Totally Crushed Out!
Part of having a crush is having a crush on having a crush. The act of crushing itself is fun—the reality of people and palms and eye contact is not. And so, I take my crushes very seriously. I have no intentions of talking to or making something out of any crush I might have, but since it’s not gonna go anywhere, I ensure that the actual act of crushing is enjoyable, and I do this by immersing myself in movies and music and teevee that I know I won’t get as much out of or feel as strongly about at another time. This is not about whomever you’re making eyez at, this is about being part of the club. The club of people who have hormones. The Hormones Club. First, there’s the Honeymoon Stage, where you watch The Virgin Suicides and you are so tempted by the prospect of Al Green songs playing as you make eye contact with a cute person in the hallway that you forget for a moment that adolescents are actually really sweaty and, instead, you start seeing unicorns everywhere. There’s the Torture Stage, where you watch all of the Jordan episodes of My So-Called Life and you’re like, “I so get you, Angela! Why won’t Catalano even look at you!” Finally, there’s the stage where you get over it and remember that your love is based on something you learned from Netflix Instant and realize that whomever you’re crushing on is actually kind of meh. This is also known as the Wait, the Guy Who Played Catalano Is in That Band 30 Seconds to Mars? WHYYYY? stage. Throughout all of these stages, this album will speak your thoughts in pretty harmonies and angry guitar parts. It may be about crushes, but my love for it is ETERNAL. And with that, I award myself my 12th pun-making merit badge, and go back to my daydreaming ways. —Tavi
Born to Die
Lana Del Rey
Almost every Lana Del Rey song is infused with the belief that love is the ultimate. Lana has said that she likes the idea of honoring romance even when it’s over. I take that to mean that an obsession with love can sometimes be more important than the person you are/were in love with. I can get behind this. I like that she sings pop with an R&B swagger, with a sort of sneer on her face, like in the “Born To Die” video—you know, just sitting on her throne, observing the media frenzy she created. Almost every song has its own vivid atmosphere, be it old Hollywood glamour (“It was like James Dean, for sure”) or summer in New York City (“Eating ice cream, Coney Island queen”). Even without “National Anthem,” there is a definite Americana feel, and what is the American Dream if not romantic? So listen to Lana croon if you are mourning a love, in the throes of one, or just dreaming about the future. —Naomi
Love & War
Growing up in the era of Riot Grrrl, I’ve always believed that women with guitars and incredible screaming abilities will save the world—or at least provide us with a much-needed release when we’re hurt, angry, or confused, or just need to expend some pent-up energy in the mosh pit. There was a dark period after both the Distillers and Hole broke up when I thought, That’s it! Rock is dead and we’re screwed. Then I discovered Civet. The core of the band is two guitar-playing sisters, Liza Graves and Suzi Homewrecker. Liza has a voice as badass as her name—she might even beat Brody and Courtney in a scream-singing contest!—and Suzi’s backing vocals combined with the ladies’ killer riffs make their hard-and-fast songs as catchy as those of their punk foremothers, the Runaways. Love & War is perfect for every situation: falling in love (“Come On [I Wanna Be Your Girl]”), falling out of love (“Can’t Go Back”), dealing with betrayal (“Cryin’ Wolf”), staying true to who you are (“I’m Not the One”), and spending an awesome Saturday night with your girls (“L.A. Nights”). As Liza sings on “Sunset Strip,” one of the best shout-along punk songs I’ve ever heard, “We’re all bad girls, bad girls livin’ in a bad world,” and this album provides the perfect soundtrack. —Stephanie
The Golden Hits of Lesley Gore
Lesley Gore has so many emotions. So. Many. Emotions. In fact, hearing this album of her “golden hits” might leave you thinking Gore is just downright bipolar. But I love her to death and, apparently, she loves to death as well. Gore wrote the most obsessive ballad ever, “I Will Follow Him,” which screams teenage heartsickness—and also suggests Gore might have some stalker tendencies. (She’s willing to follow him wherever he goes.) She isn’t just obsessed with this guy, though. She’s also obsessed with “Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows,” which are things she thinks about when she’s with him. At some point he must have become her ex-boyfriend, because on “Wonder Boy,” she’s trying to figure out if he’s really in love with his new girlfriend. So, uh, yeah, she’s pretty boy-crazy, but it’s her party and she can do whatever she wants to, OK? —Hazel
2010, Big Machine
