What year was it when you were 16? Chances are, some pretty decent music had been pumped into your ears by that point. You were probably grown up enough to have chosen your favorite style of music, and even your most beloved bands and artists.
Maybe you even let the influence of that music shape your identity?
You know what I’m talking about!
The truth is, at that age, we all had a song that we would maybe call our own. The song that made us feel like we could conquer the world, and no one could stop us! Or, if we were emo baby whiners and sulked along to Tears For Fears and The Get Up Kids, maybe we found our song that evoked those masquera filled tears!
Either way, the indelible authors here at B.G.M. have teamed up to write about their favorite Sweet 16 anthems!
Enjoy these stories, and please leave a comment letting us know what song made you scream off-key lyrics into your hairbrush when you were a ripe young 16 year old!
The year – 1992
The song – “Midlife Crisis” by Faith No More”
Whilst Nirvana might have been ruling the airwaves (Nevermind was released the previous year in 1991), you have to admit that 1992 was a top quality year for releases. You have Ministry releasing Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and The Way to Suck Eggs, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Henry’s Dream, Dream Theatre – Images Words, Sugar – Copper Blue and many more. It was such a good time to be into Alternative Music, but there was one release that dominated my life and that was Angel Dust by Faith No More.
I saw them that year at Gateshead Stadium, supporting Guns N’ Roses on the Use Your Illusion tour (Soundgarden were also on the tour as well).
Faith No More ruled that day. They kept talking about watching the assassination of Princess Diana on the stage monitors (how they were watching future events is beyond me) and they demolished the crowd. It was an intense set, which focused mainly on their Angel Dust material.
I first purchased “Midlife Crisis” on a blue 7” see-through vinyl, which was sadly pinched from me many years later. But that song still gives me goosebumps to this day, the opening just fills me with an anticipation that I cannot escape from. There was a small group of us into it, but my school was full of people into rave music and the Happy Mondays. I think I made the right choice. – Eddie Carter
The Year – 2012
The Song – “Violet” by Hole
It was a very definitive moment, something that could have slipped away into the mundane blur of everyday routine. It was a case of one song leading to another; a thought triggering a curiosity which mutated into an intense and vivid obsession that made sense of the tangled mess of my teenage years.
On a morning of a GCSE exam I was wasting time online, (I made the cut in the end nevertheless) and on this occasion listening to “You Only Get What you Give” by the New Radicals, a song I’d always been fond of and had come and gone throughout the years. This particular listen, I took notice of one of the final lines in the song. I’d heard it 1000 times but never really listened…..
“Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson,
Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson
You’re all fakes, run to your mansions
Come around, we’ll kick your ass in.”
I knew exactly who all these scorned celebrities were apart from Courtney Love (as a disaffected and ignorant millennial kid born in ’95 I’d missed the height of her media frenzy and endlessly entertaining public Madonna and Manson feuds that had unfortunately given her presence within the mainstream and at this time had not delved deep enough into the alternative realm to realize her as the grunge queen I believe her to be now) but it was a name that sounded so familiar that I had to immediately respond to my curiosity.
I google searched her and read through her Wikipedia and was intrigued to learn that she had been one of my more recent musical heroes, Kurt Cobain’s wife (I was 16, I knew nothing, I was only recently self- exiled from the mass mind control cult of mainstream chart music) and of course when I found out that she was the lead singer of a rock band I had to know more.
This is when I heard “Violet” for the very first time. Suddenly all my misplaced teenage angst had rhyme and reason, I found purpose in being an outsider. I took the attitude right out of the lyrics and consumed it all entirely. The menacing DILLIGAF sarcasm that oozed out of Love’s poetic yet disturbing words and screaming vocals affected me deeply.
I was hooked and listened to nothing else but Hole for about 2 months and they have now been firmly established as one of my favourite bands of all time.
I guess the term ‘Haters make you famous’ is a relevant reference to make here. Had the New Radicals not name dropped in bitterness, I wouldn’t have come across “Violet” on that fateful morning and discovered one of my favourite bands, and Hole wouldn’t have gained such a passionate new (socially awkward, pessimistic, disaffected) fan in 16 year old me…one that persists in enthusiasm still 5 years later.
The song now exists as a treasured time marker to remember that summer and that day, a surreal trigger that regresses me to that time in my life that I’d do anything to return to. – Safiyah 404
The Year – 1999
The Song – “Testify” by Rage Against The Machine
The 16th year of my life came in the year 1999. I had just mostly innocently witnessed the greatest decade of alternative music pass by, and as a nation prepared to be wiped out by the looming Y2K hoax, I was listening to the airwaves.
One band that had relentlessly given a voice to the truth unspoken was Rage Against The Machine.
Perfect band name, perfect soundtrack to any political climate anywhere in the world. I clearly remember seeing the video for “Testify” and being stunned at it’s stark take on the current political figures of the time, and making the statement that it did. At the end of the video it read: “In November it is estimated that the majority of Americans – nearly 100 million people – will not vote… simply for lack of a real choice on the ballot.”
This got me thinking from a different angle about politics, and being raised in a more conservative setting, I began to challenge my own thinking.
Right or wrong, RATM helped our generation grapple with the tough questions of our age through the best groove heavy rapcore we have ever heard, and the song “Testify” was my gateway to all of that.
Growing up in small town Montana was often boring and slow, but thanks to my unhealthy addiction to the music channels pumped through our satellite TV, my eyes were opened to all kinds of new frontiers. At 16, I was looking to be changed, and “Testify” went straight to my heart. – Jeremy Erickson
The Year – 1999
The Song – “Smooth” by Santana feat. Rob Thomas
I received my driver’s license at the beginning of my junior year, just before Labor Day of 1999. There at the end of summer and the end of a millennium, driving my mom’s Mitsubishi Galant beneath the canopy of trees on twisty country roads, I felt so grown-up, and so damned high on myself.
