Check out Kate Nash’s Teenage Kicks playlist, feat. P!nk, Ms. Dynamite, The Streets and more

When you load up Spotify, a great big chunk of the time you can’t think what to play, right? You default back to your old favourites, those albums and songs you played on repeat when you first discovered you could make them yours. 

This isn’t about guilty pleasures; it’s about those songs you’ll still be listening to when you’re old and in your rocking chair. So, enter Teenage Kicks – a playlist series that sees bands running through the music they listened to in their formative years.

Next up, Kate Nash.

P!nk – There You Go

I had just got my own bedroom. I shared bunkbeds with my younger sister growing up; I was scared of the dark, whereas she couldn’t sleep if one single ray of light came through a crack in the door. The solution our mum came up with was having a small lamp on one night and off the next. We each complained and slept badly every other night.
When my parents converted our garage into two small bedrooms and a utility room, I was ecstatic to have my own room. I picked the paint for my walls: one dark purple, two lavender and one white. I got a bureau to do homework on and a purple office chair with wheels that I could spin around in and pump up and down with a lever. We went to Ikea, and I got a silver heart-shaped pillow for on top of my purple bed covers, and to top it all off, for my 13th birthday, I got a Sony Hifi system with a CD player, tape deck and radio.
My love for music began really young and was very much connected to my parents’ records and the gigantic CD and record player that lived in the living room. I’d take their CDs off the rack and plug in big headphones that didn’t fit on my small head yet. I listened to Harry Nilsson’s ‘Without You’ on repeat, to Melanie and The Beatles.
They soon bought my sisters and me a cheap tape recorder and a CD player. We bought singles from Virgin Music at the weekend and spent hours recording our own radio shows. One of us would host, one called in, and the third pretended to be Mystic Meg.
I remember once taping the first Spice Girls album onto a tape for my best friend as she didn’t have it. We all sat in the bedroom, shuffling about, trying to be as quiet as possible and most definitely failing as we recorded maybe the worst quality pirate version of ‘Spice’ in its entirety for her. Getting my own room and my shiny silver pillow and Hifi system was almost like falling in love for the first time. I salivated over that Hifi. Sometimes, I would just sit on my purple chair and stare at it in disbelief that my life could be this great; I could sleep with the light on every single night and fill my very own CD rack. I loved the sleek buttons; hitting the eject button or pressing play gave me genuine satisfaction. I felt so grown up, so independent.
I got my first phone, a Siemens S25 and started texting friends and boys in the evenings whilst I listened to music, signing off ‘tb’ (which means ‘text back’ for anyone young enough to have missed this gloriously innocent and slow-paced era of technology).
My own Sony Hifi system in my very own bedroom with purple and lavender walls is where I developed my own personal relationship with listening to music. I vividly remember sitting on my bed, looking through the plastic CD case, flicking through the booklet for lyrics and having P!nk’s first album on repeat. ‘There You Go’ felt new and cool and slightly alt for some reason; I think P!nk has always felt like a pop artist who did her own thing. I couldn’t believe the audacity of her short, hot pink hair. I went to the hairdressers on half term and got a similar short cut minus the hot pink.
On the first day back at school, Jake O’Mara proclaimed loudly that I looked like a boy, and I cried in assembly. This song came out when I was still very much a girl, but I was being thrown tiny flickers of independence that felt massive to me. And actually, I think they were massive for a 13-year-old from North Harrow in the year 2000.

Ms. Dynamite – Dy-Na-Mi-Tee

Having a tape deck and radio in one system meant I could now tape things off the radio. I’d know certain DJs would be doing first plays of things that I knew would be cool; they’d tease the moment, and you’d anticipate hearing the track for the first time. I’d be at the ready with my finger on the button, ready to hit record so I could hear the track again whilst I waited for a release. Ms. Dynamite was talked about ahead of time in a way that felt different to other mainstream artists. She felt important, respected and like she stood for something a bit more serious than other pop I was listening to. After hearing this track, I wrote my GCSE composition, a song called ‘Black & White’; it was just arpeggios on the piano and vocals, but lyrically, it was highly influenced by Ms Dynamite, my first political commentary on the world through music, and I performed it in my final school concert.

