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Something I think about often is what music would be playing if a movie was made about my life. Maybe it’s my introspective nature and tendency to romanticize my life, but it’s super entertaining to pick out which songs would naturally start playing as you walk through life and all its experiences; good, bad, beautiful, ugly, and everything in between. The idea to write about the playlist of my life was inspired by Teen Vogue’s popular youtube series, where they gather celebrities to share and explain a playlist that resonates with their own lives. Although I am nowhere near the same level of relevance as celebrity superstars like Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, or Alicia Keys (I wish!) I sometimes like to pretend that people are interested in what my life would sound like, music wise. Feel free to listen to the Spotify playlist I have created with all of these songs as you read! 

“(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon
  • It is undeniable that John Lennon’s music has made a huge impact on the way I look at life. His lyrics are some of the best I have ever heard, particularly the ones that were written later in his life, after leaving The Beatles. This is a bit controversial, but I support John Lennon’s music, although I do fully condemn his abuse allegations towards his family. However, I do believe that we can separate the art from the artist in the case that the artist is dead. Anyways, Lennon’s songwriting and production only got stronger and more meaningful after he left The Beatles and was influenced by Yoko Ono (who I also love and support–another controversial opinion! Ah!), and one of the singles that became a top hit after the murder of John Lennon was (Just Like) Starting Over. The Double Fantasy album CD was practically always playing in my family’s car while growing up, and this song in particular always stood out to me as a favorite. Its optimistic, upbeat, and sense of renewal makes this song never get old to me.
  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “Why don’t we take off alone…Take a trip somewhere far, far away… We’ll be together all alone again… Like we used to in the early days”
Us by Regina Spektor

I’m a huge fan of Regina Spektor, and this was the first song I found of hers back in 2013 after watching one of my favorite movies, “500 Days of Summer.” This is one of those songs that is meaningful to me without me exactly knowing why; perhaps it is the way I started listening to it when my music taste started developing, but this song leaves me with a fuzzy and familiar feeling that I cannot get enough of. There are many ambiguities in its true meaning, as interpretations have stretched from a love song, to a song about growing up, to a song about the Soviet Union (it is off Regina’s “Soviet Kitsch” album, so this is highly plausible). For me, I take it as a reminder that things won’t always be as simple as they are when you are young, when you can enjoy the simple pleasures in life like “blow[ing] bubbles” or “tak[ing] photographs of fun” before realizing you are living in a world of “thieves” who will try to steal your joy. Whatever the meaning is, though, it’s a beautiful song. I often listen to “Us” on walks to and from class, so if you see me on campus with my headphones in, this is most likely what is playing!

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • They made a statue of us…And then put it on a mountain top…Now tourists come and stare at us…Blow bubbles with their gum…Take photographs of fun, have fun”
“You Get What You Give” by New Radicals

This song will never get old. Every year, when my best friends from my hometown and I find time to get together and hang out over winter and summer vacation, one of our favorite activities is going for a drive and blasting music together. This is our “goodbye song,” which is always played as the last jam before we all get dropped off at our own houses. My best friends are ever-so-special to me, and I wouldn’t replace our relationship for the world. This song always reminds me of them.

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • This whole damn world could fall apart…You’ll be okay, follow your heart…You’re in harm’s way, I’m right behind…Now say you’re mine”
“Werewolf” by Fiona Apple

I will truly never stop talking about how much Fiona Apple’s work means to me and resonates with me. The rawness in her emotive songwriting is something that inspires me immensely. “Werewolf” was one of the first Fiona Apple songs I started listening to back in 2015 (along with her cover of “Across The Universe”), and it has somehow found its way onto every single one of my Spotify Wrapped Top of the Year playlists since. Every line is a mini-masterpiece to me. They all leave a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth as past experiences and memories are brought to mind from this song. Also, I have to note the ending of the song, when Fiona sings “Nothing’s wrong when a song ends in a minor key” to describe an acceptance of a relationship that falls flat and ends short: the last note of the song really ends in a minor key. Perfection. So satisfying. 

