We are surrounded by pop culture that attempts to create the perfect depiction of love. We grow up watching movies where girls are swept off of their feet when they fall in love with the quarterback of their high school football team, and run from the bleachers as he scores the winning touchdown in a big game. Cue the downpour. Cue the magical kiss in the rain that is too perfect to be real. And maybe later, she’ll even wake up to the patter of pebbles hitting her window, only to realize that a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy is standing outside. But as we grow older, it quickly becomes apparent that this flawless image of love is not reality.
Surprisingly, I am perfectly okay with that. But what is reality? With the absence of chivalry, I have still managed to have spontaneous nights that have left me smiling. Although I have always yearned to find substance and value in every relationship, whether that be with family, friends, or boys, I have completely taken advantage of my independence. If anything, living in a generation centered around a hook-up culture has given me the opportunity to be self-reliant and focus on my personal growth, my studies, and my friends. It links me to thousands of other college girls who crave both the freedom to do what they like and still be a hopeless romantic in a generation that has misplaced the meaning of love.
But as a whole, we are extremely complicated. The majority of us seem to be unquestionably indecisive, afraid of commitment, and intent on preserving our freedom. In the midst of this hook-up culture, I have discovered it is genuinely difficult to find pop culture, specifically music, which reflects a realistic view of what really happens in our lives. Prince charming is not applicable. As a girl who has never been on a date, sappy songs about love are not applicable. When you are completely overthinking about whether or not to text a boy, or wondering why a guy will not text you back, or why he has simply never texted you, you do not want to hear a song about falling in love or breaking up.
I barely know what a relationship is. I don’t necessarily want to hear about it. But I did find some songs that I do want to listen to. In my struggle to make sense of our hook-up culture, I have found 10 songs that are entirely realistic and applicable to our lives, and they are nothing less than refreshing.
1.“Sober” - Selena Gomez
Yes, Selena Gomez wrote this song. No, do not judge it based on the fact that it is Selena Gomez, because I can honestly say that her lyrics KILL it. Between “playing the same game every night” and “when the bottle's done you pull me closer," this song perfectly captures nights in college. When it is 12:30 a.m and alcohol is rushing through your veins, tempting you text him, your phone will suddenly light up as he asks where you are. And the next day, you will wonder, “Why is it so different when we wake up?” even though it’s the “same lips, same kiss, but not the same touch." And when you run into him on the way to class you will mentally freak out about whether or not you should look up and give a quick "Hi" or nonchalantly pretend to not notice him, you will check your phone. But later that night, over spilled drinks and slurred words, he will say “everything he’s supposed to,” and in that moment, you will forget that it is just the alcohol talking and not his true intentions. Despite everything, you will believe every word.
2. “Wildest Dreams” - Taylor Swift (Preferably the R3hab Remix)
With a lyric like “nothing lasts forever,” Taylor captures the ephemeral nature of a relationship, or whatever it is you are with someone (which we seem to never know and wonder a lot about). Sometimes you are attracted to guys you know are bad for you, even though there are a million other nice guys in the room. Of course, Taylor has a lyric for that too; “he’s so bad, but he does it so well." It may seem crazy, but at times, there is something alluring about being with a guy that is deemed “bad." Maybe it is because we love the idea of being the person who is capable of turning a bad boy good. And when a really great night comes to an end, all we can think is “say you’ll see me again."
3. "Stay A Little Longer" - Brothers Osborne
Even country music is starting to come to terms with our generation’s definition of love. This never-ending cycle starts with “Give it one more call. It's one more 'Whatcha doin' right now?' It's one more trip to my side of town." And then, you will cave in and respond after waiting an acceptable amount of time (so you don’t look too eager). Of course, “one more drink leads to another,” but knowing you are once again falling into this trap, you come to your senses and think, “one last kiss, and then you're a goner." Despite what your mind tells you is the right thing to do, you still wish that person would just stay a little bit longer.
4. "My Mistake" - CAM
Sometimes, you know you are making a mistake, and you just do not care. I have been there, done that, and it is perfectly fine. There is nothing wrong with living. With every experience, no matter how good or bad it is, you are going to learn something from it. You “feel the spins of alcohol and freedom,” know that “he'll be gone before the morning light,” and you are content with “making that mistake all night."
5. “Settle Down” - The 1975
The 1975 understands what it is like to want to be with someone you know is only bad for you. “You're cold and I burn” captures that moment in our hook-up culture when you are treated as if you are a complete stranger. And then a few nights later, you will find yourself back in the arms of that same person, thinking to yourself, “I guess I’ll never learn, cause I stay another hour or two."
6. “I Really Like You (Broiler Remix)” - Carly Rae Jepson
This marks the moment when the unthinkable happens, and you absolutely hate the fact that you are starting to fall for a hook-up. Sometimes, you will go a while without this ever happening, but when it does, it is usually “way too soon” and you “know this isn't love." Of course, the word love seems to be missing from our generation’s vocabulary (coming with the effort to not to seem weird or give off the impression that you are falling for someone) all that is left for you to think and say is “I really really like you." When this happens, you are lost in a hurricane of emotions, unable to decide how you are supposed to act. Do you leave? Do you stay? Does he really really like me too? Let the overthinking begin.
7. “Love Yourself” - Justin Bieber
“I didn't want anyone thinking I still care, I don’t, but you still hit my phone up." There is nothing worse/more exhilarating than getting a text or call from the same person you are trying to forget because you know this person is not good for you. Once you are past the stage of always caving in and answering, you will start to get fed up. This is when you come to the realization you are better off on your own. In the most polite way possible, Justin reminds us to tell those people to go “F... love themselves.”
8. “Say My Name (Rac Remix)” - ODESZA
This is when you are forever wondering “when you gonna let me know if you give a damn about me,” only to realize you probably will never get an answer to that question. Even though the song is about the lack of communication between two people, there is a positive way to interpret it. In listening to artificial compliments spill from his lips one night to watching him leave with another girl the next night, you will have to decide if this is really the type of arrangement you want to be in. But for the independent woman, who is intent on making the most of her single life, this is the perfect way to escape any sort of commitment. In a way, this can be refreshing, when both people seem to be on the same page.
9. "Wasted" - Tiesto
This song is self-explanatory.
10. "Chaser" - Carrie Underwood
Sometimes, you find yourself caught in a situation where you meet someone at the wrong time. And just because our generation is indecisive, he is chasing two people at the same time. It occurs to you that “you’re looking in my eyes, but seeing somebody else” and “you're looking at me and thinking of her." This is when you have to decide if it is worth it to keep being strung along, as you wait for someone to determine if you are of value in his life. However, it is important to understand that no one determines your worth except for yourself. Carrie writes, “it’s the thrill, it's the hunt, it's the love of the game,” perfectly capturing the mindset of how we feel the need to participate in this cyclical and vicious game of manipulation, to always have the upper hand and keep the ball on our side of the court. This is all in effort to protect ourselves from ending up hurt. But is it worth it? That is for you to decide.