One day during my freshman year of high school, my friend turned to me, earbud in hand, and said, “Hey Pam, you should give this band a listen. I think you’d really like them.” The band was The 1975 and the song was “Sex,” which instantly took me by surprise. Some English man singing about sleeping with a girl who has a boyfriend? Unheard of. Yet, I was hooked.
After that, though, I didn’t keep up with the band as they released two more albums over the course of the next five years. Looking back, I don’t know why — I just wasn’t as music savvy as I am now. Nonetheless, I found The 1975 again last spring after coming across their then latest hit “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You).” Just like that, I was hooked again, and they’ve kept me on their line ever since.
Still, last spring, I was oblivious to the mature themes The 1975 sung about in almost every song of theirs: sex, drugs, and politics, to name a few. Now I know that “It’s Not Living” is actually about lead singer Matty Healy’s past heroin addiction. “Robbers” is about an emotionally-strained relationship. And “Sex,” well, is about sex — with a strong hint of infidelity. Over time I became aware of these themes and realized how much I was resonating with them. No, I wasn’t cheating on my boyfriend or doing drugs, but I was blossoming into a world I had shielded myself from for so long.
In high school, I was the quiet girl with only a handful of friends. Before I met my boyfriend of almost six years, the only sexual experience I ever had was (regrettably) making out with a guy who lived hundreds of miles away. I didn’t go to parties. I didn’t even go out with friends. I had my studies. That’s why “Sex” at the time was so shocking to me — I didn’t even remotely relate to what was being sung.
Then, I grew up. My boyfriend and I intimately explored each other. I went out. No, I didn’t party or drink or do drugs, but I started enjoying the simplicities of life with others. Throughout high school, I would go back to “Sex” and understand more and more of the innuendos present in it. Flash-forward to last spring when I listened to the song for the first time in what felt like forever, and I finally felt at home with it.
The 1975 opened me up to who I had been secretly afraid to be for the start of my young adult life: a fully-aware, self-discovered adult. I embraced my almost entirely black wardrobe (including black lipstick/gloss). I didn’t feel ashamed for exploring (and enjoying) my sexual wants and needs in college. I became more politically aware and understood what my beliefs and values were. All of this happened because of a band.
I don’t want to be one of those girls whose personality is defined by a band, because that’s not the case. The 1975 helped me discover my personality, and in turn, who I am as an adult. They guided me. It was up to me to listen to their music, understand the messages, and realize how they affected me. And once I was aware of those effects, I didn’t shy away from what I wanted anymore. I was me, in all my black-clothed glory.
That being said, I’m a firm believer in the power that music can have over our personal journeys, whatever they may be. For me, it was an emotional one. For somebody else, it could be spiritual or physical, among endless others. Nonetheless, the legacies musicians leave will live on for as long as there are people out there to embrace their music and, in turn, be changed by them — just like I was.
Now that I think about it (or, really, now that I’m writing about it), my journey with The 1975 came full circle. Last fall, on the night of my 21st birthday, my best friend and I drove to Tampa to see The 1975 perform. The day I reached adulthood was the day I got to hear “Sex” live, six years after my initial listen to it in high school. And, unsurprisingly enough, it was the first night I donned both black lipstick and eyeliner, as seen below:
So, I’ll end this little memoir with a thank you to The 1975: Matty, George, Ross, and Adam. Without you gentlemen, I’m not sure who I’d be today. And thank you to all of the other artists out there who have had any sort of positive influence on anyone’s life. Lastly, for my fellow The 1975 fans who may come across this article: SELLIN’ PETROL!!!