Playlist of the Month: Songs by High Schoolers

It’s back to school time for all you kids out there! However, the last September that we headed back to high school, Mean Girls was in production and I was the first person I knew to go back to school with side bangs.

So, it was a while ago. And while our memory of high school isn’t as crisp as it used to be, we can be sure that we were not internationally-known recording artists. As if we didn’t feel old enough during this, the Tenth Anniversary Of Our Last First Day Of High School, here is a playlist comprised entirely of tracks by young artists who were still in high school at the time of recording.

Check out the entire playlist on Spotify!

Traci’s Picks

Name: Lorde
Song: Royals
Age of release: 16

If it seems like Lorde came out of nowhere, she did. New Zealand to be more exact. She released this song in her home country back in March, and months later, US stations began picking it up and now here we are. I can’t believe how great of an artist she is and how her voice is so unique and distinct. If you like this song, check out her new one, Team.

Name: Birdy
Song: Skinny Love
Age of release: 14

I feel like Birdy was hoping to be what Lorde is becoming now. A teenager from England, she covered this Bon Iver song and blew up shortly thereafter. She also earned her first Grammy nomination thanks to her awesome song with Grammy darlings Mumford and Sons, Learn Me Right, from the Brave soundtrack.

Name: Aaliyah
Song: Back and Forth
Age of release: 14

Despite the fact that R. Kelly was the first one to mentor her in the music industry and they were rumored to be dating, Aaliyah and R. Kelly made a classic 90s R&B song that kicked off her too short of a career. I don’t think anyone’s really been able to create the same magic since her, and this was the song that started it all.

Name: Destiny’s Child
Song: Say My Name
Age of release: 18 (all 4 members were 18!)

Listen, guys. Say My Name is probably my all time favorite DC3 song. And to think that if we went to the same high school, I’d be looking up to them as they were Seniors, being all cool and making hit songs and shit. Seniors in high school don’t make classic records like Writing’s on the Wall – they are too focused on getting into college and acting like the own the school and stuff. I guess Beyonce & co. owned pop music at the time, really.

Name: Michael Jackson
Song: Ben
Age of release: 14

Oh Michael. Little black Michael. Ben was the first song he recorded as a solo artist, but was still in Jackson 5 at the time of the release. It was the title song for the 1972 movie of the same name, and even though it’s essentially about a rat, it’s still a good song. Just forget about the rat part.

Molly’s Picks

Name: Jake Bugg
Age of release: 18
Song: Lightning Bolt

Back in June, I almost put Lorde on our summer playlist. Then I thought “I don’t know, this song has been out for a while. It’s  great… but it’s probably on the way down.” That song? Royals. Clearly I don’t know anything. So take this with a grain of salt: I think this kid is really good and might be going places.

Name: Brandy and Monica
Song: The Boy Is Mine
Age of release: 19 (Brandy), 17 (Monica)

Everything about this is awesome. In an awful way. Who could forget the probably fake drama that was concocted between the teen singers?  While not a technically good song, The Boy Is Mine is fun because it seldom comes up alongside the other cheesy 90s R&B tunes, so it’s always a fun surprise when you hear it. It’ll make you want to wear tims and head-to-toe Tommy Hilfiger like you wanted to in the late 90s.

Name: Hilary Duff
Song: Come Clean
Age of release: 16

I’m really embarrassed by how long it took me to choose between Come Clean and So Yesterday. Feel free to include both on your next Playlist Of (no) Shame.

Name: LL Cool J
Song: Rock The Bells
Age of release: 17

Before LL Cool J was a man with a hardworking publicist… before he guest-rapped on a track about a skinhead having a conversation about race in America with his barista… before he was the tough yet dad-ish agent on NCIS, LL Cool J was a teen rap phenom.

Name: Laura Marling
Song: New Romantic
Age of release: 17

Even when she was 16-17, Laura Marling was writing wonderfully clever lyrics. The difference is that in those first years some of her music had more of a Lily Allen, Kate Nash vibe than it does now. This and Ghosts were released around the same time and it was almost as hard as choosing between So Yesterday and Come Clean.


LL Cool J Has a Really Good Publicist

It’s not the ladies that just love cool James. Everyone wants a piece of him.

I started noticing a year or so ago that  LL was showing up at every public event I saw on TV/online/in magazines, etc. Sure, he’s one of those multi-faceted actors that is always busy doing something, so naturally he’s everywhere. But Todd (because we’re friends and I call him that) was appearing in the oddest of places, making me think that this man has a pretty good publicist to get him all these appearances. I mean pre- Brad Paisley/Accidental Racist controversy, seeing LL at any country music awards show was beyond mind-boggling. Mix the unexpectedness with the frequency at which he was popping up, I feel like it’s LL’s world and we’re just living in it. Here are a few appearances of note:

Grammy Awards – 2013 (host), 2012, 2010, 2009

People’s Choice Awards – 2013, 2010

Creative Arts Emmys – 2012

Academy of Country Music Awards – 2012

NAACP Image Awards – 2012, 2011, 2010, 2007

Spike TV Video Game Awards – 2011, 2008

Primetime Emmy Awards – 2011, 2010, 2009

Screen Actors Guild Awards – 2011

Golden Globe Awards – 2011

BET Hip Hop Awards – 2011, 2008

CNN Heroes – 2010

Teen Choice Awards – 2010

Tony Awards – 2004

yes, that’s carol channing. ll cool j presenting with hello dolly at the tony awards.

And then there were the times he showed up on random shows…

Project Runway – 2008 (Guest Judge) 

Sesame Street – 2010

Not to mention all the talk shows he’s been on, Jay Leno, Ellen, The Talk, Big Morning Buzz Live (VH1), Craig Ferguson, Piers Morgan, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan, Jimmy Fallon, Carson Daly, Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, The View, etc.

And of course, you can always catch him on NCIS (where he apparently plays a superhero)