When I decided on the idea of venturing into artists’ discographies as the central theme for this blog, I pondered for quite some time about which discography I should delve into first. I debated starting with my favorite band, Fleetwood Mac, or perhaps delving into an artist I am currently curious about but whose music I am not deeply familiar with, The Go – Gos. However, earlier this summer, in a total coincidence, I had been thinking about who my 4 pillars of musical artists would be. It was fairly easy to trace back, as the following four artists were all my favorites before I turned 13, pivotal years for discovering and cementing your taste in music, and they each shaped my music preferences in very influential ways.
The first two artists were the first two CDs I bought for myself at Border’s book store when I was 7. The first was Elvis Presley’s “Hits 56” compilation which I had bought after having a helluva good time at the 2nd grade sock hop party, and I wanted to try to recapture the exhiliration. This album was my baby and I used to bring it to school everyday via my backpack on wheels. I had a major crush on the Elvis Presley of that cd cover. He was not the sequined jumpsuit, pompadoured Vegas guy from the 70s. In this picture, he was sitting cross legged on the floor of the studio, wearing a striped jacket, and had a very contemplative, almost stormy, look on his face. I was in love. To this day I have never fully outgrown either the crush or that music. In 1956 Elvis was at his prime: still rock n’ roll, a little rough around the edges, and making music that is so invigorating and infectious that 60 plus years later, you have no choice but to jam out.
The second pillar was all the rage amongst us 2nd grade girls at the time: Britney Spears’ “Oops…I Did It Again”. I was an only child with baby boomers for parents, but thanks to a series of cool babysitters, I had known and loved the bops of Britney Spears and other 90s pop stars since kindergarten. This album was mine and my friends favorite in 2nd grade, and through the years it has kept making a comeback in my life. The album is a take charge, fierce album from someone whose career was still in its halcyon glory days. In these songs, Spears takes control of the narrative with a strong independent streak; owning her mistakes, while resolving to move on for good, and being open to finding love again at the end. A fantastic breakup album for the ages.
On a December morning in 2003, I was sitting in my dad’s office listening to a compilation CD of Christmas songs, when I heard “Little Saint Nick” by this group called The Beach Boys. I was obsessed and played the song at top volume on repeat until my dad finally poked his head in the door and said, “you know they have other songs too”. I went rummaging through my mom’s large CD collection, found “Made in the U.S.A”, a greatest hits CD, and went to town. Thus, the third pillar was built. Of all the acts in this foursome, The Beach Boys are the ones who have grown with me the most. There is so much to discover and listen to; Brian Wilson’s creativity knows no bounds, and their sonic landscape goes way beyond their surf rock hits of the early 60s, although I adore those songs too.
Finally, we come to the fourth pillar, and the reason why I even made this list in the first place. This summer I rewatched “The O.C.” for the first time since middle school, and besides being blown away by how relevant, moving, and funny it still is, I was floored by the impact and luxury of how great the music choices were on that show. Soundtracked by California indie rock, the show introduced me to such bands as Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Imogen Heap, and Patrick Park. While I loved the songs on top 40 radio, middle school is an angsty time for everyone, and I was desperate for something that had more depth. “The O.C’s” series of soundtracks, of which there were 6, were a godsend. Those soundtracks proved that certain sonic sensibilities that I had relished to the past, beautiful harmonies, soulful lyrics, and beautiful acoustic songs, could not only exist but thrive in the current musical landscape. You just might have to look a little harder for them. And the songs still slap.
So there you have it, folks. These are the discographies I have decided to start with:
- Elvis Presley
- Britney Spears
- The Beach Boys
- The Music from “The O.C.”
See ya next week!