Back To School: The 10 Most Embarrassing Songs Of Our Adolescence

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By Jack and Alex

The basket full of George clothing & last minute package holidays to Lanzarote can mean only one thing – summer is over. The nation’s grotty youth are heading back to school, noses running and fidget spinners in hand.

In honour of them and their terrible early life choices, we look back on the most embarrassing songs we loved in our adolescence.

This exercise was hampered by Alex’s general lack of shame.

No. 5

Jack: ‘Crawling’ – Linkin Park

Linkin Park are not a band without merit, but there’s little sense denying their early material is corny as hell.

There was an acceptable time to love Linkin Park. This time was long over by the time I got on that train, aged 16, many years after Meteora. This is the best example of how hopelessly adolescent their early records are; the song is literally a meme remember.

I used to blast this in the shower and quietly rage at the world and how it “just didn’t get me” whilst soft-soaping my nads.

Alex: ‘Save Me’ – Darren Styles

It’s a known fact that I have never liked a bad song in my life. But some have come close.

Before Harry came along and made the Styles name fashionable, there was Darren, his decidedly less cool, less famous namesake. Listening to it now, ‘Save Me’ is a throwaway bit of Euro-dance trash but, as a teen, I thought it was quite profound. No doubt I went around imagining myself as the video’s protagonist, plummeting from the hundredth floor of some glassy skyscraper, lip-syncing the lyrics all the way down. What a way to go.


Jack: ‘Don’t Stop’ – Innerpartysystem

Sticking with the theme of ‘music that tries / fails to be edgy’ comes this cornball. The lyrics are so funny I actually laughed aloud rediscovering this track. I laughed at both the writer who penned this and at my stupid 17 year old self, blasting this on an iPod nano on the way to college, sporting a mid-00s v-neck, sagging jeans and a bad dye job.

Alex: ‘London Bridge’ – Fergie

When asked by my year 10 Media Studies teacher which song I’d take with me to a desert island, I inexplicably opted for ‘London Bridge’ by Fergie. He must have asked during the one week in which I, and everyone else, was really into this bit of glitzy spaff, a tuneless, cocky and fairly grating debut from the Black Eyed Peas’ poster woman. Judging from the video, she doesn’t even know what London Bridge is. It’s actually Tower Bridge that features in the video, though admittedly that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

No. 3

Jack: ‘Fireflies’ – Owl City

Oh boy, did I love the music of Adam Young. When this song hit No.1 in the summer of ’09 it opened me up to a whole new chapter in my life, I chapter I now regret and recall with a shuddder: The Owl City Years (2009 – 2011).

It’s fairly embarrassing, as I was past 19 before I began to shrug off my love of Owl City, and used to blast Ocean Eyes whilst doing the dishes in my first student flat, inoculated to the shame I definitely should have been feeling.

I do still have fondness for these songs, even if the singing and general composition is terrible; because it reminds me what of a romantic and naive moron I was back then. The lyric “I look at my hands and feel sad / ‘Cause the spaces between my fingers are right where yours fit perfectly” was great romance as far as I was concerned.

Alex: ‘Girlfriend’ – Avril Lavigne

Or anything else Avril released up to this point. I was so into Ms Lavigne that I covered my music textbook with pictures of her, pictures that were hastily defaced by my cruel friends who didn’t appreciate the nuances of her seminal Under My Skin album. Still, I was undeterred. ‘Girlfriend’ isn’t a bad song by a long shot, although it was the track that kickstarted those rumours about Lavigne being replaced by a lookalike. But impostor or not, Avril’s poppier new direction was a hit with just about everyone but my circle of dullards. Get back to yer Oasis, ya bellends.


Jack: ‘No.1’ – Tinchy Stryder feat. N-Dubz

I can confirm I paid money for this. I walked into HMV in the good old days when HMV was still solvent and bought a copy of Tinchy Stryder’s Catch 22. When people claim grime hasn’t come far in ten years – ahem, ahem.

The saddest thing is I thought this was pretty much the baddest, nastiest rap savagery I’d ever heard, and thought it held a dark, dramatic sort of gravitas. Whether this high drama sprung from the plastic string arrangement, terrible flow, or the production which sounds like a rusting cast-off from the Eastern bloc, is anyone’s guess.

Alex: ‘Gettin’ Enough’ – Lil Chris

It was never cool to like Lil Chris, the kid off Channel 4’s ‘Rock School’, so my fondness of this track was pretty low key. Maybe it was the sexual undertones that I probably heard around the time I started masturbating, or maybe it was just because the chorus is really catchy. I dunno, I was a dumb teenager who liked emo boys and pop music. Lil Chris pretty much ticked all my boxes.


Jack: ‘Untitled’ – Simple Plan

As a teenager, are you just flat-out unable to process emotion unless it’s dealt in the most crushingly obvious and overwrought manner possible? Simple Plan are like those ‘Mosquito‘ machines that offies used to have installed to scare off kids; adults can’t hear the piercing sound it emits, only those under the age of about 17.

Similarly, to those under the age of 17, this is a powerful, emotional epic; and a shambling, pissy-pants embarrassing mess to the rest of us.

I am glad to be through the looking glass now; mature, distinguished and listening exclusively to vaporwave.

Alex: ‘Education Pt. 2’ – The Metros

OK so you’ve definitely never heard this song, but The Metros were vaguely popular among NME-reading indie types sometime around 2008. Their single ‘Education Pt. 2’ was a knuckleheaded bit of lad rock that sounded like basically everything else released in the arse end of the noughties, all guitars and haircuts and skinny jeans. But The Metros have a special-ish place in my heart because they were the first band I saw live with two of my mates (the same fuckers who had defaced my Avril notebook) in some scuzzy venue in Birmingham. The band split up shortly after, with one of them going on to form Fat White Family. Ah, the fickleness of youth.

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