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “And I could liken you to a chemical…The way you made me compound a compound…But I’m a chemical, too…Inevitable you and me would mix…And I could liken you to a lot of things, but I always come around…’Cause in the end, I’m a sensible girl…I know the fiction of the fix”
“You Are The Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne 

I needed to include a feel-good jam about happy hearts and falling in love, right? The soul in Ray Lamontagne’s voice is addictive, and this song always makes me feel full of joy and appreciation for those whom I love. I believe that this song is about those people who can make you feel better no matter what on hard days, which is rare to find. They are simply “the best thing,” and I feel so grateful to have experienced what I have with who I have in this lifetime. Sappy, I know.

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “The way you move me, it’s crazy…It’s like you see right through me and make it easier”
“Cherish” by Madonna

I have distinct memories of listening to this song (and the entire Madonna “The Immaculate Collection” album, for that matter) on my Walkman music player while walking through Blockbuster with my mom when I was 8 years old. It has remained one of my favorite songs since. I love the girly, upbeat, and sugary energy it gives–I’m pretty sure I would imagine my 8 year old self dressed in a pink sparkly outfit performing this song instead of my plain yoga pants and graphic tee. Another reason I love this song is because it reminds me of my mom. One of her favorite artists growing up was Madonna, so she introduced me to her at a very young age. We would play her top hits together all the time, and this was always one of our favorites. 

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “I was never satisfied with casual encounters…I can’t hide my need for two hearts that bleed…with burning love, that’s the way it’s got to be”
“Just Like Heaven” by the cure

This song is what would play through the happy, lovey, warm-and-fuzzy montage moments of my life as a movie. Or, during the scenes of me dancing in my room. I haven’t quite decided yet, but I know that I want this full-of-life song somewhere on this playlist–and playing at my future wedding one day.

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • You, soft and only…You, lost and lonely…You, strange as angels…Dancing in the deepest oceans…Twisting in the water, you’re just like a dream”

“Oh No!” by Marina

This song reminds me so much of my middle school years, as it was in 6th grade when one of my friends introduced me to Marina and the Diamonds (now, just MARINA). I was hooked ever since. This song in particular, which I used to always choose while playing Just Dance on Wii at my friends’ house, always gets me in a good mood. I still remember the dance to this day (no, I will not demonstrate).

  • Favorite Lyrics
    • “I know exactly why I walk, and talk like a machine…I’m now becoming my own self-fulfilled prophecy”
“People’s Parties” by Joni Mitchell

As mentioned earlier, the CDs my parents played in the car were my main form of listening/discovering music as a kid. I remember always feeling jealous of my friends, whose parents would buy them Hannah Montana CDs to play on their way to school, while I was stuck listening to “boring” and “old” Joni Mitchell. Now, I am grateful to have been cultured with great music from a young age (even though I love me some Hannah Montana, too). “People’s Parties” has such observant and train-of-thought lyrics that I adore and inspire me in my own writing. It reminds me of some of my own thoughts and feelings that run through my mind nonsensically, especially while observing others and people watching. 

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “I’m just living on nerves and feelings…With a weak and a lazy mind…And coming to people’s parties…Fumbling deaf dumb and blind”
“The Girl” by City and Color

I discovered this song on an 8tracks playlist (pre-Spotify… cringe) and it was one of the first songs that truly mesmerized me. I love the 3 part story that seems to unfold in the full version of this song. The same group of lyrics are repeated throughout, but in 3 completely different tones: the first is hopeful and sensible, the second is grateful and “in love,” and the third is melancholy and defeated. It tells a story of love, gratitude, and finally, loss, in the most beautiful and heart-warming way. The song’s lyrics don’t necessarily say anything about me, but this was such a staple song in my formative years that I felt I just had to include it. 

