As I recently turned twenty, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to write about the music that has been influential in the two decades I have now been alive. This is going to be quite an eclectic mix, with the only common thread being that each of these albums stands out for me as somehow formative in how I developed my musical tastes. To an outsider, this may seem like a random list but I hope to explain how and why each of these albums were and are important to me, whether that is because it was the first album I bought or because I played the album non-stop for an entire summer as a teenager. It has been incredibly difficult to narrow down this list, and it must not be confused with the implication that these are my favourite albums of all time. This is the first 5 in a list of 10 albums that came out after 1994 (not including greatest hits) and that have special memories for me.
1. Britney Spears. Oops!…I Did It Again (2000)
This was the first album I bought, I was six years old at the time and bought it along with Madonna’s Immaculate Collection in a music store in New York. Like every other young girl, I was a big Britney fan and remember thinking how pretty she looked on the album cover. I bought my Sony CD Walkman around the same time and felt very cool listening to the likes of Britney. To be honest, I don’t really remember my exact views on the music itself, but I remember enjoying it and maybe it subconsciously fed my love for The Rolling Stones with that cover of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’.
2. Sugababes. Three (2003)
I still have such a soft spot for this album, I was nine years old and just thought ‘Hole in the Head’ was the coolest song. I think I enjoy this album as much today as I did then. It might seem a little cringeworthy to be openly admitting your love for a Sugababes album, but it just brings me back to the days of Richard Curtis’ Love Actually and when Hugh Grant was still fanciable. Sugababes were actually the first concert I ever went to and I’m not ashamed to say I really enjoyed it. Would I go to a reunion concert of theirs now? Probably not, but it doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy this album, no one can deny ‘In the Middle’ is one hell of a catchy song.
3. Fall Out Boy. From Under the Cork Tree (2005)
I’d forgotten how much I love this album. I hadn’t heard of the band until a family friend, who I thought was unbelievably cool, mentioned them and I listened to them and loved it. It was so different to the normal music that girls my age were listening to and marked the start of my own interest in breaking the mould with my musical tastes. In a stereotypically teenage fashion, I would listen to this album in my room and think of myself as some sort of indie American high school teenager. But it was the music itself I just connected with and I’ll never forget that.
4. Kate Nash. Made of Bricks (2007)
When I first heard ‘Foundations’ I was hooked. Kate’s singing style and lyrics were so refreshing and I felt like I somehow understood her music. As was the case with Britney Spears seven years earlier, I was enticed by Kate Nash’s look, with her cool fringe and tea dresses. She looked like a modern day 60s model but also sang about mouthwash and soup. I think she was everything I needed in a musical artist; she was unique and pretty, but not intimidatingly so, she was slightly rebellious with songs like ‘Shit Song’ and her lyrics spoke to me. ‘Mariella’ in particular stood out as I felt I could relate to Mariella throwing away the colour in her wardrobe much to the disappointment of her mother.
5. Heloise & The Savoir Faire. Trash, Rats & Microphones (2008)
This is probably the most obscure album on this list but it evokes so many happy memories for me. I heard the track ‘Illusions’ on an episode of The Friday Night Project, which we rarely watched, and my brother and I just started dancing and immediately became obsessed. There was very little about the band online but my brother managed to find out the album’s release date and we got my poor Mum to go into Woolworths while we were at school to ask for the album. She kept getting the band and album name wrong and the staff had no idea what she was talking about but we managed to get it eventually. I think we were meant to see that particular episode because fast forward to a few months later and we were playing the album non stop in the garden, dancing on the trampoline. I really think more people should know about this album because it is so individual and just pure fun. Even now when I play ‘On Fuego’ I get visions of my brother and I singing along at the top of our voices in the warm summer evenings.
To be continued…