A Thank You Letter to Nostalgia and Music

It’s been an incredibly wild year, and now that it’s December, it seems to be time for reflection. A few weeks ago, Spotify Wrapped was released, showing all of its users the songs and artists that they listen to most. Spotify presents all this information in a little slideshow of sorts so you can see all the individual statistics and share them on your social media. Personally, I share my account with my sister and do most of my listening on Offline Mode, so I was surprised to find that our most-streamed song was still one of mine. When it got to the slide about top songs and showed me that song for “One song helped you through it all,” I practically broke down. As cliché as it sounds, that song really did help me get through some hard times this year; in fact, all of my music did. I’m sure most people feel the exact same way about some of their music.

Looking back at my music taste throughout the years, most of the significant songs I liked were ones that I made nostalgic connections with: Songs my friends showed me or ending themes for my favorite animes. Songs I would listen to on long school trips or pieces I would play in band or on the piano. Those songs are the ones that really stick with you, the ones that open up your memories and let you enjoy the sweet blanket of nostalgia.

I started thinking about this during NaNoWriMo, a 30-day creative writing challenge where you try to write a 50 000-word novel in a month. It was extremely late in the night, but I was behind on my word count due to some schoolwork, so I was trying to catch up before I went to bed. I had planned the part I was supposed to write, and it was an important part of the story, but I still found myself struggling to write even a sentence of logical text. Sometime that night, I had put on a “writing” playlist I made for myself back in high school, and at 1:48 am, fate finally did its thing: one of my old favourite songs came on. It was a pretty high energy song, one that my old friend showed me during class a few years ago. I was surprised to hear it again after so long but delighted that shuffle mode decided to deliver me this treat. The song energized me a lot, and suddenly I could write the scene and catch up on my word count. I had never realized just how important that song was to me.

Growing up as a musician, I’ve always thought that music and soundtrack hold a really important role in our lives. It’s an art form that can invoke strong emotions and bring back memories, but also bring people together with music festivals, concerts and bands. In films and video games, music is ever-present in the background, making moments more suspenseful or hyping us up for an exciting moment. Themes and melodies dance their way into our hearts, letting us know when to cheer on our favourite characters, or when the villains have entered the screen. The soundtrack also plays such a great purpose in films, which influences how we make associations with different sounds. Just think about any famous movie theme; Star Wars, Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean all come to mind for me. All of these have some incredible and iconic themes, melodies that will always bring us back to those epic moments on screen, all the intense battles and the crushing deaths.

A few days ago, I saw a TikTok of someone writing an essay, with the due date fast approaching. With an hour left, they apparently put on some Mario Kart music to help them write. It was specifically the theme that plays in the final lap of the race, where the music speeds up and you’re racing the final stretch of the match. With the help of associations and some childhood instinct, they were apparently able to write the essay much faster and submit it on time. (While this is a great example of music and associations, I can’t vouch for the quality of the writing, so like, maybe don’t do this.)

The music we listen to is like the soundtrack of our lives, and I think it’s beautiful to look back at some of our favourite moments through our favourite songs. So, as we move into 2021, I hope we all hold onto our favourite memories, and remember some of the incredible songs that got us through this year. Thank you for reading.