Stacie Orrico – Stuck

Another place my sisters and I would consume music was on TV. We didn’t have SKY; my parents were against it. I wonder if they would have let us have an iPhone or social media in our teenage years if we grew up now. The man selling SKY to homes in our area came to the door and asked my Dad what he would do if there was nothing to watch on BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5, my Dad proudly told him he’d switch off the TV and do something else!
We were told this story many times by our parents whenever we begged for and complained that we didn’t have SKY. We had a trampoline in the garden, bikes to ride, CD players in our rooms and homework to do. But in our teenage years, TV changed a little bit; the TV gods shone down on us and gifted millennials without SKY a few extra channels, and a few of those channels showed music videos exclusively. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I have seen Robbie Williams rip off his own skin or the girls from Tatu make out in the rain.
‘Stuck’ was another music video that got played on repeat. Stacie Orrico was beautiful; she had a cute mole on her cheek, a stripey black and white scarf, ripped jeans, hoop earrings, and perfect eyebrows, which were things I strived for. She also sang about being stuck on a boy, obsessing over him and I could highly relate to these desperate lyrics. I still think this pop song slaps and stands the test of time.

Shola Ama – Imagine (Asylum Remix)

When my older sister brought home the first Pure Garage compilation, my social life changed drastically. My sister was cool; she picked up trends quickly. I was more of a nerd, so when she did anything, I copied. She listened to Garage music, so I wanted to; she wore white eyeliner, so I learnt how to pencil it thickly onto my eyelids; she had boobs, so I got a Wonderbra; she went to the club at weekends and drank underage… you’re getting my point.
I went from meeting friends for shopping at the Harlequin Centre or swimming and slides at Watford Springs to dancing to Garage music at clubs. Area and Destiny were our nearest, and they played UK Garage exclusively on Saturday nights; there were also live performances. I recall swinging from metal bars whilst watching Romeo from So Solid Crew and thinking he had the most beautiful eyes.
This new musical landscape brought with it the desire to grind with strangers and to dance and sweat until my fringe was just two soaking greasy strips that slapped uncomfortably against my spotty forehead. I wore denim, mini pleated skirts with cream loafers and drank alcopops. It also enabled my first musical performance outside of school and a family BBQ.
I would tell DJs I was a singer and get handed mixed CDs and phone numbers at clubs, but I had no idea what to do with them and wasn’t confident enough to take the next step. A friend from school called Lee started MCing and asked me to sing on a Garage track with him. I performed and recorded under the moniker Lady K, and I have no idea where that song ended up, but I do remember being really excited to sing in public and to be on a Garage track. This Shola Ama remix was my favourite song during my early UK Garage years.

The Calling – Wherever You Will Go

I flirted with two sides of live music when I was a teenager: UK Garage and metal. The other place I could drink underage and look at boys and punch people in a mosh pit, a desire I didn’t know I had until I got into one for the first time, was Wembley Rugby Club. Metal bands played the Rugby Club on Friday nights, and me and my friends outside of school would congregate here for alcopops and moshing. This is where I first became friends with musicians. Including my friend Jay, who played my first ever solo show with me.
We didn’t know each other at the time, but I saw him around. He was the guy who, when someone was too drunk to play bass or drums or guitar, Jay would calmly step in and wing it while the original band member pulled a whitey in the corner or puked in a bush outside.
My mate Dave was in one of the metal bands that played Wembley Rugby Club regularly. He had ginger hair and braces, and I really fancied him. We had just started flirting and hanging out in parks at the weekend in addition to me seeing his band live when his mum signed up to a government immigration something or other at the time that allowed UK nurses to move to and work in New Zealand. His mum did that, and before our braces could get locked together, he was gone.
My friend Linzi and I printed photos of him out and stuck them onto an A3 piece of cardboard that we made into a goodbye card, and when he was gone, we watched rock and metal music videos on her big TV (she had SKY). I grieved our never-to-be relationship, certain he would have been my first boyfriend to this song.

