Hi, my name is Who? My name is What? My name is sicka sicka Jillian and I’m cleaning out my closet—I am white, blonde(ish), love rap and savage burns… aaaand I own zero Eminem albums. Which got us talking. What’s a musical act that you know very well, yet somehow have never owned one of their albums? We’ll go first.
I know SO MANY Foo Fighters songs, but I have never owned an album or even listened to one in its entirety. I like the Foo Fighters, but growing up with limited funds, I really had to carefully choose the albums that I was willing to go broke over. In this day and age of streaming… I’m still super lazy. I tend to just listen to what I already know I like. But, I have every intention of catching up on what I’ve missed over the years. (Hopefully, I won’t be disappointed in what I find.)
I have never heard a BoJo (Bon Jovi) album, yet can sing their hits, because they would have kicked me out of every suburban bar if I couldn’t.
This one is pretty easy for me—Earth Wind and Fire. Their hit songs are so funky and epochal, that they in themselves are a full album. Every time I listen to one of their better-known tunes, it’s an explosion of nostalgia and funk-induced déjà vu—and that’s a good thing, because when I can’t remember where I put my damn keys, EWF always helps me remember something like, “oh yeah, I left them in the damn car.” It’s all about the basslines; funky basslines are better than ginseng.
One EWF song = a full Pink Floyd Album, that’s some math I can always get down with.
We listened to a ton of oldies as a kid, and while my sister and I listened to full albums of The Beatles and Elvis, as well as some Three Dog Night and Jim Croce, there was one band that’s been pretty elusive: I’ve never listened to a full album of The Monkees. I’ve heard enough of their songs to FEEL like I’ve listened to one of their albums, the same way it felt like I listened to a full album of Linkin’ Park just by listening to the radio releases. The ones that are album-only, though, are special, so you miss out on so much by not going to find the full one in some cases.
‘Scuse me. I have to go do some research. I’m missing an album or 3000 in my life.
In my dumb life, the answer is clearly the audmalgam of Bruno Mars-roon 5. I don’t group these groupartists together because I think their music sounds the same (ignoring “Locked Out of Heaven,” the center of their Venn Diagram, and which was suspiciously written by a man named ARI Levine). I put them together because they ride the same wavelength in the American consumer-soundscape (a category I call Edgy-Safe Music for People Who Are Trying to Be More Openminded In Life but Probably Still Lock Car Doors Around Homeless Men).
I want to be clear that I would never describe either of these groupartists as bad or unlistenable (there is no point in pretending like I’ve never willingly belted “Payphone” and “Grenade” in a Subaru). They’ve risen to this profit-level of American ubiquity using the same tactic (posturing themselves as dangerous, using a veneer of horn sections, sleeve tattoos, ethnic ambiguity, stubble, and the occasional, judicious “fuck” in lyrics, while remaining, at their core, hella Middle America Middle School friendly). I’m sure there are other groupartists that fit this bill, but none are currently on the Bruno Mars-roon 5 level (P!nk and Gaga might come close). My point is that there’s no escape (you know all their songs, you know all the words to their songs, you can’t remember ever actively seeking out their songs). And most days, I’m okay with that.
I like the Bee Gees and ELO enough to have purchased their music in the form of double and single disc greatest hits. So, I know some deep cuts, but not album cuts. Fun fact: The Bee Gees have enough bangers for a 2-disc greatest hit.
For a long time Creedence Clearwater Revival was in this same group since I have Chronicle Volumes 1 and 2, but eventually I bought Cosmo’s Factory. It was great.
Some people (like my friend Opie) make no distinction between proper albums and greatest hits compilations. I assume Donald Trump is such a person.
I’ve listened to (and legally purchased) several songs from Lil Wayne, but I’ve never sat and listened to an album. I’m afraid I’ll get a face tattoo after.
Queen is a classic. Yet I’ve never listened to a full Queen album, and in fact, I have never even owned a single song by Queen. Despite this, I can still sing every lyric of every major song they’ve every released. What’s up with this? It’s super weird, right? Like, is this even possible? Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? I don’t even listen to the radio, so how do I know all their music? I’m not listening to them while I work out—I mean, I probably should be (after all, I love working out—I want to work out right now even! Seriously, I want to ride my bicycle). But I’m not! So there goes that theory. Another one bites the dust. I could probably even form a Queen cover band at this point. Oh, and I will, and we will rock you. Sorry, I know I’m spiraling here, but don’t stop me now—I’m so close to figuring it out! Even if it is driving me insane! Ahhhh! This is driving me nuts!!! I want to break free! I want to BREAK FREE!!! This is killing me. Queen? Please, more like “Killer Queen.” Oh well. Maybe I’ll never know why I know so many Queen lyrics. Or maybe one day it’ll come to me in a flash. Out of nowhere, just: Flash! AaaaaAAAA! And then I’ll know! And then I can get back to what really matters: Helping my friends find relationships they’re satisfied in. They keep telling me: “Find me somebody to loveeee!” And I say, “I can’t! I have to find out why I know so many Queen lyrics!” Maybe I’ll find out one day. Until then, nothing will change. I’m stressed. I’m worried. I’m under pressure.
My mom used to have a picture of downtown Prague crowded with people and at the top it said “The Velvet Revolution.” I stared at that image wondering what it meant and if it had any relation to a band Michael Stipe said was his inspiration. The Velvet Underground were a band lost to time, lost to history. Browsing the CD aisle at Best Buy—fluorescent lights, pop and stop music, noise from over-under televisions—I could find no mention of them. Could R.E.M. like an unsuccessful, forgotten band?
I’d heard a thousand covers before I found their songs one night on Napster. I now know that Andy Warhol designed their first album—a peelable banana on the front—but I have no clue how they arranged their songs. Was “Femme Fatale” before “There She Goes Again” and on the same album? Did “Stephanie Says” follow “Heroin”? I’m still unsure if I can buy these albums now. Part of me doesn’t want to. I grew up with their songs as lost fables, recovered hard drives that none of us thought we’d get back again. To listen to their albums, and not the mix of random songs I know, might shatter that image. Or maybe it would cement their legend. Who knows? Someday I’ll decide to find out which one it is.