Sticking it to the Man – Six Decades of Teen Angst (The 80s)

By Sarah Gray

The 1980s has some of the best abjectly angsty teen songs available with the rise of the punk rock movement.  Not unlike the 90s, which we’ll get to shortly, there is nothing really to be so worked up about, but they’re pretty worked up anyway.

Teens of the 1980s: I have a message for you from Wall Street – you have failed at not being a total sell out.  Go outside, see your SUV?  Go to your living room, see your 2-3 kids all decked out in Gap clothing and Nike sneakers?  Because you have clearly lost sight of all the things you thought were important and worth fighting for; let me remind you, a young, idealistic you would not consider these signs of success.  They would be embarrassed for you.  While you’re examining your life, go ahead and untuck your shirt from your jeans.  No one should do that.  If you want to tuck in your shirt, put on a proper set of pants.

1 – Alphaville – Forever Young – 1984

Immortality is a recurring theme in teen angst songs, with the regular implication that dying young is better than getting old.  Grown-ups, do you know what this means?  This means your kids are looking at you and thinking dying is better than what you are doing.  The youth have watched your body and your ideals degenerate with age and want no part of it, but are listening to this song wanly knowing they are on a train they are unlikely to get off.

2 – D.O.A – Get out of my life – 1980

I never never want to be like you.  Pretty much sums it up.

3 – Descendents – Suburban Home – 1982

In case there was any doubt your kids think you are a huge tool, there is Suburban Home.  They think your wistful suburban dreams are lowest common denominator bullshit.

4 – Pixies – Where is my mind – 1988

A popular song on soundtracks for movies about organizing against authority.  See: Fight Club, Sucker Punch, A Matter of Degrees, and The Adventures of Sebastian Cole.  Where is your mind?  Well, if you know that, you probably wouldn’t be so angsty.

5 – Circle Jerks – Live Fast, Die Young – 1980

Well, let’s start with the band’s name, which is perfect because you can run around your house telling your parents how much you love Circle Jerks, which, even if they sang all power ballads about peace and love, I guarantee your parents will hate.  Plus, double entendres are fun.  And this song is titled Live Fast, Die Young, so that in and of itself is pretty clear.

One thought on “Sticking it to the Man – Six Decades of Teen Angst (The 80s)

  1. How is “We’re not gonna Take it ” by Twisted Sister not oin the list? It’s probably top 2 or 3 teen angst song of all time.

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