So there’s been this thing floating around Facebook that I’ve been tagged in twice and haven’t done yet. It is this:
RULES: In your status, list 13 albums that have stayed with you over the years in some way. Don’t take too long on this list – just a few minutes (Editor’s Note: BAHAHA WHAT HOW CAN YOU EVEN SUGGEST THAT?!). These don’t have to be great records, just ones that mean something to you personally. Then tag 10 of your friends – including me – so I can see your list!
*Note: I edited the above for grammatical errors because I’m a nerd.
Here’s the thing about things like this and being tagged in them on Facebook: I am rarely tagged by anyone, which I believe is because they know I’m never ever ever going to do it. I loathe those stupid “COPY/PASTE THIS STATUS IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE WELFARE OF LADYBUGS!!!!” things. I loved seeing the photos floating circulating my newsfeed when “Occupy Facebook with Jeff Goldblum” was happening, but I never actually liked one of those photos because I didn’t want to have to do it.
For this meme (for lack of a better term), I was tagged by both my husband and my mother-in-law (husband tagged me and her, she tagged me again, DOUBLE TAG!, ouch) and even though, like I said, I don’t normally participate in these kinds of things, I really like this one because I love music. Actually, love isn’t a strong enough word for how I feel about music. There just isn’t a word for that.
I could write out my Top 13 Albums, post it on my Facebook in a status, NOT TAG ANYONE ELSE, and be done with it, but I thought, “Hey! Let’s have fun with this. Let’s make it (somewhat) interactive. Let’s get creative!” and figured I’d post it here, in my blog, instead.
Without any further adieu, may I present:
CYN YOUNKER’S TOP 13 MOST INFLUENTIAL ALBUMS!!!1!!1!one!!11
(I would insert horrible clip art here if I knew how!)
1. Tracey Ullman – You Broke My Heart in 17 Places (1983)
Yep, you read that right. Did you even know this English funnygirl was also a – albeit a nothing fancy – songstress? I can honestly say that when I think of the first songs I remember from my childhood (that weren’t children’s songs), this album takes the cake. I was obsessed with Ullman’s rendition of Bobby’s Girl. My mother probably wanted to kill herself and/or me due to how much I used to play it. She owned this album on vinyl – still owns it to this day – and I knew the exact groove it was on so I could replay it over and over again. I think all the songs are pretty tight, but Bobby’s Girl was my jam. One of my fondest memories is of dancing around my childhood living room with this blaring, jumping on the ugly, 80s-brown chesterfield, just belting it out. I was four years old (listening to it in 1987, not 1983, since I wasn’t even alive then).
Favourite Track: Bobby’s Girl (obviously)
Runners Up: Breakaway; (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear; and Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)
2. Billy Joel – An Innocent Man (1983)
Man, a lot of good music came out before I was even born. I’m going to be an old for a second and say how shitty most popular music is these days when compared to the tunes of the past. Now that I’ve gone there, what can I say about An Innocent Man? My mother had this entire album mashed in with some Madonna tunes from True Blue on a mixed tape (best mixed tape ever? I think so!). I’m thinking I was around the same age as I was when I was rocking out to Tracey Ullman when Billy Joel became my first musical boyfriend. This album is one of the greats, people. Anytime I hear any of the tunes on it I’m automatically transported back to that same living room I mentioned above, only this time I’m lying on the hideous beige carpet, staring up at the ceiling, just loving Billy’s voice. Seriously. I could listen to him sing anything. He’s definitely one of my Bucket List performers.
Favourite Track: Uptown Girl (my mother still jokes about this being “my song”)
Runners Up: Easy Money; The Longest Time; and Keeping The Faith
3. Shania Twain – The Woman In Me (1995)
Yep, I’m taking it there.
Throughout my elementary school years I listened to country music. A lot of country music. Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Travis Tritt, Clint Black, Alan Jackson – you name a country musician who was popular in the 90s, I probably listened to them. My musical tastes were pretty much defined by what my mother was listening to and at that time, she and country were having a love affair. It must have been some kind of popular because even my fifth grade spring concert was dedicated to the genre, complete with a line dance done to the Boot Scootin’ Boogie by Brooks and Dunn (which I did not partake in – I was lame enough at this time in my life and I did not need to be any lamer).
