Words by Emily Burkhardt Art by Rochelle Oh
When it comes to nostalgia in the world of music, you can’t go past a good old CD.
That’s how much of a Generation Z baby I am, I think that a CD is old. These days, they’re not dead. Just painfully low-tech.
But, let me hit you with an even bigger nostalgia shot: So Fresh CDs. Does anyone else remember those suckers? I guarantee at least 60% of us will have a stack of these somewhere in our house, gathering dust. These days, they’re not dead either. Hits of ‘Winter 2018’ was released a month ago. But, these tracks are painfully unnecessary with the ease of DIY curation in Spotify and the domination of mobile music.
Whether you were always first in line to grab a copy, or cranked them up at your 12th birthday party, So Fresh was the soundtrack of our lives during the 2000s.
Since 2007, every seasonal So Fresh release has hit #1 on the ARIA Compilation Chart. Out of the 44 releases between 2007 to 2017, 23 have gone platinum. This also means that over this 10 year period, So Fresh had sold more albums than Flume, Angus and Julia Stone, Sticky Fingers and Chet Faker combined. At one point, there were more So Fresh CDs in Australia than koalas or domesticated cats.
Over and over, they have been the most successful pop music compilations in the country. But, why?
The answer lies in what I believe to be a winning formula. After all, So Fresh compilations were the olden day Top Hits AUS/NZ Spotify playlist. They had combined all the top songs on the charts, alongside some weird and questionable ones, into one album that cost $20 at your local Sanity or JB Hi-Fi. Someone had already done the hard work for you, and packaged it all up on CDs with stereotypical seasonal colours and graphics. No need to go out and buy 20 different singles now. Just be lazy, hand over your hard-earned red banknote and get all the hits in one go. Man, those were the days.
To really take you back, let’s break down the one copy of a So Fresh compilation I could get my hands on at short notice. Allow me to take you back to the wild world of music in 2010….
In 2010, Taylor Swift as a 20-year-old country bumpkin won a Grammy for Album of the Year with ‘Fearless,’ Bruno Mars released his debut album ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans,’ and Kanye was in his ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ phase. I don’t know Kanye’s music well, but I’m going to assume that hits you in your nostalgic feels. Do you feel old yet? Because that was EIGHT years ago.
Spring 2010 brought us some really memorable tunes, and So Fresh: Hits of Spring 2010 was released on the 10th September 2010. The bangers were coming thick and fast on this CD. Anyone remember the absolute bop that was Ou Est Le Swimming Pool’s “Dance the Way I Feel” or Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite?” I could not get that shit out of my head in Year 7.
Unfortunately, they were basically the definition of a one hit wonder. Clearly they thought they’d peaked with their So Fresh recognition.
This was also the case for a number of Australian artists who had short-lived success but would be considered blasts from the past today. I’m looking at you Vanessa Amorosi, Michael Paynter and Amy Meredith.
But, Spring 2010 was also one of many appearances for artists young and old. Maroon 5 clocked up another memorable hit with ‘Misery,’ Justin Bieber was still baby-faced and breaking hearts with his smash-hit ‘Somebody to Love’ and Ke$ha was just getting started with her fourth single, ‘Take It Off’.
So, although a lot of us have relegated the likes of So Fresh to the ‘been there, done that’ box, they do represent generations of great music curated into seasonal collections. A quick scan of these tune-filled times would certainly bring back some feels. But, now they are cherished relics of a blissfully innocent time in our lives. Thank you So Fresh, you’ve served us well.