These are the teenagers who got famous by writing songs that become chart-topping hits of all time. Knowingly or unknowingly, these young songwriters produced heart touching melodies that everyone loved. Ever wondered what the story behind your favorite soundtrack is? You could be listening to a popular song without knowing who wrote it and why. Maybe you are not even aware that many of today’s renowned musicians wrote top hit songs even before they passed their driving tests.
While many of us kept ourselves busy in achieving good grades in classes and learning hot-cross-buns on a recorder, these epitomes of musical fantasy were busy writing beautiful and heart-touching melodies. Passion for music made them create songs that changed the course of musical history. These teenage musicians proved that age is just a number when it comes to being creative and writing full-blown melodies before hitting 20s. Here’s the list of young artists:
Kate Bush, an English songwriter, wrote ‘’The Man with the Child in His Eyes,’’ at age 16, which became a top- chart single. The song was released in 1978, three years after she wrote it. Later in 2010, it was revealed that the song actually described her first boyfriend, Steve Blacknell.
Blacknell revealed his side of the story in an interview with The Daily Mail. He said, “She had become my first true love by the spring of 1975. I’ll never forget her. I went round to her house, and she led me to a room where a piano stood. When I heard it, I realized right there that I had fallen in love with a genius.’’
15-year-old Sharon was the one behind Rick Nelson’s 1950’s hit song ‘Poor Little Fool.’ She wrote it after a high school breakup. Nelson’s voice and her lyrics together made this song his first to reach the top. U.S. No. 1 single as well as No. 1 song on Billboard Hot 100.
This was how Sharon became the youngest female artist to write a hit number. She did not stop. She continued writing popular songs such as ‘Love Again’ and ‘Cherished Memories’ for her longtime boyfriend, Eddie Cochran. He passed away too soon after which Sharon collaborated with several musicians, including The Fleetwoods and Jackie De Shanon.
Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam’s frontman, did not imagine himself growing up to be a rock star like he is today. He wrote ‘Better Man’ and started the journey of being a super songwriter rock star. He said to himself that he wrote the lyrics of ‘Better Man’ even before he was of legal age to consume alcohol.
“Sometimes I think about it, how far I’ve come from the teenager that was sitting on a bed in San Diego, writing ‘Better Man,’ wondering if anyone would ever want to hear it for one,’’ he said during an interview with a magazine. His song was top of the charts on Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks. That’s not all; the song remained at the top of the charts for 8 good weeks.
The Runaways, a 1970 female punk rock band, is best known for its very famous ‘Cherry Bomb.’ The song was written by Kim Fowley, band’s manager, and lead guitarist Joan Jett. Shockingly, Joan was only 17 at that time.
The song was written for their new lead singer Cherie Currie who was 16 years old when the anthem got released. They used the term cherry bomb to show a rebellious underage girl who would do anything to break the rules and cause damage. The song even had the group’s rebellious images to show.
When Buddy Holly turned 19 years old in 1955, he found himself falling for two pop icons of that time. He was inspired by John Wayne and Elvis Presley. He once went to see Elvis’ live performances, and there he decided that he would put forward his own rock band. Together with his friends, Jerry Allison and Joe B. Maudlin, they made a band called, ‘’ The Three Tunes.’’
When Buddy and his friend Jerry went to see John Wayne’s new movie, The Searchers, Wayne could not help himself but repeat one line, ‘’That’ll be the day’’. This phrase was stuck in his mind, and he made a song out of it. The lyrics became Holly’s first hit, which he performed later with his new band called The Crickets.
In 2016, Billie Eilish made her debut into the industry with the song named ‘Ocean Eyes.’ She was only 15 years old, and the song’s lyrics were by her older brother Finneas O’Connell who, in fact, wasn’t as much older than 18 either. The song peaked at number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the start of Billie Eilish’s career of back-to-back hit songs.
