Playlist: High School Soundtrack [1999]

Recently someone on formspring asked me to create a playlist of songs that helped me to survive high school.

This is an easy one because back then I was super serious about music, it was my number one coping mechanism. At some stage during 1999 I decided that I was going to avoid all healthy adolescent interactions by buying a portable CD player and never taking my headphones off in the corridors ever unless it was to ‘educate’ my classmates about rock and punk icons like I was the only person in the whole world who truly understood their art.

Like most teens newly infatuated with rock ‘n roll, I started wearing black t-shirts and studded leather, scrawling my favorite song lyrics onto the canvas of my Converse and blowing off my classes to jam in the music room. I was all like, ‘studying is for suckers! I don’t need to know math to become a tour manager! yeah! rock on!’, which was a significant lapse of judgment, kids – studying is important and you absolutely need to know math to be a tour manager.

So that was my 15 year old self in high school, for better or worse, and these are some of the songs that spurred me on.


1. Brain Stew – Green Day
2. A Certain Shade of Green – Incubus
3. Down By The Water – PJ Harvey
4. Heroin Girl – Everclear
5. Use Once & Destroy – Hole
6. Aneurysm – Nirvana
7. Closer – Nine Inch Nails
8. Transylvanian Concubine – Rasputina
9. Street Spirit (Fade Out) – Radiohead
10. I Fought The Law – The Clash
11. No Sleep Till Brooklyn – Beastie Boys
12. Criminal – Fiona Apple
13. Been Caught Stealing – Jane’s Addiction
14. 36 Degrees – Placebo
15. Shaking – Our Lady Peace
16. Shutterbug – Veruca Salt
17. Bullet With Butterfly Wings – The Smashing Pumpkins
18. My Own Summer (Shove It) – Deftones

You can stream the playlist here

What songs helped / are helping you get through high school?

Want to request a playlist? Hit me up on Formspring and someone of the team might create it for you.

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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. Great playlist! I feel like our 15 year old selves would’ve got on well together- 36 degrees and Bullet with Butterfly Wings in particular will always remind of highschool.

  2. Oh, I was IN LOVE with Rasputina in high school. And NIN. And the Deftones. And Radiohead, OLP, Garbage, No Doubt, Silverchair, System of a Down, Coal Chamber… and most of all, MOIST.

    You are bringing back beautiful memories of a not-so-beautiful, but nonetheless very entertaining, time. My best friend (male, gay) and I decided life was easier, when people asked if we were together, to just say yes. We had fun with that. We got a detention one time for being “sexually inappropriate.” (I sat on his lap). BAHAHAHAHAHAHA if only they knew. If. Only. They. Knew.

    We also got a detention for making shadow puppets during Mass. F’reals.

    Catholics high school: it gets better.

    • Holy moly was I in love with Sarah McLachlan’s music in high school (and, let’s be honest, even still). “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” helped me through some serious angst and ennui, no foolin’.

  3. Apparently you were infinitely cooler than I was in high school: my soundtrack consisted of Alanis and hand-me-down 80’s cds. ;^^

    • YES. and Rilo Kiley.

      also I love the inclusion of Criminal on this playlist. i def. bumped that at 7 this morning to get ready for a final :)

  4. I honestly listen(ed) to everything from 1920’s jazz to Motown to Metallica to Vivaldi to Madonna to country to.. well, you get the picture :p

    But in terms of what “got me through”, it was Kelly Clarkson all.the.time.-specifically, Breakaway and My December-, Under My Skin by Avril Lavigne (I promise that was the last album of hers I liked), Stripped by Christina Aguilera, T.Swift’s debut, and Some Hearts by Carrie Underwood.

    I liked to sit in my room and sing along at the top of my lungs, feeling like my heart was going to explode, feeling EVERYTHING, often with tears streaming down my face. I kind of wish I could go back and give myself a big hug and just be like..

    “It’s okay. You will one-day realize that ALL THE FEELINGS that you can’t give names to yet are because you like vagina and you feel like everyone thinks you’re perfect when you’re not and YOU JUST NEED TO LOVE YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL JUST LIKE CHRISTINA AGUILERA (actually, Linda Perry) SAYS! And just because your parents are miserable doesn’t mean you have to be too! YOUNG GIRL, DON’T CRY, WORDS CAN’T BRING YOU DOWN; TAKE A RISK, TAKE A CHANCE, MAKE A CHANGE!”

  5. I went through different music phases every year in highschool.

    Grade 9 was strictly ’80s music (mostly New Order).

    Grade 10 was my emo year, during which I listened to lots of The Juliana Theory, Dashboard Confessional, Finch, Something Corporate, and Further Seems Forever.

