Music is such a huge part of my life, but I almost never talk about it on the blog. I’ve been to over 40 concerts, many of them repeats of my favorite bands, and I can, with confidence, say that music has definitely saved my life in the past. My taste is wild–I can jump from screamo to boybands without batting an eye. However, when it comes down to it, my favorite albums are pretty predictable for me. I was shocked at none of them, and I’ve got stories for all of them, so buckle in, friends!
(Also, sim, I did try to do this in actual order of favorites, and it nearly killed me. And uh? This is so long, you’ve been warned.)
American Idiot is not only my favorite album of all time, it was the first one I thought of when I started drafting up this post. I’ve loved Green Day for a long time. Much like LOTR, when my dad handed me Fellowship and told me to study up for the movie, he started playing Green Day’s Dookie album for me at a young age. It came out in 1994, so I was about two when I first fell in love with Basket Case. He was a mostly new fan, but he loved their music enough to play it for me growing up, and it became a staple of my life. Long before I felt like I was dying just at the mere mention of Nick Carter, I could pick Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice out of a screaming crowd and point to it as my favorite.
I was just entering middle school when American Idiot came out, and wow. WOW. It was one of the first explicit content albums that I was allowed to buy (fun fact: my first one was Mest’s self-titled album, which came out the year before; I also later snuck Getting Away With Murder by Papa Roach past my parents and felt like a total badass). At the time, I was beginning to write a story that would carry me through the next twelve years. I’ve talked about Alex the Destroyer a bit on the blog, but it’s a story that I’ll probably never share since it sits just a little too close to my heart. It’s about a young, ready to give up teenager who gets lost in a world of drugs and rock n roll, and American Idiot was always on repeat while I was writing it.
When I finally got the chance to see Green Day a few years ago, it was after thirteen literal years of waiting. It was a particularly special moment, too, because after twelve years of writing and rewriting Alex’s story, I was finally done with a draft that I was proud of, and I was having an extraordinarily hard time letting him go. Even still, to this day, he lives in my heart constantly. I think of him all the time. There is not a single other character that I’ve written that’s continued to stick with me the way he has, and I know it’s because we essentially grew up together. I was thirteen the first time I met Alex, and I’m twenty-eight now and still thinking about him daily. He was only sixteen when I started writing about him, and so, we’ve always been around the same age, and it was just–how do you let go of that? Green Day has always been one of my favorite bands, much like they’re Alex’s, and when Still Breathing came on, and those words because I’m still breathing on my own echoed around the stage, I knew that we were going to be okay.
Anyway, that got really long and winded, and I’m sure that’s going to happen a million more times below, and really? Is anyone surprised? Nah.
My favorite Green Day song, both in general and on American Idiot, is Jesus of Suburbia, and you’re getting the extended version of the music video because my mom HATED it, and because I was a nasty child growing up, I liked to play it at full volume every morning.
Wow, that is rough, I was such a terrible child.
Would I be me if I didn’t talk about Lord of the Rings at least once in every blog post? Truly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include these albums, but based on the fact that I listen to them, in their entirety, probably once a month, it seems like it would be silly not to talk about them. (For reference, that’s about ten hours of music.) Honestly, too, I listen to a lot of soundtracks and scores, but none of them are ever going to be quite as incredible as Howard Shore’s Complete Recordings. And I don’t play, y’all, I haven’t watched/listened to the theatrical versions of the movies/soundtracks since their original release. We’re always here for the extended.
For a long time, the LOTR scores were the only things I listened to while writing my high fantasy, which I worked on for over a decade. These days, they’re what I listen to when I’m feeling blue, when I’m particularly in love with the existence of dragons, or when I’m missing Sam just a little more than usual. Sometimes, when I really need to feel badass, I’ll put on any of the Rohan songs at full blast in my car, and my heart will literally start racing. But, if I had to pick just one song, I know immediately what it would be.
