5 Songs I Loved When I Was 16.

I’m linking up again with Mama Kat’s World Famous Writer’s Workshop. Albeit, I’m linking up a little late – but hopefully you won’t mind. This week Mama Kat asked:

4. What was your favorite song when you were 16 years old…is it still a favorite?

According to my calculator, I was 16 in 1998. Remember the 90’s? A musical cornucopia of delights. Or if you were my husband, it was the dark ages of music that resulted in him abandoning popular music entirely until he married me and I forced him to listen to Top 40 music against his will.

Anyway, a quick google search actually resulted in me finding several old favorites that came out in 1998 – I couldn’t pick just one! So instead I’m sharing with you 5 of my favorites from that year. A real glimpse into 16 year old Jen’s life! So exciting!

The Boy Is Mine by Brandy and Monica | Teen girls everywhere were obsessed with this mega hit by Brandy and Monica. I don’t think I’ve ever been in this situation, but at the time I could imagine myself fighting for my man like this. The music video was epic (at the time). A TRL favorite for sure.

…Baby One More Time by Britney Spears | Oh my gosh, you guys, this was like The Beginning of Britney Spears. Like one day I didn’t know who she was and then over night she was The Most Amazing Thing Ever. I know that after the whole head shaving crazy shenanigans that she kind of stopped being a thing, but back in 1998 she was like the Beyoncé of our time. Britney Spears owned music for a minute and it all started here.

Closing Time by Semisonic | I still love this song! It gets played at the end of most of the Trivia nights I go to – it’s iconic in my mind. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here! 

When The Lights Go Out by 5ive | Do you guys remember 5ive? They were my favorite British Boy Band. In the time of Nsync vs Backstreet Boys, 5ive was one of those boy bands that you could mention off hand to be like, “I’m not your boring average Boy Band connoisseur. I listen to totally exotic boy bands, too, like this British one. I’m like super deep.”

One Week by Barenaked Ladies | This may be the one song from 1998 that my husband will begrudgingly acknowledge was excellent. BNL love reigns supreme in our home to this day. This is one of those songs that I always want to sing along to but only know like 40% of the lyrics. Of course I still try to sing along anyway and pretend I’m not failing epically.

What songs did you listen to when you were 16?

What John Mayer Album Do You Need Right Now?

John Mayer just released a new album so you know it is living in my car and my kids are gradually learning every word to every song. Basically nothing has changed because over the years John Mayer has always been the background music to my life. In between fads and new favorite artists, he was always there to help me through whatever relationship stage I found myself in.

Fast forward to today and I’ve been happily married for ten years. John hasn’t caught up to me yet so now it’s more like we’re reminiscing together about the relationship stages of years past. I was thinking the other day about the sort of singular feeling that you can find in each of his albums. They all tell a pretty clear story in my opinion and they each serve their own purpose. Depending on what kind of relationship or break up you are in right now, John has an album for you.

For instance…

If you are in those warm and fuzzy days of new love you need:

Room for Squares

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An oldie but a goodie. Your relationship will resonate well with some of the top hits like Your Body Is a Wonderland, City Love, Great Indoors or Why Georgia.

Also consider: Some of his live albums like As/Is or Any Given Thursday. If you aren’t listening to the live albums, you have barely cracked the surface of John. Come for the audience interaction and stay for the guitar solos.

If you are thinking it might be time to break up, you need:

Battle Studies

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This album is like an ode to love gone wrong with angsty tracks like Heartbreak Warfare, All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye and Friends, Lovers or Nothing. Let it fuel your resolution to move on or perhaps make you go, “Oh never mind. We’re nothing like that. I must just need a Snickers bar.”

When you are licking the wounds from an ugly breakup, you need:

Where The Light Is

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This is my favorite of his live albums and in my opinion you need it regardless of breakup stage but if you are in this way there is no album better to rage against the audacity of a horrible ex. Who Did You Think I Was, Out of My Mind, Vultures, Everyday I Have The Blues, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. This is two discs of perfection that will soothe your heart and distract you from the desire to go key your exes car. Cheaper than therapy.

