Teenage Death Songs are songs about dead or dying teenagers. Also called "death rock" (not to be confused with the music genre of the same name) or "teen tragedy" songs, these were a staple of pop music in The '50s and early Sixties, when Rock & Roll was very much a teenage phenonemon, but they are still written occasionally today.
Often a romantic tragedy written from the point-of-view of the dead teen's girlfriend or boyfriend, but sometimes written as if the dying (or even dead) teen is singing himself. A more bittersweet variation might end with a pair of teen lovers Together in Death. Often, but not always, there are also parents who are sorry they weren't more understanding. Usually a Morality Ballad, and if homicide is involved a Murder Ballad as well. A type of fictionalized Grief Song, though some are based on real people.
Expect spoken word bridges (recited through an echo chamber), sound effects (crashing cars, swishing waves), and some of the most attractively orchestrated arrangements in early rock recordings. Many, though not all, of them are inexplicably upbeat if you don't pay too much attention to the lyrics.
Sometimes also classified as a "Tear Jerker", especially if the age isn't quite right but the trope otherwise fits.
This is a Death Trope, so expect UNMARKED SPOILERS!!!
This website is dedicated to Teenage Death Songs.
- "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning (1959): Bob sings about Alice's death when his car stalled on the Railroad Tracks of Doom: after removing his ring during a fight, she got out when the car stopped but went back for the ring. (That's right, she collects a Darwin Award and he lives to sing about it.) Intended as a parody of the genre, this ironically wound up becoming one of its signature tunes.
- "Tell Laura I Love Her" by Ray Peterson (1960). Tommy enters a stock car race to earn the money to buy Laura an engagement ring. He crashes and dies, but not before belting out this tune.
- "Tell Tommy I Miss Him" by Marilyn Michaels, released the same year, was an Answer Song written from Laura's point of view.
- "Last Kiss" (see page quote) by Wayne Cochran (1961) features another car crash. The year after its original release, a teenage couple and their friends were killed in a nasty car accident not far from where the singer lived, and the re-release version was dedicated to them. Covered Up for a huge hit by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers in 1964, again by Wednesday in 1973, and yet again by Pearl Jam in 1999.
- "Teenage Honeymoon" by Kenny Ancel (1962) has its young newlyweds getting killed by a drunk driver.
- "A Young Man Is Gone" by The Beach Boys (1963) references the real-life automotive death of James Dean, who was technically in his twenties but very much a teen idol.
- Ditto "James Dean" by the Eagles (1974). He was too fast to live, too young to die, bye-bye.
- "B.J. the D.J." by Stonewall Jackson (1963) has its title character dying in a car crash.
- "Dead Man's Curve" by Jan and Dean (1964) ends in yet another car crash. While the narrator survives, he tells the ER doctor attending him that he "watched the Jag (the car racing him) slide into the curve", suggesting that the other driver wasn't so lucky.
- The song rather eerily foreshadowed Jan Berry's own 1966 crash not far from the real-life Dead Man's Curve on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. He didn't die either, although he did slip into a two-month-long coma and suffer brain damage and partial paralysis.
- Bill Anderson's "Candy Apple Red" (1964). The sheriff's daughter falls in love with a local petrolhead. They die after a chase, colliding into a roadblock erected by the sheriff with the eponymous car exploding.
- "I Want My Baby Back" by Jimmy Cross (1965) parodies the genre with a nasty twist... a "happy ending" based on necrophilia.
- On the '70s variety series The Captain & Tennille Show, the "Sweathogs" of Welcome Back, Kotter fame sang a parody called "Pizza Death." The verse, sung by John Travolta in character as Vinne Barbarino, told of how the teenaged pizza deliveryman died in a crash, but, though his body grew cold, the mourning crowd was able to eat the still hot pizzas in the van. The refrain ran:
Johnny drove the delivery van —
Not too bright, but we all loved him,
'Cause he was Paparelli's Pizza Man! (The Pizza Man!!)
