Its Better than I Ever Knew

Some of my co-workers and I started sharing some of our favorite music. We’ve been doing it for a while, but now we’re actually reviewing them and sharing those reviews with one another.

This week it wasn’t an album. It was a mix of 10 songs from our senior year of high school. For some of us these would have been literal mixtapes. My list has songs which were big the summer before my senior year through graduation. And they are songs I liked at the time. For other people they might be older songs which they liked while they were in high school (if I would have done that, The Beatles would have made the list)(spoiler: The Beatles weren’t on my list). For others, they might be songs which were popular, but they didn’t like them until later. Whatever.

I’m pretty sure this post has more tags than any other I’ve ever written.

Tim’s mix (1996-1997)

“While I did graduate in 1996, my graduating class was 1997, so I am pulling from music all the way to ’97. This includes songs popular then, and songs recorded around then, or songs I just liked and listened to a lot. I thought it would be fun to arrange them in album style, by where I think the best listening order is. So, while the same artist might be listed multiple times, I think it is more enjoyable to listen to in the order below:”

Jump off Van Halen’s 1984

This is a great song. It’s a classic. If anyone has ever heard Van Halen, chances are they’ve heard this song (unless you’ve only been reading my blog). This keyboard sound might have been used in other songs, but this song really defined this sound. My band learned how to play this song just because I had the right sound. You might not know it, but this is a really fun song to play on the keys. Not only that but Korg, who made my keyboard, basically used this song as a sound sample. And David Lee Roth’s yell at the beginning? Great. I could listen to this song over and over. 5/5.

Some Guys Have All the Luck off Little Texas’ First Time for Everything

I have never heard of these guys before. My guess is because I haven’t really listened to much country music. My initial reaction is I’m impressed with their musical skill. I really like the piano riff after the second chorus. They’ve got some great harmony going on. Maybe it’s the genre, but while this is a decent song, it’s mostly forgettable. 3/5.

The River off Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ the Wind

I’m not surprised Tim shared more Garth Brooks. Part of it was the next song, but I forgot this song in less time than it took to listen to it. I can’t even remember anything good to say about it. 2/5.

All of Garth Brooks’ music is distributed solely by Walmart, so Tim had to share with us his mp3 of this song. Walmart can rest assured I will not be pirating this track from Tim. It will not make it into my iTunes.

Beautiful Life off Ace of Base’s The Bridge

Guys! I found every dance remix from the ’90s! That bass, those synths, those drums! Oh man. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Scandinavian electropop. I like ABBA and I liked Aqua’s stuff (even Barbie Girl) at the time it came out. This song is somewhere between those two groups. I just forgot how effervescent it is. It should probably only get a 3, but since it took me back it’s getting a 4/5.

Kick a Little off Little Texas’ Kick a Little

Wow. I really don’t have much to say about this song. By the end of the song, I just wish they’d finish their sentence. Kick a little … what? I can assume what you’re going to say by the rhymes, but just finish it once. I’ll repeat what I said about Some Guys Have All the Luck: Maybe it’s the genre, but while this is a decent song, it’s mostly forgettable. 3/5.

The Dance off Garth Brooks’ self-titled

Ok, so unlike the last Garth Brooks song, I can at least say something positive about this one. I liked the piano part. I’m sure other people might have more to say about it that I do. But so far most of the country music in this playlist has been just background music. 2/5.

Livin’ on a Prayer off Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet

Tim has shared a couple Bon Jovi albums now, and I think it all boils down to this one song. This is the only Bon Jovi song we really want to hear. It is mid-’80s classic rock. That’s what we want from them. As little as I think of their other albums, this one song easily gets 4/5.

Buddy Holly off Weezer’s blue self-titled album

I remember listening to this album on my brother’s discman in the mid-’90s. And it is great. I had no idea who Buddy Holly was. I had no idea who Mary Tyler Moore was. I still have no idea if they were ever together. But the song rocks. I knew all the words to this song before I could grow any hair on my face. 4/5.

