When I first came up with the idea to make playlist for every grade in middle school I thought it was going to be super easy. After all there are so many songs I associate with middle school and there are a lot that I still listen to to this day because I guess I never grew up. However when I started putting together a playlist for sixth grade it ended up being really hard.
There are a few reasons that made the sixth grade playlist hard. One is that sixth grade was just a blur for me because of personal tragedy in the family and then I finished out the last half of sixth grade homeschooling. Also this was still kind of pre-Internet so it was harder to discover new music. I was basically limited to whatever was on the radio or whatever the people around me were actually listening to. This playlist would’ve been easier if I hadn’t limited myself to only one song per artist because then I could’ve been honest and just put The Ever Passing Moment by MxPx. Because that’s what I basically listened to 24/7 for that entire year. So going back to sixth grade and trying to remember what I was listening to at the time ended up being kind of difficult. What I did know without a doubt was that the playlist needed to start and end with rap rock because nothing says 2001 like rap rock.
All right let’s go through this track by track.
Momentum — Tobymac
I first saw Toby Mac at a Christian youth conference in Oklahoma City. I was a fan of DC talk so he had that going for him and I was also a fan of current rap rock at the time like Limp Bizkit and P.O.D. which * spoiler alert * show up later in this playlist. This is one of the most embarrassing entries on the list if were being honest. But I think when you look at the guitar lines in the song and ignore the terrible vocals and the production around it you can see glimpses of what I’m going to be into later in life. So obviously I’m looking for heavy guitars and that kind of thing but being in sixth grade going to Christian youth conferences this was the best I could do.
The Rock Show — blink-182
Alright, so this is a good point to mention the mp3 library on my older brother Ryan’s computer. He had gone off to college and got his own computer. This was the height of Napster and Limewire so he came back home with a ton of music downloaded. I would play solitaire or pinball on his computer and listen to music, skipping around to the songs I liked the most. I loved blink-182 because I had been listening to Dude Ranch and Enema of the State for the previous couple years at my best friend’s house but I think the only blink song Ryan had was The Rock Show.
Responsibility — MxPx
This was my absolute favorite song for probably two straight years. I thought the concept of the song was funny and the music video for it was a ton of fun. As previously mentioned, my sixth grade playlist was really just The Ever Passing Moment on repeat but I think this is the most representative song from that album. I remember actually hearing this on the radio a few times and nearly peeing my pants with excitement that MxPx was being played on the normal rock radio station.
Flavor of the Weak — American Hi-Fi
True story, I didn’t realize this song title was a pun with week spelled “weak” until I put together this playlist. As a little sixth grader I had a real thing for songs about dudes singing about girls they couldn’t get. Probably because I was scared to death of talking to any of the girls I liked and internalizing this idea that girls only fall for jerks helped me feel better about not even trying. As far as this particular song goes, I think it was maybe also on my brother’s computer and I was so desperate for any pop-punk sounding song that I embraced this whole heartedly.
See The Glory — Steven Curtis Chapman
In the way that I listened to The Ever Passing Moment on repeat, my brother Jonathan listened to Declaration by Steven Curtis Chapman. I was kind of Stockholm Syndromed into knowing all the words to every song on that album but this one was my favorite. This is the most rock style song on the album so I loved it every time it came on. I think Steven Curtis Chapman is a really talented songwriter and this chorus is super catchy.
Little Things — Good Charlotte
This was the first song I heard by Good Charlotte and I thought it was so cool. I remember someone letting me listen to it on headphones once and I instantly committed the lyrics to memory.
Teenage Dirtbag — Wheatus
This song wins the award for Most Middle School Song Ever. Just the hearing the opening turntable scratches transports me back to the halls of Childers Middle School.
The Middle — Jimmy Eat World
This was definitely on my brother’s computer as well. I remember hearing this on the radio and loving it. I think it was years before I ever heard another Jimmy Eat World song other than this one. I do remember reading an article about Jimmy Eat World in Guitar magazine that was very much a raving, glowing endorsement and just being like “huh, I guess they’re actually good”.
Youth of a Nation — P.O.D.
For a while there, P.O.D. was everywhere. From Christian radio, to rock radio, to football highlight reels. You couldn’t escape it. For some reason, Youth of a Nation was the song of theirs that grabbed me the most at the time and I would crank it every time it came on. Looking back on it now, the verse about school shootings is depressingly still relevant.
Pressing On — Relient K
Youth group, man. Youth group taught me two things 1) far too many kids have sex at church camp 2) Relient K is dope. I first heard this song in the hallowed halls of Indian Springs Baptist Church. It was on in the background after a youth group service and I had to go around bugging everyone until someone could tell me who the band was.
Warning — Green Day
International Superhits! Is a fantastic greatest hits album covering the entire career of pop punk legends Green Day. Whatever happened to them after 2001? It’s a shame they disappeared like that, but oh well. Anyway, Warning was always one of my favorite songs on that album.
Paparazzi — Switchfoot
My love for Switchfoot goes back to when my family was going to a Christian Music festival in Broken Arrow and I had to search the lineup for any band I could remotely be interested in. Since Switchfoot actually played rock instead of pop they became my guys. I think I barely even got to see them at the festival because we got there late. I listened to their album Learning to Breath a bunch because my brother Roger got it in one of those record in the mail club deals. Paparazzi was my favorite song because it had the catchiest, pop punk feel to it.
Fat Lip — Sum 41
This song holds a pretty special place in my heart because I felt so cool at the time for knowing all the words. Looking back, that’s not a very impressive accomplishment and the song doesn’t hold up very well. I still love it and will sing along every time it comes on but it is prrreeetty goofy sounding now.
My Way — Limp Bizkit
Ah the new millennium. Y2k didn’t bring with it a world wide crises brought on by computers crashing but it did bring us Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, which is arguably worse. However, at the time I loved that album and thought it was one of the coolest sounding things I’d heard. I remember playing Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64 and listening to this album for hours. If you had asked me at the time what rock music I liked I definitely would have said Limp Bizkit. There are a lot of music choices I’ve made that I’m embarrassed about now but can still listen to with a good amount of nostalgia and enjoy the experience. Limp Bizkit is not one of those bands.