15 Of The Best Songs About Being 16

Written by Dan Farrant

Oh, to be 16 and young again. This age is one of the milestones in an individual’s life. At this age, you’re experiencing life at its fullest, enjoying independence, meeting a lot of people, discovering love, or going through hardships.

At the same time, it’s that point in your life when one foot is headed toward adulthood while the other is still immersed in the world of adolescence.

Being 16 is special. That’s why numerous songs have immortalized this occasion. Stay tuned as we bring you 15 of the best songs about being 16.

1. “Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)” By Taylor Swift

Today, we’re opening our list with a song with “sixteen” in the lyrics. Taylor Swift, unsurprisingly, has a song about this age in her musical arsenal. “Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)” was released in 2006 from her self-titled album.

The song chronicles Mary’s story from childhood to old age and focuses on her relationship with a neighbor who eventually becomes her husband. They spend time together as children, though things change when she turns 16, and she “wasn’t that little girl you used to see.”

She reminisces on these wonderful times in their lives, along with the places that now have a special spot in her heart. The lyrics depict the passage of time, reflecting the fact that youthful moments are fleeting.

2. “I’m Sixteen” By Dolly Parton

Our next song celebrates the joy and excitement of being sixteen years old. In “I’m Sixteen,” Dolly Parton looks back on this pivotal age in her life.

People would agree with Parton that at 16, you’re “burstin’ at the seams.” You’re full of life, young, and have a lot to look forward to. The song talks about enjoying life’s simple pleasures, such as “drinking cherry Coke” or doing something daring, like skinny dipping.

Parton’s lyrics reflect on the carefree nature of youth and capture the longing for this age. The song reminds us that we can maintain a youthful spirit despite our age.

3. “Sixteen” By Ellie Goulding

Sometimes, sixteen marks a rebellious age in a teenager’s life. Just look at Ellie Goulding’s recollection of this moment in her 2020 single, “Sixteen.”

In the song, the narrator speaks to a close friend about the things they’ve done when they were 16. She recalls moving out and striking out on her own. At 16, it feels like they’ve got all the time to plan out their lives. Suddenly, she realizes how time flies by so fast. One moment, they were 16. Another, they’re already adults.

We can say that the friends have turned out okay despite the challenges they’ve gone through in their youth. She remembers how their teacher thought they were young and stupid. But, thankfully, they didn’t lose their head.

4. “It Hurts To Be 16” By Andrea Carroll

Being 16 entails going through a lot of ups and downs. In Andrea Carroll’s “It Hurts to be 16,” the narrator feels the downside of turning 16 years old.

In particular, she feels lonely on her birthday. The root of such emotion seems to be the contention that she’s still too young to be dating. Apparently, she met a guy whom she wanted to spend her life with. But the people around them are “driving us apart” because she’s too young to fall in love.

For her, the party is over before it has begun. She feels that there’s no sense in celebrating turning 16 when she can’t do what she wants.

5. “Sixteen” By Thomas Rhett

When we talk about songs with “sixteen” in the title, we’re pretty sure Thomas Rhett’s “Sixteen” comes to mind. It’s another of those songs where the narrator reminisces on this pivotal time in his life.

The song starts with a memory of his father teaching him how to drive when he was 15. A year later, he’s driving around feeling “wild and free.” While his parents talk about him going to college, he’d rather focus on the here and now.

Throughout the song, the narrator wishes he could go back to when he was 16, 18, and 21, when he experienced things that taught him valuable lessons in life.

6. “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” By The Sound Of Music

One of the most popular songs about this age is “Sixteen Going On Seventeen.” It was first heard in the 1959 stage musical The Sound of Music.

The lyrics revolve around the character of Liesl, a young girl at the cusp of womanhood. Rolf, the delivery boy in love with her, warns her that she must be careful, for at this age, “fellows will fall in line.” They will offer her anything to pursue her.

And so she should depend on him for guidance because he is a year older. He is suggesting he knows better because he is “older and wiser.”

7. “Sweet Sixteen” By Billy Idol

Our next song mentions “sixteen” as the narrator’s endearment for his love interest. Billy Idol penned “Sweet Sixteen” and released it as the third single from his album Whiplash Smile.

The lyrics mention someone building a candy castle for a particular girl and drawing her in. Notably, Idol was inspired to write the song after watching “The Castle of Secrets.” This was an episode of In Search of…, a TV series about mysterious phenomena.

The episode was based on Coral Castle, which Latvian emigrant Edward Leedskalnin built for Agnes Skuvst. He loved to call her his “Sweet Sixteen.” They were about to get married, but she broke it off with him.

8. “Sweet 16” By Hillary Duff

One notable song from MTV’s reality show My Super Sweet 16 is its opening theme, “Sweet Sixteen.” Sung by Hilary Duff, it revolves around the concept of turning 16, which in many cultures is celebrated extravagantly.

