I never had an emo phase; I had something a lot weirder and to me, a lot funnier.
Up until around 2013/14 I never had a music taste, per se. I just listened to songs I liked the sound of, with a sort of inclination towards rockier guitar music. The pivotal moment was the purchase and subsequent playing of GTA V. For anyone unfamiliar, the in-game radio stations feature real life music and are loosely based around different genres and scenes within the city of Los Santos, based on real life Los Angeles. One such station was Vinewood Boulevard Radio, playing a mix of garage punk, indie rock, and west coast pop-punk. On VBR was the song ‘No Waves’ by FIDLAR. I thought ‘oh I like this; I’ll get into them’. So here was me, in my formative years, a young lad from west Yorkshire who’d never so much as seen a drug nor attended a skate park, listening to songs about heroin, alcoholism, and skate culture. I thought I was the absolute tits.
This might be the most shameful entry I'm going to make to this challenge but my sense of shame eroded years ago. When I was 11, I was a fan of the children's show My Little Pony. This is relevant because I heard this song on an MLP music video AMV type thing on youtube. I didn't much care for the song and still don't like punk that much, but my brother heard it and fell in love with The Offspring and is a huge punk fan to this day. The song's alright, I guess. Don't really like punk.
I think that Weezer’s Blue Album was the first album that I listened to in its entirety. I can still remember the day, when I had a long car journey ahead of me and I stuck it on. I couldn’t turn it off. There’s some classic tracks from the Weezer discography on there, with ‘My Name Is Jonas’, ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘Undone’ to name a few. ‘Say It Ain’t So’ is such an iconic song from my preteen years, and everytime I hear that soft melody of the introduction, and the hard distortion of the chorus, it takes me back to that car journey when I was 12.
I’ve never really listened to chart music as such (sorry to appear as one of those “I’m not like the other girls” but it’s true) but this song does remind me of my preteen years. I was in Year 7 and did a lot of school sports, and this was the song that was always on the radio on our way to sports tournaments and everyone used to sing-along. It reminds me of a simpler time, playing sports and not worrying about stupid adult stuff.
When I was 12 I saved up my paper round earnings and bought Biffy Clyro’s 'Only Revolutions', the first album I’d bought with my own money. I’m not a huge fan of that album now but am still really into Biffy’s earlier music. I remember absolutely rinsing it on my old ipod nano and I saw Biffy at Leeds Festival in 2013 so I’ve got some good memories attached to it. I listened to the album so much that I think every track had a spell of being my favourite, but I’m going to go with ‘Booooom, Blast & Ruin’ as my track because I think it’s the one that holds up best on relistening to the album now.
Cascada provided a lot of the anthems of my time spent in year five. I remember us practising dance routines in the classroom at school thinking we were the height of cool. While ‘Every Time We Touch’ was her most popular song at the time, that featured on her album with the green cover, and I remember very distinctly being somewhat disappointed when my parents decided to instead buy me the album with the purple cover. When you’re approaching your teenage years, what matters most is being “cool”, and the green album was definitely the cool one to have. I discovered, however, that the purple album (actually called Perfect Day) was, in fact, an excellent choice, and, of the brilliants tracks on it, the banger ‘Just Like a Pill’ was my favourite. I was awful at dancing, but that still didn’t stop me doing it, and a lot. I very clearly remember young Grace choreographing dance routines to this in my bedroom mirror - alongside ones to Lily Allen’s ‘Smile’. This cover of P!nk’s song seems like a surprising choice for a nine year old to get hooked by, given its lyrics discussing leaving painful relationships and even drug abuse, but for me it was simply a banger, and easy to sing along to.
This effort from Muse's fourth album Black Holes and Revalations is the first song that really got me into music. 'Supermassive Black Hole' had everything that a 10 or 11 year old could possibly want. Punchy guitar riff. Check! Nonsensical wailing. Check! The track is fused with that signature deserty-space rock vibe that Muse were famous for at the time and while it might not be my favourite song now there will always be a place for it in my heart.
A bit of a blast from the past for this one, though that's the point isn't it. For a while this was one of my favourite songs, I have no idea where I heard it first maybe an advert or on a TV show. I loved this song, the light tone and beat just drew me to it. Although I don't listen to much Owl City anymore, sometimes I just can't fight the nostalgia. You really can't tell that this song was born from the artist's insomnia.
When searching for a song from my preteen years, there was no better place to look than the Fifa 12 soundtrack. I dread to think how many of my formative hours I spent playing that game, but with a soundtrack featuring The Vaccines, Kasabian and The Strokes, I can’t really blame myself. Machu Picchu is arguably the pick of the bunch, with Julian Casablancas cementing his status as one of the best indie frontmen around, to an accompaniment of punchy guitars and some intricate drumming. You know a song is good when you still listen to it some 9 years after you first heard it, and Machu Picchu is one track that certainly fits into that category.