There is nothing in the world quite like the build-up in this song. I mean, you literally get almost a full four minutes before you even get to the strings starting to climb toward an even bigger climax, and I’M TURNING IT UP I CAN’T HANDLE IT. I’m listening to it while drafting this, and I JUST. If you’re forgetting what scene this is, it’s when Gandalf has Pippin climb up the side of one of the beacons on Minas Tirith and light it so that Gondor can call to Rohan–FIVE MINUTES AND THAT’S WHEN IT HITS–and then we get the even more badass Aragorn bursting into Theoden’s throne room OH DON’T EVEN START WITH ME ON THE 5:43 MARK
AND THE HORNS AT 6:11 WOW I AM LIVING RIGHT NOW
Okay, fun fact, I was in concert band from middle school to high school graduation (about seven years?), and the horns have always been my favorite. I played the flute, and a cello will put me on the ground with its beauty, but horns get me every damn time.
We’re staying here, I want to feature a song from each album. And again, there’s no doubt in my mind what my favorite song from FOTR is:
Gosh, the amount of times I’ve ended a class with this, May it Be, and part two of this song–I can’t even tell you. I teach LOTR classes all the time, but sometimes, I’ll just sneak those three in at the end because it needs to happen. We need a little sorrow and joy all at once. I know this is a little controversial, too, because everyone’s favorite is Concerning Hobbits, AND FOR GOOD REASON, but this song is just truly so beautiful.
Okay, last one! I’m so glad I decided to feature all three because that means we get to talk about barely a teenager Mary trying to convince her parents to buy her a Scandinavian fiddle! There are a lot of great songs in the TT soundtrack. Last March of the Ents, literally any part of Helm’s Deep, all of the Rohan songs, but:
When I first saw this scene in theaters, I came home and immediately asked my mom for a Scandinavian fiddle. “I don’t even know what that is,” she said, and so I hooked up my iPod to our stereo speakers, turned them up way too loud, and made her listen to this song. Because when that fiddle comes in while Eowyn is standing on the steps outside Theoden’s hall–I’m getting shivers now just listening to it.
OKAY Y’ALL WE GOTTA MOVE ON OR WE’LL BE HERE ALL DAY
How has it taken this long to arrive at Panic! at the Disco? What world are we living in that I didn’t talk about my favorite band of all time first? Fun fact: I have two music-related tattoos. I got them at the same time because they were both for songs that have meant A LOT to me over the years. When I was seven, I saw my first concert–Styx & REO Speedwagon. Come Sail Away was my favorite song in the world, and remains one of my favorites to this day. And when I tell you that every damn time I’ve had to make a difficult decision, or I’ve been in a tricky spot and not known what to do–guys, I swear, this song comes on every single time. The one that I remember the most, though, was when I’d just arrived for accepted students day at my college, and I was so nervous that I’d picked the wrong school. I sat down in the big hall we were gathered in, and someone sat down at the piano to start playing the opening bars of Come Sail Away. Divine intervention, indeed.
The other one I have is This is Gospel. They’re on either side of my right shoulder, come sail away in the front and this is gospel in the back. Someday, I plan on expanding on the Panic! side of the tattoo, including a line from my favorite song of this album, Ready to Go—I’m ready to live–as well as some other aspects that I haven’t decided on yet. I know I want to include the P with the exclamation point dot at the bottom, but I haven’t quite figured out what other images.
I’ve seen Panic! seven times? I’m really bad at remembering this. I’ve seen them for every album except Pretty. Odd. The first time I saw them was on the Sins tour, but before all the cool parts of it. I think they were opening for Plain White T’s? I know Paramore was there, too, but heck if I can actually remember it, I was so young that my brother was actually there with me. I once drove four hours from college in Maine to Boston to see them with Fall Out Boy. I was watching one of the opening acts for the PFTW tour when I bought tickets for another date on that tour. I’ve been in the pit, far away in seats, so close that I touched Brendon, and I’ve cried a lot. I generally don’t cry at concerts even though I’m a blubbering emotional mess in real life, but I cry every single Panic! concert, and while I should link you the music video for Ready to Go right now since we’re featuring Vices & Virtues, I’m going to link you my all-time favorite Panic!, and all-time favorite in general, song instead:
Have I ever not cried while watching to this song live? That is a firm negative. V&V is my favorite album, though. There’s not a single song on there that I don’t love, and I honestly just want to drag this part of the post out so that I can keep listening to it.
