the time Jimmy Paige kidnapped and more or less held a teenager captive, but that incident is so creepy in hindsight that this song gets a solid creep rating just for mentioning it.
- “Norgaard” by The Vaccines
This totally transparent ode to a teenage model is a super catchy blast of guitar pop from these posh British rockers. It also explicitly mentions “tits”, “teenage hormones,” and states the object of the speaker’s affection might not be ready to go stead because she’s “only 17”. It basically deals in the exact same subject matter as “Sixteen” uses the wording of “Saw Her Standing There” and then makes sure the lust is crystal clear.
- “Barely Legal” by The Strokes
Julian Casablancas states pretty unequivocally he wants to steal innocence, which is a phrase I would expect in a Thomas Harris novel. Dr. Lecter, won’t you witness the great becoming of The Strokes as they steal innocence.
- “Across the Sea” by Weezer
I love this song. It does a great job of capturing the way intense longing created by distance can amplify loneliness into frustrated anger. The song also portrays Rivers Cuamo’s super blunt speculation about how schoolgirl fans might touch themselves. The intensity of the song’s emotions makes it so, so much worse. The envelope licking and sniffing mentioned immediately before also does so little to ameliorate concerns.