The year is 2012. 

I am fifteen years old.

Fifteen was a formative year for me. I experienced my first heartbreak (we almost held hands once, so I really did think it was going somewhere). I started playing guitar, because my best friends were trying to start a band and I wanted to be involved in something that was a little more gratifying than trying to get my Empereon to level 100 in Pokemon Diamond. Fifteen was also the year I first got into the genre that shaped my late adolescence.

Pop punk. I shudder as my fingers from the component letters to form that phrase. A lot of it still holds a special place in my heart, but the toxicity a lot of the music in the scene breeds (towards consent, towards overcoming trauma, towards any woman who’s broken up with a guy) feels more dated by the second.

To that extent, it’s influence on me in undeniable. Fifteen was the first year I bought an album with my own money. Admittedly it was Florence + The Machine, but Infinity on High came a close second. Me and my friends formed an ’emo appreciation club’ (oh god)- we’d scribble band recommendations for each other as homework in our school journals. Music is, at risk of sounding undeniably twee and cliche, my lifeblood. Fifteen was the first year that blood started pumping. This article is about that.

Below are 10 songs that were on my 2nd generation iPod Touch. 

YOU ME AT SIX – SAVE IT FOR THE BEDROOM

You know what aged about as well as milk in a landfill? The amount of time Josh Franceschi yells ‘whore’. These guys were the first band I ever saw live. I was sitting in the stalls and saw a moshpit break out in the crowd below me. I was terrified.

THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS – DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

Damn. Some of the secrets in this video were whack. Are they real? Does someone really only love two of their children?? 

FALL OUT BOY – THE TAKE’S OVER, THE BREAKS OVER

This song had a profound effect on me. Fall Out Boy are still my favourite band, and this song introduced me to someone who would soon become one of my best friends/ride or die. I turned around to him in a History lesson and asked if he’d rather be a widow or a divorcee. He knew the song through Guitar Hero 3. Mad.

HELLOGOODBYE – SHIMMY SHIMMY QUARTER TURN

HOW CAN I CHECK LOST AND FOUND WHEN I’M TOO BUSY GETTING DOWN!! 

PANIC! AT THE DISCO – NEW PERSPECTIVE

For some reason, this was the first P!ATD song I heard. I still think musically this is fantastic. The riff, the rhythm, the melody… it all comes together so perfectly! Late noughties indie-pop at its finest.

NIRVANA – IN BLOOM

Y’know when you see a lot of people wearing that same Nirvana t-shirt? And you’re like, ‘huh, these guys were cool! My cool older brother likes these guys! Maybe I should like these guys! Yeah, I’ll like these guys.’ That.

WOE IS ME – TIK TOK

The only reason I listened to metal-core was to scare people in case they overhead my earphones. To be honest, I only ever scared myself. Why didn’t this ever get on one of those Fearless Records Punk Goes Pop comps?

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE – SAVE YOURSELF, I’LL HOLD THEM BACK

My Chem were the first ’emo’ band I got into. Another very close friend recommended them to me. I’d never heard anything like this before. I was in heaven. This isn’t an emo album, but whatever. When Gerard Way shouts ‘You motherfucker!’?

Yeah. I felt that.

THE USED – ALL THAT I’VE GOT

In my attempt to be ever the contrarian, I’d often find a way to force into conversation that I preferred The Used to My Chemical Romance. ‘Hey, did you know Pretty Handsome Awkward was about Gerard?’ 

This video made a lot more sense after I watched A Clockwork Orange. 

ALL TIME LOW – NOTHING PERSONAL

Alex Gaskarth, still, to this day, has the hair of my dreams.

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