I am entering my 30s, struggling to make an impact. And then there are child prodigies that have it easy. Here are 18 artists who were making hits even before they turned 18.
Blue by LeAnn Rimes
“Blue” is a cover of a 1958 Bill Mack record. So the boiled up feelings written in the song are not of LeAnn Rimes. But to have such a soulful voice at a young age conveying such despair is remarkable. Even more surprising is she was 13 when the single was released. But the recording that broke out was one made when she was 11.
Royals by Lorde
I would pay to get inside of Lorde’s brains. I’m definite there’s sorcery and an alien command center inside. Writing and recording “Royals” at such a young age requires genius. And I’m sure she has it. And to display a mirror to the public on behaviors and lifestyles most consider normal is refreshing and timely.
Pon de Replay by Rihanna
Rihanna is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. I admire her craft, and I’m impressed by the business venture she catapulted to success. And it feels like she’s been around forever. Part of it is her successive album releases at the start of her career. Besides being a workhorse, she was 17 when she started, and “Pon de Replay” came out.
bad guy by Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish swept the Grammy Awards. She broke most records relating to “Youngest person to achieve …” I’m impressed she reached milestones most artists would never even get close to in their lifetimes. Her partnership with her brother deserves some of the credit. The duo creates sounds ahead of the curve and unheard of in music.
The Climb by Miley Cyrus
I never would’ve thought Miley Cyrus was just 16 when she released “The Climb.” By then, she would’ve had two years of success under her belt. And the record felt like an introspective look into a life that’s been through hell. Nowadays, she’s an adult, and her reinvention continues. Transformation is in her DNA and isn’t surprising anymore.
Stitches by Shawn Mendes
Shawn Mendes is such a treat for the eyes that I forget he was once a 16-year-old kid. I used to be impressed by him strumming his guitar and his above-average vocals. Now I forget those things and picture his Calvin Klein underwear ad instead. I also see the sickening display of affection he engages in with Camila Cabello.
Baby by Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris
I never understood Justin Bieber’s appeal when he was 15. How can people be infatuated with a kid that young? I feel it’s sinful and bordering on pedophilia to even consider having a crush on him. Maybe I wasn’t part of the fanbase that’s supposed to develop an attraction. But I’m sure there were adults having fantasies about him. It’s just wrong.
Here We Go Again by Demi Lovato
Not all the Disney kids could end up living in the mold created for them. One who falls off the rails often is Demi. She doesn’t shy away from picking up feuds with celebrities (even when unprovoked). She’s gone astray more often than I could remember. She frequently deals with anxiety and addiction. The silver lining is she’s still making music.
…Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
If Britney Spears hadn’t stopped, she might have eventually been crowned the Queen of Pop. Or she could’ve spiraled down a black hole she’d never get out of. But there’s no question she owned the public’s attention at the height of her career. A sweetheart at age 16, she’d do a 180 degree turn years later and free herself from this image.
Beautiful Soul by Jesse McCartney
In an ideal world, a beautiful soul is all that matters. Having a 17-year-old heartthrob spread this message is effective. I can’t blame you if you fell for it. But we now know it’s a nice sentiment but a complete lie. While Jesse McCartney isn’t breaking hearts anymore, he’s written one of the most successful heartbreaking songs ever, “Bleeding Love.”
Tim McGraw by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is now one of the biggest pop stars in the world. But there was a time she was making only country music. And when I say country music, I don’t mean “Love Story” or “You Belong with Me.” Her debut record at 16 is not only a throwback to her previous sound but also an ode to a famous figure of the genre.
Candy by Mandy Moore
When Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera came out, other record executives placed their money on Mandy Moore. While she wasn’t as successful, she did create some earworms. “Candy” is annoying but incredibly infectious. While her music career barely took off after, she’s now an Emmy nominated and SAG award-winning actress.
Where’s the Love by Hanson
When Hanson broke out with their debut album Middle of Nowhere, even the oldest looking among the bunch, Isaac, was a minor. And the hairstyles, the voice that’s yet to reach puberty, and the theme of their music, made it clear that kids were dominating radio airwaves and MTV. Too bad, their appeal didn’t crossover to their adult life.
Stuck by Stacie Orrico
Maybe Stacie Orrico is stuck in a place she can’t get out of. Since 2006, I have not heard a new track from her. But there was a time her music was inescapable. Her breakout single came out when she was just 17, and I was in high school. I remember the bus drama that many teenagers like me could relate to. Now I wonder what happened to her.
Animals by Martin Garrix
When I think of high profile DJs, all I can imagine is their lifestyle. I bet it’s filled with drinking, drugs, and sex. But the weird part is, Martin Garrix was only 17 when his signature hit “Animals” came out. Even if he wasn’t engaging in any of those activities, his teenage music was responsible for some of the wildest crowds parties have ever seen.
So Yesterday by Hilary Duff
Even though I was addicted to Hilary Duff’s “So Yesterday,” I still found the lyrics in the bridge to be one of the silliest. She goes on to sing that “If the light is off, then it isn’t on.” How groundbreaking, right? But maybe I should be more forgiving. She was 15 when the song came out. What remarkable accomplishment did I have when I was her age?
Do You Know (What It Takes) by Robyn
Before Robyn was elevated to the pantheon of the greats, she was responsible for some teeny boppers. I remember jamming to “Show Me Love” when I was an eight-year-old kid. But even before that, she released “Do You Know (What It Takes) at a young age of 17. The tragedy is the song reached top 10 in the USA, and “Dancing on My Own” couldn’t.
Complicated by Avril Lavigne
A 17-year-old kid would have a lot of angst. Growing up, with all the injustice that happens in the world, I guess I can’t blame anyone if they hung onto the feeling. But Avril Lavigne began with rage. Now, all she’s left with is the kid in her. I guess if she’s making hits today, it would still be counted in the list, given she’s practically acting the same age.