Prior to COVID-19, my music taste was constantly growing. New releases and recommendations from friends defined my Spotify. I would make and delete playlists almost every day on the hunt to expand upon my taste. March 2019 came and so did the first hit of COVID-19 in the United States. Clark (along with almost every school across the United States) got sent home. Shortly my dorm was converted back to my childhood bedroom. The feeling of confusion and the lack of stability spiraled into negative thoughts. This negative emotion led me to turn back to music I casually listen to at that point but obsessively listened to in middle and high school. Nostalgia became an answer to an unfamiliar world: “the known” manifested itself into my old music. I am going to highlight some songs, artists, and albums that I resorted back to and found light in.
“Save Rock and Roll” by Fall Out Boy
This album dropped back in 2013 and pulled me into my self-titled “middle school emo phase”. This album was the stepping ground into other bands and helped me center myself during puberty. It became my first “flawless” album. This 11 track album took me to highs and lows that really resonated at the time. With the album came the “Young Boy Chronicles” (uploaded on YouTube in 2014) – a 45 minute video album. This video defined a few months of the summer before 8th grade. I would analyze this video and force my friends to watch it with me. In 8th grade, my favorite songs were “Alone Together” and “Just One Yesterday”. “Alone Together” really resonated with the feelings of loneliness that middle school came with. As I got older, this song became a perfect song to scream while driving. Currently, my favorite songs are “Miss Missing You” and (still) “Just One Yesterday”.
Twenty One Pilots
Ask anyone who had a middle school emo phase about their music taste, almost all of them will have a band that they clung to. My band was Twenty One Pilots. An old friend of mine introduced them to me and it shortly became an obsession. I would listen to their unreleased stuff and their albums on repeat. It would be no surprise to see a curated playlist on YouTube that exclusively was Twenty One Pilots. I got into them right before “Blurryface” dropped and they became a household name. The album I loved the most was Vessel (released in 2013). This album included “Guns for Hands” and “Car Radio” (a few big hits of theirs). The album was a safety blanket and became another “flawless” album. I knew that I would be able to come home from school and blast their album. It was a nice routine to have during an uncertain time of life. I was so obsessed with them that I convinced my parents to buy “Blurryface” concert tickets for Madison Square Garden. The tickets were easy to get because they were not a well-known band. Shortly after, “Blurryface” (the song) became a huge hit. My tickets’ worth increased ten-fold but I did not sell them. The concert was amazing and I was proud of me for taking part in a historic moment for them. Currently, I do not really listen to them but self-titled is my favorite album.
“All I Wanted” by Paramore
For some reason, it took me a while to get into Paramore. One of my really good friends was obsessed with them but I paid no attention. After “Ain’t it Fun” got huge, that is when I tuned in. First I was obsessed with “Self Titled” but shortly got enamored with “Brand New Eyes”. “All I Wanted” is from this album and it was my go to scream cry. It was a perfect balance of sad with yearning. Not sure what my 8th grade self yearned for, but I am endlessly grateful they found this song. Hayley Williams, the lead singer, showcased her killer vocals on this track. In fact, she refuses to perform this song because she is scared she would mess up the high note. Currently, I wish to see her live. My secret hope is she performs this song: it would only be angelic.
“Deadroses” by Blackbear
This became the first album I became completely obsessed with that I still am obsessed with. This album debuted in 2015, but it took me a while to find. It starts off strong with “4u”: a song about a broken relationship. Both features on this album still are some of my favorite songs. “90210” featuring G-Eazy and “Waste Away” featuring Devon Baldwin reminds me of my huge youtube music phase. This phase included being obsessed with Buzzfeed as well as “off- beat” indie music. 90210 is still one of my favorite songs. A clear memory I have with this album is junior year of high school right before Passover. My work friend and I just ate some Chinese food and I was driving her home. I refused to drop her off until the album finished. The album is 31 minutes and the entire time we sang with the windows down. It was a freeing moment that really impacted me.
“Last Goodbye” by Kesha
I actually lost this song for a while. I came back to it after a dream reminding me of the summer after 7th grade. I was introduced to this song by a friend with an MP3 player. We would share headphones as we worked on photography assignments. I am not sure how she found this song and I never asked her. This song documents Kesha’s relationship and, as the song implies, her last goodbye. This was the first song of hers that made me realize how big of a singer she could be. Her vocals and rawness of her lyrics on this showed that she was more than “Blow” or “Tik Tok”. After the dream that brought me back, I played this song on repeat for a few days. It is a perfect length for repeat, and brought me back to a simpler time.