- "Detroit Rock City" by KISS (1976) is about an (actual) KISS fan who died in a crash trying to get to a concert.
- "7-11" (1981) by The Ramones.
- "Car Crash" by punk-rockers The Avengers (1977).
- "Burma Shave" by Tom Waits from his album Foreign Affairs (1977) is about two young teenagers who crash their car trying to make their way to the titular town.
- "Suzy and Jeffrey" by Blondie (1980) Another car crash.
- "Blasphemous Rumours" by Depeche Mode (1984) is about a 16-year-old girl who fails a suicide attempt only to die a sickly ironic death in an automobile accident at 18.
- A contemporary entry into the genre: The Gaslight Anthem's "The '59 Sound" (2008), about an actual friend of the band who died in a car crash.
Young boys... young girls
Ain't supposed to die on a Saturday night
- "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows" by Brand New (2004), a song about and sung by a dying teenager following a car crash, staying behind to watch over his girlfriend (who was in the crash as well) until he knows she's safe.
- "(All I Have Left Is) My Johnny's Hubcap", in one of MAD magazine's vintage parody albums.
- The National Lampoon stage show Lemmings parodied all sorts of rock music, including a '50s teen death song, where at one point, the girl says the boy in the accident looks like one of the many pizzas they'd shared.
- "Joey" (2009) by Sugarland.
- Parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000 with the song "Where, Oh Werewolf," inspired by a sequence in Werewolf where a security guard in mid-transformation crashes his car and dies.
- In "Give Us Your Blessings" by the Shangri-Las, a young couple elopes when their parents don't approve of their union. They're too emotional to notice the sign that said 'detour'.
- "Passage" by Vienna Teng starts with the line "I died in a car crash" and has the singer narrate the lives of her family following her fatal accident.
- Hello, My Name Is Joannie, Paul Evans (1978): Joannie and her boyfriend argue at his place, and she drives away in anger. The next morning, he calls to apologize, and leaves a message on her answering machine. When his phone rings, its not Joannie, but a mutual friend breaking the news that shed died in a car crash the night before. So he dials her number just so he can hear her voice on the machine.
- "Come to Me Johnny" by Johnny Victor. The protagonist's girlfriend dies in a crash he caused, so he drives off a cliff to be with her again.
- "Three Stars" by Eddie Cochran (1959), commemorating the deaths of Ritchie Valens (who was 17 at the time), Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson a.k.a The Big Bopper in an airplane accident. The pilot, Roger Peterson, was hardly 20 himself.
- "Ebony Eyes" by The Everly Brothers (1961) involves a soldier whose girl is flying to marry him, when the plane, on which she will be arriving, crashes. Ouch.
- Then averted in the Answer Song. British Girl Group, The Beverley Sisters (rhyming name just a coincidence) sang "Flight 1203", a sort of musical Fix Fic in which she walks in to comfort him as he's grieving for her in the chapel. It turned out she had been running late, missed the plane, and came in safely on a later flight.
- "Unmarked & Uncovered With Sand" by "J. Frank Wilson" is about the singer learning his love was in a plane that crashed in the desert. So he pledges he'll comb the entire desert looking for her body until eventually giving up and accepting that he'll never find find her.
I'm gonna have to leave my baby in the sand!
- "Flight 505" by The Rolling Stones (1966) ends with the titular flight going down into the sea.
- "Glow Girl" by The Who (1967), which at least ends on a happy note of reincarnation.
- "D.O.A." by Bloodrock (1971). Airplane crash due to mid-air collision. The song's morbid lyrics, in which the narrator describes his own gruesome death, got the song banned from many stations, but it still became a Top 40 hit in America.
- The US Airborne troops squaddie song "Blood on the Risers". A gruesome story of a young recruit soldier who dies in a parachute accident on his first jump.
- This song is also a cautionary tale. The young trooper does everything right except he forgets to attach his static line (the line which automatically deploys his main parachute) on the cable inside the aircraft. He then opens his reserve parachute on bad falling position, resulting in getting tangled with the canopy lines and risers and plummeting to ground on unsurvivable speed. The moral of the story is to always check everything when you jump.