I Want You off Savage Garden’s self-titled

Oh hey, I know this song. At least, I recognize the chorus. When Tim shared Savage Garden’s second album a while back, I wasn’t a huge fan. But this. I get why this helped them get big. Their music might not be my cup of tea, but I would listen to more of this. 4/5.

Amy’s Back in Austin off Little Texas’ Kick a Little

I don’t think it’s the genre, I think these guys just aren’t very interesting and Some Guys Have All the Luck used up what little they had. 2/5.

If Tomorrow Never Comes off Garth Brooks’ self-titled

Right out of the gate, the lyrics are kinda creepy. I know that’s not what he’s going for. I know he’s going for pensive. But that’s not how I heard it at first. Musically, I like this more than the other Garth Brooks songs in this playlist. I’m not sure exactly what it was. The slide guitar was pretty melancholy (which is why I think country artists like using it), but I’m not sure I really liked the song. And I probably won’t ever listen to it again, but at least I don’t regret listening to it. 3/5.

Lump off The Presidents of the United States of America’s self-titled

Ah, The Presidents. I’m not sure who introduced them to me. It may have been George of the Jungle, but I’m pretty sure my brother showed me Weezer also got me hooked on stuff like this, too. What a great/weird band. 4/5.

Desperado off Eagles’ Desperado

I’ve been an Eagles fan since maybe junior high. They were one of the influences of the first real band I ever formed. And as one of their hits, how could I not love this song? And it is the perfect way to end a mixtape. 5/5.

Tim’s total score? 45/65.

Phil’s mix (1989-1990)

“A wonderful trip to the late eighties! Some real music industry heavyweights, a few old favorites, and some one-hit wonders. It’s delightfully cheesy, emotional, nostalgic, enthusiastic and amazing. Bonneville High School in 1989/90! Now let us go back in time when George Bush (poppa) was President, Madonna was just hitting her stride and MTV mattered. Enjoy: Phil’s High School Mixtape

The End of Innocence off Don Henley’s The End of the Innocence

Maybe not the Don Henley song I would have turned to, but it’s not bad. It’s also not really great. It’s just kind of middle-of-the-road stuff. And I can’t even say anything notable about this song. 3/5.

Escapade off Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814

I haven’t really listened to any of Janet Jackson’s stuff. I think she sounds a lot like her brother. Actually, she sounds like the guy from A Goofy Movie – Powerline. But for some reason, I like her stuff more than Michael’s. It’s all over-produced ’80s stuff. But I could listen to this again. It’s not mind-blowing, but I’ll still give it a 3/5.

Cherish off Madonna’s Like a Prayer

Aside for a couple later hits, I’ve only listened to really early Madonna. I mean, like Pre-1983 Madonna stuff when she was trying to be a rocker and not a pop star. And while this is totally a pop song (I mean, have you heard those synth horns?), it also has a kind of doo-wop shuffle to it. It’s not really something I think of when I think Madonna. With stuff like this, I totally get why she and Michael Jackson were ’80s pop royalty. 4/5.

Rock Wit’cha off Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel

Ok, if I didn’t know the singer was a dude named Bobby Brown, I would have thought the singer was a woman for the first minute or so of this song. Musically, this song is very ’80s. And that’s neither here nor there. The lyrics though? They’re … not very good. They’re not very creative. The one saving grace is that 30 years ago, there wasn’t really a need for explicit lyrics stickers. If this song would have been made today, I’d bet it would have included some more … descriptive lyrics. If I never heard this song again, I’m not sure I’d notice. 2/5

Red Red Wine off UB40’s Labour of Love

A classic. Apparently this was originally a Neil Diamond ballad. I’ve never heard it. I’ve only heard  UB40’s reggae version. Or other people covering UB40. If you know me at all, you know I appreciate some reggae. I don’t care if you’re a bunch of white dudes with a Jamaican and Arab thrown in, if you can set up an easy groove, chances are I’ll like what you’re putting down. Weird synths/steel drums and all. 4/5.