In 2017, she released another song, ‘’Bellyache’’ in collaboration with her brother. ‘’ The song was inspired by Creator’s song ‘Garbage,’ Billy said in an interview. She said that the lyrics are totally about a fictional character. The song is about feeling guilty for doing things impulsively because you simply feel like it and later, regretting the decision you made. The song is about a psychopath who regrets that he’s a psychopath but doesn’t really care about it.
Billy Joe Armstrong was naturally drawn towards music since his early years. His childhood friend Mike Dirnt formed a band with Billy at the age of 14. Together after the formation of Green Day, the two started to succeed in making their dreams come true. What most people don’t know is that Armstrong started his musical journey even before his 1999 debut.
He recorded his first song with a local music shop owner’s help. It was way before he actually stepped into the rock and roll fame status. ‘Look for Love’ was the first song he recorded at the young age of 5. You can look up the song and listen to it. The song went viral along with an adorable little five-year-old Armstrong giving interviews. The interview became popular due to the cute remarks of Armstrong, such as. “It makes people happy when I sing. I love it.”
The New Zealand singer, Lorde, started the music industry with ‘Royals.’ The song became her recognition of pop culture worldwide. Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor or simply Lorde had started writing songs when she was only 13. The lyrics for “Royals” were written at her own home when she was 15. That’s not all. It took her only half an hour to do so.
After seeing the 1976 edition of National Geographic, the singer felt inspired to write this song. The show had shown George Brett of the Kansas City Royals signing Baseballs. She recorded the song after school with her producer Joel Little. Within a week, it was available for her Sound Cloud debut.
‘Here Comes Your Man’ was written by Black Francis, commonly known as Charles Thompson IV. He wrote this song years before becoming a lead singer in the band, Pixies. When we say years, we actually mean many years. Francis was only 14 years old when he wrote this poetic track.
Later after writing the song, when he turned 22, he established the band. The song was included in their demo track at the start of their careers. They repeated the song in their third album, Doolittle. This was the first time the world was going to hear this song, and the response was amazing. The Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart had this track peaking at number 3.
T. Jones had just turned 18 when a studio jam session leads to the formation of some of the best acoustics and instrumental songs ever. The House Band of Stax Records had Jones as their lead keyboard player. The song came out when they were waiting for Billy Lee Riley to show up for the session. Jones was playing on the Hammond organ, and the song was produced by accident.
‘Behave yourself’ was being recording at that time. The group needed something as a B-side to the main song. They decided to use their accidental songs that Jones had put together. They called it ‘Green Onions’ because Booker said that it was the nastiest thing that someone would want to throw away. The song which was worth throwing away to Booker turned out to be a hit that had to be moved up to the A-side instead of the original single ‘Behave Yourself.’
“Uptight (everything’s alright)” was the most admired song from his initial years. It was also the first blockbuster co-written by Stevie Wonder. At the age of 15 years, Wonder wrote the song that earned him his first two Grammy Award Nominations.
The song topped the charts in the US at #3, and afterward, Wonder enjoyed a regular spot at the top of the charts. But wonder did not just stop at writing his own songs. His determination and devotion to his profession proved that you could touch the sky if you only try. He created, organized, produced, and performed his own song, thus setting new trends and becoming the first young musician to accomplish so much in 1969.
17-year-old Carole King married Goffin only to have a couple, which turned out to be the best musical duo in history. The music writing husband and wife wrote chart-topping hits, including “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” At the release of this song, King was only 18 years old.
The song was actually written for an all-girl group named The Shirelles. They made records of becoming the first black female group to peak at the top spot at Billboard Hot 100 chart. Carole was also part of the group in a way that she played timpani on the recording.
Pop-punk queen, Avril Lavigne, was only 17 years old when she released her debut single “Complicated.” The song reached number one on the charts across the globe, making her the youngest female soloist with a number one album in the United Kingdom.
Long after her debut, her excitable lyrics and pop-punk vibes gave the teenage girls a liberating sense of feeling to follow. Her songs are usually about young love and female courage that offers a happy-go-lucky and I-don’t-give-a damn perspective to that teenage era.
