It’s finals week, and if you’re a student like me, that means that you’re in the midst of the most stressful week of your whole semester. I’ve spent the past two weeks writing countless papers and studying for exams, and honestly, I wouldn’t know how to get through it without some emotional ventilation. I even went to Hofstra’s own “Scream into the Void” event this year just to blow off some steam. In the spirit of letting your emotions out, I decided to make my finals week playlist a list of songs that make me cry.
Song One: “Nobody Opened the Door” by Cobi
This is a song that immediately puts me in my feels because of its emotional honesty and sense of yearning. There’s something about Cobi’s voice that just transcends me to another plane of existence. It sounds dramatic, I know, but you haven’t heard the song yet. In fact, he even describes his own music genre as “multi-dimensional.” Cobi is a fairly new artist, his first hit single being “Don’t You Cry For Me” that was released in 2016. He’s now put out a two-part E.P. titled Songs From the Ashes, having released the first half in 2017 and the second in late 2018.
“Nobody Opened the Door” is a song that evokes sadness because of the depth of the themes present. The speaker of the song is standing outside of the metaphorical closed door, waiting for someone whom he cares deeply for. In the opening lines, he tell us “Nobody opened the door, so I made a vow with the wind.” His longing is so strong that he’s begging to the forces of nature to help ease his heartache. The tone of the song shifts within the second verse as the speaker reveals that the door is closed to shut him out. He sings the lyrics “You look so lonely inside, a bottle of hope for your tears.” Essentially, he’s been waiting outside, trying to help the person on the other side of this door, but they keep refusing his help. This song is easy to have an understanding for because there are many people in life that we care deeply about that don’t want to be saved.
Song Two: “If I Get High” by Nothing But Thieves
I couldn’t include a list of songs that made me cry without adding a song from Nothing But Thieves. Over the past few years, they have become one of my go-to bands. I especially appreciate their slower songs where Connor Mason is able to showcase the full effect of his breathtaking vocals. Nothing But Thieves is an English alternative rock band out of Essex. They consist of lead vocalist Connor Mason, guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown, guitarist and keyboardist Dominic Craik, bassist Philip Blake, and drummer James Price. They have out two full studio albums titled Nothing But Thieves and Broken Machine.
The interesting thing about this song is that it all sort of feels like a fever dream. It begins with this sullen image of something broken apart coming together, as Mason sings “I’ll meet you at the divide to break the spell. A point where two worlds collide.” By unifying themselves, they are bridging a gap that goes beyond a surface-level forces. A spell suggests that these two people have been kept from each other for a purpose that may be beyond their understanding. Through the chorus, Mason asks “Will I see you again?” suggesting that he longs for a more substantial relationship with this person, but not ever being able to achieve it. He instead suggests that if he gets high again, maybe he’ll at least be able to experience the illusion of that person and so he tells us “I fill my lungs every night.” He wants an escape from his reality so badly that he’s chasing any bit of false happiness he can find, but sometimes, false happiness is all we have, and it has to be enough.
Song Three: “Amen (Feat. The London Contemporary Voices)” by Amber Run
Amber Run is another band that is notorious for causing me to shed tears, and this song has been a constant on my playlists lately. I especially love the version of "Amen" that includes the London Contemporary Voices, because nothing says crying your eyes out like a good ol' choral harmony. Amber Run is a British indie rock band out of Nottingham, known best for their song “I Found.” The band consists of members Joe Keogh, Tom Sperring, and Henry Wyeth. Their latest E.P. The Assembly was released on May 11th of 2018.
This song speaks to me because it is about a man that is deeply questioning his faith in the universe and in the divine. This is something that often comes as a result of great loss and grief, causing him to doubt everything he once believed in. In the second verse, he asks the question that’s been nagging at him “Is there a God up there, ’so where does he hide? ’Cause the devil is raging inside my mind.” He is struggling to keep his faith because he’s been put in such a dark place that he doesn’t understand why this is being done to him or how to get himself out of this darkness. He wants to turn his back on God, but he wants answers first. He makes it apparent later on in the song that he’s having difficulty with having lost someone close to him, presumably a woman he was in love with. He tells her “Sometimes I can’t help blaming you for leaving me here. What am I supposed to do?” This thought is something irrational, but is often accompanied by severe grief. It isn’t uncommon for someone in his situation to feel frustration at someone who’s died because he is left with the aftermath while the other person gets to be at peace. I think the reason this song is so powerful is because it shows the complexities of the grieving process and allows us to get a glimpse at an incredibly emotionally raw state of mind.
Song Four: “Blindside- Live” by Aquilo
Aquilo is a musical duo that has shaped my emotional growth in such a significant way. When I first heard their music, I felt that I had never been more completely understood. Since then, I have been the biggest advocate of their music. Of all the musical artists that I have ever featured for my “Song of the Day,” Aquilo has probably come up the most. Aquilo is an English music duo that comes from Silverdale, Lancashire made up of the main vocalist Tom Higham and backup vocalist and keyboardist Ben Fletcher. Their music is hard to fit in a box but has often been referred to as ambient and dream pop.
