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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

Being in your 20s can be a whirlwind. From getting your first taste of adulthood, to the earth-shattering realization that your childhood is slipping from your grip, it can all feel overwhelming. Or, as the iconic Suki Waterhouse put it beautifully, “It’s the trenches.”

Luckily, music has always been my solace when I am feeling scared or lonely in this uncertain period of life. Through exploring different artists and genres, I’ve been able to find myself in the words of artists that accurately describe the complex emotions and circumstances that come with growing up. Here are six of my favorite albums that I think perfectly encapsulate being in your 20s!

The pains of growing – Alessia cara
The Pains of Growing by Alessia Cara

The Pains of Growing by Alessia Cara could not be a more flawless album that delves into every nitty-gritty aspect of being 20. From track one itself, a title track, Alessia manages to lyrically master what growing up feels like and how it can feel trying to digest all the big changes happening inside and outside of us. The name of the album itself too, feels oddly relatable—the physical and situational feelings of growing are often painful in many regards.

From relationships with yourself and others, situationships, and looming societal issues, there truly is a track for every situation. My personal favorites are “Growing Pains,” “I Don’t Want To,” and “Trust My Lonely.”

If you are ever feeling out of place and want the validation that feeling lost is okay, I would definitely recommend giving this album a listen!

Snow angel – renee rapp

Renee Rapp played my favorite character in HBO’s The Sex Lives of College Girls. When I found out she was a musical artist too, I was pleasantly surprised. I have to say, her music has not been a letdown!

She recently put out her debut album, Snow Angel, and to say it’s a masterpiece would be a colossal understatement. Tracks like “I Hate Boston” and “23” give a wistful sense, while “The Wedding Song” has quickly become my go-to love song. If you ever feel your inner hater raging because someone wronged you, try playing “Tummy Hurts” and “Poison Poison” on repeat. I promise all your ill feelings will subside into the euphoria of yelling these songs at the top of your lungs.

Renee Rapp as a person, is the embodiment of simultaneous exuberance and wit, and her album manages to capture just this energy.

Snow Angel by Renee Rapp

I listen to this album at least once a day, all the way through. I’m confident that once you hear it, you will too!

Melodrama – lorde

If Lorde’s Pure Heroin is about the chaotic ages of being 17 to 19, then Melodrama is a marvelous follow-up that shares the frenzy of being 20. Melodrama is a beautiful mix of sounds and lyrics that take you through the rollercoaster of emotions you will inevitably experience during this period of life. From songs that make you feel like the main character in a coming-of-age film, to tracks that make you question your entire existence, Lorde will put you through it all.

Melodrama by Lorde

My personal favorite is “Green Light” because of the way it makes me feel so light and fun. “Liability” is the song I play to feel in the depths of despair. “Writer in the Dark” has become somewhat of an online spectacle since the performance of Lorde went viral shushing the crowd, but the song is actually a lyrical and compositional masterpiece!

I’d heavily encourage you to give the album a listen and find your favorite amongst one of an album no-skip tracks!

Emails i can’t send: – sabrina carpenter

Sabrina, Sabrina, Sabrina… She’s just going to do it for me every single time! I always loved Sabrina’s music, but the mature turn of her recent album emails i can’t send was a change I happily embraced. She truly created a career-defining album with this one.

Then, she did one better and released a deluxe version of the album early this year titled emails i can’t send fwd:. It has been an absolute godsend because I had no idea that four extra songs could have such an impact on me.

emails i can’t send fwd: by Sabrina Carpenter

Tracks like “Nonsense” have gone viral on TikTok for her unhinged outros on her tour. Others, however, are more serious and tap into the little insecurities that everyone faces in their 20s. These tracks include “how many things,” “decode,” and “opposite.” If you ever want to feel like a baddie, “Feather” and “bet you wanna” are the tracks for you. “Read your Mind” and “Fast Times” are more laid-back pop songs that solidify Sabrina being the pop princess of our generation!

Happier than ever – billie eilish

Billie Eilish has been high on my radar since her first EP, don’t smile at me. Her first album followed suit, keeping the retro, dark, brooding theme that she is infamous for.

So, when she announced an album with such light visuals and an album that quite literally had the word “happier” in it, I was intrigued. Could she pull it off? Answer: She killed it.

Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish

While still staying true to her original sound, Billie managed to create an album that is a stellar blend of pop and alternative sounds, while continuing to push the bounds of music as we know it. I loved how unique each track was, and the range of topics she managed to incorporate into the album. “I Didn’t Change My Number” and “Lost Cause” are perfect tracks to play while you’re getting dressed for a girl’s night out. “Getting Older” and “my future” are the tracks I listen to when I need that Monday motivation to get me excited for days ahead.

“Oxytocin” was a track that grew on me as I continued listening to the album. I loved how peculiar and unique it was; yet, it was reminiscent of Billie’s debut album. Finally, “Happier than Ever,” the title track, is the absolute perfect song to yell when you finally find yourself moving on from something or someone. That beautiful moment when you realize how much better off you are without them.

guts – olivia rodrigo

Okay, this one was a last-minute addition but so worthy of being on this list. I, along with the entirety of the teenage girl population, was obsessed with Sour when it came out. Unsurprisingly, when GUTS was announced, I just knew it was another album that would feel like a hug.

If Sour was the pop bible for 17-year-olds, GUTS is the pop bible for “teenage girls” in their 20s. Songs like “bad idea, right?” and “get him back!” are so school girl while “making the bed” and “logical” pay homage to Olivia’s excellence in delving into hard topics with uncanny honesty. “pretty isn’t pretty” is sadly the one I feel is most relatable. I love how aptly Olivia was able to express the ridiculous beauty standard and how pressurizing that can be for women of all ages.

Music always has been, and probably always be, my therapy. There is always a song that will make me feel understood, so I hope that these albums will help connect you to songs that make you feel heard too!

Tvisha Rao

Rutgers '25