I’ve always been a huge lover of music. Not only do I love to listen to music but I’ve actually been able to read music almost as long as I could read words, and I have a history of playing the fiddle (violin, but Scottish music!), attempting to play the piano for a few years and I taught myself to play the guitar. I come from a smudge on the map at the top of Scotland called Orkney, and Orcadian culture is dripping with melody. I lived my teenage years with earbuds sticking out of the top of my hoodie, because it was important to me that music was always close – and now, funny enough, my own teenager is constantly donning headphones and ignoring the world around her! I’ve never been more proud. She drew my attention to the Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones a couple of days ago, eager to tell me that the battery life was long enough for 40 whole hours of immersive sound. I immediately began to think about how I would fill those 40 hours and, while I won’t list enough songs to fill 40 hours right now, I thought it would be fun to pick a few songs that I would have on the soundtrack to my life. Enjoy!
1990: The week that I was born, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini was number one, followed only a couple of days later by The Joker by The Steve Miller Band. I’m unsure what exactly that combination says about me, but I thoroughly enjoy both of them years later and I can definitely think of a worse soundtrack to have been born to!
1991: Though I have no memory of this, I have fondly been told of the days I would hold hands with my wonderful Auntie Freya, skipping through the streets and shouting the lyrics to Give It Away by RHCP. I can only imagine how much I would love it if I saw a toddler doing this now!
1992: My first ever favourite song of my own was All That She Wants by Ace of Base. I’m not sure what inspired my love of this song, but for some reason I have an unusual memory in which I am an infant and I am deeply unsettled to discover that Zoe Ball is not the person singing this song. I don’t know either.
1995: Jump forward a couple of years, and Earth Song by Michael Jackson was re-released. It blew my tiny mind that men could have long hair. Seriously. I argued with my Mum that this was absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, a woman. In fact I was quite angry that anybody would even consider that he wasn’t.
1997: My favourite music at this age was anything by Savage Garden and Barenaked Ladies. They were my Mum’s car music, and we would all sing along to every single song. Stunt by Barenaked Ladies and Savage Garden (self-titled album) are two of my favourite albums to this day.
1998: Every Saturday, I played netball in a local league. I’d eagerly await being picked up by whichever Mum was on the rota to do the driving that week, and I used to listen to CDs and jump back and forth between the couch and the chairs, singing along as I went. I played Perfect 10 by Beautiful South on repeat for weeks, in what I suppose was my first glimpse of body positivity. Shout out to Beautiful South! Other songs on the Saturday morning playlist included Hit Me Baby One More Time and Brimful of Asha.
2000: Oh look, there are boys everywhere. And not just any boy – Ben Adams from A1. My first love, with his greasy curtains and squeaky voice. Same Old Brand New You was loved so much that there was a dance routine, and I almost still remember it. Almost. Other dance routines created over the following year were set to the music of Just Dance by 5ive (yes, the 5 was necessary), Sometimes by Britney Spears and Genie in a Bottle by Christina Aguilera.
2002: Move over Ben, because Gareth Gates was in town. I was obsessed. I had every book and video made about that series of Pop Idol (who knew there was a need for more than one video?!), I cut even the tiniest picture of him out of any magazine I saw and his signed photograph was kept neatly in a plastic wallet in a drawer in my bedroom so that it could never be ruined. Unchained Melody kicked off what was a startlingly bad musical career, and my love for him fizzled away to nothing. The spikes just didn’t do it for my anymore.
2003: And suddenly: The Distillers – Drain the Blood came out. My Grandad bought me Coral Fang which was a whole album of feist and anger and rebellion, and my thirteen year old self was over the moon.
2004 – 2005: When System of a Down brought out Hypnotize/Mesmerize over 2004 and 2005, I felt like my life was changed. It was the soundtrack to every house party I attended. Singing along to Vicinity of Obscenity in a drunken stupour was a rite of passage, and they were everybody’s favourite band in my social circle. Every so often the songs come on when my Spotify is on shuffle and I am 14 again every single time. God I feel old.
2007: And then there was Paramore. The first song by Paramore I ever heard was For A Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic. I had gone to a house party with a friend I barely knew and I was sitting in this girl’s kitchen, when everybody excitedly put on Paramore’s new album. The opening riff hit, and then Hayley called out “just talk yourself up, and tear yourself down” and a girl across the room said “that is the best opening to an album ever” and inside my mind I just thought “oh my god it really is”. Fun fact: my drink got spiked that night and I don’t remember much of anything after that moment. I never saw those girls again. But I have never stopped listening to Paramore since.
And then I was a grown up. There are so many essential albums from my teenage years that didn’t even get a mention; Songs About Jane by Maroon 5; Mizundastood by Pink; Stripped by Christina Aguilera; Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge by My Chemical Romance; The Young and the Hopeless by Good Charlotte – they all hold such a special place in my heart. I loved Queen, Michael Jackson, Elton John. Anything and everything! As I got older my tastes diversified. I love real corny country music – the likes of Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker. In fact, I walked down the aisle to Perfect Storm by Brad Paisley! One of my more modern favourites is Breaking Benjamin, despite the grief they get! I have rekindled my love of Barenaked Ladies and have seen them live twice as an adult, and where Fall out Boy were popular throughout my youth I have got into them all over again and have been lucky enough to take my daughter to see them live too. Isn’t it amazing how music can transport you anywhere, and make you feel exactly the way you felt when you first heard a song? So if you have 40 hours with Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones, what would you listen to?