I don’t have a record player, but I did just buy the vinyl of this. I’ve always wanted to support Sleeping at Last with merch somehow, but I’ve never really loved his merch until this ^^^. The vinyl of the deluxe edition of Atlas: Space is beyond comprehension. And if WordPress allowed me to upload videos, I would show you the beautiful video I took of it, but alas, it’s being a punk.
Why did I buy this vinyl? Well, I want to frame it, but also, I literally listen to this album probably four to five times a week. Sometimes, I put it on without even thinking. I’ve got the Apple Homepod, so I’ve all got to do is a quick, “Hey Siri, play the Space album by Sleeping at Last” while I’m in the middle of doing something else and not paying attention, and she’s on it, no further effort needed. It just comes out of my mouth naturally now. This is truly one of the most beautiful pieces of music that I’ve ever listened to, and though I’m listening to Ryan’s latest release while I draft this, July 4, 2020: Aphelion, which is just gorgeous, I’m going to link my favorite from the Space album:
I mean, duh. I literally have the line (OH I’VE GOT THREE MUSIC TATTOOS, I forgot) how rare and beautiful it is to even exist on my arm to tie in the rest of my space tattoo.
Ah, we come to it at last. There was no doubt in my mind that this album was going to end up on this list. And since I briefly mentioned (wow, hang on, switching from Sleeping at Last to The Anthem was a trip and a half that I wasn’t ready for) music saving my life at the beginning of this post, it’s time to actually talk about that. There’s a longer version of this coming up in a few weeks, but the tl;dr of it is that I really didn’t see the point of living when I was about thirteen/fourteen. Now, looking back, I can objectively see that a lot of teenagers go through this at that age, and that the different hormonal changes and just life in general is going to lend very easily toward those types of feelings, but, at the time, one of the only things that kept me going was music. Yup, we’re switching to listening to Hold On. Wow, it’s been a minute since I’ve heard this. I don’t listen to this song all that often anymore because it brings me right back to being thirteen, with my Skull Candy headphones, listening to this song on repeat for hours and hours and hours. I was part of GCO, a Good Charlotte message board, where I was able to talk to other people who were feeling what I was, who had this connection to a band that was actively talking about these issues, who probably kept me afloat, now that I think about it. And this song, Hold On, is one of the reasons I’m here to tell you about my love for Good Charlotte that has just grown over the years.
Good Charlotte was also my first dip into queer fanfiction. I started with Harry Potter, but they were what really kicked it off for me, and like Green Day, they were part of the birth of Alex the Destroyer. And, much like American Idiot, The Young and the Hopeless is going to have a place in my heart for a very, very long time.
Can we just? Look at this cutie! This was me in 2018, right before I was about to see Good Charlotte live for the first time since I was 13. They were one of my first concerts that I was really, truly excited about. I’d seen Styx, N*SYNC, Tracy Chapman, and a few others at that point, but my music taste was really starting to blossom into what it’d center around. As you can tell from this list, I’m still sitting pretty firmly in the pop punk and hard rock phase, and I think I’m going to be here for a while. I still drift off to things like house and dance music, I like most mainstream music, and I’ll absolutely crush it at a MAX concert, but this is where my heart is always going to lie–black skinny jeans, a striped shirt, Vans, and a pleather jacket. (I mean, truly, 13-year-old Mary wanted Tripp pants, a studded belt, and dyed red hair, but she got 2/3, and I’m vibing pretty hard right now having lived the best life ever.) Anyway, I first saw Good Charlotte with Simple Plan, and, to this day, I’ll tell you that I went in a Good Charlotte fan and came out a Simple Plan fan. It’s still true! Simple Plan is one of my favorite bands, and they are exceptional live, but you’ll notice that they’re not on this list. Because while Good Charlotte is questionable live, their music is always going to stand out to me more. Even now, with Generation Rx, I feel like they’re speaking directly to my soul.