The Beatles – Sun King

I grew up listening to The Beatles like most kids whose parents grew up in the 60s. I had a crush on Paul McCartney, and I loved the apple in the centre of the vinyl on ‘Let it Be’; that’s why I put a photo of a lemon on the ‘Foundations’ single vinyl.
I sort of detached from listening to music my parents had listened to in my early teenage years. I had my own CD rack to fill, if you recall. But when I was 16, my music tastes got a bit more serious and diversified. I strayed from pop, UK Garage and local metal bands, and soon enough, The Beatles and other historically significant bands were back in listening rotation.
‘Abbey Road’ became a respected album in my friendship group; we’d discuss why and how the record was so good in a way that felt nerdy and important. We idolised not just the record but the actual recordings themselves. These years felt more about proving musical taste. I guess these are more self-conscious years where identity is paramount to every breathing moment. Bedroom walls are covered in images that mean something to you as an individual and music tastes can prove worth, level of cool and intelligence within your social circle.

Janis Joplin – Mercedes Benz

I have a really nice memory connected to this song. My nan had just taught me how to knit, and I was making my first scarf in the kitchen one night. My mum was helping me, and we were just hanging out in the kitchen, she started putting on records, and she played ‘Pearl’ for me.
This was the first time I had ever heard Janis Joplin. I was shocked at her voice; it was like nothing I had ever heard before. I couldn’t believe it was a woman singing; it was like gravel, she sounded masculine, I thought; it blew my mind, and so I immediately bought my own Janice Joplin album after that.
I loved her delivery; it was rebellious and cheeky. I loved hearing her laugh at the end of the recording. There was so much personality in it. I think it really informed me as an artist in a fundamental way about what female singers can be, what they can sound like and do, that there was something out there other than pop. It was pre-discovering punk and the first truly rebellious, non-conformist female musician I looked up to.

The Streets – Dry Your Eyes

The Streets’ first two albums were important during these years as well. My whole friendship group idolised Mike Skinner. I feel like the whole school did, and I still do. He was doing something so unique and original, and whilst deeply tied to the UK Garage scene, he felt like a punk poet, a true storyteller, someone who reflected life in the UK and all of its mundanities in such an honest and somehow spectacular way. He made the mundane matter, and therefore, he made us feel like we were worth something and connected to something bigger.
I fancied one of my mates who was in a fairly serious relationship with another girl. I walked past the two of them at lunch break one afternoon, and without being able to hear everything, I could just tell from their body language that they were breaking up. I was overjoyed. I’m sure I couldn’t hide my excitement. That night, he and a couple of other mates came over to my house to commiserate, and we listened to ‘Dry Your Eyes’. He was heartbroken, and I was secretly very happy. I smugly awaited my chance at what would become a disastrous, passionate and short-lived relationship.

Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

When I left school, I didn’t get into university. When September rolled around, everyone went off to do more interesting things than me, while I grilled chicken at Nando’s, daydreamed about being a musician, and wondered where it had all gone wrong.
My best friend Siobhan worked at Superdrug over the road, and when we were both closing up, we’d swap free chips for lip gloss after our shifts. But the summer before all the soul searching began was bliss; school was over, the horizon felt exciting, not daunting, like right before the sun is setting and it’s all glistening on the ocean. I hadn’t had all my rejection letters yet, so I felt optimistic. I was sure I’d get into drama school or, at the very least, university.
I now had a record player as well as my Sony Hifi system in my bedroom, although I didn’t have the space for it, so it lived with two large cheap speakers on my bedroom floor amongst clothes and dirty underwear, books, fake pearls and vintage handbags. I bought records at charity shops and kept them under my bed. I’d wake up hungover with no job, no school and grab a record from under the bed without having to actually get out of the bed, pop it on and lie there listening to it. This was bliss to me.
There was a new crush in my life, and he was a musician. I actually met him through my first musician crush, Dave from the metal band, who now sadly lived full-time in New Zealand. My new crush played acoustic music not metal; he was deep and romantic, and he sent me his original songs over MSN Messenger. My heart swooned.
We’d chat about music most nights, we hung out at BBQs, and he even played gigs in people’s gardens. He encouraged me to play as well. The thought made me feel sick with nerves, but I loved that he encouraged me. He loved Bob Dylan, which was clear in his music, and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan vinyl got regular play on my record player on these soon not to be unburdened mornings.

Taken from the May 2024 issue of Dork. Kate Nash’s album ‘9 Sad Symphonies’ is out 21st June.