Serin Koh / Sun Contributor

April 29, 2024

SOLAR FLARE | The College Experience

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The college experience is difficult to describe. An odd in-between spanning the gap between childhood and real adulthood, college is a time when you set off on your own and also realize how much you still need those back home. We begin with so many grand ideas and goals, but inevitably have to learn that some of the paths we envisioned are not the ones we actually want or are capable of taking. We have to find new passions, and these experiences can cause many emotions: guilt, excitement, exhaustion and more. The best way to process these feelings and experiences is through music. The songs in this list span so many genres and sources from pop music to TV show soundtracks to Broadway that it may be difficult to see how they fit together. But if you really focus on the lyrics and specific messages — or what we decide we want the messages to be — then it will all make sense. These songs show us that we are not alone in our feelings, encourage us to not give up and also shed light on the difficulties along the path.  

  1. Billy Joel: Vienna

No song better encapsulates the college experience than “Vienna.” A warning against burnout, Billy Joel reminds us to spend time enjoying life as he sings, “Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about? You better cool it off before you burn it out… Slow down you’re doing fine, you can’t be everything you want to be before your time.

  1. Niall Horan: The Show

A song about how you need the stressful moments to appreciate the fun ones, “The Show” also summarizes the quintessential message of this playlist: “Life is like a dance floor some of the time…. It’s all fun and games until the party ends… Hold tight, get ready for the ride.” 

  1. Em Beihold: Numb Little Bug

“Numb Little Bug” is an anthem for the hard moments, a reminder that everyone struggles with feelings of loneliness and exhaustion. “And I just wanna see if you feel the same as me,” Em Beihold asks in the song, wondering if, “you ever get a little bit tired of life, like you’re not really happy but you don’t wanna die, like you’re hanging by a thread but you gotta survive…

  1. Niall Horan: Science

Specifically for our stressed STEMies, this is the song to listen to when the chemistry lab reports and physics problem sets and endless biology memorizing are getting to you. Forget the metaphorical intent, and simply listen to the lyrics: “It’s just science, don’t let it break you down.” 

  1. One Republic: Someday

There is nothing more relatable than a song that begins with, “Some days I’m treading the water and feel like it’s getting deep, some days I drown in the weight of the things that I think I need, sometimes, I feel incomplete…” and later adds a line I believe is meant for college: “I’ve been the best, been the worst, been the ghost in a crowded room.” “Someday” talks about the damage that can come from comparison or self-expectations, reassuring us that though we will all eventually make it, we still have to understand that success will take time. 

  1.  Daisy Jones and the Six: Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)

A song that begins with “I don’t know who I am,” “Look at Us Now,” while technically about romantic relationships, perfectly describes the college experience. Though meant negatively in the song, the lyrics “look at us now” and “tell me how we made it this far” can instead represent our pride and gratitude for being here, which balances with the struggle of managing college life with the lyrics,  “I wish it was easy, but it isn’t so” and “we can make a good thing bad.” 

  1. Merrily We Roll Along: Our Time

Forget the Broadway musical this song comes from and simply listen as the fantastic Jonathan Groff, Daniel Radcliffe and Lindsay Mendes sing “We’re the movers and we’re the shapers, we’re the names in tomorrow’s papers… It’s our time, breathe it in. Worlds to change and worlds to win.” “Our Time” reminds us of all that college is preparing us for and all that lies ahead. 

  1. Taylor Swift: Change (Taylor’s Version) 

“Change” is a dramatic final ode to the college experience, beginning with the relatable line, “somebody else gets what you wanted again,” and moving onto an optimistic chorus which reminds us that our time will come, “Because these things will change. Can you feel it now? These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down. It’s a revolution, the time will come for us to finally win.” 

Jenna Ledley is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].

‘Solar Flare’ is a weekly playlist column where Sun contributors spotlight a slice of musical taste with the campus community. It runs every Monday.