Waiting for a Star to Fall off Boy Meets Girl’s Reel Life

It’s a little funky. It’s a little pop rock. It’s all ’80s. I don’t know, maybe I don’t give ’80s pop rock enough credit. I don’t think it all holds up today, but this does. The instrument effects are dated, but if someone did an otherwise faithful cover of this song today, I don’t know that I could tell it was a ’80s song. It’s a toe tapper. 3/5.

Second Chance off 38 Special’s Rock & Roll Strategy

I’ve heard of 38 Special, but I’m not sure I’ve ever actually heard anything of theirs before. It’s actually a pretty good blend of classic rock and the ’80s. I could imagine these guys opening for someone like Journey. Actually, now that I’ve said that, these guys sound a lot like Journey except without so much keyboard sound. It’s pretty good. 3/5.

Right Here Waiting off Richard Marx’s Repeat Offender

This song? Of course Phil would pick this as something he listened to in high school. It seems like every ’80s movie with a high school prom had this song in that scene. Actually, I think every ’90s movie with a high school dance had this song, too. This is definitely one of those songs that stayed in the ’80s. Or at least kept bringing the ’80s with it wherever it went. It’s hard to put myself back in the ’80s to judge it. It might get a 4/5 that way. But since I’m rating it in 2014, I think I’m only giving it a 3/5.

Hold On off Wilson Phillips’ self-titled

I didn’t realize there wasn’t one person named Wilson Phillips until I heard this song. I thought it was a dude. Actually I thought Carnie Wilson was Wilson Phillips. Sorry Carnie. In my defense, it’s hard to tell in this picture. As it turns out it’s two of Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys)’s kids and one of the kids from one of The Mamas and one of The Papas. There was probably a better way to explain that.

With all that talent, I really expected something better. What I got was … meh. It was kinda forgettable. I wish I could say something I liked about it, but I can’t. 2/5.

Do You Remember off Phil Collins’ …But Seriously

Hmm. When I think Phil Collins, I think In the Air Tonight or Another Day in Paradise. This song is neither. In fact, I’m a little baffled why Phil didn’t go with the latter of those two, since it came of this same album. I was going to give this a 2/5, but I think I’ll bump it up one. I mean, it’s a little too soft rock for my taste, but if that’s what he was going for, then the execution is spot on. I just want my Phil Collins a little more New Age-y.

Kissing a Fool off George Michael’s Faith

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but smooth jazz wasn’t it. That’s a lie. I was expecting Wham!, and that’s not what this is at all. Not that I don’t like Wham!, but I like this a lot. More than Wham! anyway. Again, I’m confused why Phil didn’t go for a more successful song off the album. I mean Faith is a song I still enjoy today. Whatever. This song is still refreshingly different. 3/5.

Turn Back the Clock off Johnny Hates Jazz’s Turn Back the Clock

This is another song I’d expect to be in a movie about the late ’80s or early ’90s. Like Phil Collins, it’s not really my thing, but I think it was what they were going for and so it was executed well. I probably wouldn’t ever seek this out, but I wouldn’t skip it if it came up again. 3/5.

Phil’s total score? 36/60.

Kari’s mix (2007-2008)

“I tried to mix up the songs based on genre/sound – so you get a little variety throughout the playlist: Kari’s High School Tracks

Alive with the Glory of Love off Say Anything’s …is a Real Boy

Say Anything is one of those bands I’ve listened to because one of my roommates in college listened to them. Actually, it was a band mate. And not only did we live in the same house, we literally shared a room and a bunk bed. The only album I have of theirs is their self-titled, which came out about five years after this song. They’re one of those bands that come up from time to time. And I like it when they do. I like this song enough that I’ll probably pick it up – if not the whole album. It’s got everything I could want from a pop punk band. 3/5.

