Mitski Is Underrated And It Is Not Okay

I honestly don’t remember my life before discovering Mitski. Okay, let me clarify: I do remember it, but I could not really connect it to an artist. Yes, I still indulged in teeny cult classics such as Arctic Monkeys and Tame Impala, but it all felt very escapist. Younger me would have said that the point of music and art, in general, is to get away from the truth. Hearing Mitski made me realize that something ground-shatteringly good gives you life (quite literally).

If you’re new to Mitski, it’s first important to understand who she is and where she comes from. As a Japanese-American artist, she has lived all over the world, from Japan and Turkey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and New York. Her music portrays a layered struggle that anyone can relate to: race, romance, and reasons to keep on are among the most presented issues.

Thinking back to the first time I heard Mitski, I understand why I’ve taken to her so much. Her lyrics are elevated into an image that is like my world but another, alternate version of it. The first song I listened to was “Last Words of a Shooting Star,” and it was honestly the first musical experience where all I could focus on was her words. “You’d say you love me and look in my eyes/ But I know through mine you were/ Looking at yours.” Till this day, it is my sacred ballad of loneliness in all its manifestations. To love someone who loves the idea of themselves in romance; to be hanging onto a purpose you couldn’t even fathom as a purpose. A longing to be polished while exhausted from just maintaining your existence. I felt all of what she was saying. All of it. I’ll admit, the first moments of my Mitski madness consisted of embracing very dark, deafening thoughts I never knew I contained. Listening to “Your Best American Girl” after a very tragic, heart-shattering break up left me silently sobbing myself to sleep (a cheesy but true image). Yes, it was a somber time, but I needed to feel our shared pain to learn from her experience and to eventually grow out of my silly teen sorrow.

The Mitski I enjoy now is free and happy and scared of growing up and ready to party and ready to live. She is my anthem on the way to work with “First Love/Late Spring”: “Now I find/ I’ve grown into/ A tall child” is a stanza replaying over and over in my head as my teen years slowing start to end. Songs like these make me dream of careless nights with friends, running through the streets of Boston unbothered by the cold or the discouraging looks.

She is sad while being happy, and happy even as she is sad. Mitski is real and just gets it in a way most artists don’t. If you haven’t gotten into Mitski but need some help, here is a playlist of my personal favorites. Listen. Love. Learn. Live.

 

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