As much as we like to joke about the limited subject matter within the music industry, not all songs are about love. The culture has steadily become more accepting of discussions regarding mental health, and musicians are filling the airwaves with songs talking about everything from depression to imposter syndrome. It’s refreshing to hear lyrics that contain a raw vulnerability and relatability, especially when you’re having a hard day yourself. Here are some of the best songs to listen to when you’re feeling a little low:
1. Groundhog Day– Em Beihold
Beihold exploded onto the music scene with a bunch of relatable songs regarding mental health, from “Numb Little Bug” to “12345.” “Groundhog Day” approaches the dull transitory period of young adulthood in a unique way. The song perfectly describes feeling trapped in a repetitive, boring life where every day is identical. She feels left behind as her friends reach society’s life milestones, getting married and having children. “Oh, it’s easy to say I’m ok/ But this smile I’m wearing is fake,” she sings during the chorus, “I’m suffocating/ Living Groundhog Day/ Day after day, day after day/ I think I’m gonna break.” Its catchy tune encapsulates the suffocating societal expectations that smother young adults as they try and find their footing in a world that seems to wait for no one.
2. Block me out– Gracie Abrams
“Block me out” is a musical manifestation of the need to silence all of the negative thoughts that threaten to overwhelm us. Abrams expresses her desire to make her mind stop racing, describing her struggles with isolation and dissociation. “Wish I were heavier now, I’m floating outside my body/ It’s not their fault, but I’ve found that none of my friends will call me,” she laments, “Until I’m left to myself, it’s honestly kind of funny/ How every voice in my head is trying its best to haunt me.” We often look for ways to distract ourselves, constantly searching for sources of entertainment, attention, or comfort, and this song perfectly portrays the negativity inside our heads that can drive us to extremes just to silence it.
3. ghosted my therapist– Rachel Bochner
Bochner also tackles the struggles of young adulthood, bingeing TV shows while taking medication with her coffee. She talks about the disappointing realities of adult life in comparison to her younger self’s imagination. “Thought it’d be easy but my vision board is way off/ Graduated college now I wanna quit my day job,” she sings, along with, “I have to say at 24/ I thought I’d know a little more than this/ Maybe I shouldn’t have ghosted my therapist.”
4. Healing– FLETCHER
FLETCHER has a knack for capturing the human spirit. In “Healing,” she narrates her long journey to acceptance and closure. She makes it clear that healing is an extensive process and that she’s still working towards full recovery. But the song’s positive tone is a breath of fresh air alongside its optimistic lyrics like “Breaking down doesn’t mean I’m broken/ Losing hope don’t mean I’m hopeless” and “I can’t erase all the things that I’ve done/ But all the mistakes made me who/ I’ve become.” We all have our struggles, but it’s encouraging to know that it’s possible to come out the other side stronger than ever.
5. I Lied– Sophia Fracassi
You’re probably all too familiar with habitually responding, “I’m okay,” when asked how you are. In fact, if someone responds with “Terrible. How are you?” it tends to stun us. Fracassi tackles this very subject, describing her regret and wishing that she hadn’t put up such high walls. “I went and told you I was good/ Shouldn’t have told you I was good,” she cries, “When I thought I never could/ I lied, I lied.”
6. Loner– Maggie Lindemann
Lindemann is no stranger to belting out raw heart-wrenching hits. “Loner” is no exception, with the singer trying to convince herself that she likes being alone while simultaneously hating her tendency to self-isolate. “‘Stead of dealin’ with my problems, I’ll just stare at the ceiling/ Avoidance never heals but this sure feels good,” she sings, “I know I said I’d stop before I drown/ But I don’t like the thought of coming down.” Despite the wailing chorus insisting that she likes being alone, it’s extremely evident that the isolation is contributing to the decline of her mental health. It’s the perfect cycle of feeling awful and wanting to be alone, which only makes the feeling worse.
7. Real Problems– Kyd the Band & TAELA
This song is all about adversity making you stronger. The duo’s voices work in tandem to build a strong anthem, singing, “It took some real problems to make me stronger/ And see that trauma that’s been holdin’ me back/ Every time I’ve fallen I got up quicker/ And my skin’s thicker/ I ain’t tryin’ to hide that.” They acknowledge that their struggles are valid, but that they wouldn’t have been where they are now without their difficulties. You never want anything bad to happen, but sometimes hard times put things in perspective and help you identify the source of your problems.
8. Taking up Space– Ariza & Julia Gartha
Ariza crafts a gorgeously soft track that matches Gartha’s soft tone as she narrates her struggle with putting others first at the detriment of her own mental health. She grows weary of fading into the background as she constantly makes way for others. “I’m a chameleon every day/ I’m sick of changing colors/ Shapeshifting always,” she sings, “So, why play the game?/ When it’s rigged anyways/ I’m learning to be okay with taking up space.” There’s nothing wrong with being kind to people, but always putting yourself first can lead to burnout and other mental health issues. Gartha acknowledges her flaws and expresses her desire to become okay with “taking up space” and prioritizing her needs.
9. 20 Nothing– OSTON
OSTON describes the phenomenon of feeling so much so passionately that you go numb. The numbness is so overwhelming that you’ll do anything to feel something. To feel anything. “Melancholia won’t last forever, kid/ Or maybe it will, you’ll just kinda learn to live with it,” she sings, “Oh, it’s just one foot in front of the other every day/ it’s just one mess until I recover, but then again.” OSTON captures the painful cycle of excessive emotion and the subsequent lack thereof in a way that strikes you to your very core.
10. Broken– Jonah Kagen
Kagen pens a passionate plea to a friend, begging for them to save him from himself. “Oh please come bring me up, from my lowest, take me higher,” he implores, “Can you see me through the ashes and the smoke?/ I’m lonely, it’s been so long/ Since I’ve felt loved, smiled, felt strong.” He admires his friend’s confidence and self-love, but fears dragging them down with him. Kagan captures the sentiments of many suffering from mental health, needing someone to reach out and help them but afraid of being the cause of another’s downfall in the process.