I was 16 in 2004 and I listened to music on my Walkman and on TV. It’s so hard to compile a list of songs to describe me when I was 16. At the time, I was living in Guwahati, with my grandparents. Ours was a strict Christian family — Grandpa was a theologian and a reverend. Grandma was the iron lady matriarch. I was the OG blacksheep, and I think you can see that from the songs that were my soundtrack at that time. Genie in the bottleThis song was released in 1999 and I still can’t get over it. I was knee deep in puberty when Christina entered the spotlight and I was her biggest fan. All my friends were Team Britney cause Ms Spears was the diva. But me, I always knew Christina was the better one. There’s something about her voice and I was obsessed with everything about her. Plus this video was so provocative and yet so beautifully captured. I remember trying to imitate her and faking that nasal soulful tone (I royally sucked at that). So yesterday Back then, we used to collect songs and videos on our computer (because you couldn’t access these things easily) and I had a collection of Hillary Duff’s shoot videos (dress trials, driving classes, behind-the-scenes). I was obsessed. I tried to wear tank tops, stole my aunt’s makeup kit to try doing looks like Hillary’s and I think I even cut my own fringe to match hers. All you wanted When I was young, I was pretty much like any reckless outspoken kid who wouldn’t shy away from confessing feelings, but as I grew older, my self-confidence dipped so low that I would never tell a guy I liked him. The feelings would all be inside my head, so this song resonated with me a lot. I felt like I wanted to speak out, like she does in the song, but I felt too embarrassed to do so... and of course, in the end, my secret crush would chase me in the rain like he does in the video … The end. Starlight This song is one of the original soundtracks of my favourite teen flicks, ‘The Hot Chick’. Zed is a band from New Zealand and for me, they’re a better version of Weezer. It’s so nice now to just be able to Google or go to Wikipedia to get the details of a soundtrack. Back when I was 16, I’d wait for the end credits, then download that song and its video, and then watch it on the computer. Fortunately, Star Movies would air the same movie again and again, so that made life a bit easier. PerfectI just love this song. It resonated with me because it felt like a constant struggle to make our parents proud. I grew up with my grandparents and school grades were so, so important. Whatever my academic results or performance was, I would be constantly compared to my peers or neighbours kids. Only I was more interested in music than studies and it was easier for me to memorise song lyrics than learn the chapter I was supposed to study as homework. Listening to songs like this one, I’d slip away to another world where I would cast myself in the video because the song felt like it was written about me. Can’t get you out of my head This song is 20 years old now, but it’s still one of the best pop songs ever. Why? Because Kylie Minogue (along with JLo, Christina, and Britney) was a Queen. This song is all about sassiness, sensuality and a beat that is iconic. Also, if you watch the video, you’ll see Kylie was the first to use a face shield in a music video! AichaWhen Sony Ericsson and Nokia ruled the world, along came this song. And there we were — unaware of DJs, just humming and bopping to the beat of this song. “Aicha” feels like such a throwback to a bygone time. The video is just pure music — no nudity, no fancy cars, no big mansions; just melody and a beat. And an Akshay Khanna poster at 3 minutes 22 seconds. Boulevard of broken dreamsFor 16-year-old me, this was a badass legend of a song. The lyrics felt like a life lesson and I would sing this song as I walked home from college, wishing I was dressed up like a punk kid instead of in my uniform. Years later, I would end up getting a star tattooed on my chest, thanks to Billy Joe and his influence. It’s so ugly and I do regret the tattoo, but still, it reminds me of my teenage years and the fantasy world I lost myself in, where Billy ruled and everything was alright. To all of us who survived broken dreams, who were neglected, bullied, left alone, broken, this song is a reminder that we are not alone. God is with us. Shonshon Shatsang is a Tangkhul Naga who was born and raised in Assam; studied and worked in Mumbai; and now runs a restaurant with her childhood friend in Imphal. Aside from humans like her brother, sister and mom, her family includes nine dogs and three cats.
Songs that Helped Me Be… A Black Sheep
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