Sunday, 8 June 2014

Music | An admission

It's no secret that I'm a fan of rock music. There are hundreds of sub-genres within the modern rock music world, from indie and pop punk to glam rock and nu-metal. Personally I'm partial to most styles of rock music and listen to a very wide range of bands and artists. The one thing they all have in common is that they're likely to grace the pages of rock music mags rather than Smash Hits and there's always a guitar involved!

I've got a bit of an admission though - I didn't always have such great taste in music. Oh no, there was a time in the mid 90s where I lost my way somewhat and I became absolutely obsessed with one group in particular. This obsession went far beyond buying their tapes/CDs (remember tapes kids? Possibly not!) Sit back, relax and let me tell you about my musical journey...
Music from my childhood (80s)
I was born in 1983 and as a child I wasn't really aware of music as a form of entertainment; like most children I grew up listening to what my parents listened to and didn't have any input whatsoever. My parents probably had a wider taste in music than I recall, but my most vivid memories are of them listening to Fleetwood Mac. They're the only band that spring to mind if I'm asked who I listened to as a young child but they're still one of my all time favourites; Stevie Nicks has the voice of an angel. I also recall Madonna featuring heavily in my childhood and remember my brother and I made up a dance routine to the songs from her True Blue album. I'm older than my brother so he was always the one leaping into my arms rather than the other way around (to be fair it would probably be the same now as I'm a little chunkier than he is!) Anyone remember the episode of Friends in which Ross and Monica showcase their dance routine from childhood (season 6, episode 10 - I checked!) - that was my brother and I in the late 80s (we were way cooler though *cough*).

The only songs I discovered for myself as a child were Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul (1988) and Don't be a Stranger by Dina Carroll (1993). I had a birthday party and forced my parents to play the Paula Abdul song on repeat over and over as we played pass the parcel and musical chairs in the lounge. As for Dina Carroll, I used to shut my bedroom door and play the song on repeat, singing along whilst imagining I was singing to my one true love (I was 10, what did I know about love?!). I'm pretty sure I recorded it to tape from the Top 40. Did anyone else used to sit diligently on a Sunday, hand hovering over the record button on your tape deck, in the hope of catching your favourite songs? I used to get so angry when the DJ would talk over the end of the song!
My two favourite songs from childhood
Despite liking a couple of songs I never actually liked a band or group. The Take That phenomenon arrived and whilst several of my friends became victims to their catchy songs and heart throb looks I just wasn't interested - I preferred playing Lego with my brother. It wasn't until the mid 90s that I liked my first group. It was 1996 and a school friend asked me if I wanted to go and see Boyzone with her at the Newcastle Arena. I'd never heard of them but as a 13 year old it wasn't often that I was asked to do anything more than play out in the street or go to the local shopping centre to hang out in McDonald's (my, haven't times changed for the youth of today?!) I said 'yes' and my parents coughed up the cash. That was pretty much the beginning of the end for me: the obsession started. My friend gave me a tape of their first album (Said & Done) and I listened to it on repeat at every opportunity. I used to go and watch my Dad play five-a-side and sit in the car for the full 90 minutes listening to this tape because I was determined to know all the words to all of the songs.

It would be OK if the obsession ended with learning all of their lyrics but of course like all obsessions it was uncontrollable. I bought all of their tapes and then when CDs became the format of choice I spent all of my pocket money on re-buying all of their albums and singles. I couldn't just buy one of their CD singles, oh no, I had to have both versions because I didn't want to miss out on the different b-sides! I would go into obscure record stores and ask middle aged guys who worked there if they had the CDs I was looking for, to be met more than once with a sneer and a curt "we don't sell crap". I imagine pop music fans come up against this sort of snobbery even now! If I'd known who The Cure were at the time I would have realised that a store manned by a bloke wearing their t-shirt might not be selling Boyzone CDs.
My bedroom became a shrine to Boyzone. Stephen Gately was my favourite - most girls preferred either Ronan or Stephen. The ones who liked the more obscure members (here's where I pretend not to remember their names... oh OK, Keith, Shane, Mikey...) were always on the periphery of the fandom and tended to be a little obscure themselves. I had t-shirts, books, videos, scarves, stationery and badges. My parents even bought me a membership to the Boyzone Fanclub. I was so obsessed that I even knew Stephen's birthday (17th March...). As if being a fanclub member wasn't enough I started my own fanzine! I would sit for hours trying to make my fanzine look professional when in reality I was just plagiarising the pages of Smash Hits magazine. I wore a Boyzone t-shirt to the swimming baths once and a group of boys called me a 'saddo' which upset me greatly because I thought I was the coolest person ever in the whole entire world. Things reached fever pitch when my friend managed to bag us front row tickets to one of their concerts. I even bought new shoes! The concert was probably a whole lot of fun but my only memory is of being so overcome with emotion that I cried. I still managed to get the dance routine to A Different Beat spot on though. I would defend them on Teletext (if you remember Teletext give me a high five!), I wrote letters to them and even telephoned other fans I'd met online (we were very lucky to have the internet at home at a time when even the local library didn't have it!) One year I threw something at the TV and screamed obscenities at it because The Backstreet Boys won Best International Group at the Smash Hit Awards instead of Boyzone. I vowed to hate the Backstreet Boys from that day forth! I'm actually laughing as I write this because I can't quite believe how much of my time I invested in this group! I dare to say that if I'd been old enough at the time I would have had a tattoo of their logo emblazoned across my back. I'm thankful for small mercies...
Other groups I liked as a teenager (90s)
Of course, at the same time as being completely and utterly obsessed with Boyzone I was also reading the pages of Smash Hits Magazine on a regular basis, so I also listened to a whole load of other terrible pop groups. I actually once stood outside a local radio station in the hope of catching a glimpse of 911. What was I thinking? What did my parents think I was doing?!