- In the same vein, the German paratrooper song "Abgeschmiert aus 100 Metern" (Bounced from 100 Metres). The young conscript jumps off a Ju 52 with his parachute not opening, and has to make a dire decision to either go to Heaven (where all his dead friends are) or to Hell (where is all the schnapps and beer he can drink). After all, he is a Green Devil.
- Terry Jacks' "Seasons in the Sun" (1974) based on the far Darker and Edgier "Le Moribond" by Jacques Brel. When Terry Jacks recorded "Seasons in the Sun", he had just been diagnosed with leukaemia, and the song could well have been his actual farewell song. Fortunately, he got better.
- "Rocky" by Austin Roberts (1975-and unrelated to the movie) tells the story of young lovers who get married, have an infant daughter, and then the wife unexpectedly dies to an unmentioned disease. The lyrics go "Rocky, I never had to die before. Don't know if I can do it." In the last verse she suggests she will always be around and help him in spirit whenever he and their daughter would be in need.
- "Back of My Mind" (1980) by Breathless. The protagonist's girlfriend dies from complications of abortion.
- "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry (2010) mixes the young narrator's regrets for the grief her death will cause her mother and the loss of her chance to fall in love with the more cynical observation that people will pay more attention to her words after she's dead, and last requests that are sometimes wistful and sometimes cavalier. "So put on your best, boys, and I'll wear my pearls..."
- "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro. The protagonist's fiancee has died from an unspecified disease.
- "Girlfriend in a Coma" (1987) by The Smiths.
- Some versions of "Oh Death" have the young narrator bedridden with a severe fever and fearing for their life.
- "Love You to Death" by Kamelot has the girl die of unspecified Victorian Novel Disease.
When they met, she was fifteen
Like a black rose blooming wild,
And she already knew she was gonna die.
- The Sufjan Stevens tear-jerker "Casimir Pulaski Day", about a girl dying of bone cancer; although it's entirely possible the characters are still in their preteens.
- "Tonight" from Lust for Life by Iggy Pop (1977) deals with a drug overdose; the dying girl's lover stays by her side as she slips away. Co-writer/producer David Bowie, who also contributed backing vocals, recorded a Cover Version of this for an album of the same title in 1984, but dropped the opening verse that establishes the girl is dying. Thus, it became a straightforward love ditty (and duet with Tina Turner).
- "Tommy (Don't Die)" - Steaknife.
- Think's "Once You Understand" ends with a teenager dying of an overdose, and the police breaking the news to his father.
- The well-forgotten "Run Joey Run" by David Geddes (1975) about a teenage affair that ends tragically when the girl gets pregnant and her father gets pissed and tries to kill her boyfriend, only for her to take the bullet for him.
- Not so forgotten these days since Glee did a rendition of it.
- Johnny Cash song "Don't Take Your Guns to Town" (1960) about a young cowboy, who takes his guns to town, with fatal results.
- Marty Robbins is practically a poster boy for this trope with examples like "El Paso" and "Running Gun".
- Richard Thompson, "Vincent Black Lightning 1952" (1991). A roguish young biker falls for a girl with an interest in bikes, reveals he's been in trouble with the law in the past. Gets mortally wounded by the police during a robbery, leaves his bike to his girl on his deathbed.
- Thin Lizzy "Mexican Girl". It's never actually said what killed her but it's rather obvious a ricochet from the shootout her boyfriend is involved in.
- "53rd and 3rd" by The Ramones (1977).
"Male hustler commits murder to prove he's "no sissy".
- "You're Gonna Kill That Girl" is another example.
- "I Don't Like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats (1982). Bob Geldof was being interviewed at WRAS-FM in Atlanta when news came in about a shooting at an elementary school. The title of the song comes for the suspect's reason for the shooting.
- "The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun" by Julie Brown (1984) which anticipates a Columbine-style massacre. This song, however, was an example of Black Comedy.