Anyway, back to Shania.
I loved this album. I still love this album. I will probably always love this album. I will probably always love the woman herself. Everyone knows she turned country music on its head by baring her cute little midriff, but to me, she always seemed so confident and beautiful and I loved her story. Her parents died in a freak car accident and she worked her ass off to get where she did. I admire her a lot. And the album was full of great upbeat tunes, but also really vulnerable ones. My eleven-year-old self couldn’t help but love them, especially when I was just starting to get my first crushes and all that mush.
Favourite Track: You Win My Love
Runners Up: Any Man of Mine; The Woman In Me (Needs The Man In You); Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore); and Leaving Is The Only Way Out
4. Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (1995)
Okay, here’s where my musical education really takes off. Around the same time I was listening to Shania, I heard Wonderwall for the first time and my little preteen brain exploded. Seriously. “Whose amazing voice was that? What’s that cello doing? This isn’t country, why do I like this?” Those are the kinds of thoughts that were going through my mind when Wonderwall filtered in. I was hooked fast and good and I abandoned country music almost immediately. This album is unreal. It’s so quintessentially 90s British alt-rock. It changed my life. I still have my original copy and I honestly don’t know how many times I had to have it resurfaced because I played it so much, but there’s a small backstory behind it, too.
The first time I ever listened to this album in its entirety was with my stepbrother, Andrew. Andrew and I have never really seen eye-to-eye on anything. He’s four years older than me and we’re truly like night & day (although I don’t know who’s which). A better description for us would be oil & water. We do not mix. Vinegar & baking soda, maybe? Mixing causes explosive results. I think you get what I’m trying to say. This album brought us together for one moment in time. We both loved it. One day, we spent an entire afternoon listening to it together in the room that he shared with our brother, him on his bed and me on the other, just talking, shooting-the-shit, what have you. It’s probably our only perfect memory and, despite our differences, it’s one I really cherish. It’s why I really do believe that music can do wondrous things, even bringing together those with the bitterest enmity, even if only for a minute or two.
Favourite Track: Wonderwall (cliche, I know; whatever)
Runners Up: Champagne Supernova; She’s Electric; and Morning Glory
5. Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)
1995 was a good year for music, but I didn’t get into this album until 1996/1997. In fact, I got both it and the Tonight, Tonight poster for my 13th birthday (both of which – you guessed it! – I still have). If you were to ask me today what my favourite band of all time is, I’d answer, “Why the Smashing Pumpkins, of course!”, but I mean old Pumpkins. Original Pumpkins; not whatever version Billy Corgan’s slapped together these days. The last Pumpkin’s album I gave a whirl was Zeitgeist and…meh. Old, original Pumpkins will always & forever be my jam. This is another album I played to death. It got me through every single one of my angsty teenage years (so basically all of them). It being a double album meant there was a song for every messed-up feeling I had. Happy? Check. Sad? Check. Raging against my stupid parents? Check. Hate myself and want to die? Check. This album kept me sane for a long time, which is why my loyalties to Billy, no matter how odd he is now, no matter what he does, will never falter.
Favourite Track: This is so hard. I’m giving it a tie between Beautiful and In The Arms of Sleep
Runners Up: Tonight, Tonight; Thirty Three; Fuck You (An Ode To No One); and Zero
Since it was a tie for favourite track, I’ll share the Tonight, Tonight video with you instead because IT IS AWESOME.
Editors Note: Wow, this is getting long and I’m only going on number six. How’re we all doing? Need a breather? Go out and take a walk or grab a cup of coffee if you need to. I won’t know any different!
6. No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom (1995)
Again, another album I didn’t start listening to until later on, when it really became popular in 1996. What teenage girl didn’t love Gwen Stefani? She had killer style, an amazing voice, fronted a band full of dudes, and did it all while seeming incredibly down-to-earth (which kind of went by the wayside when she released her solo album, but we’re talking about the 90s here so let’s just forget about that for a moment). To me, Gwen was real (she was clearly in great shape but still thought of herself as needing work, much like I did), she hung out with the boys, and she clearly loved music. I identified with her in a big way and not only that, I loved what the band was doing. I loved their music. I loved that the album was mostly upbeat but had some darkness around its edges, like it had some kind of secret.