Now here's something of an admission within an admission - I didn't really like many of Boyzone's singles! Yes, you've read that correctly! The group I was bat shit crazy about had some truly awful songs. Picture of You - terrible. Baby Can I Hold You - terrible. I Love the Way You Love Me - terrible. I did however, and still do, think they had some great songs on their albums (please don't tell anyone!)

Here's something of a contradiction for you - although I spent the mid-90s liking groups that couldn't play bingo between them, let alone an instrument, I had a secret that I kept from everyone - I liked "real" music. In public I was strutting my stuff in Boyzone gear, writing my homework with a Boyzone pen and listening to Boyzone on my Discman. In private I was hoarding tapes full of Brit Pop. Christmas 1995 I received my first ever non pop music albums - Blur's Parklife and Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette. I loved both but hid them away for fear of my fellow Boyzone loving friends finding out about my dirty little secret. Soon after I added Definitely Maybe and Pulp's Different Class to my secret stash.
When I wasn't hanging out with my Boyzone obsession enabling friend I would spend time with another friend whose parents liked Suede and The Verve. We'd alternate our time between making up dance routines to Spice Girl songs (I was always Scary Spice because I have very frizzy hair...) and listening to Urban Hymns on repeat. I was the most musically confused 14 year old around. Outwardly I claimed I'd defend Boyzone to the death but inwardly I was lusting after Damon Albarn. I recall one night at a friend's sleepover we were channel flicking and Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) by The Offspring came on. Everyone else mocked the song whereas I was making a mental note to look them up when I got home. And so my secret musical tastes evolved once more...
In early 1999 I started going out with the boy next door (technically he lived two doors down but that doesn't sound as catchy) and he and his family were big rock music fans. He didn't seem to be bothered by the hundreds of posters of Boyzone & Co. in my bedroom but within a few weeks I'd started to take them down. My then boyfriend played in a ska band and listened to a lot of rock music from Stereophonics to Iron Maiden and I couldn't help but get drawn in. I heard All the Small Things on MTV (remember when MTV used to play music?!) and I was hooked. I bought Blink 182's album and never looked back. Literally. I took down all of my posters, packed up all of the merchandise I'd accumulated in the last four years and started wearing tartan skirts and studded belts. I dumped one fandom for a brand new "scene". The rest, as they say, is history... 
A small selection of my current favourite bands
Of course, since the late 90s my musical tastes have evolved and broadened from The Offspring and Blink 182. I arrived at rock music via Brit Pop so I've still got a soft spot for the classics (Stay Young is one of my favourite songs). I like a lot of rock bands that are flirting with the boundaries between pop and rock as well as old school rock like Guns N' Roses and Bon Jovi. I'm forever discovering new bands and sub-genres but it's generally rock related and I don't tend to stray these days. I've learnt to love music for the music and not the people in the bands. I don't tend to know that much about the bands I like, just that I love their songs. I don't know their names and dates of birth or what their pets are called - that kind of thing is a little bit unhealthy if you ask me. I'm not "down with the kids" and I won't like something just because it's flavour of the month anymore. I'm currently listening to a lot of glam metal whereas last year it was all about the acoustic!
I used to be unhealthily obsessed with a boyband and now I don't even know three quarters of the people in the Top 40! I'd love to hear about your musical journey! Were you ever as obsessed with a group as I was? Have you ever joined a band's fanclub? Let me know in the comments below.
I will give a prize to anyone who can name all of the groups/bands/artists in the 4 photo collages in this post. Really I will, because I'd be mightily impressed!
Have you entered my giveaway yet? To celebrate my new blog layout I'm hosting a giveaway where you can win prizes from MAC, NARS, Yankee Candle and Models Own. Enter here!

Hurry, you only have until 22:30 on Monday 9th June!

