Fifteen Albums Meme

I have a bit of a cold and apart from reading and laying under a blanket I have some spare time today, which is my excuse for spending the better part of the last hour responding to a meme I was tagged in on Facebook. It's a pretty good one as far as memes go and has got me thinking about the various stages of musical infatuation I've gone through and what those phases represent to me.

The rules of the meme were to come up with a list of fifteen complete albums that were significant and unforgettable in some way. Not all the albums need to be 'good' or be representative to great taste, but they are the ones that stand out from the others, the ones I'll remember. My list isn't mind blowing, but I thought I would share it here, along with some accompanying Youtube videos of the songs I remember the most.

Childhood (four to seven years old)

1. The Mini Pops - Mini Pop Kids (1981)
This is one of the first albums I can remember my mom buying for me. I loved every song and it's only recently that I've been struck by how skanky those kids were dressed up and how inappropriate some of the songs were for five year olds to sing - like Tainted Love. I wanted to be a Mini Pop and for awhile whenever I would get a new album, I would speed it up to sound like the Mini Pops. Frankie was my favourite song but I couldn't find it on Youtube so I've settled for a close second, Stupid Cupid.

2. Juice Newton - Juice (1981)
For about five years Queen of Hearts was my favourite song. As I got a bit older (like seven or eight) I grew to also appreciate some of the other tracks on the album including Angel of the Morning and The Sweetest Thing. I still think of that album as classic and after ten or eleven drinks, I've been known to belt out a Newton hit or two at karaoke.

3. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)
This album is responsible for my realization that Santa Claus doesn't exist. For Christmas one year (I think I was five or thereabouts) my mother bought me Thriller on vinyl and Santa bought me a small child's record player. I remember asking my mother how she could have known that Santa would bring me a record player unless she was Santa. The jig was up.

I love how this video begins with a disclaimer from Jackson - then a devout Jehova's Witness - that it doesn't endorse his belief in the occult.

4. Cindy Lauper - She's So Unusual (1983)
Again, I received this around the same time I got the Mini Pops and even today I love it. Classics like Time After Time, Girls Wanna Have Fun, Money Changes Everything and She Bop. Best of all though was Cindi Lauper's whole look. Even at five or six years old I wanted to dye my hair orange and yellow and wear multi-colored crinolines.

Honourable Mentions: Live at PJs by Trinny Lopez.

Childhood (7 to 13 years old)

5. Harry Belafonte - Calypso (1956, I discovered it mid-80s)
I spent summers at our cabin at Regina Beach as a child and on the drives out, my grandmother would often play this album. I rediscovered it in the early 90s when bits of it were used in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice and even today it's one of the albums stored in its entirety on my iPod.

6. Johnny Rivers - The Best of Johnny Rivers (1975, I discovered it mid-80s)
Secret Agent Man, Midnight Special and Seventh Son. Oh yes.

7. Patsy Cline - The Patsy Cline Story (1963, I discovered it late-80s)
I fell in love with Patsy Cline after seeing her bio-pic. Juice Newton, Dolly Parton and Johnny Rivers aside, I've never considered myself a big country music fan. Apart from the classics like Johnny Cash, listening to country was almost forbidden in my house so my grandmother was none too pleased when my mother bought me the Patsy Cline tape. It is a great album though - Crazy, Walking After Midnight, Blue Moon of Kentuky - and it's still one I listen to occasionally on my iPod.

8. Guns and Roses - Use Your Illusion I and II (1990)
Technically two albums and probably not the GNR one would expect on a best of list - Appetite for Destruction is the more obvious choice. When I was in grade eight I received Use Your Illusion I or II as a gift from someone who had obviously never listened to it and though it didn't really fit in with the poppy stuff enjoyed at the time, I became almost obsessed with it. This was around the same time I thought I wanted to get my belly button pierced. I bought the second volume as soon as I could and listened to both - a lot.

Honourable Mentions: Tiffany by Tiffany, Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen, The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, Greatest Hits by the Bangles, Hormonally Yours by Shakespeare's Sister. 

Adolescence (14 to 19 years old)

9. Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1994)
Sarah McLachlan became one of my favourites throughout high school. After discovering Fumbling, I bought all of her older music and loved most of that too. I still think this is a good album though I can't say the same for the stuff she's released in the last ten years.

10. Hole - Live Through This (1994)
I loved Nirvana's Nevermind but if I had to choose between it and Live Through This, I would have to pick Hole. I am not a Courtney Love fan and have never been someone who aspired to look and act like a junky but something about the angst of this album resonated with my teenage self and it fed some deep dark part that I mostly kept hidden. I loved Olympia (Rockstar) the most.

11. Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes (1992) and Under the Pink (1994)
Yes, technically that is two albums - but I can't pick one and I can't seperate them. I still love these beautiful, sad songs. Last year I saw Tori play live in London and although she was good, it was disappointing to me because what I wanted more than anything was just her under a spotlight playing her piano. Her new stuff has a lot going on and I think she's at her best when she pares things down. My favourite song by Tori is Precious Thing and my favourite line: "Where the pretty girls are/those demi-gods/with their nine inch nails and little facist panties tucked inside the heart of every nice girl" and when Tori sang the line live, I almost cried.

Honourable Mentions: Nevermind by Nirvana,  The Very Best of Otis Redding by Otis Redding, Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrissette, Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt.

Early Twenties

12. Ani DiFranco - Not A Pretty Girl (1995)
My early twenties were devoted to cultivating a devotion to the music of Ani DiFranco. She made me feel tough and independent when I felt overwhelmed and a bit lost.

13. Fiona Apple - Tidal  (1996)
I've been a bad, bad girl. This was very much how I felt my first few years out of highschool.

14. The Pixies - Death to the Pixies (Limited Edition Bonus Disc, 1997)
This is such a good album.

Honourable Mentions: The Reality Bites Soundtrack, X/O by Elliott Smith, You Were Here by Sarah Harmer, Everybody Else is Doing It by the Cranberries.

Post-Early Twenties

15. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
This album was a gateway album to so much amazing music for me. I credit them with my love for Stars, Broken Social Scene, Neko Case and so many others. Their new album - The Suburbs - also wonderful. One of my favourite songs is Anthem for a Seventeen Year Old Girl and I don't think I would have ever found it without first finding Arcade Fire.

Honourable Mentions: Heart by Stars, You Forgot it in People by Broken Social Scene,  Fever to Tell by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Best of Etta James by Etta James, Arular by MIA, Middle Cyclone by Neko Case, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

Want to play? What music defined the different phases of your life? Leave a comment.

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