- "18 and Life" by Skid Row (1989). The protagonist has shot his friend and gotten a life sentence.
- Parodied by Mitch Benn in the song "Now He's Gone", which originally appeared in an episode of Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music. In the episode he explained his theory that the message of Teenage Death Songs such as "Leader of the Pack" was "Dead boyfriends are safe", and illustrated it with a 50s teenybopper tune about a girl who was killing her boyfriends before they could do anything to hurt her.
- "Janie's Got A Gun" by Aerosmith (1989). Girl gets violent revenge after years of Parental Incest. Technically averted, as the song ends with Janie alive and on the run.
- "Becky" by Be Your Own Pet. A girl stabs the Alpha Bitch, who has bullied her, to death and goes to juvenile prison, but thinks it was worth of it.
- "Come Out And Play" by The Offspring. And the killer is under eighteen and won't be doing time.
- Played for Laughs in "Wait Until Tomorrow" by Jimi Hendrix. Guy trying to convince his reluctant girlfriend to elope with him gets so frustrated that he forgets to keep his voice down, and is promptly shot and killed by her father.
- "Nightmare" by the Whyte Boots (1967). The protagonist fights with another girl who stole her boyfriend and accidental death results.
- The Columbine High School massacre, as one of the most famous examples of the kind of tragedy described by this trope happening for real, proved to be a major font of such songs, especially in the late '90s and '00s when the shooting was still fresh in popular memory.
- Jonathan and Stephen Cohen, two students at Columbine, wrote a song called "Friend of Mine (Columbine)" in 1999 as a tribute to their classmates that got radio airplay at the time.
- Cassie Bernall, one of the victims, was the subject of a number of songs by Christian musicians, most notably "This Is Your Time" by Michael W. Smith (1999) and "Cassie" by Flyleaf (2005), based on an urban legend surrounding her death. It was claimed that her killer, before shooting her, asked her if she believed in God, to which she replied "yes" and died for her faith.note
- Marilyn Manson's Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) (2000) was a Concept Album heavily inspired by the shooting and what Manson saw as the forces that produced it. Manson had been widely Mis-blamed for the shooting, and so Holy Wood was his response to those claiming that his music had turned Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold into murderers. A key theme of the album is that modern (circa 1999-2000) society was too degraded by celebrity worship, gun culture, media sensationalism, and hypocritical Moral Guardians to allow for the kind of idealism that powered the hippie and protest movements of The '60s, hence why the "youth rebellion" of the time was teenage outcasts shooting up their schools because they thought they had no future.
- "Anatomy of a School Shooting" by Ill Bill (2004), a horrorcore song from Eric Harris' perspective as he and Dylan Klebold take their revenge on the kids who bullied them and become famous in the process.
- Amanda Palmer's "Strength Through Music" (2007) was inspired by the shooting.
- "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People (2010) is about a teenage boy who finds his father's revolver and fantasizes about shooting up his school, though it's left ambiguous if he actually goes through with it. The band has a personal connection to Columbine, their bassist Cubbie Fink's cousin having survived the shooting.
- "Pigs" by Tyler, the Creator (2013), a song from the perspective of the killers as they get revenge on the bullies who tormented them.
- Nicole Dollanganger's Columbine EP (2013), featuring covers of "Pumped Up Kicks" and two Marilyn Manson songs ("The Nobodies" and "The Reflecting God"). Her song "Rampage" off of her 2014 album Observatory Mansions also samples Eric Harris' home movies and the documentary Zero Hour: Massacre at Columbine High while telling a story about a girl whose boyfriend is shooting up their school, and uses Harris and Dylan Klebold's Monster Fangirls as a metaphor for people trapped in abusive relationships, thinking that their abusers can be redeemed through The Power of Love.
- The 2014 mixtape TeenWitch by Bones, a Concept Album about the shooting.
- Most of SKYND's songs are based on True Crime, and their 2020 song "Columbine" is no different. It's about the shooting from the killers' point of view, portraying them as fame-seeking glory hounds who see their murder spree as a game, while the music video follows a student at Columbine surviving the shooting.