To convince his girlfriend to stay with him past the curfew, Maurice Williams of Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs wrote the song “Stay.” The love birds were only 15 at that time, so it’s apparent the girlfriend’s parents were wary of her staying out after 22:00pm.
During his teenage prime, Maurice wrote a song begging his girlfriend to stay. Little did he know that four years later, his impetuous love song will take him to new heights of fame. The song topped the charts when he released it later after forming his own musical band. “Stay” was placed at the B side for a single called “do you believe,” but after its phenomenal success, it ultimately got the A-side. “Stay” remains one of their most famous songs to date.
Bow Wow or Lil’ Bow Wow’s real name is Shad Gregory moss. The world knows this rapper as someone who started at a very young age. Shockingly at only six, Bow Wow was able to rap better than so many other artists. Fortunately, the young lad was discovered by legendary hip hop rapper Snoop Dogg. It was also Snoop Dogg, who gave Moss his stage name. In 1998, at the young age of 13, Moss released his first album under the stage name of Bow Wow. The album was called Beware of Dog, and his debut single was “Bounce with Me.”
The album was a great success. It reached the double-platinum stage, with sales up to 2 million copies across the world. This was only the start of his career; Bow Wow went on to release hits after hits until he got tired of it. Bow Wow retired from rapping in 2016. Today, he concentrates on his acting career while being in his thirties.
Zac Hanson was only 11 years old when the Hansons released their first single “MMMBop.” Zac was the youngest in the trio, but that did not stop him from co-writing and performing on the song that became US #1 single. Of course, the younger Hanson lot had no idea that their song would be such a hit among music-lovers. At the release of this iconic song, the three brothers were respectively 15, 13, and 11.
Zac spoke about this saying, “the song was meant to be as the background part for another song. Over the next two years, we really perfected the rest of the song – the verses and bridge and so on. It was something we discovered unexpectedly.” He explains the true meaning of the song by telling us, “What that song talks about is, you’ve got to hold on to the things that really matter. MMMBop represents a frame of time or the futility of life.” For kids this age, this surely is a very deep-rooted message to convey via song.
American Singer-Songwriter, Michael Joseph Jackson, is the ultimate King Of Pop. He remains iconic in the music industry even after his mysterious death. Not many are aware of it, but Jackson’s first stage debut was at an unbelievably young age of five. He performed alongside his brothers in their band named Jackson 5. Since childhood, he was surrounded by music and began writing songs at a very early age. He was only seven when he began writing for his family band. He discussed his early years if songwriting in an interview, he stated that the first complete song written by him was published at 15 years of his age.
Jackson’s first solo album “Got To Be There” was released in 1972 when he was 14 years old. His songwriting strategies were unique since he could not read or write music by that age. Rob Hoffman, a sound engineer, said that Jackson would sing an entire string arrangement, every part of it. He had it all inside his head, harmony, notes, and everything. Not with just eight bar loop ideas, he would sing the complete arrangements into a microcassette recorder with stops and fills included.
Social media can change your life overnight, and that is exactly what happened with Canadian singer Shawn Mendes. At the tender age of 15, he made his debut in the world of music via a social video app called vine. His lyrical vocals were a breath of fresh air in the musical world, and thus, he became well-known in music circles. No wonder, he got millions of followers on his youtube channel pretty quickly after that. As a true post-millennial, he used the right moment to this advantage and released his first single called “ the life of the party.” Thanks to this single, he became the youngest debut singer to end up at the 25th spot on the US Billboard Hot 100.
After his first single, Shawn quickly rose to fame and was doing a nationwide tour with Austin Mahone, where he co-wrote his second single called “something big”form his debut album Handwritten. Remember, he was only 16 at the time of his second song, and while talking to MTV News, he said,” the song is an optimistic song that talks about good things happening to people. It was written on our tour bus over the summer season.”
Since she was a young girl, Demi Lovato was made for the screen. The future Disney star acted, sang, and even wrote songs at a very young age. It seems like there was nothing that this Disney princess could not do. She started playing the piano when she was 7 and learned guitar at ten. She started her career on Barney and Friends and began to focus more on music.
