In the words of Tay Tay...Are you ready for it?! It's a long one, and long overdue considering how important music is in my every day life. You can learn a lot about a person by their music choices and the songs that shaped them. Also, please comment your appreciation and #mems, coz this baby took me forever to put together! There was a lot of karaoke, air guitar and interpretive dance involved in the making of this post! And a lot that didn't make the cut but still have a big place in my heart. Shout out to artists everywhere - thank you for the music. Here's the top 34 albums that shaped the last 34 years of this girl's life... and next time it will be singles, because I legit cannot remember the last time I listened to a full record! Times, they are 'a changed! Let's do this....
The Wonder Years
- Simon & Garfunkel - Parsely, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966) - OK, so I wasn't even born when this was released but these contrasting, instrumental and lyrically lovely songs were some of the melodies of my early years, along with every Elvis song ever made, the best of Fleetwood Mac, beloved Prince, a dash of George Michael, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash...usually over the dinner table. Pretty swell company, thanks to my folks. But even now, a bit of "Scarborough Fair" is enough to put a "Bridge Over Troubled Water." (Sorry, had to) And I still love them.
- My Girl (Soundtrack) - Various (1991) - That movie...I mean, as a tender-hearted child of the 80's I pined for Anna Clumsky's perfect hair, sure, but I related to Vada's supposed tomboy ways and schoolyard awkwardness the most. And I had a rather fragile friend named Thomas too. And we were both allergic to and seemingly always surrounded by bees! Weird. Anyway, I've never watched it since coz it was all a little too sad for me and I fear the whole adult perspective might ruin it's charm, but the album got it's fair share of reruns many times over. Even as I write this post, there's a band downstairs playing the theme song for a chilled Sunday afternoon session and a bar full of people are singing along! Proven classics.
- Celine Dion - Falling Into You (1996) - I know, I almost didn't include it, but it was a short lived favourite CD in my little blue boombox in the summer holiday between finishing grade 6 and going into high school. We had gone to the cinema as a class to celebrate and a boy I'd grown up with sat next to me and held my hand. Being oblivious to his affections because I was busy being an actual teachers pet, it shocked me to my romantic core, and this CD was the soppiest thing I could find to work through what all that meant. I was "All By Myself" with "River Deep, Mountain High" feelings, and yep, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" how cute but kinda sad it was, and just how lonely and confusing primary school had been for me. But alas, life was about to get a whole lot better!
Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Growing Pains!
4. Romeo + Juliet (Music From the Motion Picture) - Various (1996) - Another one I know all the lyrics too and poured over the CD jacket as much as I did the movie - and let's be real - anything that featured young hot hair flicking Leo. My sisters and I used to sing "Everybody's Free" at the top of our lungs doing the dishes and "#1 Crush" just fuelled my major Shirley Manson obsession. And although "The Sunscreen Song" wasn't actually part of the album, it's a piece of poetry with some key life lessons I clearly dig. Oh, and weirdly enough, I own the house Baz Luhrmann grew up in as a teen, so you know, me and Baz go way back! 😉
5. Matchbox Twenty - Yourself or Someone Like You (1996) - My heart skips at beat at Rob Thomas's voice (and I do love an unconventionally cute older man). And, like any Matchbox Twenty tune, I'm taken right back to my first true love. Not that he knows it, but it's songs like "3AM" and "Push" that made me miss him most when I moved away from him, and kept me driving 6hr trips every month to see him again for years after. Also, I've discovered they're one of those bands you're either nonchalant about or you're my kind of keen on.
6. Weezer - Pinkerton (1996) - This was and still is my favourite album of any album every released by any band or artist ever. Big call, but considering it's now (infamously) known as the most emo of the bands albums, it suits me perfectly. I know all the lyrics and will sing it to you mid long hike or road trip if given half the chance. Like, marry me to "El Schorcho" and bury me to "Butterfly." 'Nuff said.
7. Blink 182 - Dude Ranch (1997) - I have my big sister to thank for my Blink addiction. She had a poster of them on her wall and caught the same plane as them one time and I was hella jell. "Josie" is my jam and I think between us we have every album up until the 2003 self titled number, when pretty much everyone in the world stopped buying CD's... "well, I guess this is growing up." I love their between song banter and nonsense, their erratic pop-punk riffs and 'moody-but-make-it-fun' kinda lyrics. Oh, and I'm with Tom on the alien front.
