The light of our lives, the joy of our souls.
Nowadays, practically everyone listens to music in one form or another. We stream it on apps, hear it on the radio, go to concerts. Some of you can probably make some yourselves (I am in utter awe of you).
But the question is, why exactly is this true? Why is it that we all love music so much, that we can hardly go a day without listening to at least one song?
I know for myself, music is beyond desire—it’s a necessity. Doesn’t matter what kind of music it is, really, since my music taste is built from a whole bunch of genres and artists, from BTS, to AC/DC, to Coldplay, and occasionally Dolly Parton (yes, I listen to country music sometimes.) Not a day goes by where I don’t have the desire to listen to a specific song. In fact, I’m listening to my late nights playlist as I write this (silence is sometimes too quiet, even when working).
Here are a few of the reasons why music is such a vital part of our lives:
- It has the ability to provoke emotion (like, every emotion)
Music can quite literally act as a drug—you consume a song from a specific playlist in order to acquire the desired effect, like taking a pill from a bottle.
Different songs provide me with different emotions and do different things for me. For instance, You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC makes me want to get up and dance, whereas The Scientist by Coldplay makes me long for something I never even had.
Studies have actually shown that music can change how we perceive neutral faces. The participants of a particular study, based on the music they listened to beforehand, were asked to decipher expressions. As you can probably guess, the interpretations were identical to that of the music they listened to—those who listened to sad music interpreted the faces as sad, and those who listened to happy music thought them to be happy.
Music can also be a big confidence booster. I don’t know about you, but when I need to get myself motivated, I blast We Are The Champions and, just like that, I’m amped up. Adrenaline flows through me and I feel like I can do anything (well, just about).
Doesn’t matter if you want a pick-me-up or mellow melancholy, there will always be songs that can make you feel every emotion on the spectrum.
- It allows us to relive memories
One of the best things about music is how nostalgic it can make us. Science has shown that music can actually tap into our visual cortex, meaning that when we hear a song, our brain won’t hesitate to link it to a certain memory or image. Whether it brings back memories that are good or bad, certain songs can unlock parts of our memory and transport us to a place from our past, remind us of who we once were, or even a specific feeling that we long for or miss.
Personally, there are always songs that remind me of summertime. The good ol’ days. Whenever I hear I Know What You Did Last Summer by Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello, I am immediately brought back to 2016 and feel the same as I did back then when things were simple and I had virtually no worries (oh, summer of 2016, how I miss you!).
Aside from feelings, we also tend to associate certain songs with certain people. If you met the love of your life while La Vie en Rose played in the background, odds are that you will forever connect that song with that very moment. From then on, anytime you hear that song, you’ll be reminded of your person and the first time you laid eyes on them.
Needless to say, if you’re feeling nostalgic, just hop into the time machine that is music.
- It has numerous health benefits
One reason I listen to music 24/7 is because it has the ability to put me at ease. The stresses of being a teenager, student, and just life in general can be head-spinning. As a result, we all have our moments when our mind gets the best of us.
When I get anxious, I simply put on my headphones and drown out the noise of everything around me. Suddenly, I’m in a bubble, safe inside, guarded from the dangers of the outside world. My once rapid heartbeat steadies and I can breathe again.
How does that work, exactly?
Depending on the music, the levels of cortisol—the hormone released due to stress—in our bodies can be lowered. Not only this, but a study done by McGill University showed that listening to music enhances the amount of dopamine—the “feel good” hormone—released in our brains, thus resulting in us feeling content. Because of this, music is seen as a viable treatment for depression (not to say it will work for everyone). It even improves our blood flow.
In addition to anxiety and stress, music aids with other health-related situations. Classical music has been shown to improve the visual attention of stroke patients. On the contrary, patients who recovered in silence provided the worst results.
A study performed on over 7,000 patients proved listening to music post-surgery has the ability to lessen pain and, as previously mentioned, reduce anxiety. The need for painkillers also becomes less likely. Clearly, in certain cases, music is the best medicine.
- It makes us feel as though we’re not alone
Sometimes, we all need a one-way ticket away from reality—music is usually one of the things we turn to. It can be a great way to escape, especially if you like piña coladas (see what I did there?)
The relatable lyrics and soulful melodies speak to our hearts, letting us know that we’re not alone. It brings out parts of us that we never see the light of day. And when it’s that one song that touches us where it hurts most, it’s a key that unlocks our souls. The barricades come down and we just let it all pour out. We let go of everything, if only for a second. The song surrounds us like a hug, and we can’t help but cry in it’s warm embrace.
Just like that, we’re no longer alone. The relatability of the words and the passion in the voice prove to us that there are others that know exactly what we are feeling and how we are feeling it. Suddenly loneliness isn’t so lonely.
In any case, music is powerful and it’s no question that it means something to each of us in one way or another. We just can’t live without it. In that spirit, put on your headphones, close your eyes, and let the magical melodies of music take you away.