1. “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette
Jagged Little Pill was released when I was only 9-years-old but that didn’t stop me from becoming full-blown obsessed with it. In fact, I even went to the Jagged Little Pill tour with my mom and it was my first concert! (My second was Fiona Apple, so I’ve clearly been an angsty lesbian for some time now.) The themes of Alanis’ debut album were obviously lost on a youngster like me but I pretended that I understood what she was going through. The second I heard the song “You Oughta Know,” I threw out my Legos (Who are we kidding? My Barbie dolls…) and started writing angry letters to made-up evil lovers in my composition notebook. Then I would go to school — I was in the 4th grade then — and listen to the album on my Walkman, stopping every so often to yell at my crush who rejected me, “WOULD SHE GO DOWN ON YOU IN A THEATRE?!” In retrospect, I should’ve gotten in trouble for saying such vulgar things but, as it turns out, my teacher was a HUGE Alanis fan and we would even sometimes listen to the album together alone in the classroom during recess.
2. “Are You Happy Now?” by Michelle Branch
I think this song came out the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school AKA the last summer I spent living la vida closeted. During that time, I alternated between feelings of repressed anger and horniness, so this kiss-off anthem by Michelle Branch seemed very appropriate. I couldn’t relate to the lyrics since I had never been kissed, let alone been in a relationship, but I still had a lot of fun screaming “ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?! HUH?” to my secret gay porn folder on the home computer.
3. “Mother Mother” by Tracy Bonham
For those of you who aren’t familiar, “Mother Mother” was a ’90s femme rock song about a girl who moved away from home, went insane and is checking in with dear old mom to lie and tell her that she’s okay. I used to blast this song in our family living room shouting the lyrics, “I’m hungry, I’m dirty, I’m losing my mind, EVERYTHING’S FINE!” Meanwhile, my mom just watched me quivering in fear, taking solace in the fact that it would be eight years until I was sent off to college and started lying to her on the phone about my well-being.
4. “Get The Party Started” by Pink
Party? What party? This song came out when I was in the 8th grade. My version of partying was watching The WB and crying into my bleached blonde hair about how no one would ever love me or be my friend. Nonetheless, I still played this song in hopes that one day I would be invited to a party and three years later it finally happened. My junior year of high school, I was invited to this cool stoner girl’s house and ended up getting fake wasted off of two sips of vodka and mooing at everyone in the room. Because I became a cow when I pretended to be drunk? Whatever. At least I could relate to Pink. At last!
5. “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega
Two things I was #NotClearOn as a child: What it meant to “Mambo” and being attracted to women, especially ones named Monica. Regardless of my confusion, this song was big on the bat mitzvah circuit and I remember tearing it up on the linoleum dance floor on more than one occasion. When you’re young and naive, you’d dance to a song about hunger and famine, so long as it had a killer beat.