“Blindside” is a song that took me a little while to love. In fact, I don’t think that it was until I heard the live version that I completely understood the emotional gravity of it. This song details the feelings of frustration that Tom narrates at having someone who he is not in love with, but that demands those feelings from him. In this song, the lyrics navigate a complicated relationship in which Tom expresses his want to leave, but seems to be tied to this person through manipulation tactics. This becomes increasingly apparent within the lyrics “Almost, you almost make me think I want this.” He feels that staying in the relationship would cause him to lie to the other person, but he also conveys his want to feel human connection in the chorus when he asks to “stay the night.” During the chorus, he states “I could say that I’m broken, but I’m not,” because he knows that the other person wants him to mourn their absence. This song becomes powerful in the way that it addresses a want that cannot be satisfied.
Song Five: “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” by Elton John
This song never fails to make me cry. It’s something about the desperation of the lyrics that resonated so deeply with me when I was twelve, and not much has changed since then. Elton John has always been one of my favorite artists because of how versatile he is as a songwriter and all of the good memories I have of road trips with my family listening to his “Best Of” albums. I remember singing with my mom while we were sat in a parking lot, waiting to go into the dentist’s office, belting out the final notes of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.” Elton John shaped my childhood in a lot of ways, so it’s only fitting that he makes this list.
When I was twelve, I think the line that most irked me was the opening line, “What do I gotta do to make you love me?” As if I knew anything about love and heartbreak when I was twelve. But that desperation was something that I clung onto. I think that we’ve all experienced a time in which we’ve wanted someone or something so badly that we would have done anything to get it. This theme is recurrent in the lyrics to this song. Here, the speaker knows that an end is approaching, and he can’t come to terms with it. He asks his lover “What do I say when it’s all over? Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” He’s trying to admit to a mistake that he’s made, but he can’t take the thought that he’s the one responsible for the relationship coming to an end. His feelings are so wrapped up in this other person and his self-pity that he can’t see a way to move on from all of it.
Song Six: “Till It Happens To You” by Corinne Bailey Rae
I first heard this song being a part of the a cappella group Makin’ Treble in which the previous music director and skilled arranger, Angelina composed an arrangement of this song for our group to perform. I instantly fell in love with it because the feelings of the song perfectly mirrored the short story I was writing at the time for my creative prose writing class. Corinne Bailey Rae is best known for her hit song “Put Your Records On” released in 2006. Her music is classified as neo-soul as it creates a deeply emotional and jazzy atmosphere.
This song tells the story of a messy breakup and how residual feelings are taking hold of the speaker and now she’s left to reminisce on how good things used to be. In the beginning of the song, she says “I know what I said was heat of the moment, but there’s a little truth in between the words we’ve spoken.” While she openly admits to being too harsh and regrets having said what she did in the way that she did, she feels that having said it was necessary. She knows that the relationship wasn’t working and that it wouldn’t be good for her to continue. As she says later on, “Nobody wants to face the truth, but you won’t believe what love can do ’til it happens to you.” In this, she is acknowledging the fact that love is almost always portrayed only in its positive aspects. Everyone believes that to be in love is to be happy, but few understand the true emotional damage it can cause when things become difficult.
Song Seven: “The Last” by Agust D
If you didn’t know, Agust D is the pseudonym that BTS’s “Suga” (otherwise known as Min Yoongi) sings under when he performs solo. In 2016, he released his very own mixtape of the same name, including 10 tracks that outline his history, beginning from his life growing up as an underground rapper in Daegu and spans his career working in the KPop industry with the members of Bangtan. This mixtape was the first time that Suga was able to fully open up about so many personal topics.
One of those heavy topics is addressed in Agust D’s song, “The Last” as it speaks about his struggles with depression and mental illness and how it affected his career. He tells us “Around the age of 18, I developed social anxiety. Right, that was when my mind gradually polluted.” As a performer, dealing not just with depression and OCD, but also with social anxiety can cause for a serious amount of stress induced by the constant pressures and expectations put on him as an idol. Fanservice is at a peak within his industry, having to deal not just with the production of music, but with the various fan signings, tours, interviews, and the everyday practice schedules that being a KPop star entails. In other words, he gets very little time to be by himself, something that a person with social anxiety needs. He goes on to discuss the times that his depression got so bad that he had to visit psychiatric wards and he felt that he wasn’t understood by his parents. Through times like that, your family is the people you need to rely on the most and he had never felt so alone. He then says “I thought success would make everything fine.” Here, he believed that by creating another persona and by living a life that outwardly seemed happy and glorious, that internally, he could be happy too, but this was only a band-aid solution to a much larger problem. He admits “I’ve exchanged my youth for success and that monster demands more wealth. At times it puts a collar on my neck.” He sacrificed his whole childhood and all of the things he could have been to work at this impossible dream, but it still never feels like he’s done enough to satisfy himself. He looks back on the darkest parts of his life and acknowledges the way that the struggles he has been through have influenced his art.
I believe that sometimes crying is the best way to release all of the pent-up stress inside. It is equally important for you to get in touch with your own emotions, and I find that for me, music is the best way to do that. All of the songs on this list have taught me something about myself and make me more grateful for how much I’ve grown and the person I’ve become.