A Facebook prompt suggests: “Think of 15 albums, CDs, LPs (if you’re over 40) that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wazoo, literally socked you in the gut…” Here’s Jen’s list, and we’d love to read yours!
1. George Jones Salutes Hank WilliamsÂ â€” George Jones
By the time I was eight, my father had worn out three copies of this album on cassette. As he drove me to school, he would roll the windows down, turn up the volume on the radio all the way up, and sing along to this album at the top of his voice. It was humiliating at the time, but now, whenever I hear George Jones, I smile.
2. West Side StoryÂ â€” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
My parents bought me my first record player when I was nine. They bought me most of the top 10 singles of the time, which included such household names as Toni Basil and Men at Work. I also was allowed access to their record collection, which, for the most part, didn’t interest me. I formed an attachment to the soundtrack from ‘West Side Story”, though, because I loved to picture the dance numbers and the costumes and what the characters looked like. Eventually, I found myself listening to it more than anything else.
3. Metal HealthÂ â€” Quiet Riot
This was the first rock album I was allowed to buy. I really wanted “Shout At the Devil” by Motley Crue, but my mom got one look at the pentagram on the cover and vetoed that choice in short order. I think I bought this because I thought the bass player was cute. I soon began buying all of the cheesy, contrived hair metal that was trendy at the time. That would be all I listened to for a long time, but this was the album that started it all.
4. Master of PuppetsÂ â€” Metallica
My brother played the first three tracks of this album at the crack of dawn every single morning for months. I don’t like Metallica, really, but any song from this album reminds me of a time in my life when things were simple.
5. Led Zeppelin 2Â â€” Led Zeppelin
I had no opinion on Led Zeppelin at all until one Sunday evening, when the local rock station played this entire album. The middle section of ‘Whole Lotta Love” scared the heck out of me, and still can. I bought “Led Zeppelin 2” and “Physical Graffiti” the next day, and then the rest of Zeppelin’s albums shortly after that, and became a huge fan. For me, “2” is their signature album.
6. Joshua TreeÂ â€” U2
I found the video for “With or Without You” to be utterly beautiful and hypnotic. I would watch MTV just to see the video. I didn’t consider myself a U2 fan at the time, but I picked up the album anyway, and it snapped me out of a rut I had been in for a long time. This is still my favorite album by U2 and “With or Without You” can still transform my mood.
7. StarfishÂ â€” The Church
I was a devoted reader of Sassy magazine. Sassy was a magazine for teenage girls that published between my junior year of high school and my freshman year of college. In one issue, they gave “Starfish” a glowing review, and I had some of my Burger King wages for the week left over, so I bought it, and loved every weird, haunting second of it. It introduced me to The Cure, The Smiths, and countless other English alternative bands.
8. AvalonÂ â€” Roxy Music
While I was watching “120 Minutes”, absorbing all I could about my new favorite bands, I caught the video for “More Than This”. That song was so beautiful and Bryan Ferry’s voice was so sweet and pretty. He looked like James Bond, and there were saxophones and bells and it sounded like heaven.
9. Appetite For DestructionÂ â€” Guns N Roses
This, on the other hand, sounded like some kind of deranged nightmare. It was violent and angry and loud, and I LOVED it. I found it hard to reconcile my love of The Cure with the rush I felt when I first heard “Welcome to the Jungle”. I hadn’t listened to metal in a while because I thought it was getting boring. This wasn’t like anything on the radio, much less like the mediocre pop metal I was used to. I still listen to this album on the certain rare occasion when I’m so cranky I can’t even stand being around myself, and it works every time.
10, ExodusÂ â€” Bob Marley & the Wailers
Bob Marley was the soundtrack of a weekend at the University of Hawaii at Hilo in 1993. Wherever you went, you heard people playing “Exodus” or Marley’s greatest hits album “Legend” at varying degrees of way-too-loud. Like “Master of Puppets”, this album represents nostalgia for a certain period of time more than an actual love of the album itself. I do like it, but by the end of that year, I was so sick of Bob Marley. Now that I don’t hear him everyday, I can put this album on, close my eyes, and be in Hilo for a little while.
