Throwback to 4 years ago.
CALVIN HARRIS – “Feel So Close” – as described by kevin garcia
Though I haven’t engaged with much of his work outside of his fresh Top 40 singles, Calvin Harris released this #banger just a few weeks before the start of my senior year of high school and, out of its sheer ubiquity, I probably sat through this song hundreds of times during that 10 month stretch of time.
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS – “Cry for Judas” – as described by nick burns
Much of the music that came out in 2012–2013 now sounds dated to me, and Transcendental Youth is not the Mountain Goats’ best work, but it came out at a sort of late peak in my interest in the band, not to mention at a time when I needed John Darnielle’s desperate, hopeful characters, his dark landscapes and his sordid stories. The brass section in this song doesn’t quite fit Darnielle’s nasal incantations, but the opening line “Some things you do / Just to see how bad they’ll make you feel” is weighty and true, and felt timely when I first listened to the album four years ago.
BORN RUFFIANS – “Needle” – as described by katie lan
Born Ruffians was the first real concert I went to in high school. It was also the first time I moshed, so this band holds a lot of sentiment in my heart. Needle is growing up, hanging on to youth, and angst. All perfect themes for my high school self.
CHIEF KEEF – “Citgo” – as described by ned hardy
Chief Keef was 17 years old when he recorded “Citgo.” I was 17 years old when I first heard “Citgo.” I loved it immediately. Four years later, it remains extremely perfect and extremely bizarre: Chief Keef rapping about potent kush and curvaceous women over a beat that sounds like firecrackers exploding at the bottom of a swimming pool. Keef sounds happy, or at least content. I think about him a lot. I hope he’s OK.
DEVENDRA BANHART – “Mi Negrita” – as described by ena alvarado
The word sifrino belongs to us Venezuelans. It means snobbish and, as far as I can tell, no other Spanish speakers—Latin American or European—have ever used it. In an interview with El Estímulo, Devendra Banhart admitted that Colegio Jefferson, the K-12 school both he and I attended for some years in Caracas, was “muy sifrino.” He did give it credit, however, for teaching him English. Who would have thought the indie folk world had something to thank Ms. Patricia, Ms. Mercedes, and Ms. Louisa—our despised tyrants of American grammar—for?
CHANCE THE RAPPER – “Acid Rap” – as described by teddy morris-knower
There is no better symbol of the summer after senior year than acid rap. We were free from school; he released it for free, not for us to bootleg but genuinely free just music to put into the world. He was done with high school, we were done with high school. He was exploring that in between phase between youth and adult, that experimentation with falling in love and staying up too late and interacting with your parents on an equal level and going swimming in the night and maybe trying drugs. If you spent the past year listening to coloring book, I more than recommend this Saturday morning opening your day with “Even better than I was the last time baby.”
JAI PAUL – “Jasmine (Demo)” – as described by brandon truong
“Jasmine” is merely a demo, and one of the few tracks ever officially released by Jai Paul. Something about its pressing bass, flourishing synths and guitar, and the intimate yet distant falsetto leaves me uneasy and disoriented, like I’m waiting for something to happen that never will. His “Everlasting” album leak made the disorientation even worse (but oh so much better). I come back to this record again and again, and every time I do, I rejuvenate this hope that Jai’ll release an album for real. I’m pretty sure he never will. “Make my dreams come true,” Jai.
ARCTIC MONKEYS – “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” – as described by annabel ostrow
The slightly self-deprecating and self-consciously angsty anthem for driving up Twin Peaks in the middle of the night after a “chill kick back” (is this still a thing?), speeding to school in the fog, or really any car-related teenage histrionics.
TAYLOR SWIFT – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” – as described by som-mai nguyen
My senior year on the swim team, they opened a new natatorium in our district, with electronic touchpads and locker rooms with Suitmate dryers, which was pretty wild considering that the chem labs back at my high school didn’t have fume hoods and that I showered after practice in 10-second intervals because the (yellowish) water basically ran on an unheated/boiling binary. (Like, I literally scalded my scalp a couple times.) It was a New, Different school, where pants Do Not Sag™, and they played Taylor Swift during warm-ups — which was super fun, but implied something that lingered.
UNKNOWN – “Hurrian Hymn no. 6” – as described by phill giliver
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Phill, the prompt for this week is songs from highschool.” Yeah, I REALIZE THAT. But guess what? This 3,421-year-old boy loves to jam out to bangers from his adolescence, and your closemindedness is not going to stop me from trashing to the heavy beats (originally recorded on cuneiform) pouring out from that sweet, sweet Akkadian lyre.
KATY PERRY – “Roar” – as described by loralee sepsey
I graduated high school in 2014, and while technically this song came out in 2013, this holds a special place in my heart because this was the last song I played with my high school band. Yes, I was a band geek (been playing clarinet for 11 years), and yes, my high school band director had us play an instrumental arrangement of this song at our graduation, but that’s not the funny part. The funny part was that my principal said that we were going to be playing “‘Roar’ by Casey Perry.” I don’t know why this was so funny. We still talk about it.
ANNA KENDRICK – “Cups” – as described by nikki tran
Pitch Perfect was the ex-High School Musical lover’s logical progression/obsession. In theater class (where else?) my fellow drama queens and I would concoct elaborate challenges–who could go fastest, how many people we could get in a cup circle. Although maybe after the third play the track gets a little whiny and one can’t un-hear Anna Kendrick say “taco” rather “talk, oh,” it brings me back to those sweet, patty-cake games. I miss it.
KENDRICK LAMAR – “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst” – as described by anthony milki
good kid, m.A.A.d city was one of the first albums I spun regularly at the peak of its release hype. This song reminds me of overcast weather during my senior year.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE feat. JAY-Z – “Suit & Tie” – as described by alejandra Salazar
True story: the day this song dropped, a group of guys in my third period class–you know the types I’m talking about: brash, charming, overconfident class clowns that still managed to retain a sense of refined high school cool–wore suits, skinny ties, and Ray-Ban sunglasses to school. I did not and, to this day, do not hang out with them regularly.
During every passing period, they would play this song in the hallways out of tinny speakers clipped onto their backpacks. Timberlake was their God, and on this day, they were devout missionaries spreading the gospel. I never really liked this song, but I still know every damn word.
FIONA APPLE – “Hot Knife” – as described by katie nesser
When Fiona Apple’s long-awaited album The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do was released the summer before my junior year, it was my introduction to the singer. Having fallen in love with ’90s music more in the vein of Beck and other angsty boys, I was sadly unaware of the power of the angsty girl wonder Fiona Apple once was. That quickly changed after I heard The Idler Wheel…, a stunning work of metaphorical lyrics, peculiar percussion, and vocal power. It keeps what was most compelling about Apple’s youthful music, but with a more mature point of view. May we all grow up like Fiona.
Image from here.