The music industry has its ups and downs, generation after generation. Music is forever changing, evolving with the times, with societal needs and wants. Young stars, with their fresh voices, larger than life hopes and dreams, and resilience have been turning the tide of music every few years. They sing from their hearts, write about the world they see and experience. For the truly great young artist, their work is immortal, for we all remember being 15; not knowing where we came from, where we were going or why we even bothered. Follow along as we take a tour of the top ten albums produced by awe – inspiring young musicians.
10. Unknown Death 2002 – Yung Lean
With only one album under his belt, 16 year old Swedish rapper Yung Lean is well on his way to becoming a superstar of his generation. Unknown Death was released in July of 2013 by the New York trend-setting label Mishka. It has earned critical acclaim from various on line sites including Noisey. The album has paved the way for the new movement aptly named sadwave.
9. Get It How U Live – Lil Wayne with Hot Boys
Released in October of 1997, the debut album by the then unknown boy band, Hot Boys, took the charts by surprise. Cash Money Records pushed out an album about juveniles slinging dope to survive, chasing girls for sport, and violence for the sake of something to do. At its height, the album peeked at #37 on the R&B Billboard and paved the way for gangsta rap to make its impact on mainstream radio. Lil Wayne was 15 years old when the album was released.
8. Restraining Bolt – Radish
Ben Kweller was 12 years old when he began to make grunge music with his two buddies John Kent on drums and Ryan Green on bass. Savvy Kweller forwarded their sophomore record, Dizzy, to Nils Lofgren. The album was released in April of 1997, when both Kweller and Kent were 16 years old. The grungy guitar lyrics and angst riddled anthems were performed live on Conan and Letterman.
7. Middle of Nowhere – Hanson
The third album by the cross over sensation Hanson is a feat many young artist have tried to emulate. At the young ages of 16, 14, and 11, Issac, Taylor, and Zachary produced the mind numbing, universally catchy single, “MMMBop”. The album was released in May of 1997 and catapulted the young musicians into international stardom.
6. A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995 – 1997 – Conor Oberst
Conor Oberst’s second project in his young life is still full of impact. The album was released in January of 1998 and spans his turbulent, emo ladled years between 15 – 17. The pieces range from soul-searching instrumentals to hard to define lyrics. Every age felt the raw, honest emotions the young musician poured into his work.
5. Frogstomp – Silverchair
In April of 1994, a little unknown teenage group won a competition called, Pick Me. The contest was hosted by the SBS TV show Nomad and Triple J Radio station in Australia. A year later, in March of 1995 Silverchair released their debut album along with the single that won them the competition. The average age for these hard knocks rockers was 15 years old. The Australian trio placed their own twist on the popular Seattle sound and took their masterpiece on tour. The album landed on the U.S. Billboard Top 10 and continued to double platinum status.
4. Up-Tight – Stevie Wonder
In May of 1966 Stevie Wonder, at the age of 16, released Up-Tight. This album cemented his career, letting the world know he was not a mere imitation of Ray Charles. He had a voice, talent and nothing would stop him from claiming his well deserved accolades. His cover of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In the Wind” crossed into different markets, showcasing his talent to new demographics of listeners.
3. Earl – Earl Sweatshirt
In March of 2010, Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt released a free digital download on the Odd Future site. The 16 year old musician’s album was praised by some, calling the concept revolutionary and the messages thought provoking. Others simply said the album was nothing more than a shockfest tribute to everything that is wrong with today’s youth. The would be musician was inspired to rap about such controversial subjects such as sodomy, mutilation, rape, drugs, and violence for gratification.
2. The Runaways – The Runaways
In June of 1976 The Runaways debut their self titled album and the role that women in rock-n-roll was forever changed. Hard enough to imagine that the raunchy lyrics were written by women, but it’s even harder to fathom that they were delivered in rock perfection by 17 year olds Lita Ford and Joan Jett, and 16 year olds Cherie Curie, Jackie Fox, and Sandy West. Their chart topping hit, “Cherry Bomb” still induces gut wrenching spasms.
1. ABC – Jackson 5
In May of 1970, five brothers from Gary, Indiana released their second album. They already had a following after their first debut record released in 1969, but ABC shot the group to international stardom. It had two number one hits and the single, “The Love You Save,” knocked out The Beatle’s single, “Let It Be”, from the top of the charts. They covered many powerful songs in the album, embedding their own style and making the singles their own. With their new status, Motown took to new merchandising approaches. Placing the Jackson 5 logo on anything that could be bought and sold. Lunch pails, coloring books, calendars, and posters revolutionized the power of a super star in the musical industry. Michael Jackson, the front man of the band, was only 11 years old when his whole world changed. He would grow up to be one of the most beloved pop singers of all time.
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