Low [feat. T-Pain] off Flo Rida’s Mail on Sunday

Oh, I get it now. FloRida, like the state. I was reading it like Flow Rider. And I actually recognize this song. Although, the only lyrics I could have sung along with were, “With the fur!” This song kinda makes me laugh, and I don’t think it’s supposed to. I know the music isn’t really the focus of most rap. But as a musician, I have a hard time remembering that. I have a hard time remembering it is a different kind of art with a different purpose: the words. Which I’m also not really a fan of, but I’m also trying to think about them objectively. Even then, aside from a kinda catchy chorus, I’m not sure most of the rhymes are that clever. 2/5.

You know what else makes me laugh? The Wikipedia entry for this song. It’s so … academic, which doesn’t fit this song at all:

The lyrics repeatedly suggest that Shawty is extremely attractive and possesses great skill in dancing provocatively. In particular, the song describes one of her more memorable dance sequences as giving her buttocks (colloquially referred to as a booty) a smack prior to “getting low.”

It’s like some college professor was analyzing this song to use in some class and had to explain it to his department head. The only way to describe it is “square.”

Stop this Train off John Mayer’s Continuum

Kari shared the album this came off way back in May. The back half of this album, which is where this track resides, is where John Mayer’s skill really shines. His guitar playing is still great, but his songwriting is getting better. Stop this Train isn’t really my favorite, but it’s still better than anything on the front half. I like his bluesy guitar, but I’m still not really a fan of his songwriting. I won’t skip past this song if it came up on Spotify or Pandora, but I won’t buy it either. 3/5.

Crank That (Soulja Boy) off Soulja Boy’s

Oh man. This song? My memories of this song consist of prisoners and pre-teen boys dancing to this. And me avoiding it. I can appreciate some rappers who are great rhymers or are really fast. But this guys is neither. The real artist behind this song is the producer and whoever came up with the dance move. They were able to take a stupid track and turn it into an international hit. This song was huge when it came out seven years ago, so I get why Kari put it in her mix. But I never want to hear this song again. 1/5.

How to Save a Life off The Fray’s How to Save a Life

I saw The Fray live once, and I’m pretty sure it was in support of this album. They definitely played this song. And I think they closed with it. This song isn’t bad as is, but it was better live. The band and the crowd both had energy, and they were feeding off one another. I wouldn’t say this song has unrealized potential. They’ve realized it – live. There’s only so much you can do on a static recording like this. It’s still a pretty good song. 3/5.

A Milli off Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III

At first I had a really hard time understanding what he was saying. Then, when did start understanding, I immediately regretted it. Cursing aside, he seems to be rapping about how cool he thinks he is. But I don’t think he’s as cool as he thinks he is. He did have some … creative rhymes, but my respect for him keeps going down as the track goes on. Not that he wants my respect or cares that he doesn’t have it. One saving grace? It went by pretty quickly. Again, I’ll be alright if I never hear this again. I gave Soulja Boy a 1/5 because it was just stupid. I’m giving Lil Wayne a one because I can’t stand what he’s talking about.

Also, Phil isn’t always so good about sharing his thoughts on the music we share. But he did share his thought (singular) on this song, and it’s too good not to share:

I Write Sins Not Tragedies off Panic! at the Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out

I met these guys once. They’re friends of a friend of mine. Ryan Ross? Nice guy the one time I met him. Brendon Urie? … Well, maybe he just had other things on his mind. Anyway this song is pretty good. I like the string arrangements. I like the harmonies. I like how the song builds. I like how they don’t do just straight 4/4, but make it feel like their song is kinda mixed meter. I’m not sure I care about the lyrics, but considering everything else, it’s a solid emo pop punk song. All I’ll say is that you can tell Urie has some built up angst. I don’t know that it’s the best song on the album, but it’s definitely not the worst. 3/5.