8. Jebediah - Slightly Odway (1997) - "Leaving Home" and "La Di Da Da" were super catchy and smelled like the hot tar and sea salt of my teens, while "Harpoon" literally put one straight through my soul. I somehow saw them play in an underground music club pre-legal, as well as Eskimo Joe, Killing Heidi and Grinspoon before they all became mainstream Australian famous. I saw lead singer Keven Mitchell (aka Bob Evans) play at the Tivoli in Brisbane years later and adored everything he put out too. Good fun Aussie alt rock charmers.
9. Jewel - Spirit (1998) - I was so into Jewel I even have her poetry book "A Night Without Armour." She was one of the ladies of lyrics that really opened me up to my own *spirit* if you will, and helped me get OK with my softness. I was often confused about being a dancer like that liked pretty dresses, dirt, and riding in cars with boys. I felt more comfortable around my older sisters friends and I reckon at least half of this list reflects that. Also the rest of Jewels music is my kind of deep and weird and wonderful. And timeless in that way.
10. Dawsons Creek (Songs From) - Various (1999) - This was the next best thing since Heartbreak High. And it starred Joshua Jackson (Mighty Ducks) and he looked exactly like a very special young love of mine. Also, this album is pretty cheesy/wholesome from start ("Kiss Me") to finish ("I Don't Wanna Wait"). Worth a replay, or an actual play if you weren't even born yet!
11. Fiona Apple - When the Pawn... (1999) - Pitchfork called it 'diamond-sharp writing that mines the depth of her psyche and emotion' and I concur. Like the epicly long actual album title, her songs are full-on stories and I'm still here for it, 100. Where Tori has her pianos, Fiona has some fierce foot-stomping beats and a voice that's huskier than she looks. "Limp," "Paper Bag," "Get Gone"...all delicious. Though, this is the only album of hers I've ever heard, it totally satiates.
12. Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Californication (1999) - I bloody loved California before I even saw her thanks to the Chilli Peppers. And these timeless desert-infused tunes are still as funky and feel good as they were back in the days when all my girlfriends were getting boyfriends and I just had boy friends. Listening to these songs often took me to a "Parallel Universe" of my actual life, "Road Trippin" Joshua Tree and Death Valley with my man these last few years and feeling more at home there than I have anywhere in my entire life. Kiedis' Scar Tissue is a tale and half, by the way - enlightening for any music and Hollywood fan of that era.
Staring straight up into the sky
Oh my my, a solar system that fits in your eye
13. Klinger - Grimshaw Street (2000) - As far as I can tell, it's rare to find someone that knows who these guys are (and not just the MASH character they are named after) and just how happy their music made me. And that's exactly how I like it. 6 tracks of that sad-but-make-it-sound-happy genre that I seem to be so drawn to with relatable lyrics sung with the sexiest Aussie accent I've ever heard, like: "hello cruel world I'm taking over now, don't tell me I've got to keep it down." Shout out to Klinger, wherever they heck they went, and soldiers in a dress everywhere!
14. Powderfinger - Odessy Number Five (2000) - This five time ARIA award winning album (like everyone in Australia at the time, I'm sure) was "My Happiness" and "My Kind of Scene." Just good grungy rock ballads, giving some important social and political messages weight with Fanning's familiar vocals. Pretty sure my whole family was into it and it was on rotation for days on end smelling like a scorching Aussie summer done right.
One of The Boys
15. Ice Cube - War & Peace Vol. 2 (2000) - Hello my straight outta high school and moving state to study and spread my wings anthems. "I got a full tank of unleaded..." and I'd "Roll All Day" in my two-toned 1984 Corolla because "the best thing in life is life..." (until we rich). You feel me?
16. Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) - A fan of all his records, this one was on hella repeat and the one with the most memories attached...unfortunately some super sad ones with this one. Memories of a young love who passed too soon and how we all dealt with it come up most. However, it's still a fun (in a effed up lyrical-diss-genius kinda way) album from the Em we all supposedly love to hate. If you have been living under a rock (will the real Slim Shady please stand up), maybe don't listen if you're easily offended.
