By Nicholas Stalford
“All-Star” by Smash Mouth
Somebody once told me this song was really awesome. And they were right. Not only is this a fantastic song, but it also was on the Shrek movie soundtrack, which is indisputably one of the greatest soundtracks of our generation. The Shrek soundtrack was the first CD I ever owned, and “All-Star” was the first song that I ever learned the lyrics to.
“Holiday/Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day
This is another classic early 2000s song that has a lot of meaning for me. American Idiot was the first album I ever purchased myself, and it was probably the first time I ever enjoyed listening to music. (I was a bit of a late bloomer.) I can still remember sitting in front of the family computer and watching the music video with Billie Joe singing on top of a speeding convertible.
“American Girl” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Like most people, my musical tastes were at least partially influenced by my parents, so I grew up listening to classic rock like Tom Petty, who was one of my parents’ favorites. And despite what happened to poor Brooke Smith—the girl who was singing “American Girl” in her car right before being abducted by Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs—I still sing along when it comes on the radio.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
Once I had acquired the taste for music from my parents, I started searching through their music to see what else I would like. I stumbled upon Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses and ever since, they’ve been one of my favorite bands. Although the whole album is a masterpiece, I was immediately mesmerized by Slash’s guitar solo in “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” and I’ve had both a Slash and Guns N’ Roses poster in my room ever since.
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles
What list would be complete without a song from The Beatles? It’s hard to choose just one song, but “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” is definitely one of my favorites, as I was always intrigued by the strange alter-ego live performance concept of the album, which is particularly apparent in this opening song. (Due to the fact that Spotify does not have many original Beatles songs, the playlist features a live cover by Paul McCartney.)
“The Pretender” by The Foo Fighters
When I’d finished combing through my parents’ classic rock albums, I finally started looking for music on my own. I stumbled upon the Foo Fighters one day when “The Pretender” came on the radio, and Dave Grohl has been my idol ever since (sorry Slash, you’re still cool). Like many of my previously chosen songs, “The Pretender” was the first song I ever heard by the band, and, like with “Holiday,” I spent countless hours replaying the music video on YouTube.
“YYZ” by Rush
I never did beat “Through the Fire and the Flames” on expert, but both Guitar Hero and Rock Band did help me find a lot of great classic rock bands. One of my best discoveries from these tendonitis-inducing video games was “YYZ,” which became a gateway to the incredible sub-genre of progressive rock.
“Kickapoo” by Tenacious D
After watching the music video for “The Pretender,” I went back and watched all of the Foo Fighters’ previous music videos and stumbled upon the video for “Learn to Fly.” Of course, the song is fantastic, but what really intrigued me was the presence of Jack Black. To my surprise, Grohl and Black were close friends and so when Black was recording the first album for his comedy rock band Tenacious D, he enlisted Grohl as drummer. Grohl has played on every album since, and even made an appearance as Satan in the band’s feature length rock opera movie, The Pick of Destiny. The first song from the film is “Kickapoo,” which is a song about Black‘s young character’s love for rock being suppressed by his highly religious dad. Oh and did I mention that Meatloaf plays the father?
“Before I Forget” by Slipknot
I may never be able to grow long enough hair to head bang, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love metal. Slipknot is just one of many metal bands that I love, but their song “Before I Forget” definitely made the biggest impression on me. Again, I found myself drawn to the music video, as the then unnamed members of the band performed without their masks, but remained unidentifiable by staying out of the camera’s focus, leading me to spend countless hours scrutinizing over the video in an attempt to see their faces.
“Meow” by Anamanaguchi
Fast forward to college. Meeting so many new and different people is a great way to discover new music, and that’s exactly what happened to me. Not only did I discover a new favorite song in Anamanaguchi’s “Meow,” but a whole new genre of chiptune (electronic music where sounds are created through video game sound chips). Apparently many of my favorite songs are very strongly tied into their music videos, because once again, I found myself watching the music video on loop.
“Mallrats (La La La)” by The Orwells
Another band I discovered thanks to my friends in college was The Orwells. I’ve probably listened to songs by The Orwells more than any other band, and I’ve definitely seen then play live the most, totaling four times since I first heard them just three years ago. “Who Needs You” is undeniably their most popular song, landing the band two appearances on David Letterman and spot on an Apple commercial.
“West Coast” by FIDLAR
FIDLAR is one of the newest bands that I’ve become strongly attached to. I discovered them from the same friend who introduced me to The Orwells, and after seeing them both live at The Sinclair a few years back, I’ve been following their music with a passion. “West Coast” was originally released on the band’s EP Shit We Recorded in Our Bedroom, and was recently re-recorded for their newest album Too. Both versions are great, and together they perfectly represent the band, as well as many similar feelings that I have now as I approach the end of my undergraduate education.