- "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots" (1955) by the Cheers may be the prototype death rock song, as well as the inspiration for "Leader of the Pack" a decade later. It was popular enough to have a parody, Dodie Stevens' 1959 "Pink Shoelaces".
- "Lobo Jones" by Jackie Gotroe.
There ain't nothin' left of him but a pile of bones.
- "Leader of the Pack" by the Shangri-Las (1964). Girl sings of her love for Badass Biker who gets it after driving away all stormy mad because her parents forced her to break up with him.
- The Goodees revisited this in "Condition Red" (1968).
- Twisted Sister actually did a P.O.V. Sequel that counts too.
- Not to mention the Detergents' parody, "Leader of the Laundromat" (1965).
- Also Jimmy Cross's "I Want My Baby Back" crosses over, claiming that it was his car that collided with the pack.
- The titular figure of Twinkle's "Terry" (1964) 'rode into the night, accelerated his motorbike' after a quarrel, with predictable consequences. The narrator pleads for him to 'please wait at the gate of heaven' for her.
- Like a number of their songs, deconstructed by 10cc in "Johnny Don't Do It" (1972). Instead of being sung from the POV of the character or his girlfriend it's sung by his family and friends, first as a warning and then as a lament. Although it contains the often-heard spoken voiceover (reporting his death), it also is somewhat unique in that the deaths occur because of trying to fit in with a group of "cool kids" and faulty brakes on a stolen bike...and that after the typical praise of him as an angel, he's said to be in heaven with the angels—still riding his bike.
- "Teenage Cremation" (1975) by Australian artist Bob Hudson. Protagonist's girlfriend has been killed in a motorcycle accident.
- "Running Bear" by Johnny Preston (1959). Written by The Big Bopper, it's a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet in which young Native American lovers defy their families, their warring tribes and a rough river to be together. The river gets them, but the last line says they'll meet in the next life.
- "The Water Is Red" by Johnny Cymbal (1960). Girlfriend eaten by shark. The protagonist takes his knife and goes to kill the shark.
- "Jimmy Love" by Cathy Carroll (1961). This fakes you out by starting as a wedding song until she says her fiance will be waiting for her at church, in his coffin. He was killed by a falling tree the night before. No, he doesn't get to be a vampire.
- Finnish Hawaiian-style rock song "Tiikerihai" (Tiger Shark), where the boyfriend is killed by the shark.
- "No Surfin' Today" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (1964). The protagonist's girlfriend was his surfin' girl and she got caught by the undertow when she went out too far.
- The parodic "Gidget Goes to Hell" by Suburban Lawns (1979) has a shark attack. Jonathan Demme directed the video, which made it onto Saturday Night Live.
- Double Subverted on "Leah", by Roy Orbison (1962). The protagonist dives to fish pearls for his girlfriend, gets stuck and gets drowned. On the last verse it is revealed it was just an awful nightmare. The lyrics imply Leah actually was the one who was drowned long ago.
- "Surfin' Tragedy" by The Breakers (1963) combines the teenage tragedy song with a surf theme, in which the subject, a surfer, careens "ninety miles an hour" into a Malibu pier, killing him instantly.
- "The Greatest Surfer Couple" by The Four Preps (1963). In front of a large crowd, the titular couple tries to shoot (go under) the pier, only to disappear while under it. The next day, the surfers gather on the ocean to pay tribute to the late couple. A year later, the narrator walks past the pier and notices the two flowered leis the couple were wearing that fateful day drifting out from underneath.
- The subject of "My Trousseau Just Lies On the Shelf," from The Lucy Show. It was performed by Lucille Ball and Mel Tormé, calling themselves the Tear Ducts on a televised talent contest. In an episode written as a sendup to this trope, the song appears to be a parody. In-universe, however, it was well received and instantly earned the Tear Ducts a record deal.