17. N.E.R.D - In Search Of... (2001) - Pharrel and co's debut album was gooooollld, kinda like everything they continue to do. "Lapdance" and "Rock Star" were hits but "Am I High" and "Brain" are dope. Power-hop, rocking beats and catchy, brashy lyrics. Reminds me of cruising around with my guy pals, doing dumb-fun like setting off fireworks on a Tuesday night, camping just to sit around the fire and laugh, and super normal stuff like drinking hot chocolates at the headland overlooking the beach. Funtimes. Then everyone started marrying up, moving away, and breeding! Which was fine, btw.
18. Tori Amos - From The Choirgirl Hotel (1998, but I discovered her fully in 2003) - Fun fact, I didn't get into Tori all that much until around 2003 when my boyfriend at the time's sister played her 24/7 and I fell in love. My little sister caught the disease too and we met up in Sydney in to see her perform at the Opera House, playing two pianos at once and pulling at our hearts like the fucking queen she is! "Spark" is one of my faves and although I haven't listened to much of her new stuff since the Amercian Doll Posse years, her back catalogue is still on repeat when I need a good wail and flail about.
19. Green Day - American Idiot (2004) - If you weren't a fan of eyeliner wearing lads in the 90's and naughties, where were you?! Billy Joe had won me over many albums prior, but this one was by far my most played on my "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." I loved the concept of following the disillusioned "Jesus of Surburbia" through this album and the pop punk/alt rock riot of sounds. Green Day was my gateway to bands like Blink, Panic, MCR, Jimmy Eat Word, Coheed, AFI and more. It's a "Homecoming."
20. The Killers - Hot Fuss (2004) - Brandon Flowers and "Mr Brightside." Need I say more?! (Trust me, I had more luck with make-believe music boyfriends than I did been 'friend zoned' by my real life boy friends.) Well yes, coz this was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with this band for me and everyone I introduced them to. Clearly they knew this, as they named their next album after me, obvs - "Sam's Town." *golf claps*
21. She Will Have Her Way - The Songs of Tim & Neil Finn (2005) - A stunning collection of Australian and New Zealand females covering Split Enz and Crowded House classics like "Better Be Home Soon" and "Don't Dream it's Over." The same boyfriend who's one sister introduced me to Tori, the other gifted me this at Christmas and I was like "this chick gets me!" Don't get me wrong, I adore the originals, but with the likes of Sarah Blasko and Clare Bowditch on this, it's timeless and oh-so-beautiful.
22. Hilltop Hoods - The Hard Road (2006) - I've been in the "nose-bleed section" for these guys more times than I can count. And I've asked Suffa to marry me every damn time. Something about boys in baseball caps that can sing... Anyway, they're still going strong and every track on this record is bloody great. Reminds me of every Motorsport event I've ever been to (my kinda sports if you haven't figured that out already) and also of a few fellow festival-heads I met jumping up and down to "Monsters Ball" and "What a Great Night." Coincidentally, having a great night.
Celebrate your top ten in the charts of pain
Lover brother bogenvilla
My vine twists around your need
Even the rain is sharp
Like today as you sh-sh-shock me sane
- Tori Amos
23. Eskimo Joe - Black Fingernails, Red Wine (2006) - It's sexy and sad at the same time and reminds me of a pretty passionate time where I felt like I was coming into my own as woman. I also had a lotta lust for Kav and Joel, especially the way Kav's mouth moves and in particular on this album, how he says "This is...pressure," is just oh-so-perfect!
24. Lily Allan - Alright, Still (2006) - Writing this list reminds me what an epic time in music 2006 was...wow. (And how many artists sample so much of this era now). Lily is my spirit sister, me in another life, the no shame version of me that, still, reminds me to give less fucks and speak my mind to this day. I devoured her book as soon as it came out and she's one of the few celebs I bother following on Instagram - her style and makeup and music is still as bomb as ever, and dear Lily, I love you lady, thank you for the music!
25. Triple J Hottest 100 Volume 16 - Various (2008) - If the top 10 is anything to go by, 2008 was a good year for electronic sounds - just ask MGMT, The Presets and Empire of the Sun. But this volume from the great Australian radio station's annual poll was, IMO, the best mix of pop, alt rock, hip hop, and elctro sounds from Oz and beyond ever collated. Pez and "The Festival Song," Ben Folds with Regina Spektor, Dizzee with "Dance Wiv Me," Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, Cold War Kids, and on and on with absolute bangers. So many bands that defined the times and so many that became not just Triple J staples but worldwide phenomenons. I had just moved back to my home town and got a 'normal' job where I met my legend friend Roxy, and frequented plenty of house parties with other new friends. It was like this was the music that introduced who I was to these people and when I asked some of them what music they remember me by for this post, this was it.
