The Autostraddle Team’s Ten Most Influential Teen Albums

For a lot of people, their time in high school shapes who they’ll become for the rest of their lives. It’s a time when you can start having your own interests, your own money, some freedom. You can become you. And one of the best things about becoming you is figuring out what kind of music you like. When you’re a teen, the music you get into feels so much stronger than at any other point in your life. The music you listen to in your teen years mixes with your hormones and emotions and overwhelms you and permanently molds you. You make mix tapes, you go to shows, you buy band t-shirts and posters, you get ill-advised tattoos. It’s a lot of fun.

There’s been a fun meme going around where people are asked to list the ten albums that were the most influential to their teen lives. Somehow most people listened to really cool stuff in high school. I missed the part of high school where we became cool. But luckily most of the staff did not! So here they are, the albums that shaped each of us the most in our teen years.

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Mey, Trans and Music Editor, Teen from 1999-2005

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Audrey, Staff Writer, Teen From 2003-2010

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Cecelia, Staff Writer, Teen from 2007-2012

Alaina, Staff Writer, Teen from 2004-2010

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Cee, Technical Director, Teen from 1991-1997

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Crystal, Teen in Late 90s

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Karly, Social Media, Teen from 2002-2008

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Laura M, Staff Writer, Teen in the Early 2000s

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Kayla, Staff Writer, Teen from 2005-2011

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Raquel, Intern, Teen from 2002-2007


Riese, CEO, Teen From 1994-1999

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Sarah, Design and Business Director, Teen from 2000-2006

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Stef, Vapid Fluff Editor

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Laneia, Executive Editor, Teen from 1994-1999

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Kristin, A-Camp Director, Teen from 1993-1999

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Mey Rude is a fat, trans, Latina lesbian living in LA. She's a writer, journalist, and a trans consultant and sensitivity reader. You can follow her on twitter, or go to her website if you want to hire her.

Mey has written 572 articles for us.


  1. Mey, I wish you still had that plaid button-up and would give it to me.

    Riese, you look like Buffy in that photograph. I know I have already said this two times in Slack but I’m saying it again.

    Laneia, My So Called Life.

  2. I’m so glad that SOME of you were teens when I was. I was afraid I was going to feel SO old.
    Teen 1990-96

  3. Riese = me almost perfectly

    Except, replace the Jewel with Radiohead OK Computer.

    And maybe soft swap of Little Earthquakes with From the Choirgirl Hotel.

    LOVE Garbage and Shirley Manson’s boiling hot accent.

    Cats forever.

  4. I was a teen from 2000 – 2006

    My list would include:

    New Order – The Best of New Order

    Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

    Arcade Fire – Funeral

    Beck – Mellow Gold

    Le Tigre – This Island

    Stars – Set Yourself on Fire

    The Juliana Theory – LOVE

    Bif Naked – Purge

    Soundtrack to Disney’s AIDA

    Sloan – Twice Removed (if I’d have to pick only one of their albums)

    The Flashing Lights – Where the Change Is

    Sam Roberts – We Were Born in a Flame

    Velocity Girl – Simpatico!

    Metric – Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?

    Eric’s Trip – Love Tara

    Feist – Let it Die

  5. I love the stark contrast of Around the Fur, and Spice. I am still fond of the album Around the Fur to this day, and the band for that matter as I still enjoy the new stuff.

    I also love The Score, and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill; however, I saw her live a few years back, and it kind of ruined the albums a little for me. She was doing remix versions of her song, which weren’t particularly my taste as it was too different from the album(though her voice still was great). I think she did it partially because she was tried of the album version, and partially to be different.

    • Ugh stupid touchscreen. This mostly just serves to further illustrate that literally everyone in the world is cooler than me.

  6. My first concert at age 15 was Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and that is all anyone needs to know about my musical tastes as a teenager.

    • I still listen to Good Vibration with such unfiltered enjoyment so I can’t even judge you for your decisions because they feel right and true.

  7. Mey you are cool!

    I was a teen form 1983-1989 and its hard to say. I guess if I don’t remember them, they weren’t that influential.

    Talking Heads – all of them but especially Little Creatures and the sound track to Stop Making Sense.

    Hair soundtrack

    Violent Femmes – the bl

    • I was a teen in the mid 2000s, but I watched the DVD of Stop Making Sense so many times that I stopped noticing how weird their haircuts were.

  8. Oh god, I’m mostly embarrassed by what I listened to in my teens.

    I was super depressed, in heavy denial about myself, and hung out with MMO playing nerds and we all listened to so much (mostly terrible) metal, nu-metal and trance/electronica/DnB. These are probably my most listened to albums from the era but they exclude *so much* crap that I listened to nearly as often as these.


    Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine
    Nightwish – Century Child
    Nightwish – Once
    Pendulum – Hold Your Color
    Airwave – Believe
    Rammestein – Reise, Reise
    Paul Oakenfold – Bunkka
    Paul van Dyke – Castles in the Sky
    Disturbed – The Sickness
    Static-X – Wisconsin Death Trip

    • listen i didn’t necessarily consider them game changers cos i was keeping this list as short as i could (and i think mine’s still the longest?) but i went through a real sweet nu metal phase near the end of high school (my first music-related job was working for kittie) and def fuckin loved static-x and rammstein and maybe attended a disturbed show on purpose once. not proud. the first two static-x albums were fucking quality.

      • I still like Disturbed. I ended up listening to Asylum a ton while I was in China. “The Warrior” is the best damn pump-you-up song I’ve ever heard and “Never Again” is like my damn Jew Anthem now.

        Not on Asylum, but I dug deeper into the album Indestructible recently and the cut “Haunted” made me go “dammit, that was the song I was trying to write”.

        Basically, there’s a lot more to Disturbed than “Down With the Sickness”.

    • I think many of us had that phase, I know I certianly did. I even sold some of my terrible nu-metal cds when Warehouse Records was still a thing. That said Rage Against the Machine is still a favorite of mine.

      • Yeah, I still love Rage Against the Machine (and Nightwish!) but other than that I think I don’t listen to hardly anything from my teens.

        Here are a few favorites I actually have up in my room today (OCD trigger THEY AREN’T PROPERLY ALIGNED):

        Lowest left album is Jezabels – The Brink.

        • I have a touch screen laptop so I was able to zoom in and see the vast selection of Sleater-Kinney Albums. Though I don’t think I am familiar wtih the one to the left of Hot Rock.

  9. Mey you are cool!

    I was a teen form 1983-1989 and its hard to say. I guess if I don’t remember them, they weren’t that influential.

    Talking Heads – all of them but especially Little Creatures and the sound track to Stop Making Sense.

    Hair soundtrack

    Violent Femmes – the blind leading the naked

    Sinead O’Conner – the one with Nothing Compares to U

    Indigo Girls – the one with Closer to Fine

    Billy Bragg – Back to Basics

    The Cure

    Depeche Mode – the one with Master and Servant

    Two Nice Girls – Cloe Liked Olivia

    Prince – Purple Rain

  10. Fist Bump for the Barenaked Ladies STUNT album–Man that album makes me so happy/sad. Also all the broadway, Ani Difranco and Tori. If I had never been to this website before and just happened across this article and it was re-named “If you know even 5 of these albums by heart then you are probably queer af” it would have been very revealing for me.

  11. I love the teen photos. Especially the two in bathing suits.

    I was waaay too self conscious to have photos taken of me in a bathing suit and I certainly wasn’t confident enough for a two piece until my 40s.

  12. Offspring – Smash
    Metallica- Black Album
    U2 – Achtung Baby
    Bob Marley – Legend
    Queen – Greatest Hits
    Roxette – Joyride
    Spice Girls – Spice
    Madonna – The Immaculate Collection
    Raimundos – Raimundos
    Legiao Urbana – 4 Estacoes

  13. Or- some of us didn’t do those music things because we were into books, not music. Please do a top 10 influential books!

  14. I love this so much, I recently did this list and was excited to see how many people sgared cds/artists I chose. I think Kristens list could have been mine! Loved how many people chose Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Sleater Kinney, garbage, Jewel, so many other great albums I listened to 100x when I was young and angsty…. and some I still listen to.

  15. Im a teen right now and honestly all i listen to is Mal Blum, Mumford and Sons, and the Fun Home soundtrack

    • Be honest, is this Mal Blum commenting?

      Because if I was Mal Blum I would totally mostly listen to myself.

  16. Omg Audrey, I still keep in my car the same Hello Rockview CD that my ex boyfriend burned for me 15 years ago. <3

    • Hello Rockview (and basically their entire discography once MP3s became a thing) was such an important soundtrack for my teen and college years! My love for Less Than Jake always seemed to be something that no one else (especially queer ladies) shared but I’m always hoping there are more of us out there. So, thanks for making that dream come true!

  17. I was a very different person in my teens than I am now, and I think my musical taste reflects it… Of course, because I /am/ experiencing puberty twice (Yay, being trans/femme!), I’m making two lists, one for each major battle of the hormones.

