First Albums – Grace Latter

There used to be a feature on Channel 4…well, I say feature, it was essentially a gap filler between shows after the usual spiel of cheesy ads. It was a series of quick clips of interviews; the channel’s biggest stars at that time would all be responding to the same question, one after the other, in different settings, against different backdrops, at different times of day. I found it so pleasing, so interesting. They were asked all kinds of things, things not necessarily exclusively tailored to the ‘actor types’. One time they were asked ‘what would you change about your physical appearance’ – I remember Ashley Jensen saying she’d have her eyelashes ‘going up’, and a Welsh news anchorwoman whose name sadly escapes me saying she wanted ‘smaller bosoms’. It was always a funny thing, hearing what those guys on our TVs thought of themselves – or getting to glean snippets of info from their past. I loved that.

Like for instance when they were asked ‘what was the first album you bought for yourself?’

Gordon Ramsay said ‘Kim Wilde, Kids in America’, Seth Cohen – oh, sorry, Adam Brody – said ‘Warrant, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’, and America Ferrera a.k.a Ugly Betty Suarez said ‘Umm, Ace of Bass?’

I feel this question revealed a lot about each celebrity. Who they used to be – and a little bit who they are now. The latter being obvious by the delivery of their answer. Seth – I mean, Adam – was contemplative and cracked up laughing as he said the word ‘Scoundrels’; America giggled and looked away shyly; Gordon, being Gordon, spoke confidently and nodded sharply as he said ‘Kim Wilde’. Very telling, no?

I think my ‘first album’ would reveal a lot about me. Because the first album I purchased, with my own money, while out on the town with some school friends on a Saturday afternoon – was ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’, by Panic! At The Disco.

Oh yes, I was a hardcore ’emo kid’ during my days in the playground. I had a thick unruly bob – that some bullies remarked resembled a thunder cloud – dyed purplish brown, and I confidently clipped random colourful badges on my worn blue satchel that contained my finest artist pencils and padlocked diary. One of those badges featured a rainbow on a white background with the words ‘it’s a matter of Pride’ beneath it…my Geography teacher was the one who pointed out that it meant ‘you’re in with the gays’. I had no idea, but I of course kept it on the bag after that socially awkward revelation.

Yes, some days I’d get home from school and listen to P!ATD while doing algebra homework/experimenting with mum’s thick brown pencil eyeliner/painting my nails for the evening before scrubbing the polish off for school the next day. I memorised every song, every beat and every lyric. I remember thinking ‘praying for love in a lap dance/and paying in naivety’ was scandalous and cool, and all the dudes would do it if they could; that the only difference between martyrdom and suicide was press coverage; that the dream was absolutely to attend a fancy party where one must ‘leave all over-coats, canes and top hats with the doorman’…and then discover that one guest was a complete psycho…and that Brendon Urie was in possession of surely the most unique and sexy voice in the world, ever.

Wow, I’m realising now that those timeless alternative lyrics really are embossed deep in my mind. And there’s a part of me in there somewhere still singing them, who will wear skinny jeans, hold a camera way above her head for selfies, and back-comb her hair until the end of time.

Yes, the first album I bought for myself was certainly defining of a period in my life. It was the first full ‘soundtrack’ I found I could put on and jam to, revel in, solve problems with… Granted, the problems I faced at that age were mostly along the lines of ‘I fancy this skater boy, why doesn’t he invite me to the half pipe on weekends?’/’ugh, my family just don’t get me, I don’t feel like going swimming today like GOD‘/’Where can I get a decent plastic studded belt that won’t fall apart?’

Simpler times, eh?

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