Sixteen

Album: The House That Dirt Built (2009)
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Songfacts®:

  • Fathers everywhere are mortified with the thought of their teenage daughters sneaking into clubs, and in England, where the drinking age is 18, some very young girls can worm their way in. The Heavy is from the small British town of Noid, and their lead singer Kelvin Swaby told Songfacts what inspired the song: "I was DJing quite a bit at that point whilst we were working on Great Vengeance, basically the first album. We come from a little town, and I'd be out DJing four or five nights a week. It was good for me - the money was good for me, the nights were great. But I always saw these kids that used to creep into the clubs. You know when people are too young, because they get there far too early, just because the doorman, their guard is down, and they want people in the club. So I used to note that there was all of these kids that were made up, they'd make themselves up to look like these 23-year-old dolls, but you knew that they were like 15, 16. So I'd see it night after night, whether I was in my town or whether I was in London, or whether I was in Bristol DJing. And for me, it was just like, Okay, that's one side of it. The other side of it is that you have these men that, I'm sure they know that these girls are young, kind of too young, maybe. So you see them plying them with alcohol. But these girls want to be in there because they want to be older, they want to grow up so quickly. And so I'm saying that they're playing with the devil. It was just an observation. It's an observational song."
  • There is a carnival atmosphere in this song that was inspired by some of Swaby's favorite blues singers. The Heavy frontman told Songfacts: "I love the idea of the way that Screamin' Jay Hawkins did 'I Put A Spell On You.' It's like, well, let's go with that style of blues, rather than just playing 8-bar blues. As much as it is 8-bar blues, it's just the horns, and the horns are big in what we do. It just emphasizes every single line I sing, it emphasizes. [Singing] 'I saw her dancing with the devil,' ba ba ba bum – so you're waiting for the next line: 'And he was wearing my shoes,' ba ba ba… so that was the way that we decided to go about that. The idea of it was Screamin' Jay rolling with Tom Waits."
  • The popular video was shot in Coney Island, New York, which was a thriving recreational area in the first half of the 20th century, but is now mostly deserted. The remains of the amusement park make a striking backdrop. Swaby explained: "Michael Maxxis, the video director, decided that we should go to Coney Island. We were in New York for a few days, and he was like, 'Let's go to Coney Island, because it's just so wrecked, so rotten down there now. And it just seethes the vibe of the song.' And it does."

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