Music is one of the fastest and easiest ways to induce nostalgia. This week Craccum is on a quest to exploit this emotional weakness and expose the wildest memories UoA students associate with the songs of their youth.
If I ever wanted to know what my state of mind was like in the June of 2021, the first thing I’d do is scroll back to the demarcated section of my liked songs on Spotify. Musical nostalgia is more than just a cultural phenomenon – it is a neuronic command. (Btw I had both the Bo Burnham and Phoebe Bridgers version of ‘That Funny Feeling’ saved—stellar taste aside, I was definitely going through something). If you’ve ever wondered why songs have such a chokehold over triggering weirdly specific memories, it’s because music stimulates numerous areas in the cortex of your brain at once. Not only does your mind recall the sound of the song, but all the visual and sensory memories you attached to it. Add in a dangerous sprinkling of dopamine and it might help reassure you that you’re not still into that dude from intermediate with the Justin Bieber-esque haircut—you’re just relistening to 1D’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’.
Kesha 🤝 bra shopping
stopping ppl from
Sonia* remarks that “whenever Kesha’s ‘We R Who We R’ starts playing” she feels ‘vaguely embarrassed’ for the rest of the day. “I’ve realised it’s because it was playing over the speakers the first time Mum and I went bra shopping. She got the really pretty attendant to come in and check if the bra fit me properly and not to be dramatic—but I was 13 and I did contemplate killing myself. If it took me an obscenely long time to come out—I blame Kesha”.
If there’s something we can learn from this, I say that we should immediately find out what songs our enemies associate with embarrassing memories. Psychological warfare at its finest? Make it your mission to blast that shit around them old-school boombox style and you can successfully ruin someone’s day; all before 9 am in the morning! Idk man, this is Craccum, I sure hope you didn’t come here hoping to actually learn something.
Researchers from the University of Leeds note that the songs we listen to in our formative teen years till the time our silly, little brains finish developing (around 25), are the ones that stay jammed into our subconscious forever. To all my DnB lovers: I’m begging you to fix your shite taste in music right now! (you only have like 2 years left to do it)
Because of all that spicy neurological development, this period known as the ‘reminiscence bump’, is when the connections we make to songs and the associated memory traces are strongest. Thanks to all the extra hormones sloshing around in there, convincing us that everything is either incredibly embarrassing, heartbreaking or important: these are the times you’ll remember more intensely than any other phase of your life. So I guess make really good memories? And set it to a banging soundtrack?
Nobody forgets their first
Ethan* recalls that his first time doing the deed was set against the backdrop of Tame Impala’s ‘Mind Mischief’. “I feel like a BOSS when that song comes on!! Also on edge because I remember listening past the beat for a door being opened downstairs or something—I was shit scared my parents might come home from dinner any moment. I played ‘I Just Had Sex’ by Lonely Island for her afterwards” (It must be noted that Ethan* looked extremely pleased by his own comedic genius after telling me this).
Neuropsychologist Amee Baird found that couples with “a special song” signifying an important moment in their relationship had strengthened bonds. Listening and reminiscing with this song often evokes the excitement and intensity of the initial moment. In cases where one partner had dementia, the song could even alleviate its effects and trigger memories, allowing the couple some precious time together. Take this information as a sign to listen to as many songs as possible with your S.O. If it works out: great! If not, I hope you ruin entire albums for that motherf*cker!! May you make all their playlists painful, amen!
A *trip* down memory lane
Dylan* describes a day that he spent in the Domain (whilst on LSD), that he remembers every time he listens to ‘Space Song’ by Beach House. “In a way I think I knew I would remember the feeling when I re-listened to the song so I wanted to make sure it was a good one. It’s crazy because I feel high when I listen to it. I remember how the trees moved and how the moss and grass felt. I had a conversation with this lady for like 45 minutes by the herb garden. She was pointing out different plant names and stuff—I have no idea how that conversation started and I have no idea how she didn’t clock onto the fact that I was rolling”.
Nothing spurs emotional reactions from the brain like music (aside from drugs probably). Neuroimaging shows that our favourite songs stimulate the brain’s pleasure circuit, releasing influxes of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and a cocktail of other neurochemicals that make us feel good. The more you like a song, the more pleasure you get.
Fun fact: the neurotransmitters that get released while you listen, are the same that cocaine chases after!
The 1975 is not my favourite band yet ‘Paris’ never fails to make me cry. I unabashedly play ‘Witch Doctor’ and ‘The Coconut Song’ at full volume in the car because it makes me feel like nothing bad has ever happened to me and my biggest worry is whether mum put the strawberry rollup into my lunchbox or the blueberry one (foul). (I was indeed a Jump Jam leader and I should indeed stop keeping Craccum like a diary). Anyways, neural nostalgia is powerful and pretty fucking cool. It’s exciting to think that the music we listen to right now, will be bringing us back to these moments for the rest of our lives. If you can, try to pre-empt that shit like Dylan*; if life’s one massive playlist the least we could do is “make sure it’s a good one”.
*Names may vary because for some reason, people don’t seem to like having their personal memories plastered all over the internet?? Huh, weird.*