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Ode to Jamie Lynn! Teen pregnancy songs

Need a song to celebrate the birth of Jamie Lynn Spears' baby? How about a ditty about teen pregnancy from Bruce Springsteen or NRBQ?
/ Source: contributor

“It Was a Accident” by NRBQ (1979)

Cult favorites NRBQ manage to be both funny and thought-provoking with this reggae rocker about a teen pregnancy scare from their “Kick Me Hard” LP. Composer Al Anderson’s lyrics evoke teen elation and anxiety as they recount a story that starts with a couple’s bedroom dalliance that leads to a doctor’s office visit that leads to some unexpectedly good news… all of which leads to a hilariously unexpected ending. Semi-related trivia: NRBQ’s “Kick Me Hard” album leads off with “Wacky Tobaccy,” which got an unexpected second life when it was used on the TV series “Weeds.”

“The River” by Bruce Springsteen (1980)

The title track to Springsteen’s fifth album was a sobering dirge. It was such a downer that it’s probably not a stretch to say that the sexual escapades of at least some of his younger listeners were kept in check after absorbing its message. Springsteen tells the (allegedly family-inspired) story of a teen couple whose visits to the local lovers’ lane, the river, result in the proverbial baby-makes-three scenario. Money gets tight, options close off, and the marriage frays. With celebrity teen pregnancies in the headlines, this song still serves as a reminder that teen parenthood can be a struggle if you don’t have pop star money or politically connected parents to fall back on.

“Young Turks” by Rod Stewart (1981)

Whoa! Another side of teen pregnancy! Teen lovers Billy and Patty are kewl but misunderstood! So they run away! But it all works out! In fact, it ends with the triumphant birth of a “10 pound baby boy — yeah!” And the proud parents have this zippy, insanely catchy tune as their anthem. Wow! I didn’t know dramas about teens who run away and get pregnant could have happy endings! Maybe I should have gone this route with my life instead of cautiously heeding the advice of “The River.” Looks like the Boss ruined my high school action. Grrr. I guess Rod Stewart was the only one getting action. Hey! We mean pop chart action. This was a Top 10 smash.

“Red Rag Top” by Tim McGraw (2002)

This powerful song is one of McGraw’s finest moments, with a well-crafted story and deceptively “sexy” chorus hook that reveals itself to be heartbreakingly maudlin when you listen closely. Here, young Tim meets a green-eyed cutie and sparks fly, leading immediately to... well we won’t spoil the plot. This became a Top 10 country hit despite the touchy subject matter (or maybe it was because of it?). But if you prefer your country teen pregnancy songs with a happy ending, you should instead seek out Kenny Chesney’s country chart topper “There Goes My Life” from 2004, which covers the same ground.

“Baby Mama” by Fantasia (2004)

“American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino has first hand knowledge of this topic, since she got pregnant at 17. “Baby Mama” is a now-obvious slang term for the mother of a child born out of wedlock, but this concept seemed to take newspaper columnists by surprise back in 2004. They pounced on this shout out to single moms, accusing the R&B singer of glorifying single motherhood. For a while the song seemed more popular with writers than the public, since it didn’t even make the pop Top 50. But the lyrics here are more thoughtful than the song’s critics said, and the melancholy melody keeps this from being any kind of celebration. Plus, it has way more cred than Madonna’s “After School Special” take on the matter, “Papa Don’t Preach.”