- Rockabilly singer Jody Reynolds wrote a lot of songs like this:
- His most famous song is without a doubt "Endless Sleep" (1957). Reynolds based this partly on Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel". A girl tries to drown herself in the ocean after a fight with her lover, but he rescues her. Technically nobody dies, but because the chorus says "Come join me, baby, in my endless sleep" many people think this is the original Death Rock song. It was banned in England because it seemed to invite kids to commit suicide.
- "Don't Jump" (1963) involves a girl about to commit suicide while her lover pleads her not to. The lyrics do not mention whether or not he is successful.
- "The Girl From King Marie" (1963) is about a man who frequents the spot where his lover had died from being struck by lightning.
- "Where the Woodbine Twines" (1964) is about a girl who hangs herself because her lover does not want to marry her, with him only finding out about her demise after changing his mind and returning to the woods to find her.
- "Moody River", originally written and recorded by Chase Webster, Covered Up by Pat Boone (1961). Sort of a take-off on "Endless Sleep", except the girl actually dies.
- "Patches" by Dickey Lee (1962) deals with a teenage girl who drowns herself when her romance with the singer is forbidden by their respective parents. Another one that was banned on many stations, especially since the narrator plans to "join (her) tonight".
- "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry (1967). All about the day that Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. His reasons for doing so aren't revealed in the song, though fans have speculated for decades. A friend of Jody Reynolds says Bobbie was Jody's rhythm guitarist and was partly inspired by "Endless Sleep" when she wrote this.
- "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan (1972) is a subversion; at the start, the singer climbs a water tower with the intention of jumping off after being abandoned by a Runaway Bride... but he can't go through with it, so he climbs back down and goes home.
- "Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye" from the movie Phantom of the Paradise is a sendup where the title character kills himself because Dead Artists Are Better.
- "Straight A's" by the Dead Kennedys (1980) is a song about a kid whose parents only love him if he gets good grades. So he kills himself.
- Unfortunately, Truth in Television.
- Besides their "Last Kiss" cover mentioned above, Pearl Jam themselves get into the act with "Jeremy" (1991). The kid isn't loved by his parents, is picked on at school, so he shoots himself in front of his class. Jeremy Delle was the real kid in question. The original video's ending was ambiguous to many viewers as to whether Jeremy shot his classmates or himself, because all that could be seen in the edited-for-tv release was the students splattered with blood, but it was always a suicide.
- In "Last December" by Iced Earth (1995), teenage lovers commit suicide together, saying it's their "only way out". "Mother, you have forced us here... Father, now we'll disappear."
- "Four Dead Cheerleaders" by Texas punk band Dropkick (1997), four teen suicides, mostly for stupid reasons, though the last girl in the song killed herself because she was date raped.
- "Tourniquet" by Evanescence (2003) is sung by a girl dying after slitting her wrists.
- "Homecoming" by Green Day (2004) on album American Idiot.
- "Whining Teenager's Dramatic Exit," by Matt Osborne, about a school shooting.
- "Revenge Syndrome" by MafuMafu is about a teenage girl who leaps out of her classroom window after an unknown amount of time being bullied by everyone else. This also mixes in the Homicide category, as the root of her mental illness prior to jumping was her vivid revenge fantasies (hence the title), where a Superpowered Evil Side would emerge and slaughter her tormentors. However, it turns out to have been All Just a Dream.
- "Adam's Song" by blink-182. A depressed teenager hangs himself in garage.
- "Stan", by Eminem. An outright bizarre tale of an obsessed fan.
- "The Freshmen" by the Verve Pipe (1997). Girlfriend kills herself after an abortion.
- "Emma" aka "Emmaline" by Hot Chocolate, later covered by Urge Overkill. Lifelong sweethearts and teen spouses looking to make it big in show biz. He and many others feel that she has the talent to make it big; but while he manages to hold on through all the setbacks, he comes home one day and finds Emma/Emmaline has taken her own life, feeling she can't live on dreams anymore.
- "Her Last Words" by Courtney Parker (2013). A teenage girl lost her will to live due to severe depression hangs herself.
- "Veronica" by Sloppy Seconds.