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “While I’m off chasing my own dreams…Sailing around the world…Please know that I’m yours to keep, my beautiful girl”
“(One of Those) Crazy Girls” by Paramore

Although I have always been a fan of Paramore, I didn’t really start avidly listening until it came to this song. After falling down a Youtube live-concert-rabbit-hole, I decided to watch a whole Paramore concert, in which (One of Those) Crazy Girls was performed. Instantly, I fell in love with the energy, and it was just the amount of angsty energy that I needed back in late 2020, when I was going through a bit of an “unhinged” patch (when am I not, though?). Some events happening in my life, that will go unnamed in lieu of my own privacy, left me feeling a bit taken for granted and deceived. Being able to resonate with the other “crazy girls,” who often let their emotions and sometimes-delusional thinking get the best of them, was exactly what I needed to feel seen and heard during this time (no matter how “embarrassing” that seems). And, it’s a banger, so that’s a plus.

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “Now I walk under a pink sky…Love has flown along and passed me by…I pour my heart out to your voicemail, let you know I caught a bus to your side of town”

“Better Than Words” by One Direction

This playlist wouldn’t be complete without at least one One Direction song. People always laugh when I tell them that in middle school I was a “closeted 1D stan,” but it’s true! Maybe it was a bit of internalized misogyny, but I did not want to be “like the other girls” and swoon over a boyband. In public, at least–as soon as I got home from school, I would open my secret 1D playlist and melt over Harry Styles. Eventually, I got over my embarrassment, and let my love for One Direction be known by everyone and anyone who would listen. It has led me to meeting some of my best friends and left me with memories of screaming their lyrics with friends in the car. The way I would describe these people and memories? Well, they are better than words! ;)

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “Best I ever had, hips don’t lie…You make me wanna, one more night…Irreplaceable, crazy, we’re crazy”

“Tire Swing” by Kimya Dawson

I found my admiration for random silly little songs after watching another one of my favorite movies, “Juno,” which included a soundtrack almost exclusively written and sung by the lovely Kimya Dawson. Many have diminished Kimya’s music down to “kid music” because of their sweet and innocent sound, but I adore it! Her music always calms me and reminds me to slow down and notice the small things in life. I have been told that although I have an “old soul,” I am so “young at heart,” always giggling at the small stuff and having curiosity about all I encounter, so I guess this song matches that part of me!

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “‘Cause I like to be gone most of the time…And you like to be home most of the time…If I stay in one place I lose my mind…I’m a pretty impossible lady to be with”
“Shameika” by Fiona Apple

This song would most likely play during my hard-to-deal-with childhood/early adolescent phases. I was a pretty stubborn and angry kid at times; seldom sad, but often fiery and mad at the world. This may surprise those of you who know me now, as I am pretty level-headed currently. Most of the time, it was just about getting an emotion out into the world for anyone who would listen. This tone is definitely exemplified in “Shameika,” where Fiona describes her as a child who was an angry loner, but who was heavily impacted by a girl in her elementary school class, Shameika, who believed in her potential. Similar to Fiona, my “Shameikas,” or the people who have been kind to me without any expectations, also stick in my mind, no matter how along ago they made themselves seen.

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “I used to march down the windy, windy sidewalks…Slapping my leg with a riding crop…Thinking it made me come off so tough”

“Ribs” by lorde

I’m sure many people relate to this song. It’s about an unescapable fear of getting older, which is expressed in waves of nostalgia. This song reminds me of two things: change and friendship. I listened to this song a lot before leaving for college, as I was a bit emo about leaving my best friends, who had been there through it all, for an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. This song would definitely play at this part of my life.

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • “You’re the only friend I need…Sharing beds like little kids…And laughing ’til our ribs get tough…But that will never be enough”
“in my life” by the beatles

Ah, the perfect ending to this playlist: a song about looking back through memories of a life well lived with love and gratitude. This is such a gorgeously written song. It’s about acceptance of your life for what it is: memories (some that will remain, and some that will fade), and people who made it special (some who were in your life for only a little, and some that are there and cherished forever). This is the perfect ending credit song.

  • Favorite Lyrics:
    • There are places I’ll remember…All my life, though some have changed…Some forever, not for better…Some have gone and some remain”

Jordan is a senior Psychology major and Women & Gender Studies minor at TCNJ, with an interest in becoming a clinical psychologist in the future. In her free time, she loves making lengthy spotify playlists, drawing, trying out new recipes, and rewatching the same 5 tv shows over and over.
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