Everyone has bad days. Maybe you sleep through all of your alarms, or miss an important deadline. But some bad days are worse than others. There are days when we feel that the entire world has turned its back against us, and we feel powerless. So in times of distress, we turn to music. Whether that means listening to an upbeat tune to perk us up or a sad, slow ballad that pulls on just the right heartstrings, music is universal and never fails to bring our spirits up. The following is a playlist of songs that have pushed me, or someone I know, through the worst moments of life.
"Little Black Dress" by Sara Bareilles
This quirky song is about gaining new perspectives and turning a bad day into a good one. Sara Bareilles perfectly describes one of my favorite ways to jumpstart a slow morning: dressing up. Sometimes, just putting on my favorite outfit and doing my makeup is enough to remind me that I can make it through a tough week. The upbeat, sassy, and catchy tune reminds me that confidence starts from the outside and works its way in. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun to dance to!
"Forever on Your Side" by Imaginary Future, feat. Kina Grannis
What could be more reassuring than the sweet, silky voice of Kina Grannis? Just this beautiful duet between her and her husband, Jesse Epstein, the voice of Imaginary Future. All it takes is the first 15 seconds of this song to motivate me to move past the sadness and actively create my own happiness. Every time I hear this song, I think of every time my high school squad stood by my side when I felt completely alone and reminded me that I am stronger than whatever is bringing me down.
"Make It Up" by Sam Tsui
The title says it all. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I start my day with this fun tune about having absolutely no idea what I am doing. You don’t have to have every part of your life planned out. Leave some room for reckless spontaneity and take things one step at a time. It’s okay to have no idea what comes next!
"Second Chances" by Imagine Dragons
This is a slower one, but one that lifts my heart when I feel down. Whenever somebody makes me feel unworthy because of my flaws and mistakes, this song reminds me that I am not defined by those flaws and mistakes. They are a significant part of who I am because they make me better, not worse. Where loud melodies and fast beats fail, this song empowers me by reminding me that forgiveness is one of the best things we can do for each other and for ourselves.
"This Is Gospel" by Panic! At the Disco
This is by far my favorite Panic! song and my go-to after someone makes me feel small. Loud and proud, it drowns out the bad and, instead, serves as a reminder of everything that makes us human. Vulnerability is not a bad thing. Embracing what makes you vulnerable can only make you stronger. With a concluding and decisive heartbeat at the end of it, it always succeeds in replacing any hesitancy with fierce determination.
"Waters of March" by Antonio Carlos Jobim
If you’re up for something a bit different, this adorable Brazilian song will do the trick. Recommended to me by a good friend, it’s all about the little things in life that serve as small reminders of the continuity of life and the human experience. It’s a cute, quirky beat coupled with seemingly random lyrics that just remind you to take it slow and have fun while you enjoy the life you are given.
"Don’t Stop Me Now" by Queen
One night, amidst the stress of APs and final semester projects, I felt completely overwhelmed. I had more projects and tests in the next week than I could keep track of. So, instead of planning each project out and getting started right away, I did what any sane, overwhelmed high school senior would do: I blasted Queen from my laptop speakers, and I danced. There is nothing more empowering than Freddie Mercury’s confident lyrics and a killer guitar solo. Trust me.
"Sunday Candy" by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
There is no other way to describe this song other than truly, simply, lovely. A beautiful dedication to the artist’s grandmother, I first heard this song in my English class when two classmates analyzed the lyrics for a project. Needless to say, its bubbly chorus will not fail to make you smile and remember all of the amazing people in your life who are there to support you through everything you do. Family isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Lean on the people around you, and don’t forget that you aren’t alone.
"Top of the World" by Greek Fire
This is one of my personal favorites. I have put this song on repeat for hours and am still not tired of it. In movies, whenever a character is rejuvenated and filled with powerful determination, they get a comeback montage. And every good montage comes with a good montage song. This is my comeback montage song. This is the song that blasts in the background of every moment in my life that I’ve spent empowering myself or others. No one is in charge of your life but you, so believe in your ability to be the one who changes your own life.
"Keeping Your Head Up" by Birdy
This song is a wonderful conclusion to this playlist and the musical equivalent of having a friend hold you and just be there for you. Sometimes it’s hard to face the people we trust when life gets in the way, but this song is a beautiful reminder that a friend is always nearby to help you through the darkness. Helen Keller said “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” Relying on the people around you doesn’t mean you are weak. It only means you are strong enough to recognize that our families and our friends make us stronger.
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