When you need to literally reinvent your whole life, it was that bad, you need:

Born & Raised

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Get a hair cut, start listening to a new genre of music, maybe change towns all together. John has got you. This album has more of a country western vibe but it’s still the John Mayer you know and love. Shadow Days, Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, Queen of California, Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey. Whether you are tucking in your tail because you know your behaviors were prettttty bad or maybe you are in witness protection program and you are hiding in Florida with a new name and a longing for home (remember that episode of Brooklyn 99?) Whatever is causing this need to reinvent yourself, this album should do the trick.

When you are just working on yourself and trying not to think about relationships at all, you need:

Heavier Things

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You have more important things to do than think about some ex. You are jamming out to Clarity, New Deep, Bigger Than My Body, Something’s Missing. You are busy and I totally respect that. For added measure, grab a copy of Waiting on the World to Change and get on with your bad self.

When you are second guessing that breakup and missing someone in a bad way, you need:

The Search for Everything

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This is John’s newest album and it’s retrospective and quiet in places but a little dancey and a little different. It’s got this vibe that makes you kind of pump your shoulders up and down involuntarily and feel sad in an almost good way. There’s no anger here, no venom. A little regret maybe but also kind of a serene calm that feels like acceptance and hope. It feels like full circle. Still Feel Like Your Man, Moving on and Getting Over, Changing, and Emoji of a Wave are all great places to start.

So what album do you need when you are happily married and kind of on the other side of all this business?

That’s easy, you need all of them. You won the war, you deserve half a dozen quality albums to reminisce with and memorize to the chagrin of your spouse and children.

5 Favorite Musicians… Then and Now.

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This week for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop I’ve decided to answer the following prompt:

Write a list of your 5 favorite singers growing up…do they still make your top 5 list?

I grew up in the Oregon Trail generation – I probably first started noticing music in the late eighties and started forming real opinions on the subject in the early nineties. The first CD I remember playing on repeat was Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl. I probably started listening to her because my father liked her music, but I quickly became hooked and would play the songs over and over until I’d memorized every line of every song.

Some other musicians that I adored growing up, in addition to Paula Abdul, include:

  • The Backstreet Boys: We all chose a side in the war of the Boy Bands in the nineties. I was firmly on team Backstreet and remain an ardent fan. It is a bitter pill to swallow to admit that the lead singer of NSYNC clearly made out with the best music career.
  • Matchbox 20: I loved this group more for the music than the love sick obsession. I can’t name a single member of the band but I still know basically every word to every song on Yourself or Someone Like You. I don’t know that I’d call them a favorite band today but that album is still heavily present on my Best Of playlist on my phone, unlike most of the other musicians in this list.
  • New Kids on The Block honestly came out a little early for me. I was on the young end of their fan spectrum, but I loved them. When they appeared on Fuller House this season I was shocked at how much they have aged and had a hard time mustering enthusiasm at their cameos on the episode UNTIL they started singing one of their songs in the concert at the end of the episode and I audibly squealed and had the world’s tiniest conniption fit.
  • John Mayer: The love affair began in college which is a little bit on the end of the growing up spectrum, but I still maintain that it counts because of the level of enthusiasm that my fandom took. This was my last Backstreet Boys Level Obsession and anyone who knows me well knows that it hasn’t actually ended. I still buy all of his music, no questions asked. His concert that I attended back in 2005 or so continues to be one of my favorite concerts that I’ve ever attended. I put up with a lot of Rock Star Personality and let all the antics slide because he is still probably my favorite musician.

Honorable mentions must go to LL Cool J, The Goo Goo Dolls, Barenaked Ladies, Ani Difranco, Usher, Britney Spears, Boys II Men, No Doubt, Sublime, J Lo, Maroon 5, Snoop Dogg and Sugar Ray.

