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What Your Favourite of the “Indie” Bands That I Listened to in High School Says About You

When I was 13, I was genuinely convinced that I had discovered Coldplay. As a teenage girl in a small northern town, I was determined to branch out in the music world and find something that would express just how different I was from my peers. “I’m not like other girls,” I said as I wrote a new set of lyrics down my forearm in washable ink each morning. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that everyone was just as obsessed with my favourite artists as I was. 

So, cast yourself back to the early 2010s and get ready: here’s what you were like in high school based on which of these bands you liked best.

Coldplay (pre A Head Full of Dreams)

If you loved Coldplay, you were faux-grunge. I’m talking ratty band t-shirts, flannels stolen from your dad, and shredded skinny jeans. You didn’t have the confidence or the know-how to go full out, though, and none of your clothes ever really fit the way they were supposed to. You definitely had an eyeliner phase. You had friends, but you weren’t really known for anything specific as a group. Bonus points if you used temporary dye (or Kool-Aid!) to put a faded red streak in your hair. 

Lana Del Rey

You were a sheltered child, and Born to Die was the first album explicitly about sex and drugs that you ever listened to. You spent a lot of time fantasizing about how all of the people in your classes were fantasizing about you right back. You were a closet romantic with a feigned cynical streak. You probably had a hidden dramatic side, and you could be a little mean. You related a little too intensely to Lana, despite never having had your heart broken or even having gotten drunk. You were the main character.

Ed Sheeran (only +)

Ed Sheeran probably came out of your One Direction phase after you decided that liking 1D wasn’t cool anymore. You wore a lot of oversized wool pullovers and unironically called the sleeves “sweater paws.” You were quiet and felt overlooked by everyone. Your friends called you the Mom Friend. You loved to read but usually couldn’t concentrate long enough to finish a book.

Florence + The Machine

Congratulations, you had excellent taste! You were an art kid of some kind, whether it was visual, drama, music, or some unholy mix of the three. You definitely had a bit of a superiority complex about your creativity and dressed accordingly. You likely went to concerts and loved your friends fiercely. Your group had sleepovers and shouted “I love you”s from across the street. You pretended you were super chill, but you could be a touch dramatic.

Twenty One Pilots

You were the definition of angst. Your closet was purely blacks and greys, and you just wanted to be left alone while desperately craving validation at the same time. You had a lot of big feelings, and you felt misunderstood. Your English teacher approached you to ask you if you should see the school counsellor because you kept handing in incredibly dark stories, and she wasn’t wrong. You had insomnia, or if you didn’t, you stayed up all night anyway watching Supernatural or Grey’s Anatomy.


You were frequently called an old soul by your parents and teachers, which was code for “ridiculously anxious from a very young age.” You were so ready to leave your small town that you got ghost-nostalgia for high school from the future you, thereby ruining your enjoyment for the present. You lay in the middle of the street at night at least once and went on a lot of dark walks with your friends. You tried your best to be happy and love life, but it was hard sometimes.

Imagine Dragons (but exclusively Night Visions)

You were totally convinced that you were the main character. You were lowkey angry all the time but didn’t want to admit it because you had no idea why (spoiler alert: it was the hormones and pent-up aggression from refusing to participate in PE). You hated school spirit, and it crushed you that the administration kept using “It’s Time” at assemblies.

Melanie Martinez

You were definitely dramatic. You laughed unapologetically, and you cried. A lot. And then you posted blurry Snapchat stories of yourself post-tears with the caption, “Someone hmu.” You either wore a lot of black or a lot of pink; either way, it paired well with your perfect winged eyeliner. If you had someone to boot for you, you went to parties and drank a lot, but you also spent a lot of nights alone in bed, stalking people on Instagram.

Marina and the Diamonds

You were angry a lot but kind of liked that about yourself. You painted your nails black and tried your best to dress the way you wanted to without your anxiety getting in the way. You probably had a bit of a sexual awakening (a.k.a. it’s okay to be horny!) while listening to her. When you finally got your license, you drove your friends everywhere and you all screamed along to Marina while feeling that overwhelming flood of hope and dread that comes from being a teenager.

Teenaged-you deserves all the love in the world for making it through that hellscape, bad haircuts and all. Current-you, however, deserves to enjoy looking up your old favourites for the nostalgia factor. Careful not to get their songs stuck in your head for the next two weeks (I haven’t stopped humming “Demons” since I wrote this article). Alternatively, rediscover an old favourite and relive the drama of youth safely. Happy listening!

Eli Mushumanski is a queer Writing and English Honour undergrad in their fourth year at the University of Victoria. They specialize in fiction and poetry. Their work has been published by The Albatross, The Warren, and Flare: The Flagler Review, and they are a fiction editor at UVic's literary journal, This Side of West. When not caught up by schoolwork or reading, Eli plays Stardew Valley and chats with their mom on the phone.
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