COMING OF AGE: The Story of Growing Up Told Through a Playlist

Generation Z has grown up with an array of coming of age stories right at our fingertips. From The Fault in Our Stars to The Outsiders, we have all been exposed to the ups and downs of the transition between childhood and adulthood because of movies that we spent our childhood years obsessing over. A huge part of the way we relate to of coming of age plots is the music that we associate with them; there are certain songs that make you want to bike through a beach-town at night or run through an open field because you associate them with being free, with those feelings of wanting to be a careless teenager stuck in the middle of a high school movie.

Whether you’re obsessed with Heroes by David Bowie because of The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Ribs by Lorde because of TikTok, there is no doubt that music has the power to intensify our feelings of wanting to experience a coming of age storyline. A coming of age soundtrack doesn’t have to comprise of songs that are seen in coming of age movies, it can comprise of songs that you know resonate in a certain way, that you know you want to encapsulate your own teenage years in.

Immerse yourself into this audible and visual experience by listening to the Spotify playlist in its specifically curated order, reading the descriptions according to each ‘scene’, scrolling through the Pinterest board, and using your imagination to create scenarios until you fall asleep.

Into Adolescence

The story begins with someone reminiscing on their childhood, envisioning earlier memories in different parts of their hometown, signifying the transition into their teenage years (Little League). They prepare to attend a party later that night (Talk Too Much), where they imagine fulfilling the stereotypical American teenager experience they’ve seen in in movies. (American Teen, YOUTH).

My youth is the foundation of me, living life as an American teen

American Teen, Khalid

House Party

The next song sets the scene at a house party filled with teens from all over town, where the person at first feels uneasy with all of the raging and recklessness (Wish You Were Sober), then warms up as they begin to dance and gets lost in the music (Dance, Baby!, The Sound, Rager teenager!). They explore the house (Perfect Places), and meets someone, who they are quickly infatuated with (Let’s Fall in Love For Tonight), and the two share a moment (Slow Dancing in the Dark).

Every night, I live and die, feel the party to my bones

Perfect Places, Lorde

Ripped jeans and a cup that you just downed, Take me where the music ain’t too loud

Wish You Were Sober, Conan Gray

Waiting for Your Call

The other person offers to drive them home (Crash My Car), and as the two lay in bed at home, they ponder as to whether they should call the other (Can I Call You Tonight). The main person then tries to push their budding feelings away, driven by their awareness of the hardships that come with developing a crush (Crush Culture, i feel like chet). As summer begins, the two get to know each other by texting, suspecting the other’s feelings towards each other (Online Love, I Think He Knows).

My god don’t look at your phone, no one’s gonna call you, quit checking your volume (crush)

Crush Culture, Conan Gray

I hear your voice on the phone, now I’m no longer alone

Can I Call You Tonight, Dayglows

Let’s Run Away For the Summer

While they continue to text and video chat, the love interest jokingly proposes running away together (Circles), but the pair follows through, sneaking the main person out the window as they get in a car and drive, with no destination in mind (Cruel Summer). The spark between the two teens only further increases (Electric Love) as they continue on their road trip, stopping at motels, restaurants, and beaches (Powerslide, Lost). They declare their feelings for each other one night by a bonfire (Best Part, Favorite T-Shirt) and officially begin dating (Make You Mine, Heroes – 2017 Remaster).

As the summer nears its end, the pair dread going back home (The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home), and think about how quickly the month has passed by as they drive back to their home town (august).

Killing me slow, out the window, I’m always waiting for you to be waiting below

Cruel Summer, Taylor Swift

Parked up on Mulholland drive, blankets in the back of my car all night

Favorite T-Shirt, Jake Scott

But I can see us, lost in the memory, August slipped away into a moment in time

august, Taylor Swift

Sweaters at School

Fall begins, and school is back in session (Tongue Tied, Sports), and their classmates react to the two’s relationship (Just Like a Movie). The weather gets colder (Sweater Weather, cardigan), and homework, tests, and classes begin to stress the main person out (all the kids are depressed), and their significant other comes to cheer them up (comethru), and they spend the night together (Sex, Saturday Nights).

If you agree then I think it’s time to go, I’m freaking out as people start to stare

Just Like a Movie, Wallows

Use the sleeves of my sweater, let’s have an adventure

Sweater Weather, The Neighbourhood

Now I’m shaking, drinking all this coffee, these last few weeks have been exhausting

comethru, Jeremy Zucker

Somebody Else

As the year goes on, the two begin to drift apart, realizing what they shared might have just been a summer fling (Love Will Tear Us Apart, Ribs), as the main person’s love interest begins to show interest in someone else (Somebody Else, Heather), as they fight, one begging them to stay (you broke me first, Robbers), and they part ways (i love you, iris).

The main person is left heartbroken as they remember the times they shared (i don’t want to watch the world end with someone else). The two meet up later on, having missed each other (only friend, it’s not living if it’s not with you), and reflect back on their relationship (Remember When), as the main person announces that she is moving away.

This dream isn’t feeling sweet, We’re reeling through the midnight streets

Ribs, Lorde

I’m looking through you while you’re looking through your phone, And then leaving with somebody else

Somebody Else, the 1975

Hopped on a Train

The main person prepares to leave their small town (the last great american dynasty), and drive around one last time (Cigarette Daydreams, Uncomfortable), before arriving at the train station (505). The other person runs to the train station and apologizes, declaring they still have feelings (Falling, You & I). The main person turns him down, saying they have outgrown each other and they need to move on (peace), but they will never forget the times they shared (you were good to me), and hold each other one last time before the main character leaves (Hold Me While You Wait).

There goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen, She had a marvelous time ruining everything

the last great american dynasty, Taylor Swift

You and I, We don’t wanna be like them, We can make it ’til the end

You & I, One Direction

Our coming of age has come and gone

Peace, Taylor Swift

Remembering the Story

As the main person sits on the train, they realize that they are finally focusing on what lies ahead instead of being tied to their hometown (my future), and tells the story of their teenage years to the passenger sitting next to them on the train (the story).

Oh, and I’m afraid that’s just the way the world works, But I think that it could work for you and me

The Story, Conan Gray



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