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MIT blogger Cami M. '23

a walk down memory lane by Cami M. '23

in the form of albums

Recently, I’ve stopped listening to new music releases in favor of listening to old music for the sake of ~ nostalgia ~ and oh boy, these nostalgia trips have been hitting harder than expected.

I’ve had an incredible musical journey throughout my life and I thought I’d try and take you all through that with me.

For a brief overview into my different musical phases, I’ll try and put them into bullet points in the beginning of this post:

Birth to ??? 5th Grade?: Whatever’s on the radio/whatever my mom listened to/whatever my dad listened to. Commonly listened to includes:

  • country music, top50 songs from 2002s-2012
  • alt dad rock
  • Taylor Swift, a lot of Taylor Swift
  • Avril Lavigne
  • Justin Bieber
  • One Direction – my biggest regret in life is declining tickets to see them in concert because i was too afraid to be seen as one of ‘those’ girls when in reality who the fuck cares what music i like??
  • I also have a very strong memory of my first ever video I’ve ever watched on YouTube being the Club Penguin Stranded on Rockhopper Island series and as promo for the series, they made this fanmade MV for it which included Fall Out Boy’s Sugar We’re Going Down (this was around 2008). I would then go on to listen to and meet Fall Out Boy ~9 years later. For context, I was an avid Club Penguin player and I really enjoyed these, uh, little dramas that people would make on YouTube and there was something about Stranded on Rockhopper Island that really captured my attention as a naive 5 year old.

6th Grade to 8th Grade: Dubstep/EDM/Nightcore phase. This coincided with my growing Minecraft phase and a lot of the YouTubers would put a lot of ApproachingNirvana in their intros and outros. Simultaneously, I was slowly getting into the indie game/sandbox side of Twitch, where I watched a lot of older streamers (NorthernLion, McLaffyTaffy, CobaltStreak, Richard Hammer, etc.) and they would typically play their dad rock as well so I’d have some random songs occasionally thrown in there. Here are some memorable songs I listened to a lot during this phase:

8th Grade to Sophomore Year: In the eighth grade, my mom introduced me to KROQ and soon afterwards Panic! at the Disco. This then started a three year Panic! at the Disco phase where I made an Instagram account for it (~7k followers, who the fuck why the fuck where the fuck?) and then moved to Tumblr afterwards for my bandom/patd account (I think I only hit about ~6k here? Maybe 7k can’t remember.) As expected, here’s the bands I listened to. A lot:

We have the emos and the very typical bandom beats

  • Panic! at the Disco – Best album is Vices and Virtues, don’t even argue with me on this, I’ll literally rip you to shreds with cold hard facts and logic. You all can argue about AFYCSO all you want but V&V was co-written by Pete Wentz and the lyricism and aesthetic of the entire album is such a godsend.
  • Fall Out Boy – My ex-best friend was really into Fall Out boy so she got me into it. It was kind of funny cause I liked Panic! and she liked Fall Out Boy and we formed 2/3 of this strange holy grail of 2016 bandom. Anyway, I’m a big fan of FOB and I got to meet them and they’re great.
  • My Chemical Romance – One of my strongest memories is listening to Helena on the way to school and thinking very angry thoughts. Who hurt me in eighth grade to need to listen to Three Cheers at 6am???
  • Halsey
  • Twenty One Pilots – Another strong memory: sophomore year finals season. Felt really defeated and wanted to cry. Listened to twenty one pilots on repeat the entire time I studied. My favorite album is self titled. I think there’s a lot of good 21p music out there.
  • Pierce the Veil – I have very strong memories of being left alone in the house and I decided to make use of my aloneness by putting Hell Above on full blast.
  • Sleeping with Sirens
  • All Time Low
  • Paramore

I have two stories I always tell people when I tell them how I figured out I was bisexual that are related to some of the artists listed above!

1) I realized I was bi when I was laying on the carpeted floor of my cousin Miguel’s bedroom that I got to occupy for the summer and I was listening to my iTunes playlist. I remember around this time TRXYE by Troye Sivan was somewhat recent and the first couple of singles for Badlands by Halsey came out. And I just remember listening to Halsey and really loving her voice so I looked up videos of her performing and I just sat there in awe because I couldn’t get over how beautiful she was. And how I was…attracted to her and in the most definite not straight way possible.

2) I was waiting in line for my very first concert ever: All Time Low performing a free concert at The Grove in LA. I had woken up at 4:30 am and lined up for this and I was around fifth in line. I remember this really pretty girl in front of me. She was a photographer and her hair was dyed and she had this really cute pixie cut and she was wearing Doc Martens and I just remember my breath was absolutely taken away. And so thank you All Time Low for giving me my first very Gay TM encounter.

