Add This To Your Playlist: Week Twenty-Five- Self-Love

That’s right. It’s time to breathe in the positivity around you and embrace the things that make you happiest. When we listen to music, most of the songs we hear are about love, but they are all about loving someone else. This music has ingrained in us that to love another person is the most important part of the human experience. But have we ever stopped to wonder if that’s true? How can we expect self-fulfillment if we aren’t willing to expend that same amount of energy we use to love other people on ourselves. This playlist is a reminder that sometimes you need to prioritize you first before you keep helping and supporting everyone else.

  1. 1. "Love Yourself" by Sufjan Stevens

    American singer and songwriter Sufjan Stevens is from Detroit, Michigan, but now takes up residence in Brooklyn, New York. He released his first album, A Sun Came, under a record label that he co-founded with his stepfather called Asthmatic Kitty. In 2005, his popularity spiked upon the release of his album Illinois. The single “Chicago” received special recognition as it hit number one on the Top Heatseekers chart from Billboard. He also received praise for his song “Mystery of Love” which was featured in the critically-acclaimed film Call Me By Your Name, being nominated for both the Best Original Songs and the Best Song Written For Visual Media categories of the 2019 Grammy Awards. Stevens is known for the diverse range of his music as it spans from indie folk and baroque pop to electronica and lo-fi. In 2019, he released his latest project, an EP titled Love Yourself/ With My Whole Heart.


    This is a simple song with a straightforward message. Much as the song title may suggest, “Love Yourself” is a track that encourages the speaker’s loved one to value themselves so that they can reflect their own values. He begins the song by affirming this person’s importance to him in saying that they are “the one thing that [he] needed.” In doing so, he’s giving the person a reason to believe in themselves as someone who holds importance in the lives of other people. During the chorus, however, the speaker then asks if this person is capable of loving themselves because while he clearly values them, he needs to know that the message has been received and is able to be transferred. It can’t happen overnight, but hopefully, in time, they will realize that they are more than they give themselves credit for.


  2. 2. "Human" by Aquilo

    Though I’ve certainly talked about them before, I couldn’t create this playlist without including my favorite music duo and their track “Human.” Silverdale natives Tom Higham and Ben Fletcher, hometown neighbors and members of rivaling town rock bands, create this ambient music team as they tackle difficult topics such as loneliness and the changing expectations of young adult life. Many of their songs feature a melancholy tone, creating an introspective and gripping repertoire. Their songs have been featured in several TV series such as The Vampire Diaries, Eyewitness and Roswell, New Mexico. In May of 2018, they released their second album ii under Island Records. Although of late they have been on a social media hiatus, they recently updated saying they are working on their third album in France.


    “Human” explores, as it suggests, what it means to be human. This song of self-acceptance begins in a place of understanding with the opening lyrics being, “I know that it’s been rough, it shows in your reflection.” Clearly, the person being addressed has not been dealt the best cards in life and they’re letting it show all over their face. When you’re not feeling your best, it can be hard to fake that you’re okay to the people around you. Aquilo steps in to try to remind this person that they’re not as alone as they think they are by repeatedly saying “this is us” so that the person knows that they will be there fighting alongside them. They want this person to know that even though they are going through a rough patch, they shouldn’t give up on themselves and that they should learn to be “human again.”


  3. 3. "Love Myself" by Olivia O'Brien

    You may be familiar with Olivia O’Brien through her collaboration with artist gnash. for the song “i hate u i love u” which earned itself the 10th spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The success of the song sparked a contract with Island Records that later resulted in her debut album Was It Even Real? O’Brien grew up in Thousand Oaks, California and fell in love with music at the early age of seven when she taught herself to play the guitar. Most recently, she has released a single from Was It Even Real? titled “Just a Boy.”


    “Love Myself” is the epitome of what it means to be conflicted by self-doubt. O’brien narrates her personal journey struggling with her image as she takes on what it means to actually love herself. She seems to be suffering from an identity crisis similar to that of many young people as she claims, “I don’t even know who I wanna be.” It can be hard to decide for oneself what one should express or repress based on the trends of society and what is deemed socially acceptable. Because she is in the spotlight and feels the pressure of the media’s eye, she can’t fully take the time to explore everything that she is. She decidedly allows herself that extra time to figure it out as she sings, “I don’t need to know who I am yet. I don’t need to have a solid plan yet.” She knows that the answer to her problems is not to put herself in a box, but to own her imperfections and learn to love herself at this unfinished stage.

  4. 4. "Most Girls" by Hailee Steinfeld

    Steinfeld began her road to success as an actress, first debuting in her role as Mattie Ross in True Grit. Over time, she became more popular and was featured in bigger roles, even landing herself a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in The Edge of Seventeen. Her first musical debut was through her song “Flashlight” written for the film Pitch Perfect 2 in which she played the role of newbie Emily Junk. After the film’s success, she signed to Republic Records and released her own EP Haiz featuring the hit song “Love Myself.” Though Haiz is currently her only solo compilation, she continues to produce music. Her most recent work is the song “Back to Life” written for the film Bumblebee.