Look, are they good live? I mean, not really, but kind of, and though it’s mostly nostalgic for me, I’ll keep seeing them live until the end of my days.
My favorite song, undeniably, is not Hold On, but:
OH MY GOD DOES THE YOUNG AND THE HOPELESS MUSIC VIDEO NOT EXIST ANYMORE??? Guys, I vividly remember it, I can’t believe it’s not a real thing anymore.
Did you know that I wrote a spideypool series that was created based on F+OTM lyrics, and that I still, to this day, get reviews of people being like “wow thanks for making me fall in love with Florence Welch all over again” YOU’RE WELCOME. This album is truly Gold™.
There is not a single song that I don’t wholeheartedly love on this album. It is truly a masterpiece. I can remember exactly what scene I was thinking of when I listen to each song, and that doesn’t even get started on the fact that No Light, No Light is completely ruined for me, it will be a Peter Parker & Wade Wilson song until the end of my days, and I am so happy about that. Seriously, I’m looking at the tracklist right now, and I’m just? It’s flawless? I am just amazed at her ability to literally create perfection. I’ve only seen Florence once live, and it was such a magical experience, but I don’t have any videos saved from that night, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I do, however, have my favorite song for you:
I know, it should be No Light, No Light, or, at the very least, Shake it Out, both because they are some of my favorites by her and because they’re on Ceremonials, but, over the past year or so, I’ve put on Dog Days Are Over anytime I’m feeling even slightly not great, and all I’ve got to do is throw myself around, dance it out, sing at the top of my lungs, and everything is better. It’s such a just scream and let it be wild kind of healing.
OH HELL YEAH WE HAVE ARRIVED AT THE ONLY BAND I’VE SEEN AS MANY TIMES AS PANIC
Seriously, I don’t know how it’s happened, but Panic! and Escape are always in the running for the band I’ve seen the most times. At this point, I’ve seen them both exactly the same amount, and it’ll probably stay that way since they’re both on the same release schedule, more or less. I flip flopped back and forth about which album to select as my favorite, but, when it comes down to it, I love every single song on This War is Ours, and all the rest have songs that I’ll skip. This was the first album with Craig Mabbitt as their singer, too, and it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart.
Hell, but what concert to feature?
Yeah, actually, that was a dumb question, the last time I saw them was one of the best. I was legit on the barrier, close enough that they kept pointing at me because I was the only person that close absolutely screaming their head off, but what can I say? They’re one of my top ten favorite bands, too. OH NOW THAT’S A LIST. It would actually be a little different than this one, and I think I’m going to have to try to figure that out now, yikes. They’re just so good live? Like, godsdamn. And the energy is unlike anything I’ve witnessed at a concert, both the band and the crowd. I’m always way more exhausted after an Escape show than literally anything else in the world.
Okay, I am going to feature a song from This War is Ours because this is already such a hard decision for favorite song, might as well go with the one I scream about the most, but I’ve also got to shoutout Live for Today & Let Me Be because DAMN those are some hella badass jams.
Like, honestly, don’t even talk to me when this song comes on, I will lose control.
This was, for me, surprisingly, a no-brainer. I also realize that you 100% can’t tell what this album is based on the cover, ffs. It’s A Thousand Suns by Linkin Park!
I’ve loved Linkin Park since In the End. I remember being so shook by it when it first came out–wait, this was a genre? I’d never heard anything like it before. And then Numb released, and it quickly entered into my rotation of songs I listened to over and over and over again during my formative years as I grappled with anxiety, depression, self-loathing, and a whole hell of a lot of other terrible things. Over the years, they continued to be a band that I returned to in dark moments, when I needed someone to echo back what I was feeling. And A Thousand Suns? When it released, it was with a single track that combined the entire album because this is very much something you listen to all in one go. When I tell you that I truly did not realize I had the whole album + that single track on repeat for hours. They would just blend into one another seamlessly, and I’d keep it on for literally a full day. I could probably still do it now. This album is easily one of my favorites ever (obviously, it’s on this list) and my favorite Linkin Park album.
