Welcome to The Playlist Project, where we’ll be posing musical questions to Paste staff, interns and writers and then compiling their responses into a handy playlist before opening it up for discussion in our comments section.
The term “grower” gets tossed around a lot, usually about songs or albums we’re initially lukewarm on that we’ve come to enjoy. But what about the music we’ve had a complete change of heart about, the stuff we used to loathe and now love?
Is there a song or album that you’ve done a complete 180 on, one that you initially hated but now have warmed up to and maybe even love?
Josh Jackson, Editor-in-Chief
Elton John, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
Really I could say “the entire Elton John catalog.” I remember loving “Bennie and the Jets” and “Crocodile Rock” as a kid, but in my teen years, Elton John became as uncool to me as, well, Billy Joel. I couldn’t get past the schmaltziness of ‘80s Elton (“I’m Still Standing,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”), and I lumped ‘70s ballads like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” with its falsetto chorus right in there. Really, I dismissed Sir Elton altogether. The first step in revisiting his music was, of course, the bus scene in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. But “Tiny Dancer” was always a great song. It took a little longer to realize that how beautiful “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” actually was. I still can’t stand Billy Joel.
Beca Grimm, Contributing Writer
I first heard this song at 15 and the whirring, chainsaw guitar made my hands clench. It displaced a nervous anxiety and I passed it each Pinkerton spin. But as that year came to a close, I met a boy who drove an old Volvo covered in Iron Maiden stickers and covered the song during a band practice I sat in on. Now it holds a sweet sort of nostalgia. Still not my favorite, but I no longer fast-forward to “No One Other.”
Sarah Lawrence, Graphic Designer
RuPaul featuring Big Freedia, “Peanut Butter”
I went from being incredibly confused and bewildered by this song to making it my daily morning pump-up jam—NSFW, kind of.
Julia Cook, Editorial Intern
Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
Initially found Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs to be a pretentious take on the American Dream (or nightmare), but once “Ready To Start” came on during a night drive, I was forced to reevaluate. Still plays during my road trips. Mostly at night. In the snow. Or rain.
Shannon M. Houston, Assistant TV Editor
Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak
Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak. I was so morally opposed to him singing, until I realized I loved a good handful of songs on there, especially “Paranoid.”
Sean Edgar, Comics Editor
ELO, Out of the Blue
As a kid, I hated, hated, hated Electric Light Orchestra. I know. It just sounded so dated…and Daddish. It was the type of music that accompanied old men with beards and St. Pauli Girls reminiscing about that Beatles album cover with the dismembered baby dolls. Obviously, ELO is the shit and should be placed in the ranks of classic rock goddery. Jeff Lynne’s arrangements and song structures remain as gorgeous today as they did back in the ‘70s.
Shane Ryan, Staff Writer
Radiohead, “Karma Police”
This is such a great question, and one I could answer so easily with movies. The two that spring to mind are Midnight Cowboy and The Big Lebowski, both of which completely flew over my head the first time I saw them. I could also do it with food; I can’t believe I ever hated mushrooms or bleu cheese, particularly when they go so well together on a hamburger. Music is tougher, especially because I can think of the opposite so easily—bands I originally thought were good before realizing I’d made a horrible mistake (Interpol). So I’ll get as close as I can, and say that when I first encountered Radiohead, it was because MTV was playing the video for “Karma Police” nonstop. I was 14, had very basic musical tastes, and thought these guys were really strange and kinda scary. It took me a good amount of time before I realized how amazing that song, that album, and that band were. Later, of course they blew me away. This is what you get. This is what you get. This is what you get…when you messssssssssss with Thom Yorke.
Shawn Christ, Editorial Intern
Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”
“Rolling in the Deep” was so overplayed on the radio that it started to remind me of the overexposure Hootie and the Blowfish had in the ‘90s. After things cooled down a bit for Adele, I bought her superb album, 21, and became a huge fan. Now, when I just need to let loose during a drive, “Rolling in the Deep” is there for me.