To top it all off, I owned (still own!) this one on cassette.
Favourite Track: Sunday Morning
Runners Up: Excuse Me, Mister; Happy Now? and Tragic Kingdom
7. Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind (1997)
Not only is this album one of my most loved, this band is one of my most loved, too. Their entire discography is amazing. Their follow-up to this album, Blue, was just as good – if not better, in my opinion – as their debut. I love Stephan Jenkins’ songwriting style. His lyrics are clever and tongue-in-cheek and don’t dance around anything. When Semi-Charmed Life (my essential summer song, even now, almost 20 years (!) later) first hit the airwaves, even though the radio stations were censoring parts of it I knew Third Eye Blind would be one of my most favourite bands for a long, long time. I mean, have you ever really listened to (or read) the lyrics to that song? Here, have this one: “Those little red panties they pass the test lide up around the belly, face down on the mattress.” WHAT?! The whole song is about doing drugs and fucking. Seriously. And it got massive, massive airplay! Amazing. I love how Jenkins has never seemed afraid to go wherever he wanted with his lyrics. This album is the tits. And also, they’re amazing live. I saw them back in 2012 and dear god, it made my life.
Favourite Track: Narcolepsy
Runners Up: I Want You; Motorcycle Drive By; London; Semi-Charmed Life; God of Wine…okay, the whole album.
8. Foo Fighters – The Color and the Shape (1997)
Of course I knew of the Foo Fighters (who didn’t after that amazing video for Big Me?), but I didn’t really get into them until I heard Monkey Wrench. I actually ended up borrowing this CD from my local library and then taping it (that’s what we did back then, kids!), if I remember correctly. I love this album because it was one of the first that my best friend, Katie (HAY HAY HAY, KATES!) and I loved together. And I mean loved. We had similar tastes in music, but this album was it for us in the summer of 1997. Hey, Johnny Park! still gets us. Dave Grohl can do no wrong. This album also has one of my favourite songs of all time, Everlong. Because, Jesus.
Favourite Track: Everlong
Runners Up: Hey, Johnny Park!; February Stars; My Hero; Walking After You
9. ATB – Movin’ Melodies (1999)
Okay, here’s where things get crazy/eclectic/possibly surprising: I am an electronica junkie (using electronica as a broad term for trance/house/etc.). I love, Love, LOVE upbeat dance tracks and it all began with this album. After being positively immersed in alt-rock for a couple of years it came as a huge shock to me the first time I heard Don’t Stop! and loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it. I think I might have inadvertently stolen this album from a friend in ninth grade because I borrowed it, listened to it so much, and just forgot to give it back. ATB began my love affair of crazy-fast BPMs and to this day I’m still listening and collecting trance music, adding tracks to my iTunes library at an alarming rate. I can’t run unless I have my “Bass, Beats, Melody” playlist (yes, that’s the name of it and also an awesome tune by Brooklyn Bounce) queued up on my iPod. Sometimes, like if there’s too much background noise around me when I’m trying to sleep, I even throw that playlist on to drift off to. It works, I swear. It must have something to do with all the repetitive beats because they lull me straight into dreamland. This album tuned me in to an entire genre and for that I’ll be forever grateful.
Favourite Track: Too Much Rain
Runners Up: Don’t Stop!; Movin’ Melodies; and Killer 2000
10. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been trying to keep this list in chronological order. The thing is, I’m organizing it relative to my own personal chronology, not when the albums were released. It kind of lined up that way anyway, up until this point, because I was six years old when Nevermind was released. When I was six years old, I was in elementary school. When I was in elementary school, if you recall, I listened to country music. Needless to say, Nirvana is decidedly not country. Sure I’d heard and liked Smells Like Teen Spirit, especially during my junior high years, but I really got into this album during my first year of university. I was sad. I was upset. I identified with Kurt Cobain. I really felt his music and his lyrics. I devoured books on the band and Kurt himself. I lamented over the fact that I missed their glory days, being so young when they were at their pinnacle. Some (okay most?) might argue that In Utero was the best Nirvana album and that may be true, but Nevermind got me into them and because of that simple fact, it’ll always be my favourite.
