A true masterpiece.
On June 18, 2001, one of the best compilation CDs to ever hit the shelves of your local music shop dropped.
I was six years old and I distinctly remember one of my older family friends holding the album. I remember staring at its iconic blue-purple cover, and Destiny’s Child staring back at me. True love.
It was only the fourth instalment of the hugely popular seasonal compilation to be released and upon re-listening to So Fresh: Hits of Winter 2001, it truly is a masterpiece.
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Starting strong with its opening track, ‘I’m Like a Bird’ by Nelly Furtado really kicks things into gear.
“I’m like a bird, I only fly away/I don’t know where my soul is/I don’t know where my home is”. When I was six, those lyrics hit different. I simply loved birds.
Two decades later they are still great and I can relate to them more now, probably because I am a grown-up.
We coast past Lil’ Bow Wow’s ‘Bow Wow (That’s My Name)’ and the still thoroughly abrasive ‘Rollin’’ by Limp Bizkit (sorry not sorry) to ‘Ms Jackson’ by OutKast.
My meagre age of six in 2001 meant I didn’t yet understand the ins and outs of custody battles, the politics of in-laws or the passing of love and time, but wow did that chorus slap.
Onwards and upwards to one of the best songs of the 21st century: ‘Survivor’ by Destiny’s Child. I remember sitting in front of Rage on Saturday mornings, waiting fervently for the videoclip where they emerge from the water glistening. The first rumblings of bisexuality? Perhaps.
This song is still so huge and as I write this in the midst of Melbourne’s fourth lockdown, it is still entirely hairbrush-microphone-worthy. Do yourself a favour.
Keep the hairbrush handy, because after playing ‘Survivor’ three or four times on loop, we move on to JLo’s timeless classic, ‘Love Don’t Cost a Thing’.
Like most of these songs, the important message went a little over my head as a kid, but singing, “When you rolled up in the Escalade/ Saw that truck you gave to the valet/ Knew that it was game when you looked at me/Pulling up your sleeve so I could see the Rolley bling” was perhaps the greatest tongue twister I’d ever achieved.
Then, of course, we come to one of the best day-of-the-week songs ever: ‘7 Days’ by Craig David.
While many artists sing about one day of the week at a time, David manages to smash all seven. It’s still so good! The sensual guitar, his silky voice… Now in my mid-twenties and having experienced the whirlwind of love, the weeks really do get away from you.
They say don’t trust people with two first names but Craig David is entirely on the money here.
Following tracks include ‘No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)’ by 3LW, the pumping ‘Around the World (La La La La La)’ by ATC, Leah Haywood’s ‘Takin’ Back What’s Mine’, ‘Lovin’ Each Day’ by Ronan Keating, Human Nature’s ‘When We Were Young’, ‘E.I’ by Nelly and ‘Tell Me How You Feel’ by Joy Enriquez.
Listening to all of these songs now is like going to a themed Yah Yah’s night and I’m extremely here for it (except that I’m in my bedroom drinking red wine out of the bottle – I’m fine).
The opening lyrics to ‘E.I’ are, “I’m a sucker for corn rows and manicured toes/Fendi capri pants and Parasucos, alright” and I think that’s just neat.
We then reach P!nk’s ‘You Make Me Sick’, and it is very important you turn this song up. Jumping around my bedroom in lockdown, my habit of ordering Maccas sundaes with extra chocolate fudge is much like P!nk’s complicated relationship with the antagonist of the song: “You make me sick/ I want you and I’m hating it“. We can all relate.
Avoiding Bon Jovi’s ‘Thank You For Loving Me’ (again, not sorry), we enjoy some delightfully cringeworthy whiteboy soul in the form of ‘Ooh It’s Kinda Crazy’ by soulDecision, before skipping the unbearably whiney ‘Take Me Away’ by Tony Lee Scott.
We then come to ‘Crazy’ by K-Ci & JoJo. It’s the second last track on the compilation, followed by Westlife’s ‘I Lay My Love on You’, which really sucks. ‘Crazy’ is a real anthem though, “I’m going crazy, crazy, crazy, just to thinkin’ about you lately“.
As I revisit this record, I’m surprised by how clearly I remember these songs and I think most people born in the early to mid ’90s will feel the same. If you also need a nostalgia-fuelled lift, spend a moment (or 77 minutes) with So Fresh: Hits of Winter 2001. You won’t regret it.
Want more nostalgia? Take a look back at the compilation albums that changed music forever.