    Teen ’02-’09

    Rammstein – Reise Reise
    Porcupine Tree – In Absentia
    Porcupine Tree – Deadwing
    Laibach – NATO
    Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine
    The Tangent – The Music that Died Alone
    Caravan – From the Land of Grey and Pink
    The Cardigans – Gran Turismo
    Jethro Tull – Warchild
    Pink Floyd – Animals

    Second Puberty (’16-current)

    Tori Amos – From the Choir Girl Hotel
    Tori Amos – Unrepentant Geraldines
    Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill
    The Cardigans – Super Extra Gravity
    Portishead – Dummy
    Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out
    Mono – Requiem for Hell
    Ani DiFranco – Allergic to Water
    Ladytron – Light & Magic
    Ladyhawke – Anxiety

  18. This list might be a little hard for me since the music from my early 20s was also tremendously influential to me, and because I’ve been listening to a ton of music from circa 2001-2006 lately so that’s throwing me off. That said, here’s my crack at it.

    Lil’ Smartass Teen Kat 1997-2003
    No Doubt – all albums, but particularly Tragic Kingdom and Return of Saturn
    Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind
    Smashmouth – Fush Yu Mang
    The Offspring – Americana
    Blink 182 – Enema of the State
    Avril Lavigne – Let Go
    Vanessa Carleton – Be Not Nobody
    Shakira – Laundry Service
    Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication
    and on the very, very tail end…
    Fallen – Evanescence

    This was in addition to continuing to love the stuff from the 60s and 70s that my parents played.

  19. Oh man this has been such a treat. Thank you for sharing everybody!!!! ?❤️

    Shout out to the former Christian kids! My cd rack as a teen (circa 2000-2006) was 100% holy

    Relient K – Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right… But Three Do

    Creed – My Own Prison

    Creed- Human Clay

    An assortment of WOW CDs

    The OC Supertones- Loud and Clear

    Switchfoot- The Beautiful Letdown

    Audio Adrenaline- Hit Parade

    Mark Schultz- Stories and Songs


    Inexplicably, I also owned an ambient ocean noise cd that I listened to a lot. ??

    • Relient K was my favorite band in high school and still one of my favorite to this day. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Christian anymore but I definitely still love their music and I would list “mmhmm” as one of my favorite albums of all time.

  20. Teenager from 1999-2005:

    Liz Phair: Whip Smart
    Rilo Kiley: More Adventurous
    Ben Kweller: Sha-Sha
    Weezer: Blue Album
    Live: Throwing Copper
    Bush: Sixteen Stone
    No Doubt: Tragic Kingdom
    Jewel: Pieces of You
    Jimmy Eat World: Bleed American
    Modest Mouse: Good News for People who Love Bad News

    Obviously some of those are later high school years than others.

    I think the music I listened to/found from about 18-22 was probably the most impactful to my life today. That list would be really fun to do.

  21. This is perfect because I was totally having a 90’s Teen Kristen Week that involved worn jeans, layered shirts, floppy hair, and a fuck-ton of bands I loved (and still love) between ’93-’99, like R.E.M.

  22. I’m listening to Sarah McLachlan right now!

    You all had some *solid* teenage musical taste – I didn’t come to much of this stuff (e.g. Tori Amos, Radiohead, etc.) until my 20s, so I think you’re extra cool for being into those “back in the day”

    Here’s my list for high school in autobiographical order (1995-1999):

    Phantom of the Opera – Original Broadway Cast Recording

    Daydream – Mariah Carey (I won it on a radio countdown contest. Sooo 90s!)

    Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morisette

    Falling Into You – Celine Dion

    What’s The Story… Morning Glory? – Oasis

    Queen Greatest Hits / Classic Queen (I consider this one album)

    Symbols – KMFDM

    Vegas – The Crystal Method

    ESCM – bt

    Fumbling Towards Ecstasy – Sarah McLachlan

    I still love all of these :)

  23. Um let’s see okay so when I was 14 Katrina happened.
    One of the albums that was a balm to me at that time and thru out my entire teenhood was a local thing that I am going to assume no one here has heard of or ever listened ta. It’s a holiday album that changes every year. I can’t find the track listing for that year but I remember some that were on there so y’all could have an idea of what it was like :P

    I give you a sampling of the 12 Yats of Christmas by Benny Grunch and the Bunch

    12 Yats of Christmas

    I Got a Used Kazoo for Christmas
    to me it is the best holiday song evar and a sung my fucked up little teen heart out to this wonderfully ridiculous song

    Mblueh Rchristmasah
    still makes me crack up

    I Could See the Aluminum Tree Through the Pictcha Winda
    bored me but it was window to my mother’s childhood that didn’t have any parent-teen contention attached to it

    Norris the Nocturnal Nutria
    teenagers are night owls, it’s science

    Santa, I Been Bad All Year
    I would chuckle evilly to this song because teen me did a thing with a hat too ;D

    So yeah that’s pretty much what a 12 Yats of Christmas album is and those are song that were on the edition I listened to at 14; covers of traditional Christmas music with local references, pure original ridiculousness, mockery of traditional songs, and liberal dash of nostalgia

    I think the irreverent humor was one of the things that helped take some of the piss from my piss and vinegar that I had with me. I was angrier and harder to be around before I was a teenager, my teen years actually mellowed me out kinda.