Favourite Track: Lounge Act
Runners Up: Come As You Are; Lithium; Drain You; and Territorial Pissings
Editor’s Note: Do you need to pee? I do! Let’s give ‘er and reconvene in a moment. We’re at the home stretch!
11. Kings of Leon – Only By The Night (2008)
Much like Nevermind, Only By The Night is not my favourite Kings of Leon album, nor would I say it’s their best (in my opinion, that honour should go to Because Of The Times), but I love it because it’s the album that made me love them. Sex On Fire made me sit up and take notice of Kings of Leon in a big, big way, as I’m sure it did for many others. My husband was a huge fan of theirs before they really broke out in North America and he says when he heard Sex On Fire he knew without a doubt that they were going to be big (and he was right). I love Only By The Night because it’s an amazing rock album. It’s got hard, driving tunes like Notion, but it’s also got serious gems like Cold Desert (which almost didn’t even make it onto the album) and Revelry. I love Kings of Leon because, if you’ve ever seen their documentary, Talihina Sky, it’s a miracle they ever got to be the band they are. Caleb Followill was set to be a Pentecostal preacher. Can you imagine? I truly feel in my guts that if he’d gone down that road and hadn’t ever shared his voice with the world it’d be a worse place for it. Kings of Leon are my favourite band currently making music, hands down. I don’t even care if it makes me commercial as all hell; I love ‘em.
Favourite Track: I Want You
Runners Up: Sex On Fire; Closer; Be Somebody; and Cold Desert
12. Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More (2009)
Sigh No More is the one album that I get to be an insufferable hipster about because it’s pretty much the only album I know of that I was listening to loooong before they were famous (at least over on this side of the pond). It was released in October of 2009 and I had it in heavy rotation by Christmas. I was off for a week’s vacation that year and I swear it’s all I listened to. It’s one of my most influential albums because that year had been a really hard one – I’d just gotten out of that awful, abusive relationship; I’d moved out of my brother’s house and was constantly worrying about him and his PTSD; and I was really, really lonely. This album was great at lifting me up when I needed it and great at comforting me when I needed it. It was everything to me during those cold winter months. I know some people are super tired of Mumford and Sons and can’t stand their music one bit, but I love those rockabilly boys. To coin a phrase, they’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
Favourite Track: Little Lion Man
Runners Up: Timshel; The Cave; and Roll Away Your Stone
Editor’s Note: Finally – we’re at the last one! I know this has been long. Thanks for keepin’ on keeping on, if you made it this far!
13. Ben Howard – Every Kingdom (2011)
Another album I didn’t get my grubby, dirty, little paws on until it’d been out for over a year! What can I say about Ben Howard? I saw him this summer at Osheaga and thank goodness I did. I discovered him simply because I’d seen him on the lineup and, wanting to know more, I downloaded his album. Thank goodness I did that, too, because it’s incredible. His voice is flawless (and so pretty), he plays guitar like a god, and his music is ridiculous – in a good way, of course. I’m chomping at the bit awaiting his next album (if there’s even one coming), which I hope will be released sometime soon and is just as phenomenal as his debut. This is another album that got me through one of those dark periods in my life (from when I lost my job last year) and whenever anyone asks for a music recommendation I always, always nearly scream “BEN HOWARD!!!!” now. Seriously. Ben Howard. Go listen. Go listen NOW.
Favourite Track: These Waters
Runners Up: Old Pine; The Fear; and Everything
Well, there you have it, folks. Almost 3500 words, but that’s my personal Top 13 Most Influential Albums. They may not all be to your tastes, but I hope you enjoyed the commentary and maybe might consider giving one (or more!) a spin (“BEN HOWARD!!!!”).
Until next time! =)