My current list of Top 5 Musicians would be…

  1. John Mayer – see, even now as a grown ass woman he continues to hold that #1 spot.
  2. Rebecca Loebe – she was on The Voice very briefly but I’ve known her since college when she came to sing at my school’s coffee house.
  3. Taylor Swift – we’re big Swifties here – my daughter and I are especially obsessed with 1989.
  4. Adele because that voice. She’s basically my Paula Abdul of the 2000s.
  5. The Beatles because they are timeless and it feels wrong for them not to be on this list, honestly. There is never a bad moment to listen to a Beatles song.

Of course I could go on, my music taste continues to be eclectic and vast. But I think this is a pretty solid representation of my music habits.

10 Christmas Songs To Add To Your Playlist This Year.

I’m a little bit of a Christmas music snob. I don’t typically go in for the holiday music played on the radio or streaming through department stores but I actually love Christmas songs when they are done well, and especially when they feel fresh and maybe a little current. That’s a fine line though – sometimes a musician is just trying way too hard to reinvent the wheel and it doesn’t work at all.

Looking for some more Christmas tunes to add to your playlist? I’ll save you some legwork and share ten of my favorites that you’ll want on a regular rotation this season.

  1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by She & Him *
  2. Baby It’s Cold Outside by She and Him *
  3. Elf’s Lament by BNL *
  4. It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas by Michael Buble *
  5. Ave Maria by Michael Buble *
  6. Wizards In Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra **
  7. Little Drummer Boy by Mary J. Blige (Ray Charles does a great one, too, but it isn’t available on MP3)
  8. Mary Did You Know by Clay Aiken
  9. Deck The Halls by Pomplamoose *
  10. We Three Kings by Harry Connick Jr.

*Do yourself a favor and buy the whole album.

**My husband would probably say you should buy the whole album but in my opinion, all you need is one or two of their songs and you pretty much have the situation covered.

10 Songs Found While Shuffling.

I’m kind of combining two tags / writing prompts right now. This week’s Writer’s Workshop, which is hosted by the brilliant Mama Kat, includes the prompt:

6. List your top 10 most listened to songs currently.

I thought this sounded fun but the idea of trying to pick ten favorites was weirdly stressful to me because how do you pick just ten favorite children? I’m pretty sure that’s child abuse. Or not. Anyway, I also recently saw this music tag at Book Coma that asks you to “List the first 10 songs that come on shuffle and then write your favorite lyric (or verse) from each song.” And I was like, awesome, that’s less decisions to make and also potentially embarrassing. So let’s dig into my playlist dubbed “only the best” which is typically what I’m listening to and see what comes up okay?

ONE Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey by John Mayer because this list wouldn’t be legit without John and you guys should know that I’m kind of obsessed with this song. Here’s a taste:

(ps: the beginning of this video is hysterical classic John)

Walking home with no one left
Speak softly underneath my breath
Hey world, you ain’t seen nothing yet
Great, now it’s raining

Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey
Water, water, water
Sleep
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey
Wake up, shake it off
And repeat

TWO Jenny from The Block by Jennifer Lopez which is probably good because after pouring our heart and soul out on the last song, an up beat dance number is likely in order. Also, this is my jam because I am also still just Jenny from the block. Represent.

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got
I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go, I know where I came from (from the Bronx!)

THREE Ain’t It Fun by Paramore which is super fun when you remember that you have to grown up or when you just spent time with someone who apparently didn’t get the memo that they also have to grown up. Like for realz.

Ain’t it fun
Living in the real world
Ain’t it good
Being all alone

Where you’re from
You might be the one who’s running things
Well you can ring anybody’s bell and get what you want
See it’s easy to ignore trouble
When you’re living in a bubble

So what are you gonna do
When the world don’t orbit around you
So what are you gonna do
When nobody wants to fool with you

FOUR The Heart of Life by John Mayer because my play list is like 40% John Mayer. Sorrynotsorry.

You know, it’s nothing new
Bad news never had good timing
Then, circle of your friends
Will defend the silver lining

Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No it won’t all go the way it should
But I know the heart of life is good

FIVE Through With You by Maroon 5 because a million years ago I loved Maroon 5. It was back when Adam Levine either hadn’t yet grown the world’s largest ego or he’d managed to hide it for a minute.

