Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood
This album has everything I like: existential dread in the face of certain doom, dating apps making you feel bad, and going to the movies to escape the aforementioned. The orchestration is exquisite, the songwriting is piercingly adept, and the wide range of nostalgic inspiration makes it sound like an instant classic upon first listen. Traveling from the depths of the inconceivably vast universe to the stark reality of quotidian life, this album shouts into the void with a smile. It also has the best album cover of the year so far. Listen to this album! You’ll love it, I promise.
SVE’s last album, 2014’s Are We There, was a bruising, haunting rumination on hopelessness, heartbreak, and exhaustion. This year’s Remind Me Tomorrow, which trades out guitar-driven folk rock for snythy pop (that still has a hell of a bite!), represents something of a rebirth. Van Etten doesn’t shy away from exploring darker themes, but this time around, she focuses on finding meaning in struggle and appreciating the calm after the storm. The resulting album feels like a warm hug from an old friend who, through it all, has remained by your side unconditionally. This semester, I finally found myself able to move on from people and events and things and decisions that had weighed me down in the past, and though it’s impossible to ever forget the tough times, I am now able to find meaning in those tough times and to find comfort in the fact that the mistakes I have made and the problems I have faced have made me a stronger, wiser, and more mature person. Van Etten captures those feelings and experiences far more articulately than I could ever hope to.
Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend
I love love love VW and it has been so long since their last album so when this was announced I got hype af and pre-ordered it – the singles got me through the earlier parts of the semester (especially 2021 and Big Blue) and now the full album is out expanding my MIND in time for finals!! Ezra is a true Columbia king because his lyrics are undeniably pretentious but also they make you think! This album is an educational experience in the best way possible.
All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend by Aurora
Many of these songs have really resonated with me in my second semester. The one that comes to mind first is “I Went Too Far”, which is about just how much you would do for someone or something you care about – how much are you willing to shed blood, sweat, and tears for them/it? This hit home for me as I struggled with the things and causes I care about this semester. However, the whole album isn’t just meditation, songs like “Winter Bird” slap just based on good songwriting and icy (for lack of a better word) production. “Under the Water” is another standout. Also, I’m pretty sure she lives in the same forest that Hozier has probably gone back to.
How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by John Powell
John Powell’s HTTYD soundtracks have been my favorite study music when I really need motivation, ever since my intense study sessions for intro bio exams when I was a freshman. So, of course, when the soundtrack for HTTYD 3 was released this winter, I started listening to it non-stop — and I was not disappointed. This album builds on themes from the previous two films in moving and powerful ways while also including incredible new themes, like the dragon romance music. It’s really poetic for me that HTTYD 3 was released in my senior year of college, since I’ve connected so strongly to the characters and music of the whole trilogy, so listening to this score album gets me really emotional and really amped up at the same time — exactly the energy I needed to finish my senior theses!!! Tl;dr I danced on a table to “Third Date” to celebrate turning in my last thesis draft and it was fucking awesome.
Englistan by Riz MC
I used to think I was Very Cool because I hated rap and considered it “not really music.” 2012 Isabel was wrong on so many levels and for me, this album really encapsulates why that was the case. This album is super ambitious in the issues it discusses and while I’m not sure it’s 100% successful in every respect, the beats are super catchy, the wordplay is witty and imminently listenable. Every time I listen I truly stop and pay attention to what he’s saying; attention is such a commodity especially at this school so that’s a huge mark in this album’s favor. On a more personal note, much of my time at Columbia has been defined by my struggle to understand my identity as a mixed-race Latina in a place somewhere other than majority-white hometown. Though my experiences are incredibly different from a Pakistani-English rapper, his mediations on diaspora/double consciousness in “Double Lives” and in other moments throughout the album resonated with my own struggles with identification and feeling whole within myself. (“next album I’ll decide what to do” is a very big mood.)
thank u, next by Ariana Grande
In the midst of a chaotic and frankly difficult semester, I found Ari’s album really poignant and important in making sense of the obstacles – both emotional and otherwise – I was facing. I think what in particular really spoke to me were her struggles in crafting a public image while facing these difficulties within her life. And while there were these songs like ‘needy’ that reflected personal issues, there were also straight up bops like NASA that I listened to in those times when I needed to put on a brave face and really find a complete wholeness in my own identity as an individual (….like I literally listened to this song before every big interview, recruiting event, important exam, etc. this semester). And Ari’s IMMENSELY talented! So there’s that too!!
Rossini’s Overtures by Giaochino Rossini, performed by Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia<
Rossini is one of my favorite composers just because of how many goddamn catchy tunes he managed to churn out. His operas are all top-tier, but it was his collection of overtures that provided me with my dramatic walking music for the semester. Because they’re all typically played at the start of an opera, hearing them made me feel like something was about to Start, and so I used them to make myself e.g. get out of bed and get a move on. There’s a depth to his orchestration that rewards repeated listenings, and the moods of entire pieces can change based on how the conductor interprets them. The William Tell Overture is the most famous, but for my money, the best is the Semiramide Overture, especially (on this recording) from 6:38 to 7:16, when the build-up of horns into a thrilling, vamping string motif makes me want to jump up and shout and stomp my feet. Jamming to an overture is a great way to get a sense of the themes and “voice” of a particular composer or opera. Plus, no lyrics to distract you!
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel
Simon and Garfunkel are always great in the spring because something about their harmonies makes me feel happy and peaceful and hopeful all at the same time. Every song on Bridge Over Troubled Water is amazing, from the classics “Cecilia” and “Baby Driver” to other, more mellow classics like the title track and “The Boxer.” PLUS bangers you probably don’t know, like “Keep the Customer Satisfied.” If that wasn’t enough for you, Art Garfunkel went to Columbia and lived in Carman. Last selling point: “Only Living Boy in New York” is the perfect late night library song. It defined my semester because I’ve been listening to it on repeat since March, but also because its blend of exciting bops and more thoughtful tracks captures my mood as a graduating senior.
Leave your semester-defining albums in the comments, or just comment on our taste!
I listen to this album Everyday via Sub Pop