Sixteen is a milestone, a turning point: it is the age at which everyone, as far as I was concerned, had to acknowledge I was a young adult. I had experience with a ton of not-childish things – working! kissing! lying to my mom! – and here came this sultry, groovy summer jam, echoing the way I wanted someone to think about me. I think that’s why Santana’s “Smooth” resonated with me so strongly then, and why I still sing along with it any time it comes on.
In 1999, to me, Santana was just some old dude who did “Black Magic Woman”, which I only knew from my dad’s relentless love of classic rock.
I hadn’t realised how iconic his work is, but when that keening guitar picks up through the intro, there’s no mistaking it: we’re listening to a master.
Rob Thomas’ rumbled “man, it’s a hot one,” is eminently singable. Everything about this song’s Latin sound was foreign to Top 40 radio at the time, and maybe that’s why it exploded. It won Grammys. It launched Santana’s Supernatural onto the Billboard 200 chart. It still appears on lists of the top musical collaborations ever.
This song manages to be sensual and innocent. It celebrates women and desire unabashedly. You can dance to it without thinking. It’s timeless – you could play it at a wedding today and make your guests smile – while still, for me, bringing a specific time and experience to mind. I was 16. I felt untouchable.
I felt… smooth. – Tatiana Maria
The Year – 1999
The Song – “Aisha” by Death In Vegas feat. Iggy Pop
The summer of 1999 was an odd one for music. Turning on the radio at any given time and you’d be greeted by 5 songs. 1. “Hit Me Baby One More Time” by Brittney Spears. 2. “Nookie” by Limp Bizkit. 3. “Higher” by Creed. 4. “Cowboy” by Kid Rock. 5. “All-Star” by Smash Mouth. No wonder Napster changed the way music was being listened to!
The popularity was likely based on file sharing as an escape route! Alternative was dead and the Nu-Metal invasion was in full swing. If you were a kid who hated that scene, you were out of luck when it came to the mainstream stations. It was around this time I stopped listening to radio altogether, and not a moment too soon.
Needless to say, my favorite song was something that wasn’t played too much on the mainstream radio, if at all!
“Aisha” by Death In Vegas, is a gothic, 2 chord dirge of raw drums, distorted bass, and a sinister vocal line by the one and only Iggy Pop. Structured like an electronica song but played on real instruments, “Aisha” was atmospheric, evil, and cool beyond belief. Only Iggy is capable of singing about eating dead bodies, followed by a 1960s organ solo and making it work.
Of course, this track wasn’t the most popular among my friends when we’d hang out. While they were taking turns jamming their CDs of Sixpence None The Richer and Sugar Ray, my turn was completely out-voted. They insisted my selections were too “weird” or “creepy”.
However, I was completely cool with that. I think it made me enjoy it even more!
My music felt more intimate like it was my personal secret corner where I could be as weird as I wanted to be without judgment or repercussion. Some folks say all teenagers go through that phase. While it’s true that I did, but the plot twist here is, I never left it. I don’t plan on it either. – Aaron Cooper
The Year – 1998
The Song – “Every Shining Time You Arrive” by Sunny Day Real Estate
I discovered Sunny Day Real Estate a couple years back in 1996 when a friend in my Jr. High art class had recreated the drawing of the cover art for Sunny Day Real Estate’s self titled debut and I remember telling her that I thought her picture of the little Fischer Price people with their kitchen on fire was cool and asked her where she got the idea. When she told me I remember thinking that Sunny Day Real Estate was a very strange name for a band.
The next time I was at the CD store I was determined to get the album, but alas they only had the pink album (LP2) in stock so I snagged that instead. I immediately fell in love and later snagged the debut (LP2 is still by far their best album, the self titled one is super over rated). I was obsessed with the bass playing of Nate Mendel from then on and he really opened my eyes to what the instrument could do within the context of a “rock” band.
As usual I was late to the party because SDRE had broken up and Mendel had moved on to the Foo Fighters.
Then a few years later I was sitting in a creative writing class in high-school and another friend (who was kind of douche) had this weird CD booklet in his shirt pocket (see told you he was a douche) and I was like what album is that and he told me it was the new SDRE and I was like “What the fuck?!” When school got out I immediately went and snagged SDRE’s third album How it Feels to Be Something On.
I was mostly curious to know if Nate Mendel was back in the band and if he had left Foo Fighters, to my disappointment and relief (I still loved the Foo Fighters at this point) he was not part of this album (track 9 “The Sharks Own Private Fuck” is totally a diss track to Mendel for not rejoining SDRE by the way), which I initially thought would cheapen the music. Thank fully it didn’t and How It Feels to Be Something On became my soundtrack to my early driving years.
Trying to pick a track off the album is hard because the whole entire thing is amazing.
if I had to pick I think I would go with track three “Every Shining Time You Arrive” because to this day that song still pulls at my heart strings. Just the way the guitars weave in and out of the groove and the breakdown and bridge are just pure beauty. I had forgotten about this album for a few years, but writing this blurb has totally made me fall in love with How It Feels to Be Something On again. – Jon
This Canadian grew up in the great state of Montana, so naturally punk and hardcore music served as a proper soundtrack to his early life. Now living in the arctic tundra he enjoys vinyl collecting, bearding, Canadian brew and long walks on the beach he makes up in his mind.