- "Ana" by Maná. After having unprotected sex, the main character Ana discovers she is pregnant. To add heat, her boyfriend has left her, it was his idea to not use a condom and her parents will likely kick her out of their house when they find out. Although it never mentions her committing suicide, the song makes it clear that she does not want to live anymore.And there is no ending implied after that.
- "The Bridge" by Dolly Parton, cuts off abruptly because the narrator throws herself off the titular bridge, where she first met the lover who has now abandoned her. While the narrator isn't explicitly said to be a teenager, the way she describes Their First Time, and the fact where she's committing suicide over being pregnant and alone, certainly implies it.
- "Inside The Fire" by Disturbed was written to cope with a traumatic memory vocalist David Draiman had from his own teenage years of finding his girlfriend's body. The lyrics are about the devil tempting Draiman to kill himself so he can reunite with her in Hell, and the (original version of the) music video depicts the horror of the situation very clearly. The song as a whole is intended as a strong anti-suicide Aesop, complete with including the number for a suicide prevention hotline in the Content Warnings of the music video.
- Parodied in Heathers with the novelty song "Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)" by Big Fun, whose lyrics become resonant for the students at Westerburg High School after Heather Chandler's "suicide".
- "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" by Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods (1974) is about the death of a young soldier; the title lyrics are delivered by his girlfriend.
- "Nineteen" by Paul Hardcastle (1982). A lamentation of The Vietnam War, where nineteen was said to be the average age of the combat soldier. (They were actually more like 22.)
- "I Was Only 19" by Redgum (1983). Another lamentation of the Vietnam War, on the Australian perspective.
- "Riding With Private Malone" by David Ball.
- "The Grave" by Don McLean.
- "Travelin' Soldier" by The Dixie Chicks. Another Vietnam War entry. The titular (deceased) soldier had just turned eighteen, and apparently had no friends or family except a young waitress he met the day he shipped out.
Cryin' all alone under the stands
Was a piccolo player in the marching band
And one name called, nobody really cared
But a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair
- "Just A Dream" by Carrie Underwood may fit this trope: the protagonist (the fiancee left behind) is just eighteen although the deceased's age isn't given.
- "Green Fields of France", a song of World War I. The subject, Willie McBride, was 19 when he was killed. The song lamented that WWI, the "war to end wars," was only followed by subsequent wars that killed even more young soldiers like Willie.
"Oh, the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing and dying, 'twas all done in vain,
For Willie McBride, it's all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again"
- Finnish military march "Sotilaspoika" (Soldier Boy). The protagonist, age 15, joins the Army, and anticipates to get killed in action like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The march can be taken either as patriotic fervour, or a particularly sad case of a Child Soldier.
- "1916", by Motörhead, is about a group of underage boys who join the army during a war (implied to be World War I), then meeting a messy and anonymous death in battle.
- Coldplays Orphans: Rosaline and her father are Syrian citizens either killed or left refugees in the bombing of Aleppo.
- From Paschendale by Iron Maiden
"Many soldiers eighteen years,
Drown in mud, no more tears
Surely a war no one can win
Killing time about to begin
- Dar Williams's "Alleluia" (1995), about a high-school delinquent who winds up in heaven due to some sort of clerical error.
- "Space Junk" by Devo (1978) depicts an outright bizarre story: a Soviet satellite falls out of orbit and disintegrates. Some of the debris hits the protagonist's girlfriend, who gets killed.
- Humorist Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs (1997) had a chapter complaining about these, ending with an excerpt from a teen death song Barry himself once wrote:
Why did I let 'ya
Near the threshing machine?
- Dickey Lee's "Laurie (Strange Things Happen)" (1965) sort of combines this with Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts. It was written by a psychologist, Dr. Milton Addington, based on a newspaper story written by Cathie Harmon, age 15. They split the royalties.
- "Timothy" by The Buoys (1970). The narrator is trapped in a mine with Joe and Timothy. They kill and eat Timothy in order to survive. Allegedly the band insisted that Timothy was only a mule in order to be allowed to record the song.