Please note: All of the images came from Google Images. It is impossible for me to credit each individual source. If you would like me to remove any image or give credit please get in touch:


  1. Oh my god Simone, I bloody love this post! My 90's band of choice was Take That, although I don't think I went down the merchandise route. So many other things - high five back at ya for Teletext, Parklife by Blur reminds me of drinking cider by the river and Alanis is still my go to girl when I've got the hump. Smash by The Offspring is another big album from my youth - I was also drawn in by a boy. Madonna featured heavily in my childhood as well along with The Bangles - my friend took the lead and I was the backing singer. I could go on all day! I can name all the bands until the last collage, I'm a bit disappointed in myself!
    Oh my guilty secret - Hit Me Baby One More Time - I love it!
    Rach x

    1. Thanks Rach, I'm glad someone remembers Teletext! My mum was obsessed with it and spent hours reading pages and doing the quizzes. I loved Bamboozle on Channel 4 if you remember it?!

  2. High five for Teletext and it's neon, pixelated font. Funny post! I'm into rock and metal too but there's no denying BSB have some tunes. Forever loving I Want It That Way and Backstreet's Back. 5ive, B*Witched, A1.. they all take me back to my youth. I love the nostalgia. Put 'The Vault' channel on, it's all they play! Some right blasts from the past. I'm defo not down with the kids either - I always have Scuzz on but have very little interest in 'current' music or really anything past 2004, with the odd exception of course, not enough for me to turn it over (unless it's something like Green Day (can handle their old stuff), Biffy Clyro etc) but definitely can't get into it. I'm just stuck in the past, nu-metal that kinda vibe. Unfortunately I cannot name you all the bands in all those collages!
    I'll keep my musical journey short. I listened to all the generic 90s pop music (I was born in '91, good times) but never got obsessed or really into it. I think I owed one Spice Girls CASSETTE! and that was it.. never bought music or cared for it enough as a kid (I did have Spiceworld on VHS!). The first musician I got obsessed with was Eminem. There was me and two lads in my class (I was what, 7, 8 or 9) who were 'allowed' to listen to him and I just thought he was genius. He still is and I like all that old stuff but wouldn't buy his stuff now or go see him. Then out came Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park. First heard them on Kerrang channel and have been a mega fan ever since. They've always been my "solid" #1 band, no-one will ever top them (eee fangirl over here) but as I say, love my nu-metal bands, KoRn, Deftones.. anything that fits that genre. and yeah I've been in the LP fanclub for what, knocking on probably 10 years now, you get perks like being entered into Meet & Greets, I've got my 4th Saturday at Download. I cried first time I saw them aged 16 (but not when I met them? WTF?) but after that was OK. Good topic!

    1. Loved this reply Amy! I really like Linkin Park too although Hybrid Theory was definitely my favourite. They did, for me at least, go a little weird at some point!

      I also don't seem to like much music released after about 2005. I am stuck in a rut and don't recognise all of the up and coming bands I hear of an the rock night I go to. When they start playing the golden oldies like Reel Big Fish & Lit I get all excited! I've still got a soft spot for Sum 41 and New Found Glory haha!

      Loved reading this, thank you! :-)

  3. I was just like you in that I had guitar driven indie and rock alongside my Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys CDs (and tapes!)

    I've got no shame whatsoever in admitting my (both past and present!) love of 90's pop! Though my tastes are definitely somewhat(!) heavier these days I love to reminisce over everything from the bubblegum to the brit-pop! I think I've always just loved music in general, and we were lucky enough to be adolescents at a time where there was a big variety of genres in the mainstream.

    My biggest obsession was probably My Chemical Romance in my late teens - I saw them something like 22 times, I had the outfits, the dolls, the vinyl collection, the special editions, the comic books just -everything-. Meeting them was an absolute fan-girl experience and I don't think there will ever be a time when their music doesn't move me. I wouldn't say they are still my favourite band in the world, but they will always have a place in my heart =)

    These days my musical tastes lean firmly towards the extreme metal side of things, and I feel lucky to be so involved in a genre that still has new and exciting bands appearing every day. It's less about fangirling over one big band and more about integrating into a whole scene where an album released 20 years ago can be just as relevant as one released yesterday. I'm lucky enough to have met (and even supported with my own band) plenty of my favourite metal artists and though I'm squealing on the inside I think my outer fan-girl has calmed down a bit. Good job really or that could be quite embarrassing on a professional level!

    Right that's definitely the longest most rambling comment I've ever left on a blog so i'll be off to go find some awful cheesy 90's pop to reminisce, great post and thanks for conjuring such great nostalgic musical memories!

    Gem | Hellbent for Lipstick

    P.S Teletext rocked!

    1. Hi Gemma! I absolutely LOVED MCR although I didn't have any of their dolls I did have t-shirts and comics. I've still got some knocking around...

      I haven't really met any bands tbh, not ones people have heard of! Last year I met Swedish glam metal band Crash Diet which was pretty cool although it was the day their tour manager died to excitement wasn't really in order at the time!

      Thanks for the comment, it's nice to know there are other bloggers out there into "alternative" sounds :) x

  4. I really loved reading this! It definitely made a nice change (as much as I love them) from highlighters and lip pencils. I'm able to vouch for Gem's inner fangirl having calmed down somewhat, since I have been there to witness her incredible squeeling on many occasions.

    For now though - heavy metal aside, I'm off to listen to Alanis Morrissette - hell yes!

    Amie-Pants | Hellbentforlipstick

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