17 Of The Best Songs About Being 21

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

There are many reasons why being 21 is a special milestone in one’s life. Aside from it being the legal age to drink (hurray!), you’re now an adult.

From newfound independence to the thrill of experiencing the world with fresh eyes, being 21 is often seen as a time of self-discovery and boundless possibilities. What better way to capture the essence of this momentous period than through the power of music?

Whether you’re turning 21 or reminiscing about your 21st birthday, we have prepared something to help you celebrate this moment. Read on and find out what 17 of the best songs about being 21 say.

1. “21” By H.E.R.

The perfect song that encapsulates the transitional phase of young adulthood is H.E.R.‘s “21.” The R&B song dives deep into the singer’s experiences and emotions while journeying through her 21st year.

The song is an autobiography of some kind as it gives us a glimpse into her life as an artist. Through this song, she celebrates her accomplishments as a rising star. She reflects on the challenges, successes, and growth she experienced at this age.

The lyrics also touch upon the idea that not everyone is cut out for the lifestyle the artist leads. This emphasizes the dedication and hard work required to achieve her current position.

For H.E.R., her 21st birthday was one of the best years of her life. At this age, she enjoys everything she wanted as a kid.

2. “21” By Hunter Hayes

Another song with “21” in the title is one from Hunter Hayes. The party anthem “21” resonates with young adults as it is a celebration of this milestone.

In the lyrics, the singer urges an unnamed person to “go big, or we go back home.” He encourages him to celebrate by going crazy and doing anything for no reason.

In many ways, this song encourages us to live in the moment and let loose. We turn 21 just once, so it’s only right to make it the best night around. And besides, there’s no point waiting until we’re old before celebrating and having fun.

3. “21” By The Starting Line

In “21,” the band The Starting Line talks about the daunting transition to adulthood. The lyrics depict inner struggle and self-reflection. It primarily focuses on the singer’s feelings and actions while navigating early adulthood.

Despite the energetic melodies, the song has a darker theme. It explores his struggle with substance use or dependency issues at age 21. This is proven by the lines saying, “Pour the medicine,” “It’s 7 and I’m already wasted,” and “I’m 21 and I’m already hazy.”

Overall, the lyrics convey the singer’s mix of vulnerability, self-criticism, and a desire for personal growth and understanding and talk about the challenges of young adulthood.

4. “21 And Invincible” By Something Corporate

The song “21 and Invincible” by Something Corporate captures the challenges of young adulthood.

The lyrics convey the singer’s desire to find his place in the world. He yearns to be someone significant and with a purpose. This aligns with our natural inclination to explore our identities when we reach this age.

Further, the song conveys a mix of aspirations, self-doubt, and a yearning for freedom. The singer fantasizes about a life where he has material wealth and can avoid criticism or ridicule.

The chorus reflects a feeling of invincibility at being 21 while also anticipating the possibility of making mistakes or “screwing up.” There is an underlying sense of rebellion and a willingness to embrace the consequences that come with it.

5. “Bullion” By Millencolin

The Swedish punk rock band Millencolin captures the uncertainty of being 21 in “Bullion.” The song revolves around the disillusionment that comes with early adulthood.

Many young adults can resonate with the song, particularly since they go through various life experiences. Like the protagonist, young adults struggle with self-doubt as they discover their place in the world.

To make things worse, they feel weak and lack motivation. They find it a challenge to retain their identity without succumbing to what people want them to be. There is a longing for a sense of accomplishment and doing something meaningful.

6. “Damn Rough Night” By Artist Vs Poet

When you think about it, one should be having a blast celebrating a 21st birthday. But “Damn Rough Night” by Artist vs. Poet conveys the wild and chaotic experience of celebrating the occasion.

The singer acknowledges that turning 21 can be challenging and overwhelming. He apologizes in advance, knowing he might engage in reckless behavior and make poor decisions throughout the night. This is evident as he wakes up with a stranger in his bed and can’t recall how it happened.

The lyrics toast to the “never have I ever” moments, acknowledging that the events of this night will be unforgettable and become legendary stories.

Related: Next, check out our list of songs about being 24.

7. “Inside Of You” By The Maine

In The Maine’s pop rock song “Inside of You,” the lyrics speak to the intensity of young love. However, it suggests a deep longing for an emotional connection rather than a physical one.

In addition, the song shows the complexities of a romantic relationship. It shows how the singer is afraid of opening up completely to another person, of letting them inside his heart and mind. And the other person is “never gonna see inside of you” because he doesn’t allow her.

At the same time, the singer expresses his frustration with the line “I can’t get inside of you,” meaning he won’t be able to understand and love her the way he wants to. All this reflects the challenges that young adults in their 20s go through as they navigate adulthood.

8. “Twenty One” By The Cranberries

Released in 1994, The Cranberries‘ “Twenty One” conveys a sense of frustration, disappointment, and a desire for solitude at the age of 21.

The repetition of “I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore” suggests a feeling of resignation or acceptance that something anticipated will not come to fruition. There is a sense of letting go of expectations and finding contentment or closure in the present moment.

On a positive note, the song conveys a sense of resilience. The singer finds her inner strength amid her struggles. This can be interpreted as the person experiencing growth and maturity as she turns 21.

9. “21 Forever” By Punchline

In this next song with “21” in the lyrics, the band Punchline talks about the experiences and challenges of being 21. “21 Forever” explores themes of transitioning into adulthood.

The lines “Stop running around, Because no one here is proud, Once lady-like, miss Katie White, Finds herself upside down” speak to personal struggle and transformation, which people experience as they become adults.

