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Each week, one of our writers will whip up a selection of tracks that sum up a particularly evocative time in their lives. This week, Roy Ward reminisces about coming out, growing up and getting it off.
It was 1am on the 7th of August, 2004. Nadia Almada had just won the fifth series of Big Brother, and I was a drunken little 15 year-old. I’d necked a full bottle of dry white wine over the course of the evening (Chardonnay still makes me heave to this day), along with some dubious-looking alcopops, and at some point apparently vomited all over my best friend Callum’s kitchen, although as I have no memory of that, let’s pretend that I didn’t. Callum and I were pretty much inseparable that summer, and generally speaking, our routine for every Saturday afternoon was to sit in his room on his bed and listen to music together, taking occasional breaks to gossip about our friends and bitch about people from school.
Ashlee Simpson – Pieces of Me
Our music tastes were fairly eclectic, but by and large they drifted towards the realm of pop, with occasional forays into girly angst. Ashlee Simpson ticked all those boxes for us. Jessica Simpson’s younger sister, she had her own terrible MTV programme all about overcoming all that adversity (sure, honey) to make it in the music industry. Yeah she was notoriously shite when she sang live, but who cares? Katy Perry’s built a whole career out of it. Ashlee Simpson’s debut album, Autobiography, is a genuinely brilliant pop record, and in my opinion, criminally underrated. Her first single “Pieces of Me” isn’t necessarily my favourite, but it’s the one song that can instantly take me back to being 15 during that summer. I also fancied her guitarist. Still kinda do.
Eric Prydz – Call On Me
To go back to the scene I set at the beginning of this piece; it’s late summer, it’s so late it’s early, and my best friend and I are drunk, 15 and watching TV. After a while I noticed that Callum seemed a bit distant so I asked what was up. He turned to face me, and after a very long silence told me he had something he needed to tell me. An even longer pause followed, and then he said it – he was gay.
I’d love to say I responded with “Me too!” and we had a shared moment of revelation, but I copped out and said I was bi. I wasn’t bi. I’ve never been bi. I just thought it was an easier, slower way to come out of the closet. It took me another few months to reach full acceptance about who I was, but for now I knew I had at least one friend who’d understand completely. We drank some more, and went to bed (there was a small amount of projectile vomiting, but the less said the better, really). The following morning was the first time I ever saw this infamous music video, and Callum and I had our first, proper conversation about fancying a guy. And about how we were baffled by the attraction to the female crotch. Looking back, I wasn’t a particularly convincing bisexual.
Katy Rose – Overdrive
I remember seeing Mean Girls in the cinema and being absolutely obsessed. Callum and I both had the hots for Aaron Samuels (because we have eyes), and I then spent the next few weeks listening to the soundtrack on a loop. This California pop-rock classic is your favourite song that you forgot existed. You’re welcome.
Courtney Love – Mono
I still love pop music, and I think I always will, but that summer was the first time I tentatively dipped my toe into the hitherto murkier waters of rock. Courtney Love was everything I adored about faux-rockers like Avril Lavigne from my even younger days, but with the crazy cranked all the way up to 11. A friend from school was the first person to introduce me to her band Hole, alongside Nirvana and The Smiths, and whilst the latter two are brilliant bands I still love to this day, there was something about Courtney Love, the dangerously wild queen of grunge, that grabbed my attention and refused to let go. This was her only single from her first solo album America’s Sweetheart, when she was still a bigger drug fiend than Amanda Bynes could even dream of.
Liz Phair – Why Can’t I?
Liz Phair is another amazing rock singer, but this pop masterpiece is from her incredibly commercial self-titled third album. It sounds so pure, up until the line “We haven’t fucked yet/But my head’s spinning” (that said, it’s not quite as filthy as “Hot White Cum” off the same record). It’s all about being head over heels in love with someone you’ve only just met. At this stage, of course, I hadn’t even been in love with anyone yet, but I was starting to grow up and I was looking forward to feeling like that one day.
Fall Out Boy – Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner
Flash forward a couple of months; I’m 16 and a bit more comfortable in my sexuality, and it’s around this time that I start my first sexual relationship. He was a great guy, but he had a girlfriend at the time, and I was his experimental little piece on the side. He introduced me to a lot of great bands and great music, some of which were unwittingly pretty apt, lyrically speaking, for my situation. This Fall Out Boy track features the line “I’ll be your best kept secret/and your biggest mistake”, which knocked me for six the first time I heard it. It summed up what was going on absolutely perfectly, and with the rest of the song about the end of a relationship, full of jealousy and passive aggression, it became my anthem. Unsurprisingly, the relationship came to an end after a few months, when he decided he was more interested in his girlfriend. He’s straight now, and we still keep in touch occasionally, but all it takes is one listen to this song and I’m 16 all over again.
Gwen Stefani – Cool
This is probably one of my favourite songs of all time, and it’s a nice way to end this playlist – I can remember first hearing it on an episode of The OC around this time, and the lyrics are all about looking at someone you used to be in love with, and being able to be happy for them. Everything’s cool.
And that’s the end of this week’s instalment of VADA PERSONAL PLAYLISTS (hashtag, retweet, trending, like us on Facebook). But next week we’ll have another senseless bout of musical nostalgia. It might be childhood school disco classics, or that Arctic Monkeys album someone lost their virginity to. Who knows? That’s the beauty of it!