This weekend I was at my friend Charlie’s house and she found the Backstreet Boys Greatest Hits CD – we got super excited and put it on, then spent the next half hour singing along to all the tracks we didn’t even realise we still knew the words to - I forgot how much I used to love the Backstreet Boys haha! Anyway, this kick started a whole week of music nostalgia, I love it when that happens! During my epic drive this morning I listened to my Backstreet Boys playlist I made when I left Charlie’s on Saturday and it got me thinking about all my greatest memories with music and how pretty much every song I have ever liked has a memory attached to it. It’s not surprising really, I listen to music all day every day; every morning on the way to work, at my desk while i’m doing a big project, on my way home from work, when I get in and am pottering around in my room – in my car, on the train, at friends houses, in clubs. I am constantly surrounded by music and have been since an early age and this is probably why music is one of the most important things in my life.
One of my earliest music memories involves Madonna. I remember when I was a kid my sister LOVED Madonna and she had her Immaculate Collection album on video. It was basically all the music videos in the same order as the album, and it was AMAZING – It had songs like Borderline, Lucky Star, True Blue, Like a Virgin, Vogue, Material Girl... all of Madonna’s best songs. I can still remember sitting in my front room watching the videos and even now when I hear the songs I can picture the music video because we watched them so much! I think my favourite song of hers is Open Your Heart, I LOVED the video for that!
My parents used to listen to music a lot when I was a kid. UB40, The Carpenters and The Beautiful South are all bands that stand out in my memory. Just hearing the opening bars to Lessons in Love by UB40 instantly reminds me of my Dad! My parents also had The Carpenters Greatest Hits on tape, and I used to steal it and listen to it over and over again in my room – I used to love Rainy Days and Mondays and Top of the World haha! The Beautiful South’s old work takes me right back to my childhood, I LOVED ‘Song for Whoever’, especially the line “I love you from the bottom of my pencil case” – I don’t even know why, I just did!
As I got a bit older a lot of my music tastes were influenced by what my sister used to listen to. She was probably old enough to go out and buy her own music whereas I wasn’t, so the new music I would hear that wasn’t on the radio would be coming from her room. I remember her having ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ by Oasis on tape, and I was fascinated because the tape case for that was cardboard and shaped like a cigarette packet, with a lid you had to lift up – actually quite clever, but would totally be banned now! My sister was also into Garbage, No Doubt, Marilyn Manson, Blur, Placebo and Republica – Hearing ‘Ready to Go’ always reminds me of sitting in her room watching her while she was getting ready to go out. It’s strange that just thinking of these songs and not even hearing them makes me feel 10 again, and brings back lovely memories.
I started in the middle and have recapped the beginning, now to continue onto what started this whole post in the first place. As cringey as it is, ‘Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)’ by the Backstreet Boys was the first single I ever bought on tape! I remember getting it from Woolworths in Barkingside and walking the whole way home just looking at it, desperate to get home and play it haha! I was never really a fan of Westlife or Boyzone – I didn’t mind Take That but was never obsessive over them. Then the Spice Girls came on the scene and blew all my previous musical tastes out of the water. The music my sister was listening to was out around the same time as the Spice Girls, so I was splitting my time 50/50 between being the Ultimate Pop Princess with stupid platforms trainers (I even forced my mum to buy me a green vest and some massive flares from Peacocks that looked like Mel B’s outfit in Wannabe) and being a cool rocker listening to the sort of music my sister listened to. Regardless of all this, I did TOTALLY LOVE the Spice Girls and had all their albums and any available merchandise going. Unfortunately for me, I was always ‘ginger spice’ when we played Spice Girls at school, although much to my delight when I performed as them with 5 other girls at our school assembly there was another girl who was much more ginger than me, so I got to be Posh Spice – touch!
So, I had a few years of loving pop music and then I got back into the rock music scene, and this brings me onto my first ever concert. I can remember it like it was yesterday, how I felt, how excited I was. Limp Bizkit had just released their ‘Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water’ album, and they were playing Wembley Arena on the 7th June 2001. I begged and begged to get tickets and in the end my sister and her boyfriend at the time took me there. I was on the brink of hysteria, not just because I was totally in love with Fred Durst and the entire band, but because I had never experienced anything like it in my life. It was amazing, and was the perfect choice for my first concert and I think to this day it’s why I prefer rock concerts to any other music genre – there is just so much energy and excitement. While watching Limp Bizkit do their thing, Fred jumped off the stage and wandered around the arena. We were sitting to the left hand side of the stage, with no one in front of us, just the doorway below into the arena. I remember Fred disappearing and a few minutes later walking through the door directly below me – before my sister or her bloke could do anything I had valuted the barrier and jumped down and ran after him! Security stopped me but it was worth a shot... my sister nearly had a heart attack because I was only 14 and she thought she’d never get me back haha!
