Behind the closed doors of my bedroom that hides the litter of pens, a mountain of pillows and plenty of snack wrappers, you’ll usually find me sitting in bed throughout the week, curating playlists for my various moods throughout this quarantine.
You know how you used to sit in the car on long road trips and stare out the window, listening to songs on your iPod while maladaptive daydreaming to whatever song is playing? Switch that with me staring at my ceiling at 1 am or looking out my window while it rains and it’s essentially the same thing.
In the past few weeks of isolation, where it feels like nothing has been the same, I’ve had a lot of spare time to explore new music and dive back into some old classics that never fail to bring back nostalgic feelings of being a teenager who had just discovered punk rock in the 9th grade.
So whether I’m blasting Kanye West during an attempt to motivate myself to do homework, or baking cupcakes with One Direction in the background, there’s a soundtrack to my quarantine and I’m sure everyone has their own too.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite songs and albums during what feels like the end of the world:
Pony Album – Rex Orange County
Rex Orange County, the stage name for one-man band Alexander O’Connor, shot to fame with songs “Best Friend” and “UNO” that drove the likes of Tyler, the Creator to recruit the young singer into featuring and help produce music for the rapper’s experimental album, Flower Boy.
O’Connor’s newest album, Pony, was released in 2019 and has been a constant soundtrack in my daily life from doing the dishes to singing in the shower with its whimsical songs that make me miss moments that never happened. My personal favorite from the album, “Pluto Projector,” a song about love and the confusion of growing up, is a song best described as the feeling of when you’re at the top of the ferris wheel on a cool autumn night, overlooking the skyline in slow motion. Blissful, unpredictable, and full of wonder.
After Hours Album – The Weeknd
Abel Tesfaye, better known as R&B/Hip-Hop artist The Weeknd, released his most experimental album, After Hours, this past month that wove aspects of his past melancholic style of slow R&B music with a smooth blend of techno-pop beats similar to his past Starboy album that was created in collaboration with French house music and synthpop duo, Daft Punk. Like many other albums, this release joins the new trend of returning to the 80s with a mix of electro-wave beats.
While this album was one that was by far the unique and musically exploratory unexpected style of songs I have ever heard from The Weeknd, his constant morphing and creative style of blending both new and old genres is one that I applaud for its constant reinvention. My personal favorites from the album are power-bops “Faith,” “Repeat After Me (Interlude),” and “Save Your Tears” that fuse funk, pop, and aspects of the 80s persona The Weeknd has chosen to embody for this album’s aesthetic and creative era.
“If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” – The 1975
Words cannot explain how excited I was for this song to officially be released from Manchester based band, The 1975, in preperation of their upcoming fourth studio album, Notes on a Conditional Form, which is scheduled for release on May 22nd, 2020 (unless they push back the release date, again).
This band was my first concert in Chapel Hill’s infamous Cats Cradle my freshman year of high school, and is a group I’ve seen three times in concert because they’re truly just that good. The curation of this single, “If You’re Too Shy, (Let Me Know)” as a sampler for the new album has often already been performed live on the band’s tour and has been on constant repeat no matter where I go. A playful song about conditional love and affection, this song is the physical embodiment of the soundtrack of an old Breakfast Club style-esq song that would be the soundtrack to a road trip with a pack of friends.
“Dead to Me” – Kali Uchis
I had to include a TikTok song, I couldn’t help it. A song from her debut Isolation album, Columbian-American singer, Kali Uchis, has shot to fame by featuring on many tracks with artists from Tyler, the Creator and his hit single, “See You Again,” to Daniel Caesar’s “Get You.” Her music is best labeled as genre-defying and unbound, and it’s no surprise this song has been in the background of almost ever other TikTok I’ve seen that featured anything from fashion, memes, to relationship advice.
Unknowingly to me, this song because a constant tune I found myself humming throughout the day and it’s no surprise as it’s truly so catchy I couldn’t help googling the lyrics and adding it to my daily playlist. Listen to this if you wanna dance or if you’re going through a bad breakup – this is just one of many bops by Uchis and definitely the first of many more to come.
“A World Alone” – Lorde
Finally, in my days of staying home and spending far too much time organizing my Spotify playlists and exploring my old middle school music, the return of one my favorite artists that never fails to evoke a feeling of youth and wonder in me, no matter how old or where I am, is Lorde.
There are plenty of tweets out there asking the New Zealand Native, Ella Yelich-O’Connor, to come back and help many teenagers and early 20s Gen-Zers go through this time of crisis with new music, and I am definitely one of them. The Grammy-awarded artist has been a big part of my life since her rise to fame from the release of her chart-topping single, “Royals,” and her music used to make me daydream about picture-perfect moments of a movie-esque life as a teenager. But now, as I’m entering my last year of college, her music only makes me mourn moments and memories that passed by too fast, and embodiment the exactly feeling of what it feels like to grow up.
“A World Alone,” coupled with another heart-wrenching song, “Ribs,” have a mystic power of evoking a sense of longing and dreamlike wonder that simply put, is indescribable. How do you describe a song that makes you dream, hope, and feel sad at the same time? A song that brings you back to an exact moment in time that seems to have never happened?
The only way I can explain it is to tell you to listen to it yourself. Both Melodrama and Pure Heroine are albums that bring answers to these questions that seem unanswerable. And like the other songs and album on this list that barely encompass the ridiculous amount of music I’ve been listening to, each of these songs have created a space in my brain for a memory that is only brought out when my mind hears those first few notes.
Everyone has a life playlist and like life, those songs and emotions and memories differ with the growth we experience throughout our lives. I never delete playlists for this reason, because deleting a playlist feels like the erasure of a memory. A memory that sometimes, is better told through a song.
Maybe with time I’ll finally move on from my Lorde phase, but I doubt it, because there’s too many moments attached and moments left to experience.