In high school, my friends and I used to make CDs for everything: for birthday presents, to represent a specific time in our lives, or just for fun. I have so many of these CDs floating around my house. Recently, my friend Diana came across one titled “The Greatest CD of All Time” that I made for our friend Arianna for her birthday. I think you will all quickly realize that the music we loved when we were 16 wasn’t about quality. It was the music that, for whatever reason, really spoke to us during a time when we so desperately wanted our lives to be a Mandy Moore movie based on a Sarah Dessen book. We had little sense of what good music actually was. We just rocked out equally to everything from Fall Out Boy and Brand New to LFO and the Click 5 on our pink and green iPod minis, loving life and growing up.
So here’s a little look back to a time that I’ll always remember fondly for being extremely awkward and incredibly fun. A CD that reminds me of what I still consider to be one of the best summers of my life.
- “Be My Escape”-Reliant K: I have no idea why we were obsessed with this song, but we were. And then one day Arianna and I realized it might actually be about Jesus, not a love song to a girl. I have since learned that Reliant K is, in fact, considered a Christian rock band. We were so naive.
- “Beverly Hills”-Weezer: This song was everywhere that summer. And is there any band that screams “summer” more than Weezer? Except for, like, the Beach Boys, or something.
- “Boys of Summer”-The Ataris: Well, obviously no good summer story is complete without some teenage romance. And the summer we turned 16 had that in spades…at least in our heads. Diana, Arianna, and I “fell in love” with a group of older boys that summer. We clearly had no idea what this song was really about. It’s not about being in love with the boys of summer…it’s about loving someone after those boys are gone (“And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong/After the boys of summer have gone”). But we still used this song to describe our melodramatic feelings that summer.
- “Do You Realize?”-The Flaming Lips: Remember the aforementioned Mandy Moore/Sarah Dessen movie/book? For us, How to Deal (based on Someone like You and That Summer) was it. We joked about it how bad it was, but this was before we really knew how to like something ironically. We genuinely loved this movie, and we genuinely thought we were deep for knowing the song they played at Michael Sherwood’s funeral (RIP).
- “Hands Down”-Dashboard Confessional: That summer, we were so convinced that we were living these profound, extraordinary lives. We thought that every moment was the most important of our lives. We weren’t even 16 yet and we thought we were so mature. I can’t even tell you how many times we claimed that that particular night was “the best night I could ever remember.”
- “Here in this Diary”-The Ataris: This song will always be inextricably linked to Summer ’05 for me. I can practically hear us saying “We never broke into a hotel swimming pool, but we still spent a lot of time in pools.” Or “Just change 80’s music to 90’s music and this song is totally about us!” I mean, come on, what person that was a teenager from 2003-2008 can’t relate to this song? “Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up/ These are the best days of our lives./The only thing that matters is just following your heart/And eventually you’ll finally get it right.” Deep.
“Hey Driver”-Lucky Boys Confusion: The reason we loved this song is because it played during the scene in New York Minute when Jane (Ashley Olsen) and Jim the Bike Messenger (played by one of our obsessive crushes, Riley Smith) ride around New York City. As we all know, my love for Mary-Kate and Ashley movies is a lifelong one, and any song that is good enough for a movie of theirs is good enough to be on the Greatest CD of All Time. Although I am slightly disappointed I didn’t put a Simple Plan song on here.
- “I’m a Terrible Person”-Rooney: Remember when Rooney was a thing? Yeah, I don’t really either. This song is really bad. Like, really bad. That’s all I can say.
- “Ice Ice Baby”-Vanilla Ice: I don’t…what? Why? I honestly don’t know why this is here.
- “Just the Girl”-The Click 5: Confession time…I never turn this song off when it comes up on shuffle on my iPod. It’s too good. And this is on here because before I knew who the Click 5 was, their band page friended me on MySpace. Once this song became big a little while later, I delighted in the fact that they requested me. I’m pretty important.
- “Lean on Me”-Bill Withers: This song is fun to sing along to, and I distinctly remember that happening a few times throughout high school.
- “Roxanne”-The Police: I have a vague memory of an inside joke surrounding this song, something to do with the aforementioned Boys of Summer ’05.
- “Scotty Doesn’t Know”-from Eurotrip: I still love this stupid movie.
- “Slide Along Side”-Shifty”: This song. You have to listen to it. Right now. Seriously. I’ll wait…Okay. Do you get it now? Do you get why this is the funniest song ever written? I mean, did you hear the lines “We gonna dance like boogie, come on” and “She’s daddy’s little angel but she wasn’t last night”? That is genius. Pure, unadulterated genius. Arianna played this song for my candle at her Sweet 16 and the DJ asked us all to sway along, which is just about the funniest thing a person can do to this song.
- “Soco Amaretto Lime”-Brand New: “We’re gonna stay 18 forever/So we can stay like this forever.” We were 15 going on 16 that summer, but the sentiment of this song still spoke to us. We didn’t think anything could be better than that moment. We were wrong, but we didn’t learn that until later. To us, nothing was more important than that summer. All we wanted to do was “walk around this town like we own the streets and stay awake through summer like we own the heat.”
- “Summer Girls”-LFO: Because…duh.
- “That’s When I Love You”-Aslyn: This was the last song in the movie How to Deal. Oh, Trent Ford, you are such a dream boat.
- “Too Little Too Late”-Barenaked Ladies: When you are 15 and the 17 year old boy you like tells you that you can’t be together because it was just “too little too late,” don’t cry about it…just put on some BNL and laugh with your friends. There will be better boys. “Haha alright.”
- “Under the Sea”-from The Little Mermaid: One time I told Arianna that the seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake. So. That happened.
- “Wake Me Up When September Ends”-Green Day: This song wasn’t about what we wanted it to be about. But to us it was about our summer ending and school starting and being juniors in high school and having to say bye to the boys we liked. Maybe in October we’ll be over them…
- “When it Comes”-Tyler Hilton: One time we saw a Tyler Hilton concert at Six Flags and Arianna touched his hand. It was the best moment of our lives. No shame.
Thank you for indulging me in this little journey of nostaglia. I’ve had some great summers in my life. But Summer ’05 will always hold a special place in my heart, especially because of what it did for my friendships with Diana and Arianna. We’ve been through a lot together over the years, and we are now all grown up and living in three different states. But no matter where our lives take us, we will at least always share the memories of that summer. And this beautiful CD.
And I like to think that when someone is casting the inevitable movie of our lives, we’ll be played by Mandy Moore, Hilary Duff, and not-crazy Amanda Bynes. And the boys will be played by Riley Smith, Tyler Hilton, and Ryan Merriman.