Sophomore year was…different. There were some moments of levity thanks to my roommates, but there was plenty of drama and heartbreak throughout. Some of the stuff that went down had lasting effects and lessons for me. Something odd about my list is that it’s tone doesn’t really reflect that forlornness in tone. Almost all of the songs of the list deal with love or escape, but do it in a fun or light tone. Upon reflection, I realized that this playlist acted as an escape from some of my social problems.
10. Missing You (All Time Low)
Leading off the list is All Time Low’s acoustic track from ‘Future Hearts.’ Unlike past acoustic songs from ATL, this one is not so much a ballad as it is an ode to nostalgia. The light, catchy guitars play the foil wonderfully with Gaskarth’s rough voice. It’s a surprisingly folksy sounding song for the pop-punk quartet.
9. Moth’s Wings (Passion Pit)
Ahhh, it’s the song title I physically cannot pronounce correctly. Probably my favorite FIFA song of all time, this track from Passion Pit has a beautifully grandiose introduction, building to Michael Angelakos’ picturesque storytelling and scene setting. The interlude building to the final chorus that has the angelic choir peppering “la-la-la’s” blends ear-gasmically with the slow piano twinkling. There’s no huge connection to how I was feeling at the time, but I always felt a calm carry over me when this song plays.
8. Houdini (Foster the People)
For a long time, I had friends telling me that Houdini was Foster the People’s best song, but I never got around to it until the spring of 2016. As soon as the drums began, I was invested, but when the vocalizing and electronica kicked in, I was hooked. But the thing that really made this one of my favorite songs was it’s ability to talk about being held down and break free in a tone that reflected that subject. The fake horns and lyrics “Raise up to your ability,” and “Gain again what they want to steal,” were fantastic reminders to keep my head up when I was feeling down.
7. Runaways (All Time Low)
The dizzying, daydreamy intro to this song perfectly leads to the theme of escape I mentioned earlier. This is a song that held two meanings for me: the romantic getaway the band probably meant it to be for and the singular subject getting away. What I mean by that is that I wanted to ‘run away’ from all my problems at times that year. I tried confronting a few of my problems and they sort of blew up in my face, leaving me anxious and afraid to deal with any more problems head on.
6. The Sound (The 1975)
‘The Sound’ must be one of the happiest songs I have ever heard about breaking it off with someone. Lead singer Matt Healy really pours it on when he describes how selfish his former lover is and how he’s delighted to be done with her. It’s pretty deep, but I can’t pretend that that’s why I love the song. Simply put, it was just too good a joyous sing along in the car for me not to love.
5. My Type (Saint Motel)
God, it’s another FIFA song. If only NHL could put together a lineup half as good as FIFA’s. The grand horns and retro 70’s vibe of this Saint Motel hit drew me in. Then I realized what they were saying in the chorus and I was in fits laughing. The “type,” being anyone who is alive and breathing, was the perfect punch line to all my roommates’ self deprecating faux desperation jokes.
4. Carried Away (Passion Pit)
Apologizing for stupid things that I have said is basically a pastime for me at this point. It’s rarely serious, however when you have the filter that I have (as leaky as Billy Ray’s heart is breaky), you will eventually say something pretty dumb. I’m basically a Canadian stereotype with how much I say sorry. Now that that’s out-of-the-way, I like this track’s candid, realistic depiction of how saying or doing something dumb can affect a relationship with someone you like.
3. What You Know (Two Door Cinema Club)
Oh, I am going to have to use the dreaded “I” word here, aren’t I? Two Door Cinema Club’s most popular song shows off this…(takes a breath) ICONIC intro. Like really, this was my introduction to the Irish trio’s really, really, ridiculously amazing instrumentals. The catchiness of this song cannot be overstated. The plucking and picking added to the soothing delivery of Alex Trimble equals an indie party song worthy of an amazing playlist. This is one of those songs from the beginning of the year, before I had really hit any of the hurdles that lay ahead of me.
2. Come Under the Covers (Walk the Moon)
You may have guessed from a lot of my favorite songs that I am a sucker for a good killer intro, preferably one with some guitar picking. Oh God, is this one of those songs. The John Hughes vibes are real here, with some hauntingly beautiful guitar work by Eli “not your man, but…” Maiman. Additionally, I think I need new pants every time I hear the bass connecting the first chorus with the second verse. And I haven’t even touched on Nicholas Petricca’s vocal and lyrical work here. I straight up think he wrote this to feature in a John Hughes-esque movie. I feel like you could write a whole summer camp dramedy/coming of age story just by listening to this song beforehand. “I wanna leave you satisfied,” can be taken sexually (duh), but I also like to think of it as emotionally satisfied (#deep). But honestly, the lyrics also hit me on the ‘time is of the essence to say what you feel’ level. I’m not sure if anyone has ever put that sentence together, but that’s something I thought about a lot at that time.
1. Gonzo (The All American Rejects)
One of my favorite childhood bands released an album in 2012 called “Kids in the Street,” that was met with disinterest and accusations of selling out. I wasn’t really keeping track of the music scene at this time, so I completely missed it, but then a miracle happened. My school announced that it’s year-end music festival would have The All American Rejects returning after playing there about a decade earlier. I was ecstatic. The band actually came out for sound check before most people had arrived, but my friends and I couldn’t even recognize them. Though they looked pretty burnt out, they played a killer show.
All the favorites were played, including Dirty Little Secret, It Ends Tonight, Paper Heart, Move Along, and Gives You Hell, yet I was most enthralled with how this little known track played. After a long (like 42 second) and nearly inaudible set up, Tyson Ritter begins the anthem. The crowd and I were really into it even if none of us knew the lyrics. “It’s time” both pushes you to do what you are passionate about and plays as a great nostalgic senior sendoff, reminding us all of how much we have endured on our road to and through college. “Out of the grind and into the grave,” is such a melancholy line, but it feels so raw and real. I will definitely be playing this when my senior year winds down. This may not be my favorite song from this list today, but this meant so much to me at the dying moments of sophomore year.