A collection of playlists for your different mental health needs
When the mood strikes, humans tend to manage their emotions by wallowing in the words of others. In a time when your words fail, one can rely on music for its nature in articulating specific feelings that are subjectively relatable to you. Although the meaning of songs are not refined to a singular interpretation, there is a beauty and sense of belonging in the warm embrace of our beloved artists. While most don’t choose to listen to sad music to make themselves purposefully unhappy, there is a level of comfort and belonging that is created when you find a song that eloquently expresses what you are experiencing.
So, to indulge within the confines of self-reflection and the problems we inevitably experience, here is a short but sweet selection of songs to make you feel seen and heard.
For when you’re scared of getting old:
NZ homegrown Lorde released her album Pure Heroin to reflect sadness, nostalgia, and joy. In track four, titled “Ribs”, Lorde offers her anxieties about ageing on a silver platter. While this song was written when she was 16, experiencing an existential crisis is inevitable, regardless of your age. While she hopes never to forget that aura of innocence and warmth embedded within adolescence, she also shares an appreciation of that nostalgia underneath all of that anxiety and fears. The instrumentation of “Ribs” is not typical of the textbook characteristics of “sad music”. The beat, alongside the overall vibe of the song, is one that you associate with hope as it intertwines with feelings of sadness. As the track itself contemplates the idea of growing old, it truly depends on the mindset that you have when listening as it has the ability to leave you hopeful and appreciative of being able to age. To offer a “‘sadder’” alternative, refer back to Billy Joel’s “Vienna” in the album The Stranger.
For the people pleasers:
In Taylor Swift’s album Folklore, track six titled “Mirrorball” offers a metaphor using an inanimate object as a reflection of the human psyche. In a lyrical world, this song travels through the states where an individual wants to invite love and attention onto themselves. Within that desire, there is a restraint that prevents them from accomplishing such goals and in turn shines that light to uplift other people. There is a dichotomy between the concept of a mirrorball. In order for them to project light, they are broken into minuscule pieces for them to be able to reflect. Swift articulates the different complexities an individual has in their personality depending on the person they are interacting with. The concept of being a mirrorball is a double-edged sword. While it acknowledges the ability to bring out the best in others, it is frustrating and exhausting as it leaves no room for self-love and recognition.
For when you’re feeling hopeless about love:
As the cuffing season is fast approaching, in a track titled “Falling Behind” by Jazz sensation Laufey expresses the loneliness and isolation that comes along when witnessing love blossom for others but never for her own. Laufey’s perception of love aligns with that of fate as she expresses that the “Sun is engaged to the Sky”— – something that is bound to happen no matter which way the story is written.
Similar to Lorde, Laufey voices out her anxieties of running out of time and growing older without having someone to call “hers”. She calls out that while she is content with herself and being independent, she still hopes to be free alongside someone else. Laufey reiterates, “Everyone’s falling in love, and I’m falling behind” as she describes the different trajectory of her life in comparison to those around her.
For when you’re confronted with illusion:
In her most recent release, artist Gracie Abrams takes the listener on a journey of confronting her illusions within several aspects of her life. Track eight titled “Difficult” of her album Good Riddance, Abrams perfectly encapsulates the psychological mechanism of creating specific expectations and illusions as a way of coping. For the better part of it, creating an illusion of a situation is far better than what you are experiencing in reality. Abrams recognises her own mistakes and faults as she is able to say “Oh I know, spiralin’ is miserable. I should probably go home, why does that feel difficult?”. As this facade is predestined to fall apart, you’re forced to create an escape plan to save yourself from spiralling. While this song is quite raw and intimate, Abrams is able to vocalise the struggles she has when managing her emotions to avoid wasting her time.
For when your ex moves on:
Arguably one of the next pop princesses, Sabrina Carpenter released “Opposite” as a direct response to the realisation that upon the breakup, her ex is now in a relationship with an individual who looks nothing like her. Carpenter self reflects on the various ways that she could have altered herself in order to fit the desired requirements of her partner. Only to come up with a conclusion that she was only there as a placeholder for her partner to find the opposite of her. She genuinely questions the entirety of their relationship together and if she was lied to. Her sense of hopelessness is seen through the repetition of this phrase, “even if I tried to change, somehow you’d end up with her anyway”. Carpenter questions if she should take it as a compliment that the new person is the complete opposite to her, but comes to the conclusion that her ex never really wanted her in the first place.