    The beginning of grade 11 marked the beginning of my most shameful music phase: the Christian rock phase…I was constantly playing Jars of Clay, The Benjamin Gate, Brave Saint Saturn, Watashi Wa, and Slow Coming Day.

    In grade 12, I came to my senses and started listening to the music I would continue to listen to the most into my adult years. My then-best friend got me hooked on Sloan (I ended up seeing them in concert 5 times in 2005, and they are still my favourite band), and from there it was on to other Canadian rock bands and musicians like The Flashing Lights, The Super Friendz, Thrush Hermit, Kinnie Starr, Joel Plaskett, Sam Roberts, Jale, Broken Social Scene, Metric, Stars, and Arcade Fire.

    • LMAO!
      “The beginning of grade 11 marked the beginning of my most shameful music phase: the Christian rock phase…I was constantly playing Jars of Clay, The Benjamin Gate, Brave Saint Saturn, Watashi Wa, and Slow Coming Day.”

      You are so brave for admitting that! I remember when I was in youth group that is all we listened to (Jars of Clay and some mainstream like P.O.D. and Casting Crowns) and we were into it, hard. ROCK FOR JESUS! My favorite from my youth pastor “these are not horns these are thorns…that will be given to the righteous in God’s love!”

      Jesus was a rock star to me too at 15.

      • I used to listen to a lot of P.O.D., loved them. When I was 14 I listened to this Christian band called the TIN Men, it featured Thomas Ian Nicholas from my favorite childhood film, Rookie of the Year, and that kinda amused me.

    • oh the shameful Christian rock phase, I had one of those too. But it lasted several years. I try to banish the memory of it (though every so often I get the urge to listen to a little jars of clay again).

      • I still can’t bring myself to get rid of all those CDs…I remember nearly creaming myself when my mom and I went to Florida for Christmas when I was 16, and I found this shit ton of music at this HUGE Christian store. We don’t really have those kinds of stores in the Greater Toronto Area. It was such a big thing for me, and even though those CDs are hidden away, I’d feel awful if I just dumped them off at some Value Village.

        • My sister recently went through this nostalgic Christian-punk phase (in which she basically just listened to my old Reliant K CDs). When I told one of my friends, she said, “Since when do Christians have stuff to complain about?”

          Anyway, I was only allowed to listen to Christian music, so I had to content myself with the least awful Christian music I could find, no matter how much I wanted to listen to Avril Lavigne.

          • Yes, I forgot about Relient K!

            Christian music was never forced upon me, but I’m sure it made my mom super happy. Too bad for her I became a heathen in university (I was in an art program, what did she expect?).

  6. Oh god, all I listened to in my first three years of high school was old-school 1960s and 1970s power pop and classic rock. So basically: the Beatles, the Who, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Badfinger, the Hollies, the Doors, ELO…and now (my senior year) I still listen to that stuff but also all the traditional lesbian folk rock music like Tegan and Sara (who I’m obsessed with), Ani Difranco, kd lang, etc. It’s an interesting mix…

  7. The kills and the dead weather, but more so the kills are getting me through high school right now. Other bands may come and go, but Alison Mosshart is forever.

  8. in high school, i listened to aaliyah, missy elliot, usher, mariah carey, and unfortunately murder inc. and i secretly played lots of old school music like earth, wind, and fire, ray charles, james brown, and otis redding. my friends and i were also obsessed with conspirarcy theories over who killed biggie and tupac.

  9. I listened to everything I could get my hands on in junior high and high school, but definitely fixated on a handful of artists for every mood: Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and Ani DiFranco for the ennui; Minor Threat, KMFDM, and Black Flag for the rage; and Bjork, BT, and Moby for the dancin’.

    Oh and, Lords of Acid, for the sexy shock factor. :)

  10. High school was an endless loop of Radiohead/Smashing Pumpkins/Placebo/Garbage/The Cure/Depeche Mode/Tchaikovsky/Debussy/Shostakovich/Rachmaninov/Khachaturian.

  11. i remember teaching myself to play green day’s “brain stew” on guitar in middle school and feeling like such a rock star hahah.

  12. You have two of my favourite bands on this list, Placebo and Our Lady Peace. I really like your taste in music.

  13. Listening to this playlist took me back so hard that I was instantly overwhelmed by crushing paranoia that my high school best friend (now a facebook acquaintance whom I haven’t seen since 2006) will suddenly realize that I had ulterior motives for all of those slumber parties..

  14. hole, hole, hole, nirvana, hole, garbage, veruca salt, sleater-kinney, smashing pumpkins, hole, no doubt, save ferris, silverchair, hole, hole.

    basically, i was obsessed with hole (kittyradio anyone? i haven’t been there in ages)

  15. High school 1999? Sorry, I’m at the wrong reunion, sheesh, your younger than my daughter. But, Crystal, I love your musical taste.

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