The Bird and the Worm off The Used’s Lies for the Liars

I’m not so much a fan of the screaming in the middle, but The Used is another band I listened to mostly because of my band mate / roommate / bunk bed mate. I’ve never really been a huge fan. I’m not sure I could name any of their songs. But this one is pretty much all the teenage angst I’d expect from them (I’m starting to sense a theme in some of Kari’s picks). I totally get why a high school kid would listen to it and why it would make it to Kari’s list. 2/5.

Here I Stand off Madina Lake’s From Them, Through Us, To You

I had no expectations before I heard this song. I’ve never heard of this band before. Although after listening to this song, I feel like I should have heard of them. Also, at the beginning of the song, I thought they were going to be harder more than they were. In the bridge before the last set of choruses they were a little harder than I like – hard like The Used. But mostly, they were just power punk pop rock. And it’s pretty good. 3/5.

Kari’s final score? 21/45

Chris’s mix (1998-1999)

“I was a music nut my senior year, but I had no idea my taste in music and everything else would DRAMATICALLY shift the year after graduation. Something about ditching the superficiality of high school? I dunno. But I did love my senior year, one of the greatest times of my life. And every one of these tracks/albums were a big part of that time. Stamps on my history.

So, here we go. Just a forewarning, this was the era of post-grunge and new metal. And of course, boy bands. So you’ll hear a LOT of guitars, and a couple of cheesy pop numbers: Senior Year

I Want it That Way off Backstreet Boys’ Millennium

I think I’m just young enough that the boy bands of the mid to late ’90s had all mostly gone on haitus by the time I started listening to popular music. I mean, I’ve never really been into really poppy stuff. I prefer my musicians to write and play the songs themselves. And I don’t really care for synchronized choreography. I do have to say that musically, it’s a decent song, if not super simple. And they do have good harmonies. I guess if they didn’t they’d be a total failure as a boy band. So their execution was good, even if their target wasn’t something I’d want to hear. 3/5.

All the Small Things off Blink-182’s Enema of the State

I’ve always thought these guys were immature. Even when I was an immature junior high boy. Considering they are at least 10 years older than me, it’s not so much a good thing that the (generally) lowest form of human intelligence recognized something lower. Well, I think they’re having fun doing it. 3/5.

Still D.R.E. [feat. Snoop Dogg] off Dr. Dre’s The Chronic 2001

When I think of Snoop Dogg, I think of two things: weed and not actually knowing who you are and trying to seem relevant. I don’t have any opinion of Dr. Dre. But there’s one thing I know: this music was not aimed at me. I’m a upper middle class white guy from the suburbs. And I don’t do drugs. There’s been other music I couldn’t relate to, and I’m throwing this in there with them. So while I kinda like the 8-bit sounds in the backing track, I don’t care about what they’re rapping about. And they’re not even rhyming things in clever ways. So it’s just a 2/5.

I Turn to You off Christina Aguilera’s self-titled

Apparently, this was an All-4-One song. The only reason I know who they are is because I accidentally downloaded their cover of I Swear. I don’t remember what I thought I was downloading, but now every once in a while a little R&B pops up on my computer. So I guess it’s fitting that the only other song of theirs I’ve ever heard is actually someone else covering them. I went back and listened to their version, and I feel like it’s a pretty faithful cover. Unfortunately, that also means it’s a boring cover. She can sing, but I don’t really feel like this song highlights that. It’s just lip service. 2/5.

Anthem for the Year 2000 off Silverchair’s Neon Ballroom

This is harder than the other stuff I’ve heard from Silverchair, and I’m not sure I like it. But once they got to the chorus, I realized I have heard this song before. This is song is very much my early high school. Actually, I was into a lot of alt. metal in early high school. I think that’s how I got my teenage angst out. There’s better late ’90s alt. metal out there, but this is alright. 3/5.