The chorus emphasizes that one can’t stay 21 forever. It recognizes that the carefree and glamorous aspects of being in the 20s eventually end. Sooner or later, we have to face the challenges that come with growing older.

There is also a sense of acceptance and understanding that life moves forward. We must embrace the changes that come with it.

10. “I’m A Man” By Bo Diddley

Our next song, Bo Diddley‘s “I’m a Man,” is more than just a track that boasts the singer’s sexual prowess. Under the surface, the song carries a heavy weight.

The lyrics infer that the singer is now a man as he is already 21. But did you know that in Mississippi, where Diddley grew up, a black man was never recognized as a man? They were considered less than human and looked upon as just a “boy.” Worse, they were seen as a danger to pure white women.

Thankfully, times have changed, and Diddley became a successful musician. During this time, black men were free from accusations of sexual misconduct. Thus, the statement “I’m a man” takes on a new and different meaning.

11. “Twenty One” By The Eagles

For most people, being 21 hits differently. We feel free and as if we can take the world at this age. Such is the message that The Eagles want to share in their song “Twenty One.”

At this age, the singer feels strong and free, cherishing the sense of liberty that accompanies young adulthood. The lyrics suggest that he is unafraid and unburdened by the fears and uncertainties that can come with age. He finds solace in the rising sun, seeing it as a symbol of new beginnings and endless possibilities.

Overall, the song conveys an optimistic outlook on life. It emphasizes his determination to live fully and reject the notion of conformity, expressing a desire to carve out his own unique path.

12. “Twenty One” By The Shirelles

How times have changed! While young adults today can do anything they want, it wasn’t the case decades ago. In The Shirelles‘ classic song “Twenty One,” we see how it is when one is barely 21, especially from the point of view of women.

From the lyrics, we can see how frustrated the singer is at the limitations imposed on her just because she is not yet 21. She can’t stay out late, have fun, or even date!

Her frustration is piling up, making her look forward to being 21. She anticipates a full-blast celebration on this day to make up for the days she isn’t allowed freedom.

13. “Tin Soldiers” By Stiff Little Fingers

The Irish punk rock band Still Little Fingers released “Tin Soldiers” in 1980. The song still resonates today as it depicts the harsh realities of military life, especially for individuals who enlist at an early age.

The lyrics convey the story of a young man who joins the army at 17, believing it’ll provide him with a job and show his bravery. However, he soon realizes that the reality is different from his expectations. It’s too late to realize that he had committed and sacrificed too early.

The man thinks he would only serve for three years but discovers that the first two years don’t count toward his service. This realization leaves him in a Catch-22 situation where he can’t escape his military service obligations. The song highlights the contrast between the young man’s initial naivete and the harsh reality he faces.

14. “Twenty One” By Greyson Chance

A song that mentions “21” to mark discovery and personal growth is Greyson Chance‘s “Twenty One.” This song perfectly resonates with individuals experiencing the transition into adulthood.

The song begins with the following lines: “I feel electric when we hit the highway, Go to the city, spend some money and play.” These suggest a search for adventure and freedom, which people at this age often do.

But time is fleeting, and so is youth. The singer acknowledges that “we only got one year to be twenty one,” and so he “lives in the moment.” He plans to make the most of this time and have fun while he can.

15. “21” By Yung Pinch

Imagine the kind of love that isn’t restricted by the complications of adulthood. In “21,” Yung Pinch explores the challenges and emotions associated with falling in love at this age.

“21” revolves around a romantic relationship that has already ended, with the singer still knowing what’s going on with her. She has turned 21 and plans to hit Vegas with her friends for some celebrations that involve drinking.

While they have separated, he still has feelings for her. He “I can’t get over what we had,” even thinking about their past from time to time.

He acknowledges that he’ll never find another love like the one they shared before they were 21. This suggests an uncomplicated relationship before the responsibilities that come with adulthood change things between them.

16. “Twenty One” By Khalid

In Khalid’s “Twenty One,” it shows that being 21 is such a challenging time for some, particularly when it has something to do with heartbreak.

The person being addressed in the song has recently turned 21 and has been drinking to cope with heartbreak. Add to that the freedom and challenges that come with being 21 that are sometimes overwhelming.

The lyrics suggest she is trying to fight her inner turmoil and contemplating letting go. The singer also recognizes his flaws and difficulty taking his own advice. He needs support and acknowledges that he can’t overcome his struggles alone.

17. “21st Birthday” By Dasha

Turning 21 is a huge milestone, and it becomes more special if you spend the day with your loved one. But the deeply emotional song “21st Birthday” by Dasha conveys a sense of disappointment on this day.

The lyrics revolve around the singer’s heartache when her birthday comes around, and she hears nothing from the most important person in her life. She wears the dress he likes, and she looks beautiful just for this occasion.

She longs for his presence on this special day and waits for his text or call. She highlights the irony that even though she’s legally allowed to drink now, her boyfriend is not there to celebrate with her. This event triggers emotions that the song perfectly captures.

Summing Up Our List Of Being 21 Songs

As the songs above showed you, being 21 stirs a mix of emotions. For some, it’s a joyous occasion that marks their transition to adulthood. For others, it represents entering a part of life rife with more serious responsibilities and challenges.

Nevertheless, being 21 is an important and memorable part of growing up. It’s up to us whether we embrace it with the excitement of facing a new day or looking at it as something that we must deal with no matter what.

For what it’s worth, we hope that you liked our compilation today. We only turn 21 once, so best to enjoy it or reminisce about it with the songs above.

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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.