Every time I went wandering around Target in the CD aisles I had a rule for myself: “only buy a CD that’s in the $5 section.” I still follow the rule because if I didn’t, I know I’d put half the CD’s in my shopping basket. Although I was limited in the CD’S I would allow myself to buy, I built up a pretty nice CD collection. I’ve spent countless hours listening to music as a teenager, it’s inevitable that some of these CD’s helped shape who I am. Some of the songs will stay with me as I get older, some changed my life. Whether I discovered the album when I was 9, 12, or 16, the impact is still present.
I’ve tried to limit myself with the number of albums I included here, which was very difficult, but otherwise this would have been a book and not a blog entry.
Also, I know I was only 5 years old, younger or not even born when some of these albums were released but I discovered them wandering in the CD aisles of Target or listening to the radio. They might have been throwbacks for some people but they were new to me.
Linkin Park – Meteora (2003)
This was one of the first rock/metal CD’s I listened to, besides Slipknot. I’ll admit, I didn’t exactly own or buy this CD, I discovered it in my brothers room and it has been in its rightful place (my room) ever since. It opened my mind to more rock music, before this I had been listening to mostly rap and R&B. So when I heard these rock songs like “Lying from you” incorporate a bit of a rap sound and rhythm from Chester and Mike was amazing to me. I didn’t know what to classify this music as. The sound was new, Chester’s voice was something different. It wasn’t the familiar sounds I knew, it wasn’t Slipknot, Green Day, or Simple Plan, it wasn’t any of the bands I was familiar with. It amazed me every time he went from singing to screaming, and the lyrics were always clear, always deeper than they seemed. Songs like “Somewhere I Belong” and “Numb”, I can relate to and appreciate more now that I can truly understand their meanings. We always want to find somewhere we belong and I think this album showed me how others feel and how they express themselves through these lyrics, instruments and music. It was like so these feelings are normal? They weren’t love songs, they were about having something to say, and saying it, something everyone could relate to. The best word to describe this album: timeless. I remember playing the song “Faint” for my class once in fifth grade. We were supposed to bring in our favorite song and play it for the class. I still remember how much I wanted to laugh when my classmates and teacher looked at me while the song took over the room and were like who’s classmate is this?
P.S.”Breaking The Habit” scared me when I was little, and it still does.
Green Day – Dookie (1994)
Although Dookie came out 3 years before I was born once I listened to it, it got me hooked on Green Day. This album was on repeat for weeks, I browsed the thin booklet every time the songs played, admiring the artwork and lyrics. Without this album, I would have never started writing, and being an English major I can’t imagine not loving writing. As I mentioned in my last blog, all I’ve ever wanted was to be able to express myself as well as Billie Joe Armstrong does. This band was also what made me want to learn how to play the guitar, as I listened to every song I noticed Tre Cool’s drumming, Mike Dirnt’s bass, and Billie Joe’s guitar. “Longview”, “Welcome To Paradise” and “When I Come Around” are perfect examples of the powerful instruments. And c’mon Billie’s voice is unexplainable. This album is fast pace, but every song is unique. Of course the best, well written song on the album is “All By Myself” written and performed by Tre Cool.
P.S. I still want all the lyrics to “She” tattooed on my body and the cover of the album.
Simple Plan – No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls (2002)
I actually heard this album through their touring movie, A Big Package For You (2003). I watched that movie without knowing who Simple Plan was or any of their songs, it was just something to watch when I was bored but unknowingly, while I watched the movie more and more, I was memorizing the songs in the background, which were the songs on their first album.
Next to Green Day, Simple Plan turned out to be the most important band to me. Green Day showed me how to express myself, Kid Cudi showed me it’s okay to feel alone and Simple Plan showed me its okay to be myself. What is special about this band and album is how relatable songs like “Perfect” and “Grow up” will always be, no matter how old this album may be. The music is also fun, some people might not like it because it’s too “pop-punk”, but Simple Plan’s always done the type of music they wanted.
Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon 2: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010)
When people were showing me Cudi’s music back when I was 12 or 13, I was resistant. I had been falling completely in love with the rock genre that I felt like it would be wrong listening to another genre and falling in love. But Kid Cudi came along, Man on the Moon 1 and 2 had already been out so I went to listen to them and was in complete shock at what I had been missing out on. Almost every lyric spoke to me from those two albums, Cudi felt like a friend, someone who understood and to this day it still feels likes this. I know it’s strange to feel connected to someone who has no idea who I am, someone famous, but that’s how powerful these albums were to me. Many will say they miss this type of Kid Cudi album compared to his second newest “depressing” album, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. However, if you listen carefully, past the beats and just focus on his words, Man on the Moon 2 is a very dark album. It’s an album that has me bopping my head all the way through while singing every line along with Cudi but also a very emotional album. Even when Kid Cudi performs some of the songs live, it’s hauntingly beautiful but still reminiscent, before he begins “Mr. Rager” he always says “this is for the fucked up kids like me.” I interpret “Mr. Rager” as someone who doesn’t know where his journey goes, it’s kind of scary because no one knows where he’s going. Mr. Rager is essentially lost, and wants to get away. Songs like “These worries”, “All along”, “Trapped in my mind”, “Ghost” and “The End” deal with: loneliness, anxiety, not knowing who you are, not being able to recognize yourself or rid yourself of this feeling, while abusing drugs and alcohol. For example, in “Don’t play this song” Cudi sings about suicide, being on drugs, “my moms calling think I should hit decline I’m numb faced while I’m thinking about suicide.” The song “Maniac” also deals with loneliness, the song is the soundtrack to a short film with Kid Cudi and another actor portraying 2 guys on a murder spree.
Despite being an emotionally heavy album there are some tracks that have a positive vibe to them like “We Aite”, “Ashin’ Kusher”, “Marijuana”, and “Revofev”, with lyrics like “life does get tough, no need to stress, holds you back too much.”
This intense emotional honesty is what makes this album special, it was surprising and new to me because of the lack of these types of lyrics in rap.
Blink 182 – Greatest Hits (2005)
I know this is kind of cheating, picking a Greatest Hits album but it’s the first Blink 182 album I bought. If old Blink 182 doesn’t get you in the feels, than I don’t know what will. You couldn’t help but love Tom, Mark and Travis. Songs like: “Not Now”, “Always”, “I Miss You, “Dammit”, “M+M’s” will forever be classics. I listened to this album mostly when I was in high school, when I thought the relationships I had would last forever and thought the world was ending when I realized they wouldn’t. But like Simple Plan, what I loved most about Blink 182 was the songs about every topic, no matter how hard it was to sing about these subjects like – suicide, friends, love, family problems. They have silly songs like “What’s My Age Again?”, which is accompanied by an even sillier video. But they also have plenty of songs like “Adam’s Song” and “Stay Together For The Kids” that show Blink 182 could be serious and go through similar things we do. At first it was almost surprising that these more serious songs were by Blink 182, but I developed more respect for them because they weren’t afraid to sing about these issues that they knew some of their fans were going through.
Adam’s song has to be one of my favorite songs and also one of the saddest. A song dealing with suicide, Mark sings, “16 just held such better days, days when I still felt alive. We couldn’t wait to get outside.” But as he got older this changed and he’d rather spend his time alone in his bedroom. A subtle lyric before the chorus, “I’m too depressed to go on, you’ll be sorry when I’m gone” At this point in the song there seems to be no hope, he wants to reassure his mom that it’s not her fault. But by the end of the song the lyrics sing, “Tomorrow holds such better days, days when I can still feel alive. When I can’t wait to get outside” it’s an emotional song but i love it most because by the end, it has a positive view, that better days are yet to come.
Albums that came a close second to being on the list:
Green Day – American Idiot (2004)
Good Charlotte – Good Charlotte (2000)
Sum 41 – Does This Look Infected? (2002)
Weezer – The Green Album (2001)
Cage The Elephant – Cage the Elephant (2008)