11. HapaÂ â€” Hapa
Hapa was the first Hawaii-produced album I bought. It was the debut album of a Maui-based duo. It contained renditions of traditional Hawaiian songs, as well as originals. It introduced me to the big, beautiful world of Hawaiian music. I find new Hawaiian artists that I love all the time, but Hapa were the first and I still love this album as much as I did then.
12. TenÂ â€” Pearl Jam
I had heard “Alive” on the radio but didn’t know who it was by. I went back to Florida to visit my parents during Christmas break one year and found the cassette of this album in my stereo. I guess my brother must have left it. I was thrilled to hear “Alive”, but I thought the rest of the album was so much better. After a steady diet of Bob Marley and Hawaiian music, “Ten” felt fresh and unique and different.
13. AjaÂ â€” Steely Dan
I worked at Tower Records for two years after college. One of my bosses played this album at least once a week. I didn’t appreciate Steely Dan before hearing “Aja”. I considered them kind of old-timey and boring. Without fail, though, someone would come up and ask about “Aja” every time my boss played it, and more often than not, they’d come back with a copy of it in their hands.
14. RevolverÂ â€” The Beatles
Somehow, I managed to live thirty years without really hearing this album. I mean, I ‘d heard it, but not really paid attention to it. This album is so far ahead of its time, people are still trying to figure it out.
15. OnceÂ â€” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
I saw “Once” on DVD one night shortly after Thanksgiving in 2007. It was instantly one of my favorite movies of that year. I picked up the soundtrack a few days later and it played on a constant loop in my car until after Christmas. I just love everything about it. I love the title song, “Fallen From the Sky” and “Falling Slowly”, which eventually won an Oscar.
We’re long overdue for another music show. And it’s been over five months since we’ve shared some of our favorite cover songs. So for Wildcard Wednesday, we count down five more great examples of talented artists reinterpreting the work of their fellow musicmakers.
- “Knockinâ€™ on Heavenâ€™s Door” by Antony and the Johnsons (orig. Bob Dylan)
- “I Want You Back” by The Civil Wars (orig. Jackson Five)
- “Sea of Love” by Cat Power (orig. Phil Phillips)
- “Summer Breeze” by The Isley Brothers (orig. Seals and Crofts)
- “Rolling In the Deep” by Linkin Park (orig. Adele)
- “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by David Byrne (orig. Whitney Houston)
- “Zoo Station” by Nine Inch Nails (orig. U2)
- “The Scientist” by Natasha Bedingfield (orig. Coldplay)
- “Simple Twist of Fate” by Concrete Blonde (orig. Bob Dylan)
- “Lovesong” by Adele (orig. The Cure)
A high school reunion invitation prompts us to recall where we were and what we were listening to twenty years ago. This Wildcard Wednesday features five favorite songs each from 1992. That year, NASA’s space shuttle Endeavor saw its first flight, Apple released the the Newton PDA, and Disney’s “Aladdin” was tops at the box office. Jen’s picks include tracks by U2, Sade, and the Black Crowes, and Ryan highlights songs from the Indigo Girls, Sublime, and The Cure.
Before charging into the new year, we take a look back at the year that was. A “year in review” show is, perhaps, cliche, but 2011 was a good year for pop culture, and most certainly a special year for Popspotting. We saw more movies, watched more TV, tried more new music than ever before, as a result of having the pleasure of putting out this podcast, and the benefit of many wonderful and thoughtful listeners.
Today we recount the best movies and new television shows of 2011 (and touch on the upcoming Golden Globes), as well as share our favorite music, book, and app picks. And we’d really like to hear what you would crown as the “Best of 2011”!
Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we? Yes, it’s the first Popspotting holiday special. While Jimmy in Georgia suggested we count down our favorite Christmas movies or TV specials, we decided to go down the musical route with five picks each of holiday songs that don’t drive us crazy. These aren’t our all-time favorites (and could very well be on your musical blacklist), but as we wrap presents and wrap up 2011, these ten songs are in high rotation in our household.
What Christmas songs make you jolly? And which ones make you want to run someone over with a reindeer?
Music is once again the focus of Wildcard Wednesday, but thanks to a suggestion from Daniel in Boston, there’s a twist: He challenges us to name our favorite Broadway shows. While we’re not experts in the world of musicals, we do love showtunes, and give the topic our best shot. A lot of obvious picks, perhaps, but with stories that illustrate why we feel a personal connection to each.
Do you know Broadway? Are you embarrassed for us, choosing such pedestrian fare? Well, we urge you to enlighten us! We probably won’t make it out to New York or London any time soon, but we’d still love to know what shows you think we need to know.
Turnabout is fair play. After celebrating Jen’s tenth 29th birthday in August with a countdown of her favorite songs of 1972, this week we both share five picks each for great songs of 1974.
- â€œMidnight Train to Georgiaâ€ by Gladys Knight & The Pips
- â€œKiller Queenâ€ by Queen. Album Sheer Heart Attack
- â€œRock Your Babyâ€ by George McRae
- â€œReturn of the Grievous Angelâ€ by Gram Parsons
- â€œShow and Tellâ€ by Al Wilson
- â€œThe Air that I Breatheâ€ by The Hollies
- “Rock the Boat” by Hues Corporation
- “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” by Steely Dan
- â€œFeel Like Makinâ€™ Loveâ€ by Roberta Flack
- â€œTubular Bellsâ€ by Mike Oldfield
We return to music for this “Wildcard Wednesday” show. Taking inspiration from our friend and fellow old-school podcaster Brian Ibbott over at “Coverville” (included in our “top podcasts” show), we share five of our favorite cover songs.
- â€œBizarre Love Triangleâ€ by Frente (orig. New Order)
- â€œWild Horsesâ€ by The Sundays (orig. Rolling Stones)
- â€œHyperballadâ€ by Twilight Singers (orig. Bjork)
- â€œTwist and Shoutâ€ by The Beatles (orig. The Top Notes)
- â€œI Feel For Youâ€ by Chaka Khan (orig. Prince)
- “Baby Can I Hold You” by Aleâ€™a (orig. Tracy Chapman)
- “Like Someone In Love” by Bjork (orig. Jimmy van Heusen)
- â€œSmooth Criminalâ€ by Alien Ant Farm (orig. Michael Jackson)
- “Where is My Mind: by The Toadies (orig. Pixies)
- â€œDear Godâ€ by Sarah McLachlan (orig. XTC)
These great takes on favorite songs by other favorite performers are just the tip of the iceberg, of course, and we’ll probably feature more great covers on a future music show. We’d love to hear about your favorite cover songs!
We love movies. We love music. Why not combine the two? For Wildcard Wednesday, we start with your suggestion for a “favorite soundtracks” show, but with a slight twist. Instead of film scores (which we’re saving for later), today both of us share our “Top 5 Needledrop Soundtracks,” movie soundtracks that use popular music to set the scene.
We also covered a few runners-up that didn’t make the top five, but had to cut them from the podcast. They included “Romeo + Juliet,” “500 Days of Summer,” and “Forest Gump.” Of course, several other Tarantino films could have made the list, including “Reservoir Dogs” and “Kill Bill.”
Though not quite ready to commit to naming her top five albums of all time (a followup to last week’s list on the book side), she shares the five albums that changed her life, and a little of the story behind each. And there’s a wide range of sounds, from classic crooner to hard rock to lush Hawaiian.
We’d love to hear what albums served as the soundtrack to the greatest moments and epiphanies in your life, and of course any embarrassing stories that go with them.
Jen’s picks are: