Music Is Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul: A List of Classic and Contemporary Songs to Help Ease Emotional Stress

By Brian Brecker 
Elm Staff Writer

Music can be very therapeutic, and I have compiled a list of songs to help you get through these times.

The many-membered hip hop collective Brockhampton released three albums last year entitled “Saturation I, II, and III.” One of the highlights from their first outing was “Milk” in which each member discusses their troubles and how finding friendship and meaning has improved their lives. It ends with a very poignant spoken word bit by member Dom McLennon that wraps up the song.

Related to Brockhampton is founding member Kevin Abstract, who released his sophomore album “American Boyfriend” in 2016. The song from this I’d recommend is “Runner” which manages to be both heart wrenching and a banger at the same time. I recommend listening to this one on a streaming service unless you want to see a seven minute music video for a song only close to three minutes.

Lorde released her long-awaited second studio album “Melodrama” in 2017 to critical acclaim and moderate commercial success. One of the unrecognized gems from that album is “Hard Feelings/Loveless” a song made up in two parts, or two songs in one track.

The first half “Hard Feelings” anguishes over a breakup, while the “Loveless” section is an ironic cutesy banger about being totally fine and not bitter about the aforementioned breakup, and it’s fantastic.

The indie rock band Rilo Kiley made six studio albums from 1998-2014 with one of their sweetest cuts being “A Better Son/Daughter” which harkens back lyrically to a time of youthful innocence moving forward into adulthood. One of the lines that sticks with me is “You’ll be positive, though it hurts.” One thing about happiness that doesn’t get talked about enough is that a lot of times being positive is a constant battle, not merely an outlook you can switch like a pair of glasses.

Pat the Bunny is an anarcho-punk artist who has fronted many musical projects in the emo-folk scene. One of these is “Ramshackle Glory,” which released “Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist,” a song about choosing to live even though life may constantly beat you down. For the record, this song does contain lyrical themes about overcoming self-harm tendencies if those are things you wish to avoid.

To those of you missing your first semester, one of Tyler the Creator’s overlooked songs from “Flower Boy” is “November” about nostalgia for a simpler time in contrast to the stresses and depression of the current. The song asks, “What was your November?” extending his nostalgia to asking you to remember your memory of the past that you treasure and value above all others. These are very important as they provide the core for our self-esteem and help guide you with a positive outlook.

Nana Grizol is an indie folk band from Athens, Ga. who make emotional ballads with heartfelt lyrics. The song by them I’d recommend is “Cynicism” which is about how though the ending of a relationship was not ideal, the relationship itself was valuable inherently and special. It derides the cynicism one can fall into when they have been hurt, singing, “Cynicism isn’t wisdom.” It’s a bold challenge to its audience to push through tragedy and struggle to find the good and hope in the world.

Jeff Rosenstock is a punk rock singer, who once fronted the band Bomb the Music Industry! in the early 2000s. Going solo, his music became more personal and emotional, exemplified by “Wave Goodnight to Me,” a song where Rosenstock yells his heart out over an uprooted musical community, though the lyrics are universal enough to translate well to any recently hurt group of people.

The Mountain Goats are an indie darling band starting out in the 1990s with low-fidelity recordings of folk songs. They have always had a strong sense of personality and humor releasing songs such as “The Ultimate Jedi Who Wastes All the Other Jedi and Ate Their Bones” and an entire concept album about professional wrestling. Entering their most recent album they ditched the guitar to make “Goths” an album tribute to emo, goth rock, and synth pop. One of the underrated highlights is “Andrew Eldritch is Moving Back to Leads” about a rock star leaving to go somewhere new. It is poignant and heartfelt and is helped by a strong understanding of melody and musical nuances.

Perfume Genius, or Michael Hadreas, is a singer-songwriter from Seattle, Wa. known for his emotional lyrics and LGBTQ sensitivities. One of his most important songs from his tear-stained discography is “Normal Song” which is a soft intimate piano ballad of emotional support. The message here, despite its sad instrumentation, is that you are a valuable human being worthy of love and respect, and that your past trauma and mistakes do not define you as a person. You are more than the cracks in your soul and you deserve to be happy, but it’s mighty understandable if you aren’t.

We did not evolve to withstand these social and economic pressures we face, and that’s why we need each other to help us through the dark times. Everyone has someone that loves them and everyone needs each other to show it.

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