Though many people think of your 21st birthday as one of the most significant events of your 20s, we would argue that another year in this decade is more important: the 25th one. Being 25 is a strange time; you are usually just on the cusp of figuring out your lifelong career, but you may still be in school or figuring out things no one ever taught you how to do.
So, to commemorate this difficult but important year in everyone’s life, here are 25 songs about being 25.
1. “Birthday” by Empty Atlas
Song Year: 2020
Indie rock often takes on the theme of aging and change and consequently, will feature on this list a lot. Thus, we kick off this list of songs with Empty Atlas’s “Birthday.”
This song tells the story of a 25th birthday fraught with expectations about a job, life, and a family, none of which have been met.
A growingly smaller group of friends surrounds the subject, and they are face to face with being halfway to 50. The lyrics turn around by the end – instead focusing on how much time the subject has to make something of their life.
2. “25” by The Smith Street Band
Song Year: 2017
The Smith Street Band brings us the first of many songs with a straightforward title. The Smith Street Band’s singer and lyricist, Wil Wagner, sings about a common problem many 25-year-olds experience: comparing their lives to those of others.
He looks at everything around him and sees himself lacking – and sees how much he thinks he should be able to do by the age of 25 but cannot.
3. “We Don’t Care” by Kanye West
Song Year: 2004
On “We Don’t Care” Kanye rebels against society’s expectations and norms, encouraging younger people to do the same to find their way in the world.
Kanye takes an old trope – that most young black men from bad neighborhoods end up in jail or dead by 25 – and pokes fun at both it and society’s expectations of its younger people.
Kanye has made it to 25 and neither of those things happened to him. Thus, he tries to bring others to see that society’s warnings and pressures do not matter as much as they seem to.
4. “Forever Young” by One Direction
Song Year: 1984
Though “Forever Young” has been famously sampled and covered by other artists, this song is still not necessarily understood properly in popular culture.
Rather than declaring a rebellious intention to live every moment to the fullest as many other songs about being 25 do, the lyrics of “Forever Young” sound like a contradictory, confusing philosophical conversation. The narrator wants to be young forever but also considers just how awful living forever could be.
5. “In Love or Whatever” by Future Teens
Song Year: 2017
Future Teens sing about going through their 20s in general on this song, but this song focuses on a painful aspect of being 25: dating. The narrator’s dating life is less than successful and combines with a directionless life to make things worse.
As the narrator goes through a year’s story in the song, they struggle with loneliness and wonder if they should give up and spend their life alone.
6. “Movin’ On” by Good Charlotte
Song Year: 2002
This iconic song from Good Charlotte tells us a story of someone wondering if they will even make it to 25, and their struggle to find meaning once they do.
While they consider questions and life keeps getting more complicated, the best advice they can get is to keep moving on. While the tone of this message may seem cynical at first, it becomes a genuine call to action by the song’s end. Instead of trudging through the rest of your life, you need to make the best of what you have.
7. “25” by Ray BLK
Song Year: 2021
Unlike Good Charlotte, Ray BLK’s take on being 25 is not hopeful. She addresses being exhausted, burnt out, and living too much life too early.
While other songs focus on existential crises and struggling with big life decisions, Ray BLK addresses another part of being 25: working too hard to go nowhere.
The song’s subject has no time to make the best of things or think about what to do with their life.
Instead, they are constantly stuck working for next to no money and feeling the pressure to succeed from those around them.
But rather than building motivation to keep going, the song’s subject just feels tired and they know they are too young to be so spiritually exhausted.
8. “25” by the Amazons
Song Year: 2019
The Amazons’ “25” is less about being 25 than it is about turning 25 but the sentiments in the song can still apply.
The song is about trying to find hope for the rest of your life despite how many things are showing you there is no point in finding that hope, even when you are so young.
So, the song’s narrator tries to find something encouraging and light a new fire within themselves. Ultimately they cannot conclude how to do so despite the wish, a feeling many 25-year-olds will understand.
9. “Ballad of Maxwell Demon” by Shudder to Think
Song Year: 1998
Shudder to Think employs the main character from Velvet Goldmine – “Maxwell Demon” – to tell a story about being an unhappy 25-year-old in this ballad.
Like Ziggy Stardust, Bowie’s alter ego, Maxwell Demon is an alien flitting from planet to planet and when he gets tired of it, he comes down to earth and does not like it.
At the age of 25, Maxwell Demon says he feels like he is dead. The lyrics after this confession are silly, showing the kind of frivolity someone would engage in if they already feel dead.
10. “Run, Brother, Run” by Fireworks
Song Year: 2014
Fireworks’ take on being 25 is particularly sad, but unfortunately relatable. The narrator had been all over the world by that age, but their father died the same year.
Missing both their father, and feeling like they have nothing to show for all their adventures, the narrator grows unhappy in other areas of life. All the girls they date remind them of their father, and they start to feel like their skin does not fit them as their 25th year presses on.
11. “Skully” by Nothing, Nowhere
Song Year: 2017
Nothing, Nowhere’s take on being 25 is probably the most hopeless on the list, perhaps edging toward nihilism. The lyrics discuss the gradual worsening of mental illness symptoms that comes in the middle of being in your 20s.
Instead of finding cliches or phrases to cling to, Nothing, Nowhere ultimately begs to be left alone.
12. “Home of the Brave” by Lewis Knudsen
Song Year: 2017
Lewis Knudsen usually tackles heavy subjects in his songs. In this song, he covers several through succinct storytelling in the verses.
The lyrics tell the story of one family through the ages, and how each worked to give the next generation something better. But the story leads to one of the descendants meeting a tragic end
It is on this list because he tackles mental illness and being 25 in one of the verses.
The character in the penultimate verse struggles with mental illness all through their life and ultimately decides to take their life when they turn 25.
13. “25!” by Bomb the Music Industry
Song Year: 2009
Jeff Rosenstock of Bomb the Music Industry understands how challenging being 25 is and expresses it perfectly in this song.
Before you were 25, careless mistakes were acceptable.
After turning 25, the world expects you to act like an experienced adult, even though your childhood was essentially yesterday.
Pages: 1 2