The Undertones

Teenage Kicks

Composed by John O'Neill

Song Review by

Chances are, if you asked the average guy on the street if he'd ever heard of "Teenage Kicks," he'd probably frown quizzically and politely ask you what you were smoking. That, or he'd run screaming for the nearest police station. Ask John Peel the same question, and you'd get a very different response. That's because the legendary British DJ holds the Undertones' first single as his favorite pop song of all time -- and considering that Peel has spun some of the most influential records in rock history, that's a pretty grand statement. "I can't listen to it now without getting all dewy eyed," says Peel. "And if I play it on the radio I have to segue it into the front of another record because I can't speak after I've heard it." One listen to "Teenage Kicks" and it's not hard to see why Peel is so fervent about it. A delirious summer blast of adolescent angst, the song sports every characteristic of a classic pop composition: a memorable, hook-filled melody; singalong lyrics; production tailor-made for car stereos; and, above all, brevity. In two minutes, 25 seconds, it's over, and you're scrambling for the rewind button. In fact, "Teenage Kicks" is such a perfect marriage of teen vitriol and pop savvy, it's almost incomprehensible that the song didn't fare better commercially. Originally released in September 1978 on the independent label Good Vibrations, it failed to chart. Thanks to Peel's steadfast radio support, though, the Undertones were soon signed to Sire Records, and the song was reissued in October, hitting a decent 31 on the U.K. charts. It was later featured on the band's eponymous 1979 debut, which reached number 13 in Britain but tanked in the U.S. Time has been especially kind to "Teenage Kicks," however. It is now widely acknowledged as a classic -- a pop-punk standard that continues to point the way for countless bands on both sides of the Atlantic.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Teenage Kicks 1978 BMG / Union Square Music 2:28
The Undertones 1979 BMG / Union Square Music 2:28
Hypnotised 1980 Sanctuary
No Image 1983
No Image 1991
Various Artists
Columbia / Concept 2:25
Just Say Yesterday: Volume VI of Just Say Yes 1992
Various Artists
Sire 2:25
D.I.Y.: Teenage Kicks: UK Pop (1976-79) 1993
Various Artists
Rhino 2:26
Going Underground [Castle] 1994
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:27
The Very Best of the Undertones 1994 Castle Music Ltd.
Emerald Rock [Alex] 1995
Various Artists
Alex 2:27
Teenage Kicks: 46 Classic Punk & New Wave Tracks 1995
Various Artists
PolyGram 2:26
Teenage Kicks: The Best of the Undertones 1996 Castle Music Ltd.
Beautiful Game [Alex] 1996
Various Artists
Universal Music TV
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
No Image 2000
Original TV Soundtrack
BMG
True Confessions (Singles = A's & B's) 2000 BMG / Salvo 2:28
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 2 [Universal] 2000
Various Artists
Universal International 2:26
The Best Pub Jukebox in the World...Ever! 2000
Various Artists
Virgin 2:26
The Singles Box Set 2001 Essential Records
Q Anthems 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:25
Flashback: The Seventies 2002
Various Artists
BMG International 2:27
Commercial Break: Songs from TV Adverts 2002
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd.
Comprehensive School Classics 2002
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:26
Punk: The Jubilee 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:25
30 Best Irish Hits 2003
Various Artists
Solid/Lunar 2:26
No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion 2003
Various Artists
Rhino 2:26
Teenage Kicks [DVD] 2003 Sanctuary/BMG
Greatest Irish Bands [Bonus DVD] 2004
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:26
50 Years of the Greatest Hit Singles 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:25
The Best Pub Jukebox... Ever! 2004
Various Artists
Phantom Import Distribution / Virgin
Teenage Kicks: Punk, Vol. 2 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:25
Teenage Kicks [Sanctuary] 2005
Various Artists
Sanctuary 2:27
Just Say Sire: The Sire Records Story 2005
Various Artists
Rhino 2:25
John Peel: A Tribute 2005
Various Artists
WEA International 2:26
Power Pop Anthems 2005
Various Artists
Virgin/EMI 2:24
The Best Pub Album 2006
Various Artists
MSI Music Distribution / Gut / Gut-Active 2:26
US vs. UK Punk 2006
Various Artists
Sanctuary 2:27
The Best Air Guitar Album in the World... Ever, Vol. 2 2006
Various Artists
Virgin 2:25
Classics from John Peel's All Time Festive 50 2006
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:26
Very Best of School Reunion 2006
Various Artists
EMI/Virgin TV
100 Huge Hits of the 60s & 70s 2007
Various Artists
Sanctuary
Spirit of 77: Spirit of Punk 2007
Various Artists
EMI/Virgin TV 2:25
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Keltia 2:26
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG 2:26
An Anthology 2008 BMG / Salvo 2:28
Ireland: Essential Guide 2009
Various Artists
The Essentials / Union Square Music
Dad Rocks! 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:25
Match of the Day: The Album 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:26
Ultimate Collection: Dad 2009
Various Artists
Ultimate 2:27
101 Punk & New Wave Anthems 2010
Various Artists
EMI 2:25
Teenage Kicks: The Very Best of the Undertones 2010 BMG / Salvo 2:28
Greatest Ever! Running Songs: The Definitive Collection 2011
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music 2:26
No Image 2011
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 2:26
The Ultimate Collection: Running Songs 100 Hits 2011
Various Artists
Ultimate 2:27
Greatest Ever! Driving Rock 2012
Various Artists
Greatest Ever 2:26
Latest & Greatest Pop Hits [2012] 2012
Various Artists
USM Media 2:26
The Boys Are Back in Town 2012 2012
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 2:25
Latest & Greatest Guitar Heroes 2013
Various Artists
USM Media
Greatest Ever! Indie Anthems 2013
Various Artists
Greatest Ever 2:27
100 Hits: Driving Rock [2013] 2013
Various Artists
Ultimate Collection / Union Square Music 2:25
The  Ultimate Collection: Driving Songs 2014
Various Artists
Union Square / Universal 2:25
No Image
Various Artists
Sony Music
Good Vibrations: A Record Shop, A Label, A Film Soundtrack
Various Artists
Big Beat 2:25
Greatest Ever Drivetime
Various Artists
Greatest Ever
Greatest Ever! Dad: The Definitive Collection
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:25
Indie Anthems [2014]
Various Artists
Ultimate Collection
Latest & Greatest Rock Bands
Various Artists
Union Square / Union Square Music 2:26
Latest & Greatest: House Party
Various Artists
Union Square Music
Lust for Life: The Music That Changed a Generation
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 2:25
Mum's List [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
Various Artists
Decca / Universal 2:27
New Year's Eve Party!
Various Artists
Metro 2:25
No More Heroes: 60 Punk & New Wave Anthems
Various Artists
USM Media 2:26
Now That's What I Call '70s
Various Artists
Now!
Road Trip: 60 Essential Driving Songs
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:26
Teenage Kicks 1977-1981
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 2:26
The Best Rock Anthems ...Ever!
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:25
World's Biggest Seventies Anthems
Various Artists
Union Square Music / Worlds Biggest
blue highlight denotes editor's pick