Yesterday I saw Marielle Heller’s debut feature, Diary of a Teenage Girl. While I didn’t exactly relate to the protagonist Minnie’s teenage sexual awakening (I’m not that cool), the importance of art and music as a means to make sense of her swirling teenage emotions resonated strongly with me. Sketches and photographs of musicians cover every inch of Minnie’s bedroom walls, and tunes by 1970’s indie gems Television and Nico accompany her journey. And when she and her best friend lick the crotchal region of an Iggy Pop poster in a stoned attempt to feel his hard-on, I am reminded of the fact that music is often entwined with our initial discovery of sex and romance.
While my own feelings have been numbed by age, experience, and a potpourri of substances, I once, like Minnie, was possessed by fervent emotions about most things. And music was always the filter through which I experienced these emotions. I may have had my shit together on the surface, but one look at my most played songs on iTunes revealed an ideal candidate for mood stabilizers.
My high school music tastes are all related to sex, romance, and intense feels. The scene where my fictional crush Richie slits his wrists to “Needle in the Hay” in Royal Tenenbaums introduced me to Elliott Smith, who remains a current go-to when I’m feeling gloomy. My most intense fictional high school crush – The OC’s Seth Cohen – led me to the Postal Service’s Give Up, likely my most played album of 2005, the year I graduated high school. My IRL high school crush, who I saw through my skewed, hormone-inflicted eyes as a real live Seth Cohen, introduced me to Pitchfork, which back then was Pitchfork Media (pitchfork.com sold – surprise, surprise - pitchforks). Through him, I first heard the sonic magic that is Modest Mouse, still my favorite band of all time.
My strange art school crush introduced me to underground hip-hop, passing off to me a stack of burned MF Doom and J Dilla CDs during a late night Dupont Circle rendezvous. The Eel’s “Fresh Feeling” perfectly encapsulated what it was like to sit next to my crush, and the melancholic chord progression in Wilco’s “She’s a Jar” was ideal for crying to upon the realization that my crush did not feel the same. And, finally, M.I.A.’s trailblazing Arular taught me that there is nothing hotter than a swaggy woman with a drum machine.
While my current music tastes are saturated by sterile ambient and mind-numbing trap, the following tracks reflect my once feeling soul, and each played a crucial role in keeping me semi-sane during my most mentally tumultuous years. You will also hear something you will never otherwise hear in this column – the sound of white men strumming guitars. Enjoy it betches!
Listen Here: Soundtrack of a Teenage Girl
“The Bucket” – Kings of Leon
“Take Me Out” – Franz Ferdinand
“Daft Punk is Playing at My House” – LCD Soundsystem
“Amazon” – M.I.A.
“The Way We Get By” – Spoon
“Banquet” – Bloc Party
“Mr. Brightside” – The Killers
“Deception” – Blackalicious
“Requiem for O.M.M. 2” – Of Montreal
“Step Into My Office, Baby” – Belle and Sebastian
“Son of Sam” – Elliott Smith
“King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1” – Neutral Milk Hotel
“Fortress” – Pinback
“12:51” – The Strokes
“Under the Bridge” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Fresh Feeling” – Eels
“Kelly Watch the Stars” – Air
“Jacksonville” – Sufjan Stevens
“The World At Large” – Modest Mouse
“Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” – Broken Social Scene
“These Days” – Nico
“The Moon” – Cat Power
“She’s a Jar” – Wilco
“The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” – The Postal Service
“Bye.” – J Dilla
By Anna Dorn