I often wonder what would be on the soundtrack for the movie of my life. For someone who feels as deeply about music as I do, it is a real consideration. For every era, ever event, every moment of my life can be defined by a song, a lyric, a band. Sometimes a song reminds you of a town, a trip or a person. You associate that annoying top 40 hit with the roadtrip you took with your besties back in 2010. You skip a certain band because an ex loved them. You hear a song from your childhood, and suddenly the world around you recedes, and it's 1998 again. And then sometimes you look back and you realise that those songs changed your life. They influenced you into doing - or not doing - things. They shaped and formed you, like clay in the hands of, not the musicians, but of your own interpretations. I've been moulded and shaped and formed by so many songs, and these are the most important.
(In no particular order, then)
The Shins - Bait and Switch: It's no secret that I'm obsessed with this band. Although not my favourite Shins song nowadays (that honour goes to Turn On Me), this was their first that I paid real attention to. And it's my soundtrack of freedom and happiness. No matter how melancholy this band is, they're like my comfort blanket. I can turn on this song and suddenly it's 2012, I can smell my Starbucks latte and the hire car's air freshener. There's nothing in the world but laughter, and sunshine and somewhere over the next hill, or around the next corner is Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and a world of possibilities.
Taylor Swift - You Belong With Me: Ever since 2009, I've been slowly morphing myself into Taylor Swift, and this was the song that started it all. I was never a huge fan of Love Story, but this song took me in from the moment I heard it. It started with headbands and glitter, and evolved into high-waisted skirts, crop-tops and red lipstick. I wanted to become this girl, but I suppose there are worse role models. And after all, Taylor Swift told me it's okay to be a cat lady.
Boyzone - No Matter What: I was seven years old, and sitting on the floor of my living room. A music video was on the screen: five men in white, singing the most beautiful melody my tiny ears had ever encountered. They had to be angels. This was the first song I was ever conscious of knowing. My love of music bloomed and blossomed and continued to grow throughout of my life, and this was the very beginning.
Savage Garden - Santa Monica: This is my favourite Savage Garden song, and as they were the first band I ever saw live, I had to include it here. Although my nine-year-old self was far too young to understand exactly what the song was about, I did my best. And the name Norman Mailer always stuck with me. This song is by no means just about plastic people in California. It's all about that lazy winter spent in a tiny patch of sun in front of my first computer; it's trying on shoes with my first best friend; it's an ice cold day in downtown Vancouver, and how we all ran to the window as the first flakes of snow began to fall.
Coldplay - The Scientist: The year was 2008, I was a first year Bachelor or Science student, and suffering from what felt a hell of a lot like depression. I'd never taken very much note of Coldplay, but one day I got ahold of this song and played it on repeat so many times that friends started to ask what was going on. At least then they paid attention. But Coldplay changed my life in so many ways and brought my such joy. From an almost tearful realisation that they were playing live in South Africa, to a dash across the country to see them, to near hyperventilation at their appearance, long walks to their studio on the other side of the world, debates on their new material and long discussions of Chris Martin's love life, I wouldn't be who I am without Coldplay.
Bastille - Things We Lost in the Fire (Fire Fire): I'll cut to the chase, this song earned me a friendship. "Of course I'm going to see Bastille, I don't miss concerts", I smirked. But then it turned into "You like Coldplay?" "Wait, you're a fan of Lost?" "Taylor Swift, what?!" And what could a friend really be to me? It's the person who will sing with me on a roadtrip, use my favourite singer's name as an expletive, or just sit in a car with me, listening to a song from my childhood, the rain pouring down onto the windshield, both knowing that Boyzone is better than the party we're on our way to.
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound: I don't know how I lived years without knowing about this band. I don't know how my soul survived without this masterpiece of an album. This song helped me discover Springsteen, who would become a constant in my life. And discovering the Gaslight Anthem gave me a new favourite band, and with it a whole new world of excitement. A whole new realm of singalongs in the car with my digsmate, a whole world of laughter and in-jokes and that special part of friendship that can only be expressed through music.
Westlife - My Love: This song didn't so much change my life as define it. I can see it now: it's 2001, the skies are blue despite it being midwinter. It's the closest my life has ever been to perfect, so far and the closest - I fear - it will ever be. This song is the smell of sunscreen, the roar of the ocean and the assurance that with three people in the world who care about you, you don't need anything else. And now, 14 years later, this song is the assurance that although everything changes, it'll all come full circle in the end.
Brandon Flowers - Crossfire: Back in 2010, I was trying very hard to keep my strange fangirl obsessions under wraps. I tried these challenges where I'd not mention music for a week, to see how normal people lived. And I just couldn't do it. It was time for my friends to accept my for who I was, and if they couldn't, then perhaps they weren't even friends at all. Enter Flamingo. Enter Flamingo into my car's CD player, from whence it was never removed.
The Killers - A Dustland Fairytale: Of all the songs that have impacted my life, this is the one that completely turned it on a dime. After one listen, I had to know everything about this band, I had to see them, I had to be a part of everything to do with them. It took a love for music and travel that was bubbling just below the surface of my calm life, and released it in a great explosion. It took my mild interest in media and the internet and made it into a full-blown obsession. A new career path, and new city, and new inspiration to meet people - everything changed within those four minutes. And I never looked back.