Clearly with Limp Bizkit I was already loving the American rock music scene – Sum 41, Alien Ant Farm, Offspring, Papa Roach, Blink 182, Cheap Trick – I loved it all! I totally got obsessive over Eminem too, I loved all of his albums until he got too involved in D12 and the music turned a bit rubbish. I remember my sister going to see him in concert and I couldn’t go, I was GUTTED. My sister called me when she was there and played Stan down the phone, and I remember sitting in my friends room crying because I could hear him and nearly having a heart attack – that’s devotion! This sort of music reminds me of summer holidays and sitting in my house watching all the music videos on MTV. This was probably the first entire genre of music I really really loved and obsessed over. In Too Deep by Sum 41 is still one of my most favourite songs and I loved Alien Ant Farm’s cover of Smooth Criminal – still makes me smile when I hear it J
Fast forward a few years – I’d met my first proper boyfriend and mainly due to him and what he listened to, I started to get involved in R&B – Puff Daddy, LL Cool J, Ja Rule, Ashanti, Alliayah, Nelly, Brandy... I remember listening to the radio late one night and they played the entire Ashanti album from start to finish. My boyfriend at the time text me and told me to listen to it about half way through and I told him I already was and we both said how much we liked it and went out and bought it the next day. That entire album just reminds me of being in love for the first time and the awesome summer of 2003 (before everything went a bit wrong). After I split with the boyfriend, I didn’t really listen to music for a while, it just depressed me. I had always associated music with being happy because it made me happy – at that moment in time everything was a bit dark and grim.
I soon snapped out of it though, and after a year or two of being mental and not really knowing what I was doing, I met my next boyfriend. It was the summer of 2005, and it was heavily sound tracked by more R&B – the standout album for me at this time was Let’s Get Lifted by John Legend. That summer was spent driving around with my boyfriend, my best friend and her boyfriend (her boyfriend was MY boyfriends best friend... confusing?) and listening to that album. I didn’t have a job at the time, but they all did – even so we’d drive around and then park up listening to this album until the sun started to come up and then we’d go home. That summer they must have got about 2 hours sleep a night before they had to go to work, I don’t even know how they did it haha!
A few more years on, this time another new boyfriend and another new genre of music I had been introduced to; house music. I had been going to a club near me called Pacific Edge which was the first real club at this time to play funky house. I loved it and joined a website called Mujao which resulted in me making lots of new friends as I worked for them doing club photography. It was at this time I experienced London clubbing, heading to places like Turnmills, Egg, Heaven and Fabric. I met my last ex boyfriend doing this ‘job’ (I say ‘job’ because it wasn’t my PROPER job, I used to go and do it in my spare time in return for free club entry and drinks), and my love for house music was born. For the 5 years to come i’d head to Ibiza, see Tiesto do an epic 8 hour set at Brixton Academy and generally just fall in love with house music, a love that would never really die.. I loved Yoji Biomehanika, Fischerspooner, Dark by Design, Tiesto, Smokin’ Jo, Tim Sheridan... there were lots of ‘one-off’ songs I loved, such as Dark Side of the Moon by Ernesto vs Bastian, Emerge by Fischerspooner, Traffic by Tiesto – loads of one off songs I can’t even remember the names of now! The album Nasty Dirty Sex Music by Smokin’ Jo and Tim Sheridan was one of my favourites, and if I hear any of these songs it reminds me of just going out and having a laugh in sweaty dirty clubs with lots of people pilled off their nut, while i’m running around drinking water and taking their pictures – one of the best things i’ve ever done J
And now we are up to present time. The last few years I have heavily got back into Rock and Indie music. Some of my favourite bands are Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, Kasabian, Muse... I compiled a list years ago of all the acts I had to see before I died and have been adding to it more and more... I have pretty much covered the list now, the majority of it is done. I’ve watched Arcade Fire on a hot sunny day in Hyde Park, I’ve watched Foo Fighters headline Milton Keynes Bowl. I’ve screamed along to Muse at Wembley Arena, been to a secret Kasabian gig with only 199 other people. I’ve danced around to Babyshambles at V, i’ve wangled tickets last minute to see Blur, seen Red Hot Chilli Peppers at the O2. The only bands I wanted to see before I died that I haven’t yet is Oasis and Coldplay, and i’m seeing Coldplay in June J All I need now is Oasis to reform and i’ve pretty much completed one of my life goals!
Not bad for a Tuesday eh? ;)