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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hawaii chapter.

I don’t know about you, but there has never been a time in my life when I’m not playing music. I listen to music while studying and doing homework, driving, walking to class, showering, and everything else in between. This semester, I want to focus on getting on top of things rather than being drowned with having 2 jobs, practicing self-care, and managing intense course loads. In my opinion, music shapes people’s mindsets and moods. So, I’ve compiled a list of 3 albums and 5 songs that I will be playing on repeat throughout the semester to keep myself motivated and afloat amidst all the stress and bad days. I’ll go over my favorite tracks with every album, and will discuss the meanings of the songs I mention!

Harry STyles’ Harry’s House (2022)

We stan Harry Styles in this house. Especially in his house. (Get it? The album name?) Anyway, I have always loved Harry as a One Direction fan back in my days, and this man just doesn’t release a flopped album. The best way to describe this one, in particular, is like the feeling you get when you drive up a mountain before daybreak. The air is crisp, the windows are down, and there is a field of flowers. You stick your hands out to feel the air and let your hair flow with the wind, and once you reach the top of that mountain, you realize that the sun is up. You take in the sun’s glory and appreciate life for what it is. This album consists of 13 tracks. Although I won’t be diving into every song, all 13 songs are definitely worth listening to!

1. Late night talking

I assume that with this song, Harry was speaking to someone all night and was really moved by their conversation. Now that this person is in his life, he wants to do what he can to keep them happy. He wants to be that person to make them happier (baby). It’s a bit slower than the first song on the album, Music For a Sushi Restaurant, but it encapsulates the feeling you get when you speak to someone for hours on end and know that in your heart, you will do whatever it takes to keep them happy.

2. As it was

Everyone and their grandma’s favorite (including me). This song took social media and the radio by storm. Everyone first hears it and automatically thinks, such a happy love song. No. When you really listen to it, it’s actually really sad. There are many ways that you can interpret this song. One way to interpret it is that this is a song about how a relationship is going through its trials and tribulations, its ups and downs, and it is obvious to both parties that nothing is the same as it was in the beginning. The realization that the relationship is going to end before it actually does. In his world, it’s just him and this person, but it wasn’t the same as before, and it’s taking a toll on him. The other way is that he is talking to his past self. That he is not the same person as before, and this realization from who he used to be to who he is now is prominent to everyone in his life, including himself. He’s mourning that past self and knows that he can’t get back to who that person was again. It’s a beautiful song and really gets you thinking. Take a listen and decide what you think it’s about!

3. Matilda

One of my huge favorites! Here, Harry talks about a person who has familial issues. Someone who faced bad treatment and didn’t let that affect who they are, what they want to be, and what they do. Harry expresses his appreciation of this person’s strength and knows that although this person doesn’t let that bad treatment drag them down, they’re broken because of it. He tells this person that just because they are family, that doesn’t mean you have to hold on to them. You do not have to feel guilty for choosing yourself first, even when it comes to family. Truly beautiful and fits the title of the song (if you’ve watched the movie Matilda, you know what I mean).

4. Cinema

This song’s on the spicier side. It really makes you feel confident in yourself when you listen to it. He describes this person as a cinema, and I take that as in he loves to watch this person. Not in a creepy way, but in an “I am attracted to you and am interested in how you move” way. 

5. love of my life

This song is so sad but the emotions it’s supposed to capture, does that so well. Harry expresses heartbreak here, reminiscing about what that relationship used to be, and how he didn’t realize that he lost the love of his life until he recognized that they were the love of his life. He expresses that he could’ve done more in the relationship. It’s the bittersweetness of knowing you had that love, and being happy that you had it, but also sad that you lost it.

Doja Cat’s Planet her (2021)

We can’t have a semester playlist without Miss Doja! Along with Harry Styles, Doja Cat has not released a flopped song. She is all about empowering yourself, realizing your worth, knowing that you’re the main character, and acting like it! This album is like one of those movie scenes where the main character is minding their business, being carefree, themselves, and dancing the night away. Everyone else in the room knows that they know they’re irreplaceable because that’s just the energy they give. This album has 14 tracks and this album just screams “It’s me, no one else” so if you need a confidence boost, this album is for you.

1. Need to know

Everyone and their bestie’s favorite. Very spicy, but it definitely encourages the idea of being comfortable with your sexual desires.

2. ain’t sh**

Okay literally everyone’s favorite. Like there is no way a person can hate this song. This song will make you scream at the top of your lungs once you get the lyrics down, and will really put you in that “me, myself, and I” mindset.