She released her debut album named “Don’t Forget” when she was 16 years old. She co-wrote most of the songs on her album with her Disney co-stars and fellow music-loving teenagers such as the Jonas Brother and Selena Gomez.
Irish singer Van Morrison isn’t just the lead singer of the band “Them” but a songwriter too. He wrote “Gloria” in 1963, Summer days when he had just turned 18 years old. At the time when he was touring Europe with the Monarchs, playing guitar, harp, saxophone, drums, and back up the bass. The song was released later as a B-side of “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” It became an adhesive for them with Morrison regularly returning through years.
Despite this, Morrison wrote his first-ever solo song “Some Sunny Say” one year before “Gloria.” He recalls his memory saying, he wrote some poetry ever before that, but that was his first song. “ It was pretty good. A country type thing. I was always messing around with it at rehearsals, and one day, the trumpet player said, ‘what’s that?’ And I said, ‘It’s a song I’m working on,’ and he replied, saying ‘We should do that.’ And that’s how it all started. Unfortunately, the song never actually made it to any of his official albums.
Leanne rimes, a country-pop superstar, is well-known for the fact that she started her career at a very tender age. Due to her early start in music, she launched her debut album “Blue” when she was merely 13 years old. The album was a massive hit that opened the new gates of success for Leanne rimes when she became the youngest person to win the Grammy award. She was also the first-ever country-pop superstar to win the best new artist award.
In the later part of her career, when she matured a bit as a singer, she also started to co-write some of her blockbuster songs. Giving us a glimpse into her writing, she said, “ singing out your own lyrics by yourself is definitely an entirely different thing. It is very different from when you are singing someone else’s lyrics. It is much more comforting. When I see people’s reactions to my songs, I realize the power of my own words.”
Hound Dog is one of the most reputable songs by Elvis Presley. You might get surprised when you know that it is written by none other than two 19-year olds. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stroller took only 15 minutes to write this masterpiece. This is the kind of talent the music industry has. A random stroll around Stroller’s apartment led to the creation of this song. The song was written for Willie Mae, a female blues singer. Stroller thought she was a wonderful blues winger with a great moaning style.
The 19-year-old was attracted by Big Mama’s personality and her overwhelming appearance. They say this is what became the inspiration for the song. Leiber recalled him meeting with her. “When we saw Big Mama, she knocked me cold. She looked like the worst, biggest, saltiest chick you would ever see.” Lieber said. The song became a hit in 1956. It was re-released by Elvis, who raised it to the iconic status where the song stands today.
When Cochran sang his ground-breaking hit number “Summertime Blues,” he was 19 years old. And what if I tell you he was even younger when he first tried his hand at writing his own songs. He decided to turn his passion into his profession. He was so determined to make it work and so confident in his skills that he dropped out of high school to pursue his career in music. He formed his own band, “The Cochran Brothers.”
As a solo artist, his first solo song “Skinny Jim” was released in 1956, when he was just 17 years old. But it was his iconic classic “Summertime Blues” that made him an international superstar and gave him the title of “Teenage Idol.” His flamboyant and rebellious image made him great success among teenagers. Long after his fatal car accident in 1960, he was still hailed as a “teenage idol” in music circles.
The Arctic Monkeys’ lead singer-songwriter, Alex Turner was only 19 when he wrote his debut single, “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor.” He had formed his band during the middle of 2002. At that time, Turner was only 16 years old, and he largely relied on his mother. She had to drive him around to and from rehearsals.
Turner set the right example. He proved that age is just a number. It’s as if he always had the upper hand with words and phrases. From the start, he was able to write good and rhyme words easily. Although it took him some time to gather the strength, he reluctantly started to share his work with his bandmates. By 2005, their single debut had peaked at number one on the UK singles chart. Later it made its way to number seven on NME’s list of “500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.” Alex Turner enjoyed his art and proved that his age didn’t matter; only his lyrics did.