If there’s one benefit to COVID-19 and being locked in your house for weeks or months on end with nothing to do except work and assignments, it’s that we still (somewhat) have the liberty of listening to music when we’re doing the most mundane tasks like washing dishes, folding laundry, sweeping or mopping floors, and cooking. Nowadays, music is all that has been getting me by at home. I’m left alone until dinnertime, because everyone’s at work and the dogs sleep all day, with piles upon piles of homework to finish before the week ends and more homework gets added to my list of responsibilities- a list that basically consists of just homework, meetings, and cooking (and maybe some cleaning).
Music gives me comfort and spices up my daily routines, allowing me to break free of the painfully repetitive semblance of a schedule that I have managed to create for myself since my classes started. It lets me feel in control of at least one aspect in my life, an aspect that also dictates my mood for the hour or the day.
For example, when I look out the window in my living room and feel a bout of loneliness at how empty the streets look, I can open my Spotify application and play ‘Dynamite’ by BTS on full volume and pretend I’m some drunk hippy from the late 60s jamming out to some retro music at a disco. When I have days where I let the weather dictate my mood and there’s a thunderstorm outside while I’m curled up into a ball in bed and hiding away from the world, I find ‘Million Reasons’ by Lady Gaga or ‘When I Was Your Man’ by Bruno Mars to be appropriate can I cease to exist slow jams. Trying to get over heartbreak? I could be one of these few types- an ‘i hate u, i love u’ by gnash and Olivia O’Brien, a ‘Before He Cheats’ by Carrie Underwood, a ‘Don’t’ by Ed Sheeran, or a ‘Someone You Loved’ by Lewis Capaldi. When I need some empowerment, ‘Gunshot’ by KARD, a song about overcoming abuse and coming out of it strong, is definitely a go-to.
As an avid fan of K-Pop (you can say one of three things to me in your head right as you read this- HELL YES!, why the hell?, or okay then.) one thing I’ve come to realize is that sometimes, lyrics might not even have anything to do with what you feel like listening to. (Before you say it, yes irrelevant person I do understand what those weird feminine-looking Chinese guys with make-up are saying- I know Korean. And even if I did not, I know how to use Google Translate, thank you very much. Piss off.) A lot of the time, it can just be the mood that the music gives off or the vibe that the instrumental of the song resonates into your soul.
I could be listening to ‘Lose You To Love Me’ by Selena Gomez on a sad day but be in a completely healthy relationship with someone (or in my case, just be single since birth). ‘The Stealer’ by The Boyz could come up on shuffle in my ‘songs to learn dances of while trying not to break a bone’ playlist but I have no intention of being a thief- neither of any material belongings nor anyone’s heart. Maybe I’m trying- and failing- to finish my annotated bibliography for international child and youth care studies and ‘Not Shy’ by ITZY starts playing while I’m having an internal debate with myself about whether or not I have the courage to email my professor to ask for help or an extension on the deadline.
The most recent song to be stuck in my head is ‘Love Me Harder’ by soloist WOODZ. The song repeatedly refers to the color blue as a way of describing the depth of someone’s relationship, but I love it because it’s catchy and the drop before the bridge is a headbanger. I can’t relate to the lyrics (my favorite color is not blue and SINGLE. SINCE. BIRTH.) but I find such a euphoric release from stress every time I listen to that song because the beat just hits right and it makes me want to dance all my emotions out instead of keeping everything bottled up inside.
Back when I was still in high school, my best friend and I used song lyrics as a way to call to one another from across the hallway. We didn’t care if people stared, we were shameless (still are, but a bit more low-key about it because university kids are supposed to be a bit more sophisticated). I would sing-shout a lyric from ‘Magic Shop’ (So show me! I’ll show you!) or ‘Fake Love’ (Why you sad?! I don’t know, nan molla!) by BTS at the top of my lungs if I spotted her entering the cafeteria, and she would sing-shout the next line back. At the end of every day, we would meet by the lockers in the hallway and greet each other or say goodbye with music and a little dance here and there (which garnered quizzical stares most of the time despite being surrounded by Arts kids who should have been used to strange musical outbursts by then).
Music transcends societal barriers like language and age and location, so who’s to say that it can’t bridge people from to the outside world without making them step a single foot outside their bedrooms? We can connect to each other through music without having to say anything.
Directors use music in film to elicit emotions like suspense, fear, excitement, and sadness to viewers. Songwriters use instruments, beats, and lyrics to do the exact same thing for listeners. They are both storytellers in their own mediums, but that’s an article for another time. Besides, I’m more musically inclined and use music for literally everything- as motivation to do homework, as a favour to my uncle to let me watch an episode of ‘Bones’ on TV, as an apology to my aunt for accidentally swearing in her presence, as a promposal to my best friend (‘Yes or Yes’ by Twice is our song, fight me), as a way to break it to my mother that her favourite (and only) daughter bleached her hair and has continuously dyed it five different colours. Heck, my best friend and I first became friends after we met in Musical Theatre class and found out we listened to the same music. She credits me as the one who uncloseted her love for K-Pop, which is obviously the start of every beautiful relationship.
I’m no sociologist or psychologist or even a genius, I’m just a teenager. And I think that’s all the qualification I need to be able to give good advice on things that can make people happy- after all, I’m in my emotional prime. And trust me- if you need a picker-upper from a bad day, or a reason to prolong your happiness after finding out you made it on the Dean’s List for the school year, or just something to comfort you and let you know that someone understands whatever you’re feeling, turn to music. It’s not called the language of the soul for nothing.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I MADE A SPOTIFY PLAYLIST THAT INCLUDES ALL THE SONGS I MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE AND A FEW EXTRAS TO SPICE THINGS UP! GIVE IT A LISTEN!)