Robert Ham, Contributing Writer
The Beatles, “Revolution 9”
During my tempestuous teen years, I obsessed over The White Album, listening to it again and again, making imaginary tribute albums in my mind, and marveling at the Beatles as they pushed at the boundaries of rock and pop. But I would always lift the needle on my copy right after “Cry Baby Cry” lest I have to “suffer” through “Revolution 9.” It wasn’t until years later that I found myself obsessing over Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Schaeffer and the rest of the musique concrete gang that it finally dawned on me just how daring John Lennon was being with that song. Any other British Invasion band might have tacked on a little bit of weirdness at the end of their album, but the Fab Four blasted you straight in the face with tape collage and sound effects for nearly eight-and-a-half glorious minutes. I know the rest of The White Album almost note-for-note, but I’m still finding fresh depths tucked into the creases of “Revolution 9.”
Shelley Brown, Assistant Design Editor
LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening
When I first heard LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening, I found it massively boring. I was working at Urban Outfitters at the time, and our own broken sound system would routinely play the album on repeat for hours at a time before management noticed. (To this day, “You Wanted A Hit” vividly reminds me of board-folding endless piles of graphic T-shirts.) Eventually, either because the scars of working in hipster retail faded or because I’d had enough time apart from the album, I came to love it. This is good news, since “Dance Yrself Clean” still comes on in every bar in New York, and I finally want to dance along.
Holly Gleason, Contributing Writer
Michael Jackson, “Beat It”
When I first heard it, all I could think was, “Ahh, the power of marketing: get the rawk guitar god and graft him onto the King of Pop’s landmark next record.” The solo was vicious, as were the beats Jackson and Quincy Jones had set under the surging Top 40 song. I got it: machined for maximum satisfaction, bring in the rock boys who thought it was too CHR and give the girls a little danger. One day in a bar, it came on the jukebox and the massive juxtaposition fell into place for me. Eddie Van Halen’s lashing guitar truly felt like a man trying to slash his way out of something, while Jackson’s vocal had the same urgency—even as it suggested he was the one in charge. Startled, I took it all in, and realized even when the puppetmasters match-make for max audience, sometimes it actually works.
Mark Lore, Contributing Writer
Camper Van Beethoven, Telephone Free Landslide Victory
I could list tons of artists and albums that I eventually came around to. This stems from the fact that I was a metalhead throughout junior high and high school (and well into college, come to think of it). Therefore, while some of my friends raved about bands like U2, the Pixies, Pavement and so on, I was drowning it out with RATT, Iron Maiden and Metallica. The most vivid example is, I remember living with my best friend for a few years, and he played Camper Van Beethoven’s Telephone Free Landslide Victory religiously. I couldn’t stand it—it seemed too silly and slacker-y. Years later I burned a copy on CD in a quest for new music. And brought it with me during my year abroad in Spain. It became the soundtrack for our apartment filled with Swedes, Spaniards and a Kiwi. I love it for that, but it’s also a great record—easily in my Top 5 of all time.
Bonnie Stiernberg, Music/TV Editor
Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend and Modern Vampires of the City
Confession: I did not like Vampire Weekend when they first put out their self-titled debut. I was one of those people droning on and on about authenticity, appropriation, hype, Paul Simon and boat shoes. But somewhere along the way I gave in to its catchiness, and slowly but surely Vampire Weekend became one of my favorite albums of its decade. Confession #2: I did not like Modern Vampires of the City at first. I thought the singles were weak and overproduced. I was wrong again. Modern Vampires is a grower, and if you can let go of your desire for another hooky “A-Punk” or “Oxford Comma” and give it a chance, you’ll find that it still has all the components of a great Vampire Weekend album: lyrics that’ll remind you of your college English class reading lists, harpsichord aplenty and melodies that worm their way into your head until you submit.
Your turn, readers. Tell us the tunes you’ve had a change of heart about in the comments below.