We all seek forms of escape, especially in times like this. Some find it in literature, binge-watching movies or shows, video games, wandering through nature or in one’s own mind. For me, I escape in music, sinking away for two, three or maybe five minutes to completely leave my old mindset and enter a new one. I’m not saying that this form of melodic therapy is for everyone or that my vast liking in music are for all ears. These nine songs serve wonderful purposes individually, but collectively, they keep me moving forward.
The Wombats – “Curveballs”
Perfect to dance to, easy to sing along to and has enough energy to get your anger flowing, the song by the English indie band allows anyone with too much going on to relate. The repetitive line “I can’t, I can’t keep-keep up with these curveballs” is far too relevant with everything changing by the day with COVID-19. And that goes for things happening on campus and off of it. “Curveballs” expresses that stress and that desire to just be rid of frustration.
John Denver – “Sunshine on my Shoulders”
On a sleepy Sunday morning, just before I am ready to throw myself into a pile of unfinished work, I take a breather to listen to what my boy John has to say. The lightness, positivity, smooth strings and oboes playing along slowly and that soothing voice just puts you at ease. If the sun is out, I take a walk and the sunshine really does “make me happy”, as the song goes. I am able to take a step back, breathe and prepare myself for the day. It’s a song powerful enough to lift you up and gentle enough to lay you back down to rest.
Billie Eilish, Khalid – “lovely”
For my deep moments and the depression that haunts me on a daily basis, “lovely” captures it all. The song jokes at the idea that one could be happy being so miserable, depressed and tired all the time. Not only does the song pair with the energy that follows many all over the world, it says what we are all thinking: “wanna feel alive, outside I can’t fight my fear”. The repetition of “hello, welcome home” allows me to imagine our minds as homes, and that we can stay locked in our own thoughts, enclosing ourselves in a continuous film roll of dark imagery. All in all, “lovely” suits the purpose of filling my ears with the shadows I always have attached.
John Mayer- “Waiting on the World to Change”
Perhaps Mayer was about 14 years too early with this release of the song because he had all of it right. He repeatedly hints at corruption among leaders and our generation’s eventual ascension to power with the weight of responsibility. Even the lyric “It’s hard to beat the system when we’re standing at a distance” is calling out to our current situation in 2020. Yes, the song was perfect for its release date too back in 2006, but I can’t help but ignore the message it can send today. The upbeat jazz-rock edge plays with the fact that things will get better, bumping that optimism into my groove.
The Black Keys – “These Days”
If you know anything about me, I’m always reaching back into my Akron roots and trying to feel a little touch of home. For those moods when you just want to lie back on your bed or floor, stare up at the ceiling and have those deep conversations with yourself about life, this is the song is perfect for those moments. “Wasted times and broken dreams… is all I see these days”, and well, isn’t that relatable as hell? The slow, soft voice of Dan Auerbach coaxes us into a blue state, as does the dragging out of those bass notes. It makes you want to sway away from your problems.
Miley Cyrus – “The Climb”
I mean, I had to. Go ahead, give me sh*t about it. Whatever. But after a long, hard day, I don’t have a lot of other options to turn to. I had actually never listened to this song fully until this year, and honestly, I could have really used it in the past. The upbeat guitar, the raspy grit of Cyrus’ voice and the full power it all has to get you going is absolutely unbelievable. I feel motivated to get stuff done when I hear those words, especially how I “gotta keep my head held high” and that “sometimes I’m gonna have to lose”. The energy gained from those near four minutes is enough for me to remember that I can’t give up and that if I do, I won’t be able to see what’s beyond that mountain.
Mumford & Sons – “Holland Road”
We’re in a time of stress and anger. Instead of lashing out and causing more pain, we should be forgiving and kind. “Holland Road” reminds me of this, and how that no matter who or what beats us down (*cough* ‘rona *cough*), we should turn the other cheek and offer kindness and love. The folk-rock twist of the instruments hint at optimism as the lyrics mention destruction, being on one’s knees and loss. All of which we see here now, in one form or another. The one lyric that always sticks with me, even after listening on repeat to feel all the feels, is “so I hit my low, but little did I know that would not be the end”. And I know that it won’t be the end, no matter how many times I hit my lowest point and the ringing of the banjo brings me back in.
Jimmy Eat World – “The Middle”
To relieve a little stress, why not have a little alternative rock? In a song revolving around the idea of being looked down on and trying be positive, it serves the purpose of lifting one out of the dumps. Not only does the song take me back to my angsty teenage years, it reminds me that everything will, indeed, “be alright”. And I really need that reminder, because I know it will take some time for everything to go back to normal and I want to do everything I can to help make it happen.
Louis Armstrong- “La vie en Rose”
“La vie en Rose” never ceases to make me sway and calm my mind with its lovely piano and trumpet. Originally written by French artist Édith Piaf in 1945 and made popular again by Armstrong in the mid-80’s, the song tells a short tale of love. I imagine myself dancing in a ballroom, completely at peace, when I hear the smooth tunes roll over one another. Translating from French, the title means “life in pink”, hinting at a lifestyle of absolute love and happiness, a perfect reality to escape into. I often find myself singing along and picturing a life such as that. Oh, to live a life in pink and jazz.