Soundtrack to Our Lives
Exeposé Music writers share their stories of significant songs in their lives.
When I introduced ‘Disco Tits’ by Tove Lo to my housemates Cam and Eva, we had no idea it would be one of the defining tracks of our uni years. It’s featured in nearly every one of our prinks playlists, including ‘Fozz & Eva’s Birthday Bash’ when Eva and I turned 19. The three of us had a very messy night (particularly me – TP cubicles give me deadly flashbacks now) and we showed everyone our matching dance routine to the tasteful lyrics “I’m fully charged, nipples are hard, ready to go”. This is our last term living together as ‘The Motherhood’ (our group name), but this song will always remind me of the last two years sharing a place with these girls. If I’m ever interviewed for Desert Island Discs, I’ll be mortified that ‘Disco Tits’ will be one of my choices. But at least Cam and Eva will be laughing at me having to say the word “tits” on BBC radio.
On a dreary July evening in 2017, I found myself at a Coldplay concert in Copenhagen, courtesy of my dad’s attempt at supporting my music taste. What was supposed to be a good-hearted Christmas present turned out to be an anxiety-ridden nightmare. When my throat started tightening up while watching Chris Martin hopping around on stage, I froze. It felt like my anxiety just slapped me in the face. I couldn’t breathe. So, I ran out of the concert hall and into the nearest bathroom stall, with tears streaming down my face to the sound of ‘Paradise’ in the background. Perhaps, on some faithful day, I’ll finally be able to get through an entire Coldplay song without a flashback to tearfully calling my dad saying I’ve had a panic attack, profusely apologizing for ruining his present. But for now, I’ll stick to switching stations every time they come on the radio.
The lights grew dim across the floor. A single disco ball hung from the ceiling as ‘American Boy’ by Estelle rang out of the speakers. I stepped forward. Only eight years old, it was my first professional debut and the crowd went wild. Haven had never seen such talent. Just a few miles east of the A376, a star was born in a glittery, purple skirt.
My competitors put forward a great range of talent, worthy, but not quite good enough to beat my amalgamation of beginner’s hip hop moves and amateur musical theatre enthusiasm. I bopped to the top, just as Troy and Gabriella taught me to, and I like to think I did them proud.
It was a fleeting encounter with fame as my mum, dad and adoring fans cheered me on. To this day, every time I hear Estelle’s familiar tune I am transported back to the spotlight of Haven, Devon Cliffs.
The ‘record room’ in my house in Cheltenham (named due to the fact it housed my dad’s extensive vinyl collection) contains a smiling yellow plastic flower which, when switched on, fills the room with a heart-warming tune.
Producing a tinny rendition of ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ by The Foundations, barely audible over the sound of the motor making the flower dance, the object holds an iconic position in my childhood memories. I’ve never been much of a dancer, but you better believe that six-year-old me was busting some moves to that song.
The passion in those vocals and the warmth of those keyboard hits are enough to put anyone in a good mood for at least a week. These days I don’t need my dad to lift me up to the shelf any more, but the flower still gives its performance every now and then.
In early 2016, I had just returned to Exeter after a slightly rocky first term as a Fresher adjusting to university life. EUTCo had put on a brilliant production of Angels in America, and as I left Northcott Theatre, I reflected on the performance and term ahead. With a new set of modules to get stuck into and a sense of familiarity after the Christmas break, I finally began to feel more settled at Exeter and as though I belonged. As bizarre as it may sound, the evening marked a turning point for me for that reason. The play had used U2 ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ as the audience took their seats, and every time I hear that song, I am reminded of the moment I felt like I was actually going to be able to happily survive my time at Exeter. Now, I am a fourth-year who’s soon to fly the Exeter nest. Bono might still be looking for a sense of peace and feeling settled, but I’m pleased to say I found mine.
As a nine-year-old, music taste does not usually cover a wide scope, but for me, it was AC/DC’s ‘Big Jack’ from their 2008 album Black Ice that was the best part of the journey home with my dad. Not a second was wasted listening to this rock and roll masterpiece. The car ride home from Tae-Kwon Do was a mere four minutes, but this time was well spent. As I clambered into the front seat my dad would hit play on this anthem and we would spend the next three minutes, 57 seconds head-banging away to the power vocals of Brian Johnson. Let’s just say that over the six years I attended Tae-Kwon Do, the six years of two car rides home a week, my air-guitar skills were tuned to a fine art and have only been practiced to perfection ever since. Even 10 years later car rides with my dad enlist the help of our old friend ‘Big Jack’ for a journey of rock-and-roll appreciation.
When preparing for a Christmas trip to Australia, I compiled a playlist that I ended up listening to on a loop for the entire two weeks I spent there. And one of the most important songs on that list was ‘To Get to Know You’ by Winterbourne. I absolutely needed to get to Sydney on 22 December for my friend’s birthday, even though I finished my exams on the 20th and could only leave the morning after. Or is it still night when you wake up at 2am to catch a flight? Three planes and 24 hours later I arrived at Sydney airport where I was immediately tackled by my friend. She gave me her favourite book series to read while I was there – now whenever a book by the same author comes out, I’ll listen to the playlist I compiled. And whenever I go to visit her in Australia? You can be sure I’ll be playing Winterbourne’s ‘To Get to Know You’.