    The rest of the albums that got me through my teen years is totally uncool mix of Best of [70 or 80’s Rock Band] albums
    Chiefly Guns ‘n’ Roses, Kiss, Lynard Skynard and in my last year as a teen Rammsteinm, before that I’d only listened them on yahoo music and then youtube.
    Also this um The Best of James Bond album I got as souvenir from the Spy Museum on that DC trip and a collection album Songs That Got Us Through WWII. My grampy died in 2005 too and he was so important to me and that music is probably one of the things that makes me crave energy from music and why rock music really got into my blood the way it did, other than the being a teenager with a deep well of anger

    Actual album-albums that I owned:

    Metallic-Death Magnetic
    my ass had to been in seat at fuckin 7:07 and that album is the only reason that happened enough times to not fail out b/c of tardies

    Meatloaf-Bat Out of Hell
    I have a classical music loving heart with a rock ‘n’ roll soul, this album saved me from being metalhead elitist fuckhead I think.

    Across the Celtic Moors by Taheny & Reid
    before Death Magnetic it was King Brian Boru’s March (bagpipes y’all are always loud af) getting my ass in that seat on school mornings plus that super sad Emigrant’s Daughter song allowed me to access my sads without feeling like I was doing some weaksauce emo bullshit by allowing myself to have feelings that weren’t sexual or punchy.

    I kinda feel like music that got me through my teen years and influenced me can be divided into
    Katrina/Mourning my grampy and regular teenhood but at the same time fed into each other.

    The Best of Gun ‘n’ Roses was intro into modernish rock music and I listened to Paradise City everytime we drove home from where we were staying Post-K to work on the house during weekends.
    I still want music that’s more complex than just loud thrash.

    I think that most of music I listened to as teenager either was something that gave the anger and helplessness in me from the age of 5 an outlet or gave me life and laughter.
    The majority of my listening was my walkman radio tho, CD’s weren’t as portable and I couldn’t do shit with an MP3 player.

  24. Omg Riese, Copacetic was, and is, my FAVORITE Velocity Girl album!It was like the only non-scratched up CD I had in my car during sophomore year of high school besides Scarface and the Geto Boys, “Mr. Scarface is Back”(which I also loved). Glad that someone else shares my appreciation of it!

  25. I was a teen from 2009-2016! My tastes haven’t changed much.

    Weezer – Green Album

    Ingrid Michaelson – Everything she wrote, honestly.

    Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

    Juanes – Mi Sangre

    Bombay Bicycle Club – All things

    Adele – 19

    Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

  26. i came for the music recs and stayed for the intensely awkward and illuminating photographic record of your adolescences

  27. High school actually wasn’t this huge formative period for me. I pretty much found myself the summer before starting high school, I think. Music from my teens brings up memories, but I see many many more influences from the 10 childhood years I was obsessed with Michael Jackson.

    Just as well, because I stopped following popular music before I became a teenager (1997). My list would have been all 1970s and 1980s heavy metal and late 1990s doom metal that no one could relate to.

    • Found my core “this is how I’m comfortable” self, I should say. I’m still developing and learning to accept myself, after all!

  28. Oh man, Less Than Jake’s Hello Roxkview was one of those albums that helped me survive my adolescent years.

  29. “For a lot of people, their time in high school shapes who they’ll become for the rest of their lives.”

    Ha ha, to be honest, I’m glad I wasn’t one of those people. High school was awful (for me, at least) :p

  30. This is fun! I was a teen from 2006 to 2013.

    My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
    Enter Shikari – Take to the Skies
    Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare
    Death Cab For Cutie – Plans
    Kings of Leon – Only by the Night
    Marina and the Diamonds – The Family Jewels
    Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More
    Polly Scattergood – Self-titled
    Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
    The entire Skins soundtrack from S1-S6

    (I’m 100% convinced that if I hadn’t watched Skins S1 as a British 13-yr-old my teen years would not have turned out the way they did).

    This has made me realise I listen to a lot less, for lack of a better word, sad, music now.

  31. Teen from 2001-2006:

    -Blink 182, Enema of the State
    -Good Charlotte, The Young and the Hopeless
    -Relient K, mmhmm
    -Simple Plan, No Pads, No Helmets, Just Balls
    -Backstreet Boys, Millennium
    -Rent Soundtrack
    -Dashboard Confessional, Swiss Army Romance
    -Destiny’s Child, The Writing’s on the Wall
    -Black Eyed Peas, Elephunk

    (I had terrible taste).

  32. How did I forget Team Dresch’s “Personal Best”? Is it too late to add it? Can I have 11 albums? That album was HUGE and also had the best cover art.

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