10 Recent, Non-Annoying Pop Songs for When You Need the Energy of a Teenager

1. “Right Actions” by Franz Ferdinand

This week at PJ Lifestyle for the daily pop culture debates we started a conversation about music. I sympathized with these sentiments from Don in New Hampshire:

In part my loss of interest in much that is called “pop” came from overexposure and, I suppose, disappointed hopes.

I’d done some interesting work, even post Abstracts, including writing and recording for motion pictures. But even at the time, entering my twenties, so much pop music seemed shallow. In its stead I focused on two things:  A return to my early love of classical music, particularly the symphonies of Beethoven and the keyboard works of Bach — these to satisfy the mind — and a turning towards roots music, be it in the form of Delta blues or the more modern Chicago variety — these to satisfy the spirit.

To this day most “pop” music strikes me as very teenagy. So much so that I have trouble understanding how any adult can find it of interest.

Of late I have again started to listen to music once classified as “pop,” but it is from the days when such music was aimed, not a teenagers, but at adults. Music of the Gershwins, for instance, and that of Cole Porter.

And this is, I think, the difference. Today everything in the “arts” seems to be aimed at children.

I was never a huge bubblegum pop music consumer — my tastes ran more toward the “despite all my rage/I’m still just a rat in a cage” Smashing Pumpkins school of adolescent angst. But I do think there is a place for upbeat, fun, simpleminded music: when exercising. I’ve come to appreciate Bach, Mozart, and innovative jazz in recent years but I don’t think it was ever meant to accompany running.

These are some of the tracks that are in my regular rotation for when Maura and I do our morning runs at sunrise. (Note: I make a point to turn the music off at 6:07 when The Morning Answer starts on AM 870 here in Los Angeles. Listening to Ben Shapiro and Elisha Krauss fighting against the inane, narcissistic arguments of their so-called liberal co-host Brian Whitman is also good for inspiring the energy of a teenager first thing in the morning…)

2. “I Love It” by Icona Pop

I got this feeling on the summer day when you were gone.
I crashed my car into the bridge. I watched, I let it burn.
I threw your shit into a bag and pushed it down the stairs.
I crashed my car into the bridge.

I don’t care, I love it.
I don’t care.

I’m not sure more teenage sentiments exist than these lyrics. :)

3. “Sunlight” by the Harlem Shakes

I had a coat of many colors
Sold it off online
And now I duck my older brothers
‘Neath a longleaf pine
Well I did what I thought I was supposed to do
All I sang so close to true
Now they wanna know what really means the most to you
Means the most to you

Sunlight, sunlight baby
We just let go of the night now slowly
We won’t dance, we won’t sing, we won’t talk
We just gonna watch how it bends

Of course, I just love this song’s subtle Bible reference…

4. “Default” by Django Django

You thought you’d made the grade,
all you made will start to fade
We threw it in the fire,
it’s better that it not remain
You just brought together,
didn’t seem to have the heart
Wheels are coming off now,
knew that it would fall apart
Take one for the team you’re a cog in the machine,
it’s like a default

Is it fair to characterize this as an anthem of teen millennial culture?

5. “Houdini” by Foster the People

Got shackles on, my words are tied
Fear can make you compromise
With the lights turned up, it’s hard to hide
Sometimes I wanna disappear

(Raise up to your ability)
You never knew what I could find
What would come when we realize
I don’t want to compromise

Foster the People has become one of my favorite pop bands these past few years. I need to get caught up and check out their new album more.

6. “Bulletproof” by La Roux

I’m burning bridges shore to shore
I break away from something more
I’m not turned off to love until it’s cheap
Been there, done that, messed around
I’m having fun, don’t put me down
I’ll never let you sweep me off my feet

This time baby,
I’ll be, bulletproof
This time baby,
I’ll be, bulletproof

If the delusion of invincibility isn’t the quintessential teen fantasy then what is?

7. “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding

After the war we said we’d fight together
I guess we thought that’s just what humans do
Letting darkness grow
As if we need its palette and we need its colour
But now I’ve seen it through
And now I know the truth

That anything could happen
Anything could happen
Anything could happen

An angelic voice powering a song celebrating the ability to create our own destiny.

8. “Justice” by Civilization

Stand aside as they bow to the call of the beast,
Tantalized and seduced by the demons released,
Cast to the ground by the whim of the merciless sky
Born to the fire that burns in the all-seeing eye…

The beating of a million drums,
The fire of a million guns,
The mother of a million sons,

I don’t like the slow start to this song but once it gets going at 1:30 it’s really cool.

9. “Blew My Mind” by Dresses

You blew my mind when we were swinging in a dream
You said, “watch me I’ll swing so high I’ll be stuck up in the trees”
And so ya did
I forgot it was a dream and so ya did

I left you in my mind, and wandered to the creek
Where I startled little children, and the children laughed at me
So I dipped
I went on with the day I shoulda skipped

An upbeat sugar infusion.

10. “Hang Forever” by Ivy Levan

I’ll hold your hair when you drink vodka
I will always have your back
We go through thick and thin
We wear it on our skin
You keep me high like I’m on crack

I got a noose on my finger
Gonna, hang together
Gonna hang forever
Gonna hang forever
Got a noose on my finger
I’m gonna do it permanently

The fantasy of teen love — two wild, star-crossed lover criminals in it to the very end.

I’m going to try t do more music lists, organizing and ranking songs, albums, and artists across genres from pop to classical, jazz, rap, electronic, classic rock and hip-hop. I’ll also try to do a longer, expanded version of this list ranking the songs. Have any suggestions for others that should go on it?

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