As we continue our journey through my musical history, you can probably tell that my love for all things music began to focus itself a bit through my teen years. But first, as promised, a brief pit stop into Boybandlandia:
1999.98 Degrees And Rising by 98 Degrees.
That's right, people. My boy band of choice was the underrated 98 Degrees, complete with Nick Lachey & Co. I even had a poster from Tiger Beat of these four boys hanging in my locker in sixth grade. Let me explain myself a bit: While other girls were lusting after N*Sync and Backstreet Boys, I made the conscious decision to give my affections to the lesser known boy band. Why? Because they were so much less mainstream. 98 Degrees proves my hipster qualities date back to even the boy band fanaticism of the late nineties.
2000. Underdog by Audio Adrenaline.
The new millenium marked a shift in my musical tastes. As I started off in a new youth group, I very badly wanted to impress them with how much Christian music I had in my collection. However, not being raised in a household that only let me listen to CCM, my knowledge was limited to mainly the aforementioned Steven Curtis Chapman escapade and those Songs 4 Life albums they sold on late night TV (I had four volumes of them). However, Amy Grant and Sandi Patty compilation albums don't really impress youth groupies, so I had to find new music to compensate. A good friend of mine introduced me to Audio Adrenaline in 2000 and I never turned back. I loved each successive album they produced, saw them live at my very first concert ever, and cried in college when they broke up.
2001. The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek by Relient K.
I'm just going to say it: This album changed my life. Looking back, Relient K seems to be a pretty tame CCM band. At the time, though, there was something about this album that felt so subversive. This early-millenium, lo-fi, pop-punk sound was picking up steam in CCM and other circles, but was still esoteric enough to not be featured on the radio. This slight musical marginalization made those of us who listened to them feel original; I will forever love them for that. And, they used a lot of puns. And talked about high-school dances. What's not to love?
2002. International Superhits! by Green Day.
Before Green Day fell asleep on the boulevard of broken dreams until someone kindly woke them up after September ended, I really dug what they were doing. This album reminds me of riding home from school with my sister sophomore year and feeling like the simple fun of our teenage years was the end-all, be-all of life. Green Day, for me, gives voice to the simplicity (and maybe even overwhelming frustration) of high school.
2003. Who We Are Instead by Jars of Clay.
I'm going to keep it real with you. To this day, I STILL swear by Jars of Clay. I think they are one of the most creative, independent forces in CCM--much for the betterment of the industry itself. This album marked another shift in my musical adolescence. With a broad stroke I went through a "rebellious" anti-country music phase after my childhood, and unfortunately this included folk music, alt-country, Americana, and blue grass. This album reintroduced me to the beauty of steel guitars, gospel choirs, and music made to feel like home.
2004. Photographs by Andrew Osenga.
This was one of those albums that, for me, felt like looking into a mirror. Osenga's incredible lyrics ripple with the depth of experience, and hit the heart of this sixteen year old girl. For me, this album was about the boy who introduced it to me. Then, it was about the boy who I introduced it to. It was about me moving away from home. It was about my family, my childhood, my mother, my father, my hometown. Still to this day, the melancholy refrains and stories you will find in this album linger in my mind and color many of my memories.
2005. In Motion by Copeland
2005 was a big year for me. I graduated from high school, started college, had my heart broken, and fell in love again. For a seventeen-eighteen year old girl, that was a lot of junk to deal with. Copeland's In Motion was the album I would go to when I needed to deal. The music felt big enough to cover me while the lyrics were deep enough to encourage me. I felt braver after singing along. I still remember listening to this album on repeat as I drove from Silsbee to College Station and officially moved away from home.
Next time, we'll get into more modern Caroline as I start college and fall in love with music again and again.