This Girl Is on Fire!
26. Marina & The Diamonds - The Family Jewels (2010) - My god this album is the goods! Why Marina Lambrini Diamandis is not a household name by now I have no idea. I love every quirk in the composition, play on words, and stylised snub to society in this seductive storytelling. It's utter genius and felt it right to my core at a time I really needed to...coz "I Am Not a Robot," cuckoo!
27. Flume - Flume (Deluxe Edition) (2012) - These electronic eargasms got me through some of the hardest adulting days in my life. From slaving in our traditional business, fending off haters and literal robbers, to living in a mouldy house and desperately trying to prove to the banks that two self-employed people could indeed handle a mortgage. On a whim, we jumped in the car and drove 6hrs west to dance in the dust to his "Holdin On," "Left Alone," and "On Top" (with that juicy drop) at Triple J's One Night Stand. #worthit
28. Taylor Swift - Red (2012) - I don't why this album somehow made it's way to my car playlist out of all of them, but I'm definitely not denying I'm a fan. Besides the chart toppers on this one, I really like the country roots of "I Almost Do" and Ed's appearnce on "Everything Has Changed." Plus I really like figuring out which boyfriend she's alluding to in every single song - girl's had options! And she's still dropping hits like the Easter Egg trail she leaves in her wake. Taylor, I salute you!
29. Beyonce - Beyonce (2013) - I did a lot of disco to Destiny's Child but I didn't really fall for Ms Carter until I saw her live in Melbourne. And damn, she is pure talent! I'm probably preaching to the choir but everything about this album was the sickest. Still is. I haven't quite moved on. I'm "Haunted" and "Drunk in Love..." And, woaaaahh, I just now am watching all the film clips. 'Yonce!
30. Arctic Monkeys - AM (2013) - But also Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not had a big impact on me. There might not be too many whole Bristish albums in this list but I'm certainly a sucker for Brit Rock n Roll, bitter, twisted, ballsy and bonkers band boys. And Arctic Monkeys are definitely the "No. 1 Party Anthem" and "One for the Road." *Swoon*
31. Miley Cyrus - Bangerz (2013) - Man, this record is still so good and makes me feel so fire! Miley's voice is goals and I started getting really into her when I did the scary/exciting thing and went and got singing lessons. I'm a belter, and my car and the highway became the perfect stage to "Drive" and "Do My Thang." There's so much going on and so much range in these banging beats, she couldn't have picked a better name, IMO.
32. Lorde - Pure Heronine (2013) - Ugh, more pure gold. The poetry, playfulness and distinct lack of shits given makes this a must listen. Especially pre-party, or pre-doing that hard thing. It reminds me that I'm quirky and that's so much more than OK, so get outta my way. "Team" takes me back to the freedom of being one of the boys and "Tennis Court" is basically how I feel about the social world right now. And New Zealand, I need to be back in you. Kiwi's go off and we all need a Kiwi friend or 10!
Because I'm doing this for the thrill of it, killin' it
Never not chasing a million things I want
And I am only as young as the minute is full of it
Getting pumped up on the little bright things I bought
But I know they'll never own me
33. Iggy Azalea - The New Classic (2014) - Missy Elliot's This is Not a Test album almost took this spot but since Iggy was so influenced by her and some massive "Change Your Life" times occurred with Iggy in my ears, she pips it "100." I started a new business in 2014, bossed up big time and certainly felt like "Impossible is Nothing." They're good memories and all these tracks (and Iggy herself) are vibin reminders of what I'm capable of...and that even a small country town gal can make her wildest dreams come true when she's "work, work, work, work, working on my shit."
34. Billie Eilish - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019) - If you know, then you know there needs to be a 12 step just for you, Billie. But I think this long-ass life story of mine makes this a natural next fave. Get some "Bad Guy" Billie in your ears and chill. Or paint....I'm so going to doing that! *Watch this space*
Congrats if you made it to the end of that!
Tell me if you feel me on any of these choices, and what's the music that shaped you?
This was also very cathartic. Highly recommend doing.
Rock on friends.
PS. That's my man's guitar and he's ridiculously talented.
Go stalk his IG @bennywaters and tell him the world needs what he's got!
It's how he won my heart afterall...!
MORE ADVENTURE, LESS AGING!