Thong Song off Sisqó’s Unleash the Dragon

I’m impressed how he can sing about a thong with so much emotion. It’s like he was singing about something important. This guy takes himself way to seriously. All I wanted to do was laugh, but I actually felt bad for the guy. Until I remembered that this song probably made him tons of money. Then I just felt bad for anyone who paid money for this. The Spotify ad I heard right after this song was better. And this song just kept going! It could have been half the length without losing anything. I have never heard this song before, and Chris can’t believe it. I’ll be happy if I never hear it again. 1/5.

Large in the Margin off 311’s Soundsystem

I got into 311 the album after this one. I think the only band I have more music from is The Beatles. That next album, From Chaos, is kinda when they started transitioning more to reggae rock and away from the rap rock stuff. The album this songs come from, and all their previous albums, have a couple great tracks. This is just a good track. I would have picked Come Original off this same album before Large in the Margin. This is one of their better fusions of alt. metal and rap rock. But like a lot of their older stuff, it feels kinda inorganic. Like they were trying too hard. I still like it, but I’ve heard so much better stuff from them. On the same album even. 3/5.

Stellar off Incubus’s Make Yourself

This was going to be on my playlist (spoiler: it isn’t) until I realized this came out way before my senior year. It’s a great song off an alright album from a great band. Scratch that. This song is stellar. See what I did there? 4/5.

I was way into Incubus in high school. Actually, I picked up this album the same time I picked up Weezer’s green self-titled album, 311’s From Chaos and …

Sour Girl off Stone Temple Pilots’ No. 4

Not this Stone Temple Pilots album, but their next one. But this song and this album is what made me want to get into their stuff, and I eventually got this CD. Musically, it’s kinda repetitive, but it’s not a bad song. Scott Weiland’s voice is just perfect for their kind of music. It’s like their on drugs, but nobody knows what kind. His voice isn’t exactly whiney. And as a whole they’re almost psychedelic. They’re just the sound of my early high school experience. 4/5.

Never Let You Go off Third Eye Blind’s Blue

I didn’t let myself get into Third Eye Blind until college. For some reason I thought they were just kinda mindless pop rock that kids listened to just because it was something to listen to and wasn’t too alternative, but wasn’t Radio Disney music (like we all thought Smash Mouth was). It wasn’t until later that I really came to appreciate Third Eye Blind as kind of unassuming, straight forward alt. rockers. Their music comes across an honest, not formulaic or calculated. It’s not extraordinary. It’s just good. 3/5.

I Disappear off the Mission: Impossible II soundtrack

The one Metallica song (I know of) that was never released on a Metallica album (except their 2009 box set, but that doesn’t really count). Now, I’ve been a Metallica fan for years and years. And while they’ve done some stuff that has surprised their fans (St. Anger, anyone? or cutting their hair?), I really like this song. It might be the best thing to come out of M:i-2. Aside from the fact that they could just move right on to M:i:III.

Everything about this song rocks. I can only think of one song they’ve put out since this which I’ve liked more. 4/5.

Bye Bye Bye off ‘N Sync’s No Strings Attached

I’ve never listened to Backstreet Boys or ‘N Sync, so I’ve obviously never compared them. Until now. And it’s easy to see why Backstreet Boys continue to be profitable (albeit there has been a rollercoaster), while ‘N Sync were more a flash in the pan and only Justin Timberlake has gone on to be noteworthy. Their vocals aren’t as good, and neither is their backing track. These guys are supposed to be overproduced, but their production values aren’t as good as Backstreet Boys. It’s a catchy song, but it’s just ok. 2/5.

Testify off Rage Against the Machine’s The Battle of Los Angeles

This. This is one of those things which helped me get my teenage angst out. I thought I was all political because I was into Rage Against the Machine. Actually, I didn’t understand what it was really all about. And now that I understand better, I’m not sure if I agree with all of it. But the song rocks. I still dig Tom Morello’s stuff. This song isn’t as good as Guerrilla Radio off the same album, and it might just be the nostalgia giving this an extra point, but I’m giving this 4/5.