    “Most Girls” is a song that plays on the “not like other girls” trope that is often perpetuated in media and creates a negative stigma around the female identity. Instead, this song serves to raise up all women by embracing their differences and similarities instead of trying to prove oneself better by distancing one from one’s identity. This song chooses to celebrate image in contrast with beauty standards as it juxtaposes “tiny dresses” alongside “sweatpants,” erasing the idea that girls need to dress perfectly and properly in order to feel womanly. It also tackles the topic of body positivity as it compares keeping one’s “physique real private” and wearing “jeans so tight ‘cause it feels so right.” Here, Steinfeld wants to tear down the expectations that girls have to be modest and can’t dress to show more skin or more curves. Ultimately, Steinfeld declares that she wants “to be like most girls” because they are all empowered and beautiful in their own ways.


  5. 5. "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself" by Jess Glynne

    This English singer and songwriter rose to fame in 2014 after the release of the tracks “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit and “My Love” by Route 94 on which she was featured. Born and raised in North London, Glynne found her love for music early on as her mother worked in the artists and repertoire division for a record label. At only 15 years old, Glynne decided to audition for The X Factor but ran into issues with the producers which caused her to drop out. In 2015, Glynne released her debut solo album I Cry When I Laugh which debuted at number one in the UK. In 2018, she released a second album titled Always In Between.


    In this inspirational track, Jess Glynne presents the importance of forgiving yourself and accepting your mistakes. The song begins with a low point, illustrated by the lyrics “I came here with a broken heart that no one else could see. I drew a smile on my face to paper over me.” She doesn’t want to let everyone else around her know how much she’s really hurting, but she also doesn’t want to keep pretending like everything is fine. All of this confusion and pain just has her wishing for simpler times when she knew who she was and what she was doing. Through the self-doubt, however, she triumphs by telling herself “Don’t be so hard on yourself” and using it as her anthem. In allowing herself the time to heal and come back to her own self, she’s dealing with her mental state in a healthy and mature way and learning to enact self-care.


  6. 6. "Self" by Khalid

    Khalid hit the ground running after releasing his single “Location” which garnered him the number 16 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and was then certified quadruple platinum after its mounting success. Due to his life as a military brat which landed him in several different locations throughout his childhood, Khalid learned his love for singing by joining the Army Chorus. Khalid first started his music career by uploading his music to SoundCloud. Since the success of “Location,” Khalid has released two albums, American Teen and Free Spirit, and has been nominated for five Grammy awards.


    If you’ve ever felt like running away from your problems, you’ll probably relate to “Self.” The song depicts the crossroads in a man’s life when he realizes that he can’t keep living the way that he is and that he needs to acknowledge the deeper parts of himself. He feels so ashamed of the person that he is that he tells his inner self to “keep it quiet” and therefore silences his own voice. In the chorus, we start to see how he reflects upon this suppression of self as he asks “Does my raw emotion make me less of a man?” He challenges the idea that men are supposed to hide their emotions and lets himself feel the anguish and turmoil that’s been affecting him for so long. He takes this as an opportunity to turn his life around as he notes that he’s started “workin’ on [his] health” and no longer feels the need to be in competition with himself. By allowing himself the room to feel, he’s unlocked a truer version of himself.


  7. 7. "My Song" by Alessia Cara

    Cara was first recognized after her debut single “Here” charted at number 19 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart and later earned the number 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2015, Cara released her debut album Know-It-All which featured the hit single “Scars To Your Beautiful,” landing her another top-ten spot on the Billboard charts. In 2018, she won a Grammy for Best New Artist along with being nominated for three others. Although she has certainly made an impact on the music industry, Cara started from a small place, growing up in Brampton, Ontario where she learned how to play guitar at the age of 10. At 13, she began dabbling in YouTube where she uploaded covers of songs and began to grow her audience. Now, she has released a second album titled The Pains of Growing.


    “My Song” is a song very close to Cara as it depicts the difficulties of keeping one’s own voice within the context of the music industry. When everyone is trying to fit you into algorithms that will make you a star, it’s hard to get across the music you really want to be singing. To push back against that idea, Cara included “My Song” on the deluxe version of her debut album. One of the most telling lines says, “Play, rest, repeat, read exactly what is written on the sheet. “'Don’t deviate' they say, but I will play what’s best for me.” The lyrics here indicate how strictly artists are constricted into fitting into a mold and reading from songs that are formulaic and not written to their authentic selves. She refutes being coerced into these restraints, instead claiming that “Good girls don’t make history, so [she] may never be what you assume.” She promises to keep standing out and to keep sticking up for herself.


Loving yourself can be a hard journey, and some days will certainly be more successful than others, but it is an important goal to reach in one’s life. Self-love is something that should be practiced every day, in whatever capacity, no matter how small. If we remind ourselves that we are valuable, we will not only improve our interactions with ourselves, but with the people around us, and we’ll inspire others to do the same.

Listen to the full playlist here!