1. Madonna, Like a Virgin - This album came out when I was eight. I used to dress up like Madonna, put on too much of my sister’s makeup which included creating a little brown mole on my face and dance around my bedroom to this album. Oh and I was Madonna for at least three Halloweens.
2. Cyndi Lauper, She's So Unusual - I remember a group of us girls lip synching to She Bop for a talent show in 3rd grade! Hello?! 3rd graders should not be allowed to dance around singing about masturbation!!!
3. Tiffany, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, Out of the Blue - So I’m cheating a little here, but these two go hand in hand and were the soundtrack to my life in 6th grade. It wasn't until years later that I discovered that nearly all Tiffany's hits were covers. And yes, I did have Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth perfume.
4. Simon & Garfunkel, Greatest Hits - Now we are hitting my 9th grade hippie stride. I listened to so much 60s folk rock it was ridiculous. And I wore tye-dye and moccasins. Dig Paul Simon's hair and 'stache on the cover of this album! But even to this day I love Simon & Garfunkel. They (or mainly Paul if we're being honest) wrote some amazingly enduring and haunting songs.
5. R.E.M., Out of Time - I liked R.E.M. before this album but this is what made me fall in love with them. When they did MTV Unplugged in '91 I fell madly in love with Michael Stipe and his quiet weirdness. I wore out a VHS recorded copy of that show. I know this album has some misses (Shiny Happy People, that duet with KRS-One) but it also has gems like Losing My Religion, Half a World Away, and Country Feedback.
6. The Smiths, The Queen is Dead - Again it's me, 9th grade, and I have found my salvation and it's the combination of Morrissey and Marr. How did any teenager survive before they discovered The Smiths?
7. Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes - Fantastic sing along in the car music, especially when the car is stuffed full of teenagers. And I really mean stuffed. We were masters of clown car equivalent stuffage.
8. The Sundays, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic - Pretty, rainy day music. I thought Harriet Wheeler was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. I really wish this band had made more music.
9. Trash Can Sinatras, Cake - This Scottish quintet's debut album is probably one of my all time favorites. Their jangly guitars, playful lyrics, and lilting harmonies are right up my alley.
10. Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes - Who was this odd looking redheaded woman rolling around in a wooden box on MTV? The song Silent All These Years was astounding to me. I bought it as a cassette single first (at the now gone Tower Records on the corner of Tropicana and Maryland) and then worshipped this album.
11. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses - My Britpop wings get spread (oh that sounds dirty. . .). The Stone Roses were the start of my Britpop and especially Manchester music obsession.
12. Billie Holiday, The Quintessential Billie Holiday Vol. 6 (1938) - I'll tell you how I discovered Billie. That Mel Gibson movie Forever Young came out and her version of The Very Thought of You was the love theme in it. I loved the song and found it on this album. Lucky me, this quintessential volume also had her You Go To My Head, I’m Going to Lock My Heart (And Throw Away The Key), Here It Is Tomorrow Again, and a number of other wonderful songs. Billie has been my goddess ever since.
13. Weezer, The Blue Album - Everyone made fun of me for liking Undone (The Sweater Song), the dumbasses couldn't see past that somewhat silly single to the masterpiece that is this album as a whole.
14. Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - When they talk about music being the portal to the past Pavement is one of the more evocative bands for me. This album especially holds more memories for me than any other. Lovely, bittersweet, post high school graduation memories.
15. James, Laid and The Stone Roses, Second Coming - Cheating again. I’m reasonably sure I lost my virginity while one of these albums played. All those nights of eager fumbling and then serious lovin’ with these albums playing run together in my memory. Sorry, TMI? Incidentally, The Stone Roses is the only band to appear on this list twice!
16. The Verve, Urban Hymns - I listened to this like a madwoman for months and months and months. When I put it on now it's like a mid-90s time capsule. Seriously the 90s had a "sound" and this is it!
17. Van Morrison, Moondance- Ahhhhh, I came late to Van, but boy was his music refreshing! This album just soothes me.
18. A Walk on the Moon, Next Stop Wonderland, Big Night Soundtracks - Cheating one more time. These three soundtracks were played a lot when I lived with Jen, Raymond, and Greg – good dinner party music. We had good times.
19. Wilco, Summerteeth - I discovered Wilco through their Woody Guthrie collaboration with Billy Bragg, Mermaid Avenue Vol. 1. Jeff Tweedy is a superb lyricist and I love that they can go from loud rockers to quiet folkies all within the same album. Summerteeth is not necessarily my favorite Wilco album (don't know if I could pick a fave) but it's the first one I bought.
20. The Strokes, Is This It? - When I hear any song off this album I smile because it’s the soundtrack of when Phillip and I first met. It came out in October of 2001 and we met in November. This is when all the "The" bands were breaking through: The Vines, The White Stripes, The Hives, The Libertines etc. We’ve seen The Strokes live three times together and we always feel a little bit like they are performing just for us.
21. Neutral Milk Hotel, In The Aeroplane Over the Sea - Thank God for Phillip who turned me on to this, the greatest album ever made. I want this entire album played beginning to end at my funeral. I’m not kidding.
22. The White Stripes Elephant - I actually discovered The White Stripes with their previous album to this, White Blood Cells, but it was on their tour for Elephant that Phillip and I got to see them live and it was one of the most extraordinary shows either of us have ever seen. How do two people with two instruments make so much damn, rocking, gorgeous noise? We were rip roaring drunk and we danced and sang at the top of our lungs and. . . yeah. . . wow. . . great show!
23. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell - This album is pretty near perfect. It’s so raw and sexy and dirty and fun! Phillip and I drove seven hours to see them play at Club Congress in Tucson, AZ in 2004 and it was one of the greatest road trips we’ve had together.
24. Arcade Fire, Funeral - There are times when this band’s vocals swell together and their instruments build in noise and it all breaks over me and gives me goose bumps. I don't understand people who hate this band.
25. Okkervil River, The Stage Names - Okkervil River is a band I discovered in the last few years. I wanted to place Black Sheep Boy on this list because it's the first album of their's I bought (after hearing the song Get Real on KEXP) but decided to go instead with this one because John Allyn Smith Sails could be my favorite song so far this century.