Shuffle and Stories is an attempt to get a more personal look on why we feel the way we do about music. Music is like art, subjective, and that means that everyone has a different way at looking at one album or band. Every week I’ll pick from one of ten songs when my library is on shuffle and talk about the music but also talk about why I personally like it or tell any personal stories regarding the music.

Oh God the Top 100 Trance collections, sweet heavenly tandem-biking Carl Sagan the Top 100 Trance collections. There are few items in my library that hold more memories than the Top 100 Trance collections, these were the soundtracks to some of the best years of high school with my friends and I’m seriously getting nostalgic looking back at some of these tunes and how much spin they got from us.

If it wasn’t already obvious by video game music showing up in every single S&S article playlist (including this one) I cut my teeth in the realm of video games and general nerdiness. It started back when I was six when my grandma got me a Game Boy Pocket with Super Mario Land and snowballed out of control ever since. With the advent of my own computer, my own transportation, and friends with equally nerdy interests high school had brought on the era of LAN parties, and oh my were they glorious.

4/5th's of the gang The gang at one of Dan’s famous New Years Eve LAN Parties. From left: Schmitty, Me, Dan, Dan’s older brother Aaron, Joel, our mutual friend Bill

It was 10th grade when the glory years started. Back then the core gang was Dan, Schmitty, Joel, Adam, and I with other friends being popular with the gang too. We would spend our weekends and free days over at someone’s house neck-deep in sessions of Unreal Tournament 2004 or Starcraft: Brood War going so far as to dub ourselves the GRTL (Ghost Ride The Lawnmower) Clan, because what self-respecting nerd didn’t belong to a clan of some sort? And of course, with any gaming session music is involved, what music you may ask?

Electronica. Specifically the cheesiest Eurodance stuff around, this was around 2006-2007 so Basshunter and his (exceptionally) dumb songs were all the rage (I’m not going to try and deny that I listened to it). Dan however was the catalyst for the LAN party soundtracks with his discovery of and our eventual addictions to the Top 100 Best Techno collection. Griping about incorrectly using the term “Techno” aside these collections were massive, each volume had three discs to it and each disc had 30-odd tracks to it so the end product was a lot of music. All the songs were some sort of edit or remix and honestly I don’t even know what corner of the internet Dan got this from but we didn’t care, it fit so perfectly over dodging Shock Combos in UT2004 that we never looked back.

With each disc being so large and so many damn discs we each started picking our personal favorites. I was always a fan of Volume 3 Disc 1 as it had some of my favorite songs like that Tiesto remix of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme (wow that was embarrassing to say in 2012) and a pretty good version of Bob Sinclar’s World Hold On. It doesn’t matter how I try to legitimize it by namedropping songs, it was just my favorite block of hysterically dumb Eurodance to amass Zerglings to.

These collections with their extreme length easily fulfilled as the backdrop to the days and nights of LAN parties but it was what Dan pulled out of his hat next that knocked us back on our asses. In some other corner of the internet Dan had retrieved a holy relic known as Top 100 Trance and Techno Party Songs Of All Time. This was the mother lode, most likely just some playlist a guy put on the internet however it was an instant smash hit classic with the gang as it fully encompassed our lives. Gone were the club edits and remixes for these bad boys were the real killers and we sure got our mileage out of them.

We had these songs everywhere; they were already at the gaming sessions but they were also in our media players at school, in the car rides to lunch between classes, and on our tongues in casual conversation be it regarding how the singer from Thunder In My Heart must be rocking some serious heartbreak or admiration of any of the oddball rhymes in any Scooter song. We had listened to Creambase’s Fiddle 2003 so much that the phrases “fiddle up” and “fiddle down” entered our vocabulary with positive and negative connotations added to them.

We had hit the climax of the golden years, we had an ever growing circle of gaming friends, a killer selection of dumb but ever so iconic music to listen to, and we had recently gotten access to put UT2004 on the school computers and play it after last class. We were surely living the dream at that point, with most of us now in our senior years of high school there was a sense of victory in being able to go through the day of classes only to retire to the computer lab to hold UT2004 matches and practice our Flak Cannon accuracy.

But as reality would have it, the golden years would have to end. Joel and Schmitty graduated and started college at Michigan Tech and I graduated heading off to Central Michigan University, leaving Dan and Adam behind at high school. A year later Adam and Dan had both graduated, Adam taking a small degree in studio recording and Dan attending Lawrence Technical University completing our full evolution from high school.

Going back through some of these tracks as I was writing this was powerful. I know that sounds stupid when putting so much scale on cheesy songs like Sash!’s Ecuador but it’s less about the songs and more about the time they were being played. As I let the playlists go on I had nothing but great memories of Dan’s basement where we laughed at how mercilessly Joel would slaughter Adam in Brood War or yelled as Dan would stomp us all in UT2004 with is fantastic Shock Rifle play. It’s sad that those days are over but the memories they left were potent enough to be clear to this day.

from left: Dan, Chris and myself photobomb some poor guy during their raffle prize winning photo shoot at Big Shot Gaming 2011. We are all wearing matching shirts with our faces on them with “BFFF’s Club Best F**** Friends Forever” underneath

With high school (and college for some of us) now behind us we still attempt to get the gang together. Sometimes it’s on a vacation period where we know everyone’s going to be in town or sometimes it’s an organized LAN convention like Big Shot Gaming in Mt. Pleasant. We may have some new members in the gang, the games may have changed, and the music that plays might be different but when we’re all together Joel’s still going to work on his speed cubing, I’m still going to lose to Dan in Starcraft, and we’re always going to be the gang we were back then.

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This article was first posted on September 23, 2012