And I don’t trust you
Cause every time you’re here
Your intentions are unclear
I spend every hour waiting for a phone call
That I know will never come
I used to think you were the one
Now I’m sick of thinking anything at all

You ain’t ever coming back to me
That’s not how things were supposed to be
You take my hand just to give it back
No other lover has ever done that

SIX Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis because these boys complete me and I’m pretty sure every song on this album made it onto my Only The Best playlist. I’m not picky. This one is important though.

It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it

SEVEN Just Dance by Lady Gaga because again levity. I love Lady Gaga, she’s kind of brilliant and an amazing vocalist. This isn’t necessarily a favorite but it’s up there. It makes my husband and I laugh when we actually listen to the lyrics cause they are kind of hysterical.

Wish I could shut my playboy mouth, oh oh oh-oh
How’d I turn my shirt inside out? Inside outright
Control your poison babe, roses have thorns they say
And we’re all getting hosed tonight, oh oh oh-oh

What’s going on on the floor?
I love this record baby but I can’t see straight anymore
Keep it cool, what’s the name of this club?
I can’t remember but it’s alright, a-alright

EIGHT I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles so now I can shrug and say, yeah, I listen to the Beatles. I don’t even consider them retro because I’m not a fetus. Shut up children. This one is not the most lyrically interesting but it always makes me smile.

Oh please, say to me
You’ll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You’ll let me hold your hand
I’ll let me hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

NINE Don’t Get It Twisted by Gwen Stefani which is possibly the most fantastic way to announce that you are preggers.

Lip locked making out again, no big deal
You always say that, but I’m not a mathematician
28 days in a normal cycle
If not I am mistaken, I think you might have made a goal

Uh oh uh oh uh oh

TEN Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots which is a recent obsession. I love singing it while driving to work or some other grown up priority that doesn’t sound nearly as good as pretending to ride a rocket ship with friends.

We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “wake up, you need to make money.”

What I’m Into: February 2016

Happy Leap Day guys! I’m celebrating this rare day by ignoring responsibilities. Unless you count washing dishes and doing laundry and planning meals for the week and … okay, fine, it’s just Monday. But it’s also time to share What I’m Into Lately! I’m linking up with  Leigh Kramer to share what I’m into this month. Let me know if you are linking up, too!

What I’m Watching

I’ve kind of fallen down the rabbit hole that is binge watching Gilmore Girls like who really wants to watch anything else anyway? I am still only into season one but I’m all in and totally in nostalgia heaven and only sometimes whispering “kiss her! kiss her!” whenever Luke and Lorelai are in the same room. Do you guys realize we had to wait FIVE SEASONS in real time for this to happen? FIVE? What kind of monster is Amy Sherman-Palladino? In all seriousness though, that’s how it is supposed to be done. Shows that try to rush the magic end up paying for it later. *coughs* New Girl *coughs*.

I also checked out the first couple episodes of Fuller House and nostalgia wise I enjoyed the first episodes but we’ll see if the show stands up on its own. It’s super cheesy, but then I guess the original was also. The kids seem into it, so we’ll keep watching a little while longer.

We just finished watching season four of Game of Thrones this weekend and I’ve noticed that I’m a little too pleased now when some people die. When this show started I would wince and shriek and sob over any death and now I have a wish list like Arya Stark and I’m not sure what that says about me or the show.

Also still watching American Idol. Still loving Mackenzie, Dalton, Sonika and LaPorsha. Might have sobbed like a baby watching Kelly Clarkson sing Piece by Piece on Thursday. I was not alone. Keith Urban nearly lost it, too.

We also watched several movies this month – some were repeats for me and most were for the first time: Grease (the original and the new live one), Zoolander, Goosebumps, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Lampoon’s new Vacation movie, Neighbors, Pan, After the Ball and The Full Monty. Favorites of the bunch would probably be Zoolander, Pirates, Pan and The Full Monty (which features Rumpelstiltskin and Robert Baratheon back in the day btw).

