Add This To Your Playlist: Week Seven- Moving On

It’s finally 2019, which means it’s time to clean closet of all the pent up frustrations, stress and loose ends that 2018 may have left. For me, there were plenty of things that I could have done better, but ultimately I left the year without regrets. For anyone who doesn’t feel this way, or even for those that do, moving on and letting go are important steps to a larger healing process. The new year symbolizes a time at which we can reflect on where we are in our lives and the things that we still need to improve on. In the spirit of this sentiment, I’ve created a list of some of my favorite songs that inspire the courage to move forward.


Song One: “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman

Ever since I can remember, I’ve heard this song on the radio. It’s one that my mom never fails to crank up the volume for and sing along to while she’s driving. Tracy Chapman is an American singer/songwriter who has gone multi-platinum for her hit songs and has won four Grammys. Her music style tends to blend the styles of soul, folk, bluesy rock, and occasionally pop. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Chapman’s love of music began when her mother bought her a ukulele at the age of three.

This love for music is apparent in Chapman’s song “Give Me One Reason” as the heartfelt message revolves around a failed relationship that she is trying to move on from, but is not quite yet ready to let go of. In the repeating lines of the song, Chapman says to this person “Give me one reason to stay here, and I’ll turn right back around.” At this point, she does not want to say goodbye to their relationship, but she isn’t getting what she needs from it.  While she very clearly wants to make things work, it seems that the person she is singing to is not as invested in her as she is in them. In the line that says “But I’m too old to go chasing you around, wasting my precious energy,” it seems as though this person has led her to believe that they could be something more but then never affirmed her feelings about it. I think this song is an important reminder that no matter how strongly we feel about something or someone, if the same amount of dedication is not reciprocated, then the relationship will never work and someone will always leave it feeling hurt.


Song Two: “Should’ve Gone to Bed” by Plain White T’s

I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for the Plain White T’s as they were my first celebrity encounter. After going to see Rob Thomas’s intimate acoustic concert for which Plain White T’s were an opener, I got to meet them and take pictures with them. The Plain White T’s originated in Lombard, Illinois and consists of the members Tom Higgenson, Dave Tirio, Ken Fletcher, and Steve Mast. Their pop-punk sound was a definitive marker of the late 90s and early 2000s with their most popular song being their radio hit “Hey There Delilah.”

“Oh it’s what you do to me” was probably the first thing the speaker was thinking after he decided to pick up the phone and call his ex in the song “Should’ve Gone to Bed.” As any good song about regrets, this one involves a man who drank too much and in his drunken stupor thought it would be a good idea to try to reconcile with an old flame. This is never a good idea, as Higgenson makes blatantly obvious in these lyrics. In fact, he considers it such a bad idea that he claims “the devil’s in my heart tonight, whispering things in my ear.” Not only does he call, but from the sound of things, he doesn’t just eloquently say he wants to get back together or that he loves this other person. No, instead he’s so drunk that he’s thinking “God only knows what I said.” Pro tip: If you really want someone back in your life, maybe you should try talking to them sober.


Song Three: “Gravel to Tempo” by Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko has made enormous strides in the year of 2018 with both her American and European tour being sold out along with the release of her first studio album Expectations that focused on her experiences with her sexuality. As someone who has been a fan of her music since 2015, I am moved at the overwhelmingly well-deserved success she has received this past year. Hayley Kiyoko is best known for her dream pop and electro-pop style sound as well as for directing her own music videos, most of which feature relationships between women. If you haven’t seen them, I highly suggest checking them out.

This song in particular is one of my favorite Hayley Kiyoko songs because it roots itself in independence. When no one else is there for you, you have to have your own back, and nothing expresses that more than “Gravel to Tempo.” In the beginning lines, she opens up about her own insecurities saying “I don’t feel adequate, thinking I’m a monster in disguise.” This line refers to the fact that she felt uncomfortable with herself in her youth because of her attraction towards other girls and instead of embracing herself, she hid who she was. At the chorus, Hayley then rejects this prior notion, instead saying “I’ll do this my way. Don’t matter if I break. I gotta be on my own.” She’s finally taking back agency of her own self-worth and happiness by focusing on loving herself instead of listening to the opinions of others. Throughout the music video as well, we see Hayley break out into dance in front of a bunch of popular girls, symbolizing that they no longer hold the power over her to tell her who she should be. Songs like this are important because they remind us that breaking from the mold is okay and that it is always better to be yourself.


Song Four: “Move Along” by All-American Rejects

You can’t say angsty teenager without noting the music of the early 2000s band All-American Rejects. Beginning in Stillwater, Oklahoma, All-American Rejects formed with main vocalist and bassist Tyson Ritter, guitarist and backup vocalist Nick Wheeler, rhythm guitarist and backup vocalist Mike Kennerty, and drummer Chris Gaylor. Their self-titled album put them on the map in 2003 and ended up going platinum with their hit single “Swing, Swing.” Since then, they have created many other notable bangers such as “Gives You Hell” and “Dirty Little Secret.”

