#mixtape is a feature in which we ask someone to send in a playlist of ten of their favourite tracks of all time and then get them to say a few things about each track – memories they associate with them, why they’re cool and so forth. The idea being to see what we can gauge from someone’s music taste whilst listening to some cool tunes.
When I was 11, my mum took me to my first ever gig. It was in an arena, the headliners were Blue and they were supported by Busted (I know, I’m jealous of 11 year old me too.) 20 year old Naomi would recoil in horror at the prospect of going to anything in an arena, but I would not berate someone else for doing so.
Unlike a lot of music fans, I do not have a particularly interesting or sentimental story about the moment I suddenly realised what ‘music meant to me man’. In short, my introduction to music was nurtured by Radio 1’s top 40, and to be totally honest, what my friends at school were listening to.
I think there’s a sad tendency in our culture at the moment to immediately eschew pop music, or anything that’s not old and established. Creating false dichotomies about ‘real’ music vs anything remotely popular doesn’t help anyone. My #mixtape is semi chronological, and I hope sums up my love of all things musical, from mass produced hairbrush-singing pop to broody Scottish indie bands.
NB: I’m aware that the majority of the songs on this list are ‘sad songs’. I’m not emotionally damaged or anything, promise, I just like things in minor keys.
1. Who Knows – Avril Lavigne
Avril was the first artist I truly loved in a ‘omg I must have every single one of her albums’ kind of way. She was post the girl power craze brought on by the Spice Girls and the plethora of girls groups that appeared in the 90s. I adore the Spice Girls but having Avril burst on to the scene with her sk8er girl aesthetic and stripy ties was the dream for a self confessed tomboy like me. I’ve never caught on to the new things, however, Who Knows will always be one of my favourite songs. ‘Who knows what could happen/ Do what you do, just keep on laughing/ One thing’s true, there’s always a brand new day’ is still the ultimate pick me up chorus.
2. Un Sospiro – Franz Liszt
I don’t know much about classical music, however classical piano has been in the background of my life for as long as I can remember. My little sister (hi Em) was a piano protégée from age 4, and I still associate the sound of her practicing with being at home. I remember hearing her play this song once, and spent the next few days trying to find out what it was online. I think it’s an absolutely beautiful piece of music. ‘Un sospiro’ translates to ‘a sigh’, and Liszt’s work really is a wonderful musical representation of that.
3. Marching Bands of Manhattan – Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie are one of those bands that I started loving at around age 15 (all the feels) and never really got over. ‘Sorrow drips into your heart through a pinhole’ appeals as much to me now as it did to an angsty teenager 5 years ago. Not emotionally damaged still – I promise.
4. Amsterdam – Daughter
The three-piece Daughter can do no wrong in my eyes. I’ve been a fan since the release of their first EP His Young Heart, and watching them become as popular as they deserve to be has been great. I could have picked any song they’ve done for this list, they’re all poetic and a joy to listen to. Amsterdam is just about my favourite (although this does change weekly) because of the gorgeously bittersweet bridge: ‘I used to dream of Adventure/ When I was younger/ With lungs miniature…’
5. Sorrow – The National
The National are my go to ‘I’m feeling sad so I better listen to something sad’ band. I don’t know why people have a tendency to do this, but I think it’s more cathartic than self-indulgent. Sorrow, as the name would suggest, is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard, but it’s beautiful, and very much worth a listen if you are in need of something to wallow in. See also: Sea of Love, Pink Rabbits.
6. When You Were Young – The Noisettes
I’ve chosen this song for two reasons. First – I used to love The Killers (especially Hot Fuss) but now can’t stand them. Second – this cover is awesome and 10 times better than the original (don’t kill me Killers fans.) It’s a nice little homage to an old musical love interpreted by a new one.
7. Head Rolls Off – Frightened Rabbit
Frabbit brings us on to the Scottish years. I’d never even heard of them or the next band until I came to Edinburgh, so a massive shout out to Emmett and the FreshAir music team (I do student radio) for introducing me to all the awesome music Scotland has to offer. Head Rolls Off is from The Midnight Organ Fight (ultimate breakup album btw). I’ve put it on my #mixtape because it’s a little sad like all Frightened Rabbit songs, but also has some hope: ‘When it’s all gone, something carries on.’
8. Dull Spark – Meursault
Meursault are (or were, RIP) an Edinburgh based band on the label Song, by Toad. If you like Frightened Rabbit or Owl John they’ll definitely be your thing. Again I could have chosen pretty much anything from the album Something for the Weakened. Dull Spark won its place on this list for the chorus: ‘Be kind, try to smile, and dance regularly’; things I think we should all try to do a little more.
9. Bathtub – Waxahatchee
Waxahatchee is a project I’ve been obsessed with for the past year. Bathtub is from the first album, and is a premonition-based reflection on a relationship. In their 2013 ‘stereotyping you by your favourite album’ Flavorwire described Cerulean Salt (Waxahatchee’s second album) fans as ‘Indie girls who are very in touch with their feelings.’ I’ll leave you to decide if that’s accurate or not.
10. New Romantics – Taylor Swift
Editor’s Note: Due to Taylor Swift’s strict stance on streaming New Romantics is nowhere to be found online. In its place we have put Blank Space – an equally great song. However we suggest you buy New Romantics (and 1989) and then you can enjoy infinite happiness like Naomi and ourselves.
I used to be such an apologetic Taylor Swift fan, justifying her songs’ placings in my ‘Top 25 most played’ list by rambling on about how she was silly but just appealed to the teenage me etc etc. So, Taylor, I’m sorry for making excuses for you, the reason you’re in most of my playlists is that you’re just completely amazing. Her recent foray into feminism has been fabulous, from calling out interviewers on sexism to hanging out with new BFFs Lorde and Lena Dunham, Taylor has firmly positioned herself as a feminist we can all admire. New Romantics is my favourite song from 1989, for no other reason than it just makes me want to get up and start happy dancing, even in my new home; the library. My iTunes tells me that I’ve listened to this song over 200 times in the past few weeks – I’m still not bored of it, and I doubt I ever will be.
Naomi Hoggett is a 3rd year English Literature Student at the University ofEdinburgh. 3rd year doesn’t leave much time for anything besides being in the library, but in her spare time she assistant manages FreshAir.org.uk. Naomi likes red wine, caffeine and her instagram famous dog, Basil. Tune in to FreshAir for ‘For Reel’ on Tuesdays at 4pm if you want to hear her pretend to know things about films or at 3pm on Thursdays for The 411 if you want to hear pop music and ranting about the patriarchy.
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