What I’m Reading

I finished three books this month – two took the majority of the month to finish and one took the majority of an afternoon.

  1. 41VgvI2digL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_LOVED Winter by Marissa Meyer – Finished Feb. 23rd – This book was such an undertaking – each book in the series seems to get bigger as it goes and more characters are introduced. This book felt like the fireworks finale that it should be with #allthefeels all over the place. Every moment you were waiting for finally happens and Meyer only tries to break your heart eleventy billion times so it’s all good. I’ve already got Stars Above waiting for me to crack into.
  2. 9530LIKED Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson – Finished Feb. 24th – I wasn’t sure I would finish this one in time for the book club discussion, if at all, but I’m glad I stuck it out. Although many of the chapters felt excessively long at times and filled to the brim with information that might be fascinating for some people (not me), there were a lot of golden nuggets inside. The story this book tells is incredible especially because it’s a true story – and the people within the book have a lot to say. Lots of life lessons to be learned and everything you ever wanted to know about deep sea diving, shipwrecks and U Boats.
  3. 16000983REALLY LIKED Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick – Finished Feb. 27th – I’m a fan of Amber’s blog and this book was like a sweetened condensed version of that. My only complaints would be that some of the stories felt abruptly cut short and the book itself seemed to end so soon! I want more!

Now I seem to be reading ALL the books. I’m still working my way through The Martian by Andy Weir which I am enjoying but having a hard time settling into probably because I made the mistake(?) of watching the movie first. On the plus side, now when I read the book you know I am picturing Matt Damon doing all the things and saying all the funnies and that’s never a bad thing.

I’m also finally reading Let it Snow which is a group effort by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. It’s kind of like that high school English assignment where you write a chapter and then one of your classmates writes the next chapter and so on. So far I’ve read Green and Johnson’s stories and loved both. Maureen Johnson’s might have been my favorite of the two so now I’m adding all her books to my wish list and was psyched to realize that one of them is already sitting on my kindle so this morning I may have read the first two chapters of 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

My book club will be discussing Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti next month so I’ll likely need to start reading that soon as well. It’s a biography of Mary Mallon, also known as Typhoid Mary that explores who Mary actually was and how her name became synonymous with a horrible disease.

What I’m Cooking

I made this French toast – probably the first thing I’ve made after watching a video recipe thing on Facebook. It was good but not great – but somehow resulted in me making The Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon toast like fifteen times this month, so…

Then I made her chocolate cake in a mug which is dangerously delicious. I didn’t know this recipe could be perfected but leave it to Ree to make that happen. I know you are rolling your eyes like, “Jen, microwave mug cake is ancient history and only meh” and to that I say, fine, I’ll eat yours. Nothing to see here.

Kim (the other half of Critic and Fangirl) and I made it into the kitchen together this month and she made pork cabbage rolls that might have changed my life. I could eat twelve of them RIGHT NOW. Seriously, come make me more Kimmy!

What I’m Loving

The new floor runner in my hallway that lets the kids walk more than one foot into the house before wiping shoes and taking them off to put away. Floors are cleaner, mom gets to walk inside sooner and also it’s pretty.

This quote from Zachary on Project Runway Junior: “You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce. So, gotta get it done…” 

The kids and I started journaling together. I bought / repurposed some journals that we are writing in to each other at night. BB uses hers mostly to ask me hot button questions like “What should I wear to my birthday party besides just clothes?” and “Can we play Minecraft together this weekend?” MM’s has quickly devolved into us doodling Doctor Who references and him sketching comics of escape pods. But I’m interested in seeing the longevity of this idea.

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This homework station that I made for the kids after spending twelve million hours on Pinterest. The main goal was just to gather all the little things they need to finish their homework in one organized space – and for all of said items to find their way back to said station after homework is done because I was getting an ulcer from the nightly “I can’t find any pencils!!!!” game.

What have you been into lately?