Not only did I have this emo phase but also a…shit i don’t know what to even call this phase? Folk punk? I looked up the bands and that was what they categorized them as.

  • The Front Bottoms
  • Sorority Noise

The list is short but this is pretty significant. I think this is around the time I started getting really sad in high school and so this kind of makes sense. Listening to TFB was really helpful during this period of time, actually. Something about the music made me feel really seen. Some people may say it sounds really underproduced or the vocals are lacking, but I really enjoyed the rawness and the bluntness of the music. It didn’t feel underproduced or lacking at all; it just felt like the right amount of genuine.

But ohoho wait, did you think that was it? Foolish one, no, no. I went through yet ANOTHER music phase alongside this and this is Cami’s rap/hip hop phase:

  • Drake
  • J. Cole
  • Jhene Aiko
  • Big Sean
  • Miguel
  • Childish Gambino
  • Khalid
  • Rihanna
  • Frank Ocean
  • Kanye West

Fun fact: I only got into rap because the guy I had a crush on liked rap music. But then I ended up really enjoying it so after we broke up, I still listened. Another fun fact: his favorite artist was Big Sean and I then ended up really liking Big Sean. After we broke up, I ran a Big Sean fan account and Big Sean actually ended up following it and we DM’d a couple of times and he was really nice! (to clear it up: it was always comments on fanart and edits I would do, nothing personal!)

Did you think we were done? Not at all. Toward the beginning of my sophomore year, two very iconic albums were released in the same month in the same week. I remember this thoroughly. In my Tumblr sphere, people were both talking about how Justin Bieber’s Purpose and One Direction’s Made in the AM were both dropping. And I wanted to listen to both of them to see which one was better.

And that’s how I tricked myself into becoming a One Direction fan. I fell absolutely in love with this album and I wanted to know more. I made a One Direction in addition to my main Panic! at the Disco blog and ended up making a pretty notable presence in the One Direction Tumblr community (~2k followers) and I was absolutely in love. It wasn’t even on the same level as my love for Panic!, it was something way more. One Direction is still my favorite group to this day. I find this really ironic because I became a fan of One Direction after they announced their hiatus. So here are some bands/groups I delved into after beginning my One Direction phase:

  • One Direction (obviously?)
  • Little Mix
  • 5 Seconds of Summer (Still love them to death. They have some of the best concerts in the world. So hype all the time.)
  • Eden
  • MAX
  • Insert all the boys’ solo careers here: Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, ZAYN

And now for some notable albums/songs that really carried me through this period / things that didn’t really fit:

  • Blurryface by Twenty One Pilots – I was here for this ENTIRE promo run and it was fucking insane. All the hints dropped, the fandom eagerly trying to decipher every code and tweet dropped, it was actually such a fun time to be a fan of 21p because they REALLY went in with marketing. I know all the lyrics to every song on this fucking album and I am not ashamed of that.
  • Soul Punk by Patrick Stump – On bandom Tumblr, it was a big meme to always say “soul punk deserved better” because it was a solo album released by lead singer of Fall Out Boy Patrick Stump that didn’t receive a lot of attention and I remember listening to it for the first time and being like “eh it’s okay” but then I returned to it maybe a year later and it is an absolute banger. Like banger full of bangers and listening to this album brings me back so fucking much.
  • Violent Things by The Brobecks – As I dove deeper into bandom Tumblr, I started doing more digging on the past of all the big bandom people, including Dallon Weekes (ex-bassist for Panic! at the Disco). This is his old band, prior to joining Panic! and of course prior to any IDKHOW work. I listened a lot to “Better Than Me” and “Love at First Sight.” In fact, “Love At First Sight” was one of the first songs I tried to teach myself on guitar after I got my very first guitar in the 8th grade. If you’ve watched me play guitar on MITAdmissions, this is that very same guitar.
  • Mediocre at Best by Sorority Noise – I just remember closing my eyes in PE class when we had nothing to do and putting in earbuds and putting this on full blast.
  • David Bowie – I listened to a lot of David Bowie after his death. I felt like I really was missing something because I had never listened to his music while he was alive, so I thought it was fitting that I paid my respects through listening.
  • City and Colour – My AP Human Geography teacher’s favorite singer is City and Colour. My APHUG teacher was my favorite teacher my freshman year, so I, of course, listened. This playlist sums up a lot of what I would listen to around this phase.
  • 2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole – I remember listening to this album for the first time and just being blown away by how every single song landed. I know J. Cole is pretty controversial right now, but I really, really love this album. It holds a lot of nostalgia for me and I still know a lot of the lyrics by heart.
  • Coffee by Miguel – This song was my alarm for school two years straight and I still feel a little bit of fear every time I hear those booming opening chords, but I really loved wildheart. It’s such a great album and Miguel is so, so underrated.