- Half Man Half Biscuit have "The Coroner's Footnote", a more traditional teen death song involving a love triangle and a speeding train, and "Excavating Rita", which vaguely mentions a death caused by carbon monoxide and focuses more on what Rita did next.
- "The Big Battle" by Johnny Cash. A story of The American Civil War. An old general tells to a young surviving private that the battle will go on for the rest of his life.
- "Camouflage" by Stan Ridgway (1988). An eerie story of a young Marine in The Vietnam War 1965.
- "Transfusion" by Nervous Norvus (1956). A car crash. Emergency first aid saves the protagonist (again and again), albeit not in the best shape.
- "The A-25 Song", a squaddie song of the Fleet Air Arm. The young sub-lieutenant crashes his airplane (again and again) and has to fill the A-25, the Fleet Air Arm damage report form, notoriously detailed and agonous to fill.
- "Be Careful How You Drive Young Joey" by Jerry Keller (1961). As Joey drives with his girlfriend Jane, a guy challenges him to a race and he takes him on in spite of his girlfriend's father's titular plea. He loses control and misses crashing into a tree by a few feet.
- "I'll Walk" by Bucky Covington. The narrator and his girlfriend are both 18 when they get into a fight after prom and she insists on walking home alone. She's hit by a car whose driver couldn't see her due to her black dress; she survives, though her legs are injured so badly that even after months of therapy she can barely walk down the aisle at their wedding.
- Blue Öyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" (1976) mentions Romeo and Juliet (who were both teenagers in William Shakespeare's play), sparking rumors that the song is about a boyfriend talking his girlfriend into a Suicide Pact. The band has clarified that it means love never dies.
- "Ruby Jewel Was Here" by Allison Moorer (2002). (She's twelve, but... close enough.) Anyway, Ruby shoots the sheriff with his own gun after he rapes her, and is hanged. Oh, and it's all set to cheerful music.
- Bob Luman's "Let's Think About Livin'" (1960) was written as a kind of Take That! to the many songs of this type that were popular in that era.
- Steve Goodman did a medley of these for one of his '80s concert recordings.
- "Bat Out of Hell" by Meat Loaf (1977) was inspired by these sorts of songs. His musical partner, songwriter Jim Steinman, makes no secret of his love for this kind of thing.
- "Jenny" by Steve Taylor (1984) is one, but according to Taylor it's supposed to be allegorical.
- "Green Green Grass of Home" by Porter Wagoner (1965), a country staple also covered by Tom Jones. The protagonist is on Death Row and is about to be executed.
- "Sing Me Back Home" by Merle Haggard (1967) is another death-row variation.
- "Let Him Dangle" by Elvis Costello (1989). Story of the wrongful execution of Derek Bentley, who was 19 when he was hanged in 1953 in UK.
- "Castles Made of Sand" from Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix (1967). Three verses - homicide, war and suicide.
- "People Who Died" by The Jim Carroll Band (1980). Lots of deaths due to various causes.
- "Youth of the Nation" by P.O.D. (2001), features in this category a school shooting and a suicide.
- "The Ballad of Billy Brown" (1961), by future trash-TV host Morton Downey Jr., never specifies what caused the eponymous teen's death.
- "Johnny Remember Me" by John Leyton (1961) is another example that doesn't specify the cause of death, but the protagonist hears the voice of his dead girlfriend in the wind whenever it howls.
- "The Funeral" by Hank Williams is a narrative about his alter-ego Luke The Drifter passing a church in Savannah, Georgia where a Black community is mourning the loss of a young boy.
- "The Cave" by Gary 'Spider' Webb is a two parter about a couple named Jimmy and Julie who get lost and separated in a dark cave. They can hear each other but cannot see each other. Part II reveals that they've been stuck in the cave for two whole days. It is never revealed whether or not they escaped.
- In "Valerie", a parody by the Mark III, Valerie dies after hitting her head on the towel rack while bathing. Her boyfriend Tommy dies shortly afterward when he's hit by a Mack truck while driving to school.