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Nostalgic Impulse: The music of my youth

We all go through phases, some more embarrassing than others. There are periods of our lives we wish we could forget, but friends and families love to bring up when new people are around, especially at formal events. The embarrassing photos get trotted out and your face turns a bright beetroot colour, with your head in your hands. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. However, I would like to propose something – it is time for us to stop being ashamed of what we used to like, and instead, embrace it.

Shall I go first? It takes one to lead the way, so I’ll leap onto this sword. Here’s my list of ten embarrassing songs I used to love… and still do.

1)   ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’ by the Backstreet Boys

This song is one of the best pop songs ever. Yep, that’s right, you read that right. I actually think the Backstreet Boys have come back in fashion – has anyone seen This is the End? If I were in Heaven and could have anything happen at any time, I bet having the Boys perform this number would definitely make the list.

2)   ‘I Want You’ by Savage Garden

It was great fun to have an Aussie band do well while I was living in the US. This song is a major tongue twister and I took great pride in learning all the words and being able to keep up with them while singing along. Come on, that’s a real skill!

3)   ‘I Need to Know’ by Marc Anthony

I drove my mother (and my poor aunt) completely insane with this song. It was right about the time that I got my first CD player with a repeat function on it. And boy did I repeat the shit out of this song. Even I was sick of it by the end. I still do love the way my hips can’t help but move when this song comes on. Years later, I took salsa dancing classes at my university. Finally I had an excuse to listen to this song again!

4)   ‘Never Ever’ by All Saints

On the subject of songs that drove my mother up the wall, this one was a doozy. I insisted on listening to the CD in the car for months – and this song had to be played on the way to ice skating training. The poor woman couldn’t escape it. It was the pretentiously annoying talking section at the beginning of the song that really did her nut in, and can you really blame her? I can easily see this song’s irritating factor, but I still have a massive soft spot for it.

5)   ‘You Oughta Know’ by Alanis Morrissette

I wish there was a cool reason that I loved this song, but let’s face it, I’ve never been cool. This was the first song I ever had that swore. I loved to sing along to it, relishing ever time I could say ‘Fuck.’ I would always claim that ‘swearing is ok in context’. This began a brief time in my life where I would seek out offensive language in books and films so that I could quote them back to people – but I wasn’t actually doing the swearing, you see, I was simply quoting others.

6)   ‘No Sex’ by Limp Bizkit

Yes, I went through a phase where my favourite bands were Limp Bizkit, Korn, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. I liked my music heavy and my clothes black. I wore a necklace that my parents affectionately nicknamed my ‘dog’s collar’ and black Doc Martens that were three sizes too big for me (and that I actually still own – although they are still too big for me). This song came out when I was in the ‘giggling at anything sexual’ phase. So a song that talked about pants being around a man’s ankles made me giggle. The tune is hopelessly catchy too… but it was mostly the sexual content of the lyrics that I loved (and still do).

7)   ‘Genie in a Bottle’ by Christina Aguilera

I don’t care if you don’t like Christina (and yeah, calling herself Xtina was pretty lame), this song is unbelievably catchy. It is just damn good pop music. Plus, that girl’s got a good set of lungs on her! Now I listen to this song and laugh – how did I not here all the sexual innuendo?! Ah, young, naïve me, how I miss you!

8)   ‘Waterfalls’ by TLC

This was one of the best cases of mistaken lyrics in my childhood. Don’t ask me how or why, but for many years I thought this song was about a man called ‘Jason Waterfalls’; a lover that they didn’t want to say goodbye to. I can see how I heard ‘Jason Waterfalls’ instead of ‘chasing waterfalls’, but I’m not sure how I thought it made more sense for it to be the name of a person…

9)   ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls

I was a big Spice Girls fan. For a short time, I even subscribed to their monthly magazine. I collected lollypops that had Spice Girls stickers inside the packet and I prided myself on being able to pick out each of the girls’ individual voices on all the tracks. I had (and still have) mad listening skills. I still can’t believe that I managed to rope my father into taking me and a friend to see the Spice Girls movie. That’s some fatherly love right there.

10)   ‘The Boy is Mine’ by Brandy and Monica

This song came out while I lived in Texas and was already a fan of Moesha and the Brandy and Diana Ross version of Cinderella (it weirdly also starred Jason Alexander). ‘The Girl is Mine’ by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney had already been a big hit, so why couldn’t two girls fight over the one guy? This track was fun to sing along to with my girlfriends, as we would pretend to get our attitude on with lots of side-to-side head movements and finger wagging.

About Megan Leigh

Writer and editor of Pop Verse. Co-host of Breaking the Glass Slipper. My special interests include publishing, creative writing, and geekery.


  1. It’s ok, in fact mandatory, to have an embarrassing musical past…however it is NOT acceptable to put Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Smashing Pumpkins in the same group!!
    I can only put it down to the ignorance of youth!!

  2. This is brilliant Mogs and aaaah who didn’t like Limp Bizkit?

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