This list could go on and on. I really developed my music taste around this time and it’s when I finally started branching out and figuring out what I liked, but I’ll try and limit it to just that for now.

Junior Year to Senior Year: Surprise, surprise, I developed my music taste based on the guy I was dating. Yes, yes, shame me all you want. The guy I was dating at this time listened to a lot of Soundcloud rappers, so here are some artists I listened to a lot and some songs:

  • XXXTentacion
  • Trippie Redd
  • Ghostemane
  • Ski Mask
  • Smokepurpp

This is kind of where I started out. You can see a playlist I made based off of it here:

Once again, even though I did this for a boy, I ended up really liking the music and branching out and figuring out my own tastes…

  • 88Rising – Joji, NIKI, Rich Brian. Everyone, really. I just loved seeing and supporting so many Asian artists and seeing myself up on stage. Representation is so important.
  • BROCKHAMPTON – This one…this one was a gamechanger. I found out about them when Saturation II had just dropped and I remember hearing “QUEER” for the first time while I was waiting for my food to arrive at some restaurant with my mom. And I was floored. I was FLOORED by the beat and the hype and the energy. Their songs just go so fucking hard and it always hyped me up in a way no other songs could.
  • Jaden Smith
  • Tyler, The Creator
  • Amine

And then this brings us to my unavoidable kpop/kr&b/krap phase.

  • BTS
  • DEAN
  • Jay Park
  • ZICO
  • DPR Live
  • You can see all of it here

And then a weird soft phase I had you can see in this playlist

Memorable albums/songs from this time:

  • Blonde by Frank Ocean – This album changed my life. I listened to it for junior year finals and I remember just staring up at the ceiling and hearing “Solo” come on and closing my eyes as I transported to another fucking world. High school was such a rough time for me and this album genuinely helped me get through so fucking much. I genuinely do not think I would be alive had it not been for this album.
  • Ctrl by SZA – This album was so empowering in ways I cannot even word. I would listen to this every morning on the way to school and it would really prepare me for the day, taking deep breaths to “Broken Clocks” right before I walked into APCSA as my first period. Brings back a lot of memories.
  • IGOR by Tyler, The Creator – Now this. This was the fucking album. This is the blueprint. This album is genuinely one of my favorite albums of all time. I listened to this a lot towards the end of my senior year and while I was vacationing in Barcelona/London as my graduation trip. This album just hits so hard and it is just so well produced and I am always in awe every time I listen to it.

Freshman year of college to Now: I don’t know. I think I listen to a mix of all of this, minus the EDM. I don’t really know what to say here, but I’ll add some of my favorite recent listens from this period:

  • Hot Pink by Doja Cat – I will NEVER. And I mean NEVER forgive COVID for taking away Doja Cat. For context, every year MIT throws SpringFest, where we get big artists to perform a concert for us. Last year was supposed to be Doja Cat, but COVID made it never happen. Doja Cat was honestly my favorite artist of 2019 and I love, love, LOVE this album. It makes me feel like I have ownership over my body and my sexuality and makes me feel like the bad bitch I deserve to be.
  • I don’t really know what to classify this as but here’s one of my favorite playlists as of now:

If anyone would like to classify whatever the fuck that is, be my guest.

  • Fine Line by Harry Styles – This album is a masterpiece. No song can give me butterflies like Sunflower does. This is such a lovely album and I can’t wait to hear it live one day.

As a treat, I’ll close off this album with every single concert I’ve ever been to:

concerts i’ve attended
07.29.15 – All Time Low @ The Grove
08.08.15 – Fall Out Boy @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre
01.19.16 – Panic! at the Disco @ The Tower Theatre
03.26.16 – Fall Out Boy @ Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre
04.03.16 – iHeartRadio Music Awards @ The Forum
05.14.16 – KIIS FM Wango Tango @ StubHub Center
06.11.16 – Capital Summertime Ball @ Wembley Stadium
06.23.16 – The Amazing Tour Is Not On Fire @ Dolby Theatre
07.24.16 – twenty one pilots @ Viejas Arena
08.03.16 – Panic! at the Disco @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre
09.07.16 – 5 Seconds of Summer @ The Forum
12.02.16 – Jingle Ball @ Staples Center
08.10.17 – Ed Sheeran @ Staples Center
09.19.17 – Niall Horan @ Hollywood Palladium
09.20.17 – Harry Styles @ Greek Theatre
09.23.17 – iHeart Radio Daytime Village @ Las Vegas Village
02.10.18 – 88Rising @ The Shrine Expo Hall
07.13.18 – Harry Styles @ The Forum
08.08.18 – Niall Horan @ Greek Theatre

:) Thank you for the walk down memory lane. Please leave music recs in the comments. Here’s my Spotify if you wanna follow and watch me go through more music crises.