Have you ever been asked, “Who are your top 10 favorite bands?” or “What are your top 10 favorite albums of all time?” Of course you have! It’s a basic question when you’re getting to know someone. It is one of the most defining lists you could ever construct. However, I usually completely blank when someone puts me on the spot with one of these questions. My eyes begin frantically searching the room, my breaths get shallow, and I utter an “uhhhh” for what seems like an eternity before I spout out at least two album or band names and then… blank. Days later I’ll have that “aha” moment and wish for a do-over so that I could thoroughly represent myself and finally express my feelings to someone who cares, but… I’m here to announce that gone are the days of blanking. I’m doing it right here, right now. For whatever it’s worth, here is the official list of my top 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL albums and why. We would LOVE to hear your lists as well! Tag us on insta or comment to us!
I honestly can not recall the first time I ever heard a Nirvana song. I really wish I could paint this vivid picture of the defining moment that spawned my obsession/love for Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. However, it just seems like I was born with it. My guess is my uncle Russell played Nirvana albums while I was a baby and the rest is history. Of course, as a child, I loved “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Come As You Are”, “In Bloom”, “Lithium”, “Drain You”… you know, the singles. As I’ve aged, I’ve grown a profound love for “Something In The Way”. It is just this simple, haunting, honest song that never seems to leave me. Knowing that Kurt recorded it while laying down on the recording studio couch just makes it that much more special. I don’t care about any negative stigma attached to Nirvana or the commercialism of “grunge”… if every ounce of your soul doesn’t awaken when you hear the first few chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”… something is wrong with you and you should get that checked out.
My favorite version of Em — pissed off! There is no better album to listen to when you have an accumulation of anger that needs to be purged and that is exactly what I did as a teenager. However, you definitely don’t need to be pissed off to passionately rap to Eminem. In fact, I met my soulmate because of this album. I’m on the karaoke stage, my song starts, “Superman” (so romantic), and the man of my dreams runs up on stage to join me in the most amazing duet/introduction I could ever imagine– the rest is history. Thanks, Slim! I think I’ll be a grandma and still know every word to “Cleaning Out My Closet” & “Sing For The Moment”. “They say music can alter moods and talk to you. Well, can it load a gun up for you and cock it too? Well, if it can, then the next time you assault a dude, just tell the judge it was my fault, and I’ll get sued.” LEGENDARY
This may be cheating, but I don’t care. It’s not my true top 10 if this is not on the list. Levon Helm just has a hold on me! Such a rare soul and talent. I could listen to him talk, play, and sing for hours and never get bored. The Band’s self-titled album is just littered with instant classics. Take that album, throw it into a live performance with MANY of the greats and their beloved songs… and you get The Last Waltz. A timeless album/concert and purely joyful experience from beginning to end. R.I.P., Levon. A true legend!
The very first CD I ever bought with my very own money. I was in 4th grade… yet somehow I purchased the Explicit version. Yay, unobservant Walnut Square Mall employee! Those album pictures are forever burned into my brain from hours spent just looking through the leaflet insert and reading the lyrics as I listened to the CD on repeat. This is the album that planted the seed. The seed that causes nothing but pure happiness to overcome me anytime I hear Tom Delong or Mark Hoppus’ voice. They just make me happy. Or, on a far more personal note, “Adam’s Song” just strikes a whole other cord. The one song that resonated with my mood upon finally getting home and shutting my bedroom door after a long day of being an awkward pre-teen. That intro still gets me.
“The Sweetness” would be enough of an explanation for this album ranking in my top 10. A lot of people my age might associate this genre of music with their youth and write it off as nothing more. The songs that I loved at that age are still very near and dear to my heart. Music is rarely a fad to me, once it connects with me, in any stage, it sticks with me for life. This is perhaps one of the most memorable albums to me of THAT stage (you know the one *cough* MySpace *cough*). The shakiness and crack in Jim Adkin’s vocals are unforgettable. The music just comes at you full force and you have no choice but to love every second of it (insert Scott Pilgrim GIF here). Even when you take a step back and realize “Whoa, was I just singing about heroin?” Open for interpretation!