As its title might suggest, “Move Along” is about staying grounded in yourself and keeping going even when things get difficult. In this song, Ritter sings about the difficulties of carrying the burden of everyday life. He sings “Another day and you’ve had your fill of sinking.” He acknowledges that this person hasn’t had it easy and they’ve been struggling just to get by. The deeper message behind this sentiment actually moves to the prevention of self-harm and suicide as he goes on to say “So a day when you’ve lost yourself completely could be a night when your life ends.” He encourages this person to “move along” because he knows that there is more to their life than what they are seeing and feeling right then. Sometimes it takes a person reaching out and reminding you of what it’s all worth in order to make the change you need. “Move Along” is meant to be this message for a generation of kids who felt misunderstood.


Song Five: “Living in Another World” by Neon Trees

Sometimes you need that song to just get you out of your own head and remind you that it’s okay to take some time for yourself. This song has often been that for me, and whenever I hear it, I always find myself in a better mood. There was a summer that I fell in love with Pop Psychology and it became a defining part of my outlook at the time. Neon Trees has been a band on my radar since the release of their single “Animal” in 2010 which hit number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart that year. The band formed out of Utah by lead vocalist Tyler Glenn and guitarist Chris Allen, who eventually added bass guitarist Branden Campbell and Elaine Bradley, their drummer and percussionist. They came up with the name “Neon Trees” due to the lit up trees on the In-N-Out Burger sign.

“Living in Another World” is easily a song about disregarding expectation and escaping to the safer spaces of one’s mind. Throughout this song, the speaker uses daydreaming as a healing experience to help them get through the changes going on in their life. Glenn sings the line in the pre-chorus “Close my eyes, it’ll go away” referring to his problems and the stigmas that he had to deal with as a teenager coming to terms with his sexuality. In the chorus he tells the audience “They’ve been telling me to come of age, I’ve been going through an awkward phase,” meaning that he’s been trying to figure himself out while still under the pressures of his family and society to become what they expect of him. He decides that living in his own world is better because there he can truly be himself and not have to worry about the repercussions. He’s learned that by taking his life into his own hands, he’s become a stronger person and has since learned to live as himself in this world too.


Song Six: “Petting Zoo” by Charlie Belle

I discovered Charlie Belle because my grandfather had heard a segment about them on NPR and like any good granddaughter who is told to look something up because of a recommendation from NPR, I was skeptical. He was adamant about the fact that I would like their music, so I said okay and sat down with my Gramps and pulled up one of their music videos. To my surprise, I had to admit that my Gramps doesn’t have bad taste in music and he actually pegged a pretty awesome band. Charlie Belle is a duo made of sibling Jendayi and Gyasi Bonds. Their band was named after their great-grandmother, allowing them to show their roots through their music. As indie pop artists, some of their biggest influences have been Arctic Monkeys, Esperanza Spalding, The Roots, and The Strokes.

“Petting Zoo” became a song I went to for strength because it centered around a girl who couldn’t be told what to do. Jendayi sings about not giving in as she says “Seize the moment, that’s my moment, I won’t share with anyone.” I love this absolute refusal to compromise which is something so rare in the music that comes from female artists. She expresses her frustrations about being told by everyone else who she is and what she’s supposed to think and say, but she tells them that “Nobody knows me like I do.” That isn’t something that’s said enough in music. Most of the time, you hear songs about how someone else has to complete you or how you’re lost without this other person, but this song shamelessly embraces the relationship that the speaker has with herself. She tells us “I’m through being the petting zoo,” because she’s tired of being used solely for entertainment and even more tired of people trying to shape her into something that she isn’t. It’s important to know yourself and more importantly, to know what you will and won’t stand for.


Song Seven: “Not Your Way” by MisterWives

MisterWives has been a band I’ve followed for a while since I heard their song “Reflections” in 2015. When they released their debut album Our Own House that same year, I kept a close eye on their career since. I was inspired by their tendency towards punchy beats and aggressive lyrics. Misterwives is made up of lead singer Mandy Lee, percussionist Etienne Bowler, bass guitarist William Hehir, guitarist Marc Campbell, multi-instrumentalist Jesse Blum and saxophonist Mike Murphy. Due to their indie pop and alternative style, they’ve grown more popular in recent years as they have opened for other notable bands such as Panic! At The Disco and Twenty One Pilots.

“Not Your Way” has become an anthem for many a young woman as it discusses the difficulties that women face in upholding an image that society has created for them. This song touches on topics such as beauty standards and body image. Within the lyrics of the chorus, Lee bluntly states “This is my body, body, and you don’t have a say.” In making this statement, she is standing for women’s rights to make their own decisions about how their body looks and what they have done to it. In the second verse, she goes on to talk about the obsession that women have with perfection and how readily they can be influenced to resort to plastic surgery to fix their problems. While every woman has the right to her own body, she addresses that this fixation comes from a deeper problem that stems from self-esteem. She sings “But oh look how very far we have come, strip us of our width, disguise it like we have won.” She wants to say that while physically we can change how we look with surgery, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be happy with ourselves, even in the body we thought we wanted. This song suggests that in order for women to move forward with their own happiness, we need to let go of the obsession of the standard.

 

In its own way, each one of these songs represents a shedding of skin. They allow us to see the flaws that exist in us as humans and how we can overcome our insecurities. Each new year is about better oneself, right? The first step to improving upon the person you are is through honest evaluation and truly getting to know yourself. I hope that in some small way, these songs can help you to leave your past in the past and keep looking forward to better things to come.

You can check out the full playlist here.