This week I’m going through 5 albums from my childhood which I believe had a large influence on the way I listen to music today and the type of music that I can enjoy. These five albums range from some of my parents favourites to the first projects I was listening to independently as an early teenager. Growing up listening to glam-rock and 80s synth-pop from my Dad’s side mixed with jazz, soul and blues from my Mum’s side gave me quite the eclectic love for variety in my music and consequently there are plenty more where these came from. Look out for a potential part two sometime in the future!

Lionel Richie – The Definitive Collection

I distinctly remember listening to this album while traveling to swimming lessons at around the age of 9 or 10. As it’s a greatest hits collection, there is a little piece of everything that Lionel Richie had done in his career up until that point. There are disco deep-cuts from the 80s, 90s balladry and even some (looking back on it, pretty terrible) 2000s-era attempts at electro-pop. The reason I hold this collection in such high regard is that Richie has such a likeable voice and demeanour. I like to think that this is one of those albums that taught me that music was more than one thing for one occasion.

Favourite tracks: Say You, Say Me, Lady (You Bring Me Up), To Love a Woman (feat. Enrique Iglesias)

Diana Krall – The Girl in the Other Room

This album comes strictly from my Mum. Diana Krall’s voice is buttery smooth, yet in a charming and charismatic way. It’s not your traditional wonky or artistic jazz-fused blues but a more polished, squeaky-clean version. The recording is clear and full of flavour with punchy pianos and gleeful guitar melodies complimenting Krall’s singing. Sure, there’s really not much like a husky-pained voice such as Nina Simone or Ella Fitzgerald (whom I was also brought up on), but there’s something to be said for music that relaxes your parents – a true intrinsic value is there.

Favourite tracks: Stop This World, Temptation, Love Me Like a Man

Craig David – Slicker Than Your Average

I don’t completely remember where this album came from because I can’t really see either of my parents being interested in it. Coming out when I was only 8, this may have been one of my first introductions to contemporary versions of traditionally-black music in R&B with splashes of Hip-Hop. Craig David has the vocals of an angel, akin to a great deal of the 90s R&B before him and the production keeps up with his songwriting. Boy is there some really dated songs on this album listening back to it now, but I have yet to hear a much better singer in my life with prettier runs.

Favourite tracks: Slicker Than Your Average, Hidden Agenda, Rise & Fall (feat. Sting)

My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade

Ironically, this was actually before I was going through my emo-phase, with the album being released when I was 12. I remember first seeing the video for “Welcome to the Black Parade” on Top of the Pops and just being in awe of all of these people dressed in black with eye-liner on, creating such epic-sounding music. I must have played this album alongside Billy Talent’s II over 100 times in the next few weeks and I can still say that I find both of these albums to be among the rarities of albums that have nothing I can skip. The Black Parade remains one of my favourite non Hip-Hop/R&B albums and in particular the song “Cancer” holds a very special but brutal place in my heart due also in large part to the timing.

Favourite tracks: Welcome to the Black Parade, Cancer, Sleep

Gorillaz – Demon Days

The scene: Heading on a 4-day school trip with my new walkman where I only remembered to bring one CD for the entire trip. The pay-off was great. Demon Days is great. Having no track-list information, and also no real prior knowledge of any of the features anyway, is perhaps my favourite way of discovering my way through an album ever. Sure I had heard the single “Feel Good Inc.” on the radio before and it was far from my first introduction to Gorillaz’s music, but it was more about the sounds and expansive nature of this album. Elements of Funk, Hip-Hop, and Grungey-Rock music pierce through this album’s core. The first time I heard MF Doom on “November Has Come” I felt like my brain was about to leak out of my nose. Yet, all of these sounds in particular pushed me further in the direction of wanting to hear poetry; wanting to hear people being able to talk in rhythm over a track, hence my love of Hip-Hop music.

Favourite tracks: Feel Good Inc. (feat. De La Soul), November Has Come (feat. MF Doom), All Alone (feat. Roots Manuva)

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