7 Years by Lukas Graham is a song about the fears of growing up; something that Holden Caulfield struggles with heavily in the Catcher in the Rye. The artist misses the days when he was young and understood what he wanted to do with his life. Similarly, Holden Caulfield wants to remain a child at heart. He does not want to deal with the insecurities and hardships that come with adulthood.
Mr. Brightside is a song centered around the jealous feelings of a young man when he discovers that his girlfriend is cheating on him with someone else. Holden Caulfield experiences similar feelings when he finds out that his roommate Stradlater took his old friend Jane out on a date. Holden expresses great concern when he questions Stradlater about whether or not he "[gave] her the time" because Holden had an emotional and slightly romantic relationship with her (Salinger 43). He was not only feeling jealous of Stradlater, but also feeling protective of Jane because he understood the abuse she suffered. Similarly, the narrator of Mr. Brightside "can't [even] look" at the affair that's taking place before his eyes and he feels like "jealousy" is "taking control" of his mind (18-20). Holden Caulfield and Mr. Brightside both express raw, uncontrollable feelings of jealousy and pain from romantic relationships.
One of Holden Caulfield's main characteristics is his attachment to youthful innocence. Sex is one of the things that he fears would rob him of his innocence and turn him into an adult. Rather than take the opportunity to have sex with a prostitute, like most teenage boys would, Caulfield instead chooses to "[try] to keep the old conversation going" with her (Salinger 96). The only logical explanation for Holden's strange actions is that he is nervous about losing his virginity because losing it would indicate or imply that he is getting older. He'd rather go without the pleasure of sex than grow up into an adult. Similarly, the writer of What's My Age Again? is legally an adult but feels as if he is a child. Right about to have sex with his girlfriend, the narrator purposefully stops to "[turn] on the TV" and avoid having sex (4). For him, having the sex carries the same dreadful connotation that it does for Holden Cauldfield; adulthood.
Twenty One Pilot's song Ride shares a similar theme regarding fear and cowardice to the Catcher in the Rye. Holden admits himself that he is "one of [those] very yellow guys" when imagining what he would do if he were to confront a thief (Salinger 88). Holden knows that he would not have the guts to take action or truly confront somebody. He knows himself well enough that to recognize that he is all talk and no bite. Similarly, the narrator of Ride recognizes that "metaphorically" he would have courage in the face of adversity but "literally [he does] not know what [he] would do" if presented with a real challenge (22-23). Holden and the author of this song have that buried sense of fear, that unsurety, in common.