Leader of Men off Nickleback’s The State

I remember first hearing this song on the radio and I didn’t know who it was. It took years to figure out. Someone told me it was Nickelback and I didn’t believe them, because by then Nickelback sucked and this song rocked. I don’t think it was until I was in college and I didn’t care what people thought of my tastes in music that I came to grips with the fact that I might really like a Nickelback song. 4/5.

As a side note, there’s a song I’ve been looking for since about this same time. I saw the music video once and I’ve never been able to find it since. I don’t know who sings it. I don’t know what the name of it is. I don’t know how it goes. I want to say it’s by someone like Michelle Branch. The music video is her either in a huge studio apartment with great architecture (I specifically remember Hobbit-like arched windows) or she’s on the street of some New England-esque city in the fall. Anyone have any ideas?

Change (in the House of Flies) off Deftones’s White Pony

I remember hearing this on the radio when it came out. And I remember liking it a lot more back then. I forgot how angry the Deftones are. I don’t think I was ever this angry when I was a teenager. If there wasn’t so much distortion and the drums weren’t so active, it could be remixed into a great psychedelic rock tune. His voice already sounds like he’s on a trip. I have a hard time this lasted five minutes. Gratefully, it seemed to go by quicker than that. 3/5.

Chris’ final score? 45/75. Which means overall, it works out to almost exactly 3/5.

If I give something one star, it means I don’t think it qualifies as music. Five stars mean I wish I wrote the thing. I’d like to say that most music for me is a three, and with a sample of about 50 songs, that holds true. I wouldn’t be surprised if, after going back and tallying up all the ratings I’ve given in the last six months or so, it turns out to be a little higher. Like 3.25/5. Although that’s not really counting the stuff I’ve shared. But still, I think it’s a pretty good sample.

My mix (2003-2004)

When I was in high school, I was a master mixtaper. I’m not sure any of us had CD players in our cars. The closest thing we had were those tapes you’d stick in the deck, but had a wire coming out that you’d stick in the headphone jack of your disc-man. So we were still taping things off the radio so we could play our favorites in our cars. And I was awesome at it. A lot of my friends would give me blank tapes and ask me to fill them up. This week, I was brought back to that. Now I just need a Surge and my Nintendo 64. Actually, as much fun as high school was, I’m glad I’ve moved on.

Except for the last entry, these are just in alphabetical order by band name. Here’s my list on Spotify: 10 songs from my senior year of high school

Usually, if my coworkers tell me what they though, I’ll just stick it after my album suggestion. Since this is a bit different, I’ll post what they thought about each song (if they say anything at all) after that specific song.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love off The Darkness’ Permission to Land

I think I’ve always been into classic rock. So when The Darkness came on the scene, I fell in love. It’s easy to see the Queen, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, etc. influences. They’ve got energy. I got this CD because my girlfriend at the time got two copies for Christmas or maybe her birthday. So I got one. There are some bands which remind me of ex-girlfriends, but gratefully this isn’t one of them unless I think about how I first heard of them. They are still one of my favorite bands.

“The first track set a great tone for the mix, and it helped that I loved this song before but didn’t know the title or who sang it.” -Tim

“Classic butt rock tongue-in-cheek revival goodness.” 5/5 -Chris

My Immortal off Evanescence’s Fallen

Band at Davis High School was a big deal. At least 10 percent of the school was in band. Everyone in band (except maybe the percussion sections) were friends with almost everyone else. I remember at some competition a dozen or so of us unpacked the sousaphones and were laying in the cases (because they are pretty big cases and lined with foam – so they were more comfortable than the bus), and one of the trombone players shared this song with us. At the time it was new, although it has since been overplayed. And her voice is great.

“Fantastic pop/rock/goth ballad. The band version is much better than the piano-only album version.” 4/5 -Chris

One Thing off Finger Eleven’s self-titled

I’m pretty sure every mix I taped off the radio contained this song. I’m not even sure why I liked it so much at the time. Even now I objectively think it’s just an okay song. The guitar picking is notable, but that’s kind of it. However, the memories that come with it are what helped it stay on this list as I started trimming down.

