WFOETYLs #3: Twenty-five songs for 25-year-olds

Entertainment Column
Written by Nathan Mattise

I turned 25 in 2010. It’s an age you see as a landmark growing up…then it lacks a bit when you finally reach it and don’t really feel like you’ve moved on to some semblance of adulthood just yet. No matter what your perceptions of a quarter of life are, it at least gives you an ample amount of experience to look back on.

Music has been major interest and part of my life since I was young (first instrument at 6, recorder pride). To honor my relationship with music at 25, I decided a playlist was in order:  twenty-five songs for 25-years-old – one from each year I’ve been alive. As usual when I compile a list, here are the guidelines used to narrow things down:

  • This isn’t necessarily a playlist of what I see as the best song from each year, rather it’s my favorite song (though at times that could mean the same thing).
  • When faced with a tough decision, I’m ultimately judging the songs with my current perceptions. I’m not capable of really remembering my feelings on a song from 1989 at the time because I was 3-4yrs old (I can’t recall listening to current music until the mid 90s honestly). This is a list that looks back.
  • To determine songs, I used two main sites – one that listed 100 songs with a pop focus and the other 100 albums with an indie focus. When I hit 2007, I used old year-end lists from this site to add possible candidates as well. With that list, I went through and picked out the first 15 albums that were missing in  my mind. All of that became the basis for finding two songs per year.

Hear the “25 Songs, 25 Years Old” playlist (listed below)

See the full list of considered songs (broken down year-to-year)

A few quick observations:

– Based on the music considered, 2001 and 2005 were the best music years of my lifetime. Each had over nine entities to consider.

2001: Amnesiac, Is This It, The Blueprint, White Blood Cells, Discovery, Oh Inverted World, Girls Can Tell, Stay What You Are, The Tyranny of Distance

2005:  Illinoise, Alligator, Twin Cinema, Picaresque, Be, Late Registration, “These Words“, Gimme Fiction, Silent Alarm, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, Plans

– The most critically acclaimed song to be considered but passed on: “Hey Ya!” in ’03.

– The bands that appear on this list the most (including runner up selections): Radiohead (3), R.E.M (2), Wham!/George Michael (2), Phoenix (2), The Flaming Lips (2). Phoenix is the only act with two top selections, Radiohead is the only act with both songs in a given year.

– Somewhere between ’99 and ’01, I drifted away from pop music. You never leave it completely (see Justin Timberlake, Natasha Bedingfield and Timbaland showing up for consideration) but pop was far less prevalent to me after 14-16yrs old era.

On to the list (runner up selections in parenthesis)…

’85 – “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears for Fears  (“Freedom” by Wham!)

Ted Leo’s cover may be entirely responsible for how ’85 shook down.

’86 – “Graceland” by Paul Simon (“Living In America” by James Brown)

’87 – “Got My Mind Set On You” by George Harrison (“The One I Love” by R.E.M)

’88 – “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies (“Faith” by George Michael)

’89 – “Rocking In The Free World” by Neil Young (“Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers)

First show I ever saw: Neil Young.  He played an hour of just his Greendale album before unleashing what the crowd wanted to hear.

’90 – “Just A Friend” by Biz Markie (“Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice)

’91 – “Come As You Are” by Nirvana (“Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega)

’92 – “Nightswimming” by R.E.M (“I Can’t Dance” by Genesis)

’93 – “Are You Gonna’ Go My Way?” by Lenny Kravitz (“She Don’t Use Jelly” by The Flaming Lips)

’94 – “My Name Is Jonas” by Weezer (“Loser” by Beck)

’95 – “Don’t Look Back In Anger” by Oasis (“Kiss From A Rose” by Seal)

First album I ever owned was (What’s The Story) Morning Glory.

’96- “Virtual Insanity” Jamiroquai (“The New Pollution” by Beck)

’97 – “Brick” by Ben Folds Five (“Karma Police” by Radiohead)

’98 – “Flagpole Sitta'” by Harvey Danger (“Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill)

Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone is the most underrated album of the ’90s. I think it’d be more heralded now than it was then, still very listenable today.

’99 – “Coffee & TV” by Blur (“You Get What You Give” by The New Radicals)

Narrowly edging out Jamiroqaui for best video ever?

’00 – “Kid A” by Radiohead (“Idioteque” by Radiohead)

’01 – “The Modern Age” by The Strokes (“At Your Funeral” by Saves The Day)

’02 – “Stars and Sons” by Broken Social Scene (“Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1” by The Flaming Lips)

’03 – “Y Control” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (“Myxomatosis” by Radiohead)

’04 – “Me & Mia” by Ted Leo + The Pharmacists (“Neighborhood #2 (Laika)” by The Arcade Fire)

This is one of the only videos the band ever put out and they are the definitive “band I was introduced to in college that I’ll love forever.”

’05 – “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” by Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah (“I Summon You” by Spoon)

Best indie rock song, most underrated album, first CD I literally wore out.

’06 – “Napoleon Says” by Phoenix (“Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley)

’07 – “To The East” by Electrelane (“Human Racing” by St. Vincent)

Here’s the hardest decision between two songs that not many others care about: Electrelane has a perfect minimalist rock song versus gorgeous song writing and melody from St. Vincent.

’08 – “Can You Tell” by Ra Ra Riot (“Nothing Ever Happened” by Deerhunter)

’09 – “1901” by Phoenix (“Make Her Say” by Kid Cudi)

’10 – “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem (“Tighten Up” by The Black Keys)

The End

(Links today from YouTube and Wikipedia)

Have an argument to make with the list? E-mail it.
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