I Present To You: The Soundtrack To My Life

A journey through the music which has shaped and guided me.

The Strokes
The Strokes revolutionised my life back in the early ’00s. Their 2001 debut Is This It? was  dubbed as one of the best 500 albums of  all time according to Rolling Stone – and rightfully so. The five members with exotic last names and super-skinny jeans made my teenage years torture (in a good way) as I pined for my own Mr Valensi/Moretti/Casablancas/Hammond/Fraiture. Their sound has developed over the years, with Is This It? portraying raw highs and lows of growing up, buying 40s and trying your luck with someone when you know you shouldn’t. The latest Angles, demonstrates layered depth and a developed sound through a group effort.

Four albums later, the New York City boys, led by the mesmerising Julian Casablancas, still ooze nihilistic cool.

With numerous solo pieces, marriages and children later, The Strokes remain one of my dearest bands and I look forward to hearing their fifth album and seeing them rocking out in their rad vintage t-shirts and Converse chucks. Very pleased to have seen them in 2007 and 2009, as well as Julian’s solo tour.

Memorable Lyric: “I should’ve worked much harder, I should’ve just not bothered, I never show up on weekdays, something that you learned yesterday.” (‘Barely Legal’)

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Another band, another magnetic lead singer in Anthony Kiedis. He may be turning 50 any day now, but he sure is looking fine and he has been rocking out since 1983 with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (usually without a top on). While The Strokes are über cool, RHCP are accessible to everyone, from baby boomers to Gen Z kids. Their sound is a mixture of funk and rock, made distinctive by Flea’s bass skills, John Frusciante’s unique guitar sounds and Chad Smith’s drumming. Although John Frusciante may be gone, RHCP have carried on with the success of I’m With You.

It is impossible to resist signing along or dancing along to the RHCP and singing alone to Kiedis’ deep (yet at times nonsensical) lyrics. Californication may be over ten years old, but it was an iconic album which bought about the rebirth of the peppers with autobiographical lyrics of recovery, loss and love, courtesy of Anthony Kiedis. After reading his autobiography, Scar Tissue, it is even easier to relate to Anthony Kiedis’ lyrics and wish to tame him.

They are a pleasure to listen to during road trips with my boyfriend or when looking for inspiration, ecstatic to see them next year.

Memorable Lyrics: “Destruction leads to a very rough road but it also breeds creation.” (‘Californication’)

Leonard Cohen
I only discovered the enigmatic Mr Cohen two years ago and he has changed my life. The Chili Peppers may be in their 50s, but Mr Cohen is his late 70s and he is as mystical as ever. He is a man, who penned ‘The Chelsea Hotel’ for his friend Janis Joplin, toured with Bob Dylan in the ’70s and he is what comes to mind when I think of Canada. His career as a poet, writer and singer spans over fifty years with Mr Cohen’s quest for love at the centre of his work.

Often people forget that it was Leonard Cohen and not, in fact, Jeff Buckley who wrote the haunting Hallelujah.

Few artists have the ability to remain as timeless as Mr Cohen. His music does not have a distinctive ’70s or ’80s vibe- he’s in a class of his own and his music is as relevant as ever.  With that raspy voice and enigmatic  presence, I wish I could have lived in the ’70s and made him fall in love with me.

Memorable Lyric: “My mirrored twin, my next of kin, I’d know you in my sleep and who but you would take me in, a thousand kisses deep.” (‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’)

Lana Del Rey
I decided to download Del Rey’s album despite a whole lot of scepticism. Frankly, I thought of her as merely a young Priscilla Presley wannabe who was trying to bridge vintage chic with hipster. The plastic surgery allegations and rebranding from plain Elizabeth Woolridge Grant to smouldering Lana Del Rey just fed my scepticism. Yet, after listening to Born to Die a few times, her talent is exquisite and captivating as is her image. Somehow embodying classic Americana and old Hollywood, she leaves listeners begging for more and wishing to recreate her signature pout. While she may be a craftily imagined pop sensation, nothing about her music is fake. Her voice is breathy and sensual and her extravagant music videos are as inventive as Del Rey. She has been dubbed as a  ‘black dahlia’ and something between an angel and a demon – and judging by her haunting lyrics, it’s easy to see why. An  exquisite gem, superb!

Memorable Lyrics: “He doesn’t mind I have a flat broke down life, in fact he says he thinks it’s why he might like about me, admires me, the way I roll like a rolling stone.” (‘Off to the Races’)