“I never got into this song when it was a hit, but it sounds ok now.” 3/5 -Chris

Stacy’s Mom off Fountains of Wayne’s Welcome Interstate Managers

I wasn’t ever a huge Fountains of Wayne fan. I loved Sink to the Bottom when I came out, but I didn’t really take notice of the band’s other stuff until I found out Adam Schlesinger (the bassist/keyboardist for FoW) wrote some of the songs (including the title track) from That Thing You Do. I never really related to this song (I’ve never thought my friends had hot moms), but I’ve always thought it was just a funny idea.

“When it was a hit, I would’ve rated 0/5 (HATED it back then) but I like it more now. I totally hear the ‘That Thing You Do’ connection now.” 2/5 -Chris

Take Me Out off Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled

This is one of those songs that I heard on the radio and bought the album. This isn’t really a band I love anymore. I’ve sold my copy of this CD back (although whenever anyone has offered to share any of their mp3s with me, I’ve taken them up on the offer). But it’s very much stuff I was listening to in high school.

“PERFECT disco-punk in its heyday, and can be credited for starting a trend. And an awesome video.” 5/5 -Chris

Are You Gonna Be My Girl off Jet’s Get Born

This song is how I got into Jet. And this ended up being the kind of music I was writing and performing until I got into ska. And I still enjoy this flavor of garage rock more than Franz Ferdinand’s.

“Nothing fancy, just fun as hell. Always loved it.” 5/5 -Chris

Behind Blue Eyes off Limp Bizkit’s Results May Vary

Oh Limp Bizkit. I was one of those kids who bought an album or two of theirs because it was popular. I’m not sure how long it took me to regret buying it, but it was part of my high school listening. This isn’t even actually one of their songs. It’s a cover of The Who. And if you’ve never heard Limp Bizkit’s stuff before, this is very a-typical. But I remember calling into the radio station and requesting this, so it goes on the list.

“Meh… I always thought this was a laughable cover. It gets a 2 solely on merit of the original.” 2/5 -Chris

(Can’t Get My) Head around You off The Offspring’s Splinter

Some idiot stole my copy of this CD. And I’m pretty sure it was someone on the drum-line of the DHS marching band. I had been an Offspring fan for a while before this. I felt like this album was them realizing they weren’t in high school anymore. And neither were their core audience. This album is still one of my favorite Offspring albums overall.

“I thought this was sub-par Offspring, even though I do like the group.” 2/5 -Chris

Seven Nation Army off The White Stripes’ Elephant

The White Stripes were in their heyday. This is still probably their biggest hit. And one of the few songs of theirs I still like. And even then, it’s mostly for nostalgia. It’s a really simple, repetitive song.

“When I first heard this I couldn’t believe it was “new.” Took me awhile to come around, but this is a deserved classic tune.” 5/5 -Chris

Innocent off Our Lady Peace’s Live

Okay, okay. This song actually came out in 2002. But I didn’t hear it until 2003 when they released this live version. This is one of my all-time favorite songs. When I play live shows (either by myself or as a side project with some buddies), I often end by covering this song. If I can, I’ll teach it to the other people who played the show with me and we’ll all play it together. It’s a great song. Need I say more?

“Just ok to me. Not sure I’d ever heard this one.” 3/5 -Chris

Here’s what my coworkers thought in general,

“Paul’s mix was my favorite out of the group. After 23 weeks, I have decided that my tastes are probably closer aligned to Paul than anyone else… This mix gets a four star review not only for content, but because it made me want to listen to the albums for most of the songs.” 4/5 -Tim

“This was… a time when everything sounded new and awesome (sort of). A good mixture of modern classics, and some duds. But overall, a good collection of what music sounded like in 03-04.” AVERAGE: 3.6 -Chris

Your thoughts? Or maybe you’d like to share some music which is really indicative of your senior year of high school. Feel free to do any of that in the comments below.


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