One of those rare albums that you can listen to from beginning to end without getting antsy to hit “next” on any track. This album is so damn important to me. I have always LOVED The Killers, but my world was flipped upside down when Taylor invited me to go see them at Madison Square Garden a couple of years ago. Hearing them through my speakers is one magical experience, but being in the same room as they perform is like transcendence into another world. Brandon Flowers has such a gravitating stage presence. “Smile Like You Mean It” & “On Top” might be my favorite tracks if I ever HAD to choose.
This album just takes me away… I’m transported to a different time, a different land every single time I listen to it. “Cypress Avenue” & “Astral Weeks” produce feelings similar to that of a day spent in nature, completely at peace and alone with your thoughts. And then I get to “Slim Slow Slider” and time just stands still. It hurts in the best way. “I know you’re dyin’, baby. And I know you know it too.” ❤ Simple and beautiful. I always find myself going back to this album when I’m feeling especially sentimental.
Jenny Lewis, Jenny Lewis, Jenny Lewis… This AMAZING woman has been full circle in my life in so many different occurrences I don’t even get weirded out anymore. She’s always popping up in the best ways. I’ve seen her in concert a few times and she is just perfect. A true artist. Her lyrics are just really really really what get me and when contrasted with her happy, upbeat or purely melodic deliveries… it just feels like life. Life is freaking sad, terrifying, and just hard… but what other option do you have than to make something beautiful out of it? Now, this album in particular, of Rilo Kiley’s, is in my top because I discovered this melancholy masterpiece while in a very fitting mood. It resonated. It was the light in a very dark tunnel because it was real. Like what I would imagine Sylvia Plath would sound like if she were a musician. I can NOT sing “With Arms Outstretched” without shedding some tears. “A Better Son/Daughter” is the most epic/eloquent song about depression that was ever created…. The end.
Oh, Led Zeppelin… The soundtrack to my college years. My freshmen year of college, I became very introverted and listened to A LOT of classic rock. Led Zeppelin being at the top of that list. I was discovering new territory. I had just seen Lords Of Dogtown for the first time and became obsessed with the Z Boys and 1970’s California culture. “Black Dog”, “Going To California”, “When the Levee Breaks”, and of course, “Stairway To Heaven”. This album just instantly became a staple. Even though, with time, I’ve read some articles and had some conversations that would attempt to sway me as Zeppelin being nothing more than glorified plagiarists, they still represent a very significant stage of my life. That will never change. Adrian Brijbassi said it best in Kill Your Idols, “With that and all other things said, what can’t ever be overlooked when discussing Led Zeppelin is that before its decline, Page, Plant, Bonham, and Jones did manage to touch people. That’s not a statement to balance the argument. It’s an undeniable, unavoidable fact, and there’s more value in that accomplishment than any criticism or analysis of their music…. Once gained, no critic can take such intimate meaning away, nor should any try.” Side-note: Although not on this album, I’d have to say my favorite Zeppelin song is “That’s The Way”.
Ok, I’m not going to be one of those girls that calls Stevie Nicks my spirit animal… but she absolutely has that timeless magic about her that I will always admire and feel comforted by. Her voice and lyrics just feel like home. However, beyond the chiffon, this album as a whole is incredible because it was the start of something iconic. When Fleetwood Mac joined forces with Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham. (It’s ok, Bob Welch, “Ebony Eyes” was pretty great too.) I love that their music is not dominated by any one member. They all got to write and contribute their own music and that’s kind of a rarity. “Never Going Back Again” ,”Dreams”, “Go Your Own Way”, “The Chain”, “Second Hand News” It’s the product of “the greats” joining forces and it is magical.
Ahhh, that feels better. A concrete list ready to go! We don’t say it lightly when we say: WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR LISTS! In fact, I challenge you, construct a list of your top 10 all-time favorite albums and tag us on Instagram or comment to us. MUSIC LOVERS UNITE!
– Naturally inspired. Locally aware. Universally beautiful. With love, Whitney.