By Lara Becker
There’s an image I can never really get out of my head: the boy in baggy jeans and a grown-out crew cut, also known as Chad Michael Murray in the millionth iteration of “A Cinderella Story.”
The year is 2004 and I’ve probably never loved anything more than this jock-turned-Prince Charming and poet at heart, all fictional of course. He’s got that hard exterior but soft interior, the kind of personality that makes all the girls keep pictures of him in their lockers.
And then there’s the girl: she’s quiet, quirky, weird and she’d never even have a chance until she miraculously bats her eyelashes at him across the hallway. And that’s it: movie magic.
There’s something to be said of this time — the early 2000s — filled with pop-punk, pink and glammed-out divas: “Clueless,” “What a Girl Wants” and “10 Things I Hate About You,” just to name a few. The movies had simple premises; from boy-meets-girl to best-friend rivalries.
These films hold a special place in so many hearts. As kids grow up to face the harsh realities of the not-so-fictional world outside, these movies and soundtracks are easy to cling on to from our childhoods.
I wanted to make a playlist of music that matches this feeling: from the time of Kesha’s “Tik Tok” and iconically bad haircuts.
This was my inspiration as I gathered the type of songs you’d hear in the opening credits of a classic 2004 feel-good flick. The scene opens on a high school filled with kids running to class as the camera settles in on a picture-perfect day. The music plays one of these guitar-heavy, repetitive tracks, and you know what you’re in for.
They’re songs you’ve probably heard hundreds of times over, whether it was in line at the grocery store or in a doctor’s office waiting room, but they somehow hold a wistfulness that can transport you to a different era. When “Sympathy” by the Goo Goo Dolls was playing on the radio, there were less masks and a lot more social interaction.
I can almost hear these songs in my head as they’ve been the soundtrack to moments of my adolescence, shaping how I’ve heard and seen pop culture. I can picture myself in pajamas on a Saturday morning, turning on ABC Family to watch “The Parent Trap” for the eighth time in a week. “Do You Believe in Magic” plays as the twins in the movie plot to trick their parents into remarrying (and even my parents have learned every word).
These movie soundtracks had something for everyone, whether it was rebellion in songs from “Freaky Friday” or the dreamy “I Melt With You” featured in “Sky High.”
Most have a classic rock sound, paired with the nostalgia of faraway lovers and a big finish at the end.
So if you’re looking to launch yourself back a decade or so, or pretend you’re living in a teenage free-for-all, take a listen to these tracks and freeze yourself in time.