3. alone

A song about embracing being alone, being comfortable with yourself, and realizing that you don’t need someone to make you feel whole. To cut that person that’s messing with your inner peace out and accept yourself instead.

4. Kiss me more

Also everyone and their bestie’s favorite. It’s so catchy and is an upbeat song about desire. This makes you feel like you have alluring control over someone because you’re just that hot.

jhene aiko’s souled out (deluxe) (2014)

Miss Jhene has not failed to keep me afloat. Her music is just the type of music that helps you realign with your true self. I’ve listened to her for most of my life, and her songs have not failed to make me feel better. This album is like those times in your life when you go through the worst, are at rock bottom, and feel like you keep digging yourself in deeper holes. Then you realize that the only way from rock bottom is up. I love Jhene’s music so much that I got a tattoo inspired by one of her songs. Yeah, I love her. This album in particular is my favorite, and I want to share it with you! It has 14 songs and they all are amazing.

1. W.A.Y.S

This song. Is. Art. It is beautiful. It is stunning. It is moving. It will make you cry but also make you feel like you can get through anything and everything. W.A.Y.S stands for Why Aren’t You Smiling, and it is about realizing that life sucks sometimes, but you can’t let the bad times affect you so much to the point where you stay in those bad times. My favorite line in this song is, “You have gotta lose your pride. You have gotta lose your mind just to find your peace of mind. You have gotta trust the signs, everything will turn out fine.” This part of the song is just beautiful and so real. This song is so underrated and definitely needs more recognition.

2. Spotless mind

This song is about the growth after heartbreak and change in general. To be accepting of change, and to use the changes to grow. This song is what I got a tattoo of. Some of my favorite lines in this one are, “Why hold on to what you have to let go of?” and “Shame on me for changing? No, no, no. Shame on you for staying the same.” Jhene recognizes that people are afraid of change and that most people see it as threatening. She hugs change and accepts it with open arms.

3. eternal sunshine

This song is about accepting the good and bad parts that life offers, moving with no regrets, despite making mistakes or being hurt. To really sit with the good things in life and to take a minute to realize and appreciate them. 

4. promises

This song is dedicated to Jhene’s daughter Namiko and her late brother Miyagi. She really puts her love for them into this song, and you can feel it too. It’s a beautiful piece of music and it moves you when you realize who the song is for. My favorite lines in this one are “Everything is alright, everything’s in your mind. Life is what you make it, life is what you make it and anything can happen, anything can happen but you just gotta get past it, you just gotta laugh at it and anything can happen, you fall down get back up and you better believe that nothing holding me back.” 

5. blue dream

This song is a beautiful love song. It’s like sitting down near the ocean, feeling the breeze at dawn with your lover, seeing the sunrise with them and laughing together. There are many songs that I associate with my feelings of love, and this is definitely one of them. My favorite lines within this is definitely the chorus, “Don’t wake me up ‘cause I’m in love with all that you are. You make me see the truth in things, I think that you are the remedy for everything it seems that you are the truth itself ‘cause nothing else can take me so far.”

honorable mentions (songs)

J. Cole’s Love yourz

This song is from my favorite album of J. Cole’s, 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Here, he talks about the struggles he grew up with like his mom battling her addiction with alcohol. He frequently says that there’s beauty in the struggle, that someone can be living a life much worse than yours, and that money does not mean anything if you don’t have people around you that love you. It’s a song to tribute to the bad times in peoples’ lives and to those who struggle, telling them that things will get better and to appreciate everything they have even though it seems like someone else is living a better life.

black eyed peas’ meet me halfway
timbaland’s the way i are
vistoto bosses’ delirious
50 cent’s disco inferno

These songs are your classic dance and sing-along songs. I always get happy and pumped up when I listen to them. They’re so catchy, keep me in a good mood, and also make me want to drop everything and start dancing! (Because sometimes, all we need is to break out into song randomly).

If you’ve made it to the end of this article, I applaud you! I don’t practice restraint and music is one of my passions, I could talk about it for hours. But, just remember that not all songs are for everyone! I hope I’ve expanded your music taste a little, and I hope you have a good time listening!

Jessa Tadeo

Hawaii '24

Howzit! I'm Jessa, a self-proclaimed music enthusiast, born and raised on O'ahu. I'm in my third year majoring in Social Work and I love to go on way too many coffee runs.