1. “Spring to Come” — John Butler Trio
When I turn to my playlists for a soft, safe and stable space, this ballad by the Australian folk group John Butler Trio is a natural option to center myself. With a warm and reflective introduction, Butler’s gentle voice invites you to consider the challenges and obstacles you’re facing before offering the conclusion that feeling a little lost and broken inside is completely acceptable. This sense of inward vulnerability builds into a confident and hopeful message with a strong and uplifting chorus that answers the question many college students like me wonder about stress, sadness and disappointment: “Will I overcome this?” We all go through winters in our lives, but Butler reminds us that “out of the darkness, only light can come.”
2. “Delicate” — Taylor Swift
The most raw and vulnerable track of American country/pop icon Taylor Swift’s masterpiece “reputation” album, “Delicate” presents a version of Swift only glimpsed in “Style” from her 2014 album, “1989.” A blend of synth and punchy pop presents a Swift torn between love and shame. Acknowledging her public spat with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in 2016, Swift wrestles with the reality of both her partner’s love and her public’s hate. Amid efforts to define her as manipulative, Swift succeeds in explaining the universal feelings of fear and stress when falling in love.
3. “Cut to the Feeling” — Carly Rae Jepsen
Beyond the pure pop genius of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “E•MO•TION,” “Cut to The Feeling” is a joyous and celebratory bop that provides an emotional balance to Swift’s “Delicate.” Jepsen celebrates every little part of crushing on someone that makes the love worth it. Still, this song reverberates even more for a gay person: Lines like “I had a dream, or was it real?” and “I’ve been denying how I feel” remind me of time spent in the closet before coming out, and how that no longer needs to be the case. Jepsen invites you to “cancel your reservations” and join her in the clouds of love.
4. “Little of Your Love” — HAIM
I am stoked about HAIM’s 2017 album “Something to Tell You.” The Los Angeles-born trio of sisters is a staple of indie rock that first captured my heart in 2013. “Little of Your Love” presents a punchy, singsong tune that can put a jump in your step no matter where you are. Danielle and Alana’s vocals contrast with Este’s bass, providing depth to a ballad I adore.
5. “Malibu” — Miley Cyrus
Rounding out my playlist is this ode to the crown jewel of Southern California by none other than my middle school icon, Miley Cyrus. Powerful vocals lift up this emotional performance, and Cyrus’ honest self-evaluation connects with any audience. A summer release, “Malibu” reminds me both of sandy beaches and seagulls back home and of the journey that’s brought me to where I am today. “Malibu” is a triumphant song, presenting a singer who has matured and grown over the past 10 years and brings me to look back at the obstacles I have overcome to be the person I am today.
Christian Paz (COL ’19) is the former news editor and currently an executive editor for The Hoya.