The lyrics capture the excitement that comes with turning 16. The narrator feels optimistic at this new milestone because it means she’ll be an adult and can do anything without her parents having to disagree with her.

In the song, she also appreciates the people who love her and who support her dreams and aspirations. She looks forward to becoming 16 and experiencing freedom and embracing opportunities.

9. “Sweet Little Sixteen” By Chuck Berry

Being 16 is associated with themes of innocence, youth, and the longing for freedom. This is the idea behind Chuck Berry‘s “Sweet Little Sixteen,” which he released in 1958.

The song follows the story of a girl who loves going to dance and listening to rock and roll music, which brings her freedom and joy. She dreams of going to concerts and being noticed by her favorite stars.

In the context of being 16, the song embodies youthful excitement and one’s desire for recognition. At this age, individuals explore their identities and express themselves more freely.

10. “Always Sixteen” By Billy Ray Cyrus

No matter our age, we all long to someday find a love that lasts. In “Always Sixteen,” Billy Ray Cyrus has a trick to share with his listeners on how to make this a reality.

The song beautifully captures youthful love and how it can endure despite challenges in a relationship. The trick? Keep love alive just like you did in the early years of your relationship. Think of what fueled the spark and hold on to it.

When you get old, always remember that your love is always 16 years old. This suggests the timeless nature of love and passion. It speaks to the devotion that does not wane with age. That’s true love right there.

11. “16 Candles” By The Crests

Turning 16 is a huge milestone in many cultures, particularly for the family of the celebrant. In The Crests‘ “16 Candles,” the focus is on the boy expressing his emotions as his love interest celebrates her 16th birthday.

The narrator thinks this is the perfect time to express his deep love for his “teenage queen.” This shows just how important her birthday is to him. In the lyrics, 16 candles are a metaphor for her beauty and radiance.

For her birthday, he wishes that she’d love him back, which suggests unrequited love. Nevertheless, his love for her will never change.

12. “Only Sixteen” By Sam Cooke

The classic romantic ballad “Only Sixteen” by Sam Cooke was released in 1959. Yet its message about youth, love, and the ups and downs of growing up still resonates today.

“Only Sixteen” is all about young love, told from the perspective of a man who is too young to understand what love means. He and the object of his affection navigate through the complexities not just of love but of adolescence as well.

And while love knows no age, the narrator goes through struggles and heartache as he experiences falling in love with a sixteen-year-old girl.

13. “You’re Sixteen” By Ringo Starr

In 1973, Ringo Starr of The Beatles topped the Billboard charts with his rendition of “You’re Sixteen.” The song was penned by the Sherman Brothers and first performed by rockabilly singer Johnny Burnette.

The narrator confesses his affection for a sixteen-year-old girl, who is praised for her beauty and charm. She is compared to “peaches and cream” and “strawberry wine.” The phrase “ribbons and curls” represents the youth and innocence of a girl on the cusp of womanhood.

“You’re Sixteen” celebrates the joy and innocence of young love. It’s about the joy of finding something special at such an age. It’s also a reminder that 16 is a time of discovery, growth, and emotional experiences.

14. “Sweet Sixteen” By Destiny’s Child

Being 16 can be a confusing time in someone’s life, as Destiny’s Child‘s “Sweet Sixteen” shows. The song explores the complexities of adolescence.

In the narrative, 16-year-old Jackie feels neglected and unloved. In search of love and acceptance, she runs away from home. She finds that “love” in a man who ends up getting her pregnant and leaving her.

Now Jackie may be a fictional character in the song, but she represents young people who rush into adulthood. Oftentimes, they experience low self-esteem and believe no one loves or understands them.

15. “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me” By Fall Out Boy

Going through adolescence involves experiencing intricate emotions. That’s what “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me” by Fall Out Boy is all about. The song follows a young man who is in love with a girl and struggles to tell her how he feels.

The title hints at the narrator’s desire to move away from the innocence of being 16 and toward a more mature relationship. This is a period where individuals go through heightened emotions and a struggle for identity.

Unfortunately for him, the girl does not feel the same way. He’s had too many chances, but he had blown them all up. And now the only words she’ll tell him is, “Why don’t you just drop dead?”

Summing Up Our List Of Being 16 Songs

Truly, being 16 is such a memorable part of our lives. That’s why, through this compilation, we hope that the songs make you feel like 16 again.

For many of us, we hope to go back to that time and experience it all over again. Falling in love, going places, meeting new people, and even the sad parts, such as getting your heart broken.

This is by no means a complete list. So if there’s a song you want included, let us know, and we’ll add it for you. See you in the next post!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.