Taylor Swift’s third album has all of the heartsick fairy-tale princess fluff it’s supposed to—small towns, big dresses, disapproving parents, and kisses in the rain—but it also has some secret bite. She doesn’t get enough credit for equally owning both her naiveté and her anger. “Back to December” and “Enchanted” work for mushy movie trailers and lovey-dovey singsongs, but “Mean” and “Better Than Revenge” actually sting with wonderful, twisted, self-aware lines aimed at enemies: “I think her ever-present frown is a little troubling / And she thinks I’m psycho ’cause I like to rhyme her name with things.” And then there’s “Dear John,” a nearly seven-minute power ballad that targets some famous, big-headed dope with a guitar and repurposes helplessness into Carly Simon-style sass. “The girl in the dress wrote you a song,” she sighs at the end, probably with a smirk. “You should’ve known.” —Joe
Live Through This
From the moment the first chord of “Violet” rings through your speakers/headphones/whatever, Live Through This is a total force of nature. Courtney sings from the pit of her stomach and the core of her heart and the depths of her vag about sour milk and dicks and death. Even if you can’t always relate on a literal level—one time my mom found a sheet of her lyrics and was all “Laia, what is this? It’s inappropriate”—your entire being and your entire body will just GET IT. The imagery of profane girlhood could only come from someone so fixated on the world and womanity. Ignore everything you know or everything you think you know about Courtney and her life—this record is solid all the way through. It’s got that quiet-LOUD-quiet thing that was characteristic of ’90s music, with Love going from atonal screaming to faux-good-girl whispering (because that’s what THE PATRIARCHY wants you to sound like). The best way to experience it is to pick up a guitar, learn all the songs, and lock yourself in your room while you sing along with it at the top of your lungs. Nothing will ever be out of reach after that. —Laia
The Undertones, an Irish punk band from the late ’70s, are one of my all-time favorite bands. They wrote one of the greatest anthems of sexual desperation, “Teenage Kicks.” The lyrics just KILL ME and the way lead singer Feargal Sharkey’s voice quavers makes him sound soooo obsessed with some girl down the street. “Get Over You” is equally crazy: “And I don’t wanna get over you / It doesn’t matter what you do / I just can’t get over you.” Whoa! Can’t get away from this dude! And with a song as cute and peppy as “Here Comes the Summer,” you would think this band had a crush on the season itself. Classic punk bands are usually about REBELLION and ANGST, but the Undertones are about crushing and crushing hard! —Hazel
A theremin screams and plunges over a stream of Wurlitzer organ in the opening seconds of Marissa Nadler’s Little Hells, creating a gothic, nightmarish sound that swells and deepens behind Nadler’s ethereal moaning. “You were gone / and I was gone,” she sings, and it’s a fitting start to this obsessive, all-pervasive chronicle of loss, absence, and loneliness in a world flooded with ghosts and old lovers and dead flowers and dreams. Organ whorls and an echoing tangle of lilting, romantic melodies elevate her confusion and grief into something beautiful, haunting, and sad. —Emily C.
Pleased to Meet Me
In college, there were no good radio stations for what felt like a million miles, which meant that I was always listening to the same tapes I had in my car. Yes, tapes! One of those tapes was Pleased to Meet Me, which I played over and over and over again. The Replacements were a band from Minneapolis, led by Paul Westerberg, who’s associated with all the movies you’re obsessed with (Say Anything, Singles, Can’t Hardly Wait). This record is perfect for imagining your life as a montage of scenes. Bonus points: the song “Alex Chilton,” about the Big Star front man, introduced me to one of my other all-time favorite bands. —Emma S.
The Wild Heart
“Something in my heart died last night / Just one more chip off an already broken heart.” SAME HERE. Stevie sings love songs, and she is the queen of the broken heart. I can’t believe I skipped over this album until NOW. I know the hits (“If Anyone Falls” and “Stand Back”—both killer), but are you familiar with the video of Stevie singing an early version of “Wild Heart”? She’s all in peach, applying her makeup with the help of her backup singers/ladies-in-waiting. The harmonies! Her huge voice! The LP art is excellent: three Stevies wearing a long hooded cape. What the world needs now is every Stevie it can get. —Sonja
Father, Son, Holy Ghost
2011, True Panther
This album talks about love and girls (get it?) a lot, but it doesn’t get dull because every song has its own hook. Some have a jauntier attitude than others—you can certainly hear the longing in Christopher Owens’s voice, but there’s a sense of humor to it as well, which reminds me of the Smiths. Though I think Owens really believes that the love of his life will come along eventually, whereas Morrissey knew that he was doomed from the start. —Naomi