Though I did see Linkin Park twice, it was before Instagram was really a thing, back when Snapchat was the norm for everyone, so I don’t have anything I can scream about in that respect. Instead, we’ll just have to chat favorite song!
I mean, duh. If you really thought something else was going to happen, that’s on you, not me.
Also, how are we nearly done? (I say, after having taken two full days to write this long ass ode to loving music.)
When I was originally drafting up this list, I got through the first eight no problem. They were all albums that held a lot of memories for me, that I’ve listened to constantly over the years, and really, that top five has been the top five for a long time. I will admit that I struggled with coming up with these last two, but, ultimately, they make a lot of sense. To this day, 17
holy shit years since its release, Page Avenue by Story of the Year remains an album that I can listen to cover to cover on repeat. When they released a new album WAS IT SERIOUSLY THREE YEARS AGO??? Wait. Hold up. I am so bad at understanding the passage of time. I legitimately thought that Wolves came out, like, last year. I thought 2017 was last year, is what I’m really saying. Oi. Anyway, it came out after a seven year break when we all thought Story of the Year was done, and it was honestly one of the more exciting music moments in my life. I love Story of the Year. I can take myself right back to absolutely thrashing around my room to Take Me Back, to blasting Until the Day I Die so loud that my headphones vibrated, to oh my god I’m going to out myself so hard right now making anti-war videos in high school with Terrified in the background. This was formative music for me, guys.
Anyway, the world is a cruel place, and I didn’t find out Story of the Year had released Wolves until over a full year after its release, so they weren’t touring for it anymore, and then a lot of circumstances throughout 2019 led into a pandemic in 2020, which means I’ve never seen them live, and it continues to be one of the saddest things about my concert history ever. BUT Y’ALL ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER TIME TRAVEL, NUMB WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING.
If you didn’t go hard to this song in high school, you’re lying.
I can’t believe it’s the end of this list! I’ve had such a good time making this, and what better way to end it than with something controversial! I know that it comes from a place of privilege that I can attempt to separate art from artist and still enjoy something. I don’t agree with the rhetoric Jonny has been using lately. Police brutality is a very real thing, and saying that they’re right to abuse their power to seriously harm protestors is the language of the oppressor, and I’m really disappointed in him for showing his colors that way. I considered not including The Stories We Tell Ourselves on this list, but, at the end of the day, it’s still something I listen to pretty frequently, and I’ve still really, really enjoyed their live performances.
Nothing More was one of those bands that I had no idea they existed when I first saw them live. They were opening for–are you ready for this throwback–Papa Roach, who I’d never seen live, and I was super hyped to be there. Looking back, I really wish I’d listened to Nothing More prior to the concert because Escape the Fate was the other opening band, and my dudes, when was the last time you were head over heels in love with every single band playing at a concert? Almost never. There’s always that one opening act that you can’t wait to get off the stage, and yet, there I was, ready to vibe that while I waited for Escape to come on, and then there was Nothing More. I was screaming and jumping by the end because damn, what a show. I had so much fun that I listened to them the entire way home, and the next time I saw they were touring, I went to see them, didn’t listen to the opening act, and was mad at myself all over again because hey! I should have probably learned my lesson, and now, here I am, also a fan of Badflower because they opened for Nothing More, and I’m mad I didn’t listen to them previously so I could better enjoy their set. Anyway, Nothing More puts on a kickass show. The drum set on hydraulics alone is just out of this world.
And for favorite song:
Easy peasy, this gets me screaming in the car every time.
And that’s a wrap on this insanely long post! I honestly had so much fun putting this together, so I think I’ll probably do a top ten favorite bands at some point. Maybe a top ten favorite songs, though that’d be pretty tricky. Surprisingly, all three of these lists would have wildly different musicians on it, even if there are some similarities. (IE: Panic! is going to be on every list.)