November 20th is speedily approaching. For many college students, this extended winter break means more family dinners, run-ins with high school acquaintances at CVS, and reminders of your cringy high school self. Here are a few songs that may encapsulate this time period more than “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynryd Skynyrd and “Home” by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
“Do You Remember” — Chance The Rapper
Chance the Rapper’s The Big Day was a bit of a disappointment following Coloring Book. That being said, “Do You Remember” exudes a level of wistfulness that’s hard to match in rap. Ben Gibbard is featured in the song’s chorus, smoothly singing “Do you remember how when you were younger / The summers all lasted forever? / Days disappear into months, into years / Hold that feeling forever.” This nostalgia is sustained through Chance’s verses that reflect back on his childhood in Chicago and his unfaltering love for the city and its people. Through his references to tan lines, teenage summers, and accidents resulting in scars, you do not need to be a Chicago native to be taken back to past summers of lemonade stands and pool days.
“Ooh La La” — Faces
In the folk-rock song “Ooh La La” by Faces, Ronnie Wood provides lead vocals (unlike most other Faces songs where Ronnie Lane leads) and muses about wishing he had the knowledge he currently has when he was younger and stronger. The clarity and plainness of the acoustic guitar, shaker, and vocals create a sense of comfort and evoke a longing for simpler times.
“shut up” — Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande opening positions with “shut up” is one of the highlights of the album. The first line of the song (and, by extension, the album), “my presence sweet and my aura bright,” exudes a level of confidence and self-assurance that is coveted by many. Grande’s layered vocals against a rather sparse instrumental make for a cinematic opening to positions. As is par for the course for her, Grande isn’t afraid to call out people from her past as she bluntly sings, “you know you sound so dumb (so dumb) / so maybe you should shut up”. This is your go-to after those holiday dinners where your relatives make an insensitive joke, say they don’t believe in wearing masks, or ask you about your relationship status.
“Boys Will Be Bugs” — Cavetown
Cavetown’s “Boys Will Be Bugs” manages to describe a boy’s experience with toxic masculinity in an endearing way through the story of Robbie, a bug-loving boy loosely based on lead singer Robin Skinner. Throughout the song, Robbie attempts to come off as tough, singing lines like “don’t mess with me, I’m a big boy now and I’m very scary” and “don’t message me ’cause I won’t reply, I wanna make you cry”. As Robbie ages throughout the song, though, he admits defeat as he ultimately questions, “ain’t that how it’s s’posed to be? Though it isn’t me.”
“Inside Friend” — Leon Bridges feat. John Mayer
The fact that Leon Bridges and John Mayer recorded “Inside Friend” in 2019 before COVID-19 sent people worldwide into quarantine makes me a little suspicious of what they knew. What was originally written as a celebration of introvert’s preferred method of mingling was transformed into a soothing quarantine anthem. As COVID-19 cases resurge worldwide, the velvety vocals of Leon Bridges and John Mayer manage to uplift listeners and romanticize staying in. Even if only for two minutes and fifty-five seconds, the warmth of “Inside Friend” can help transform the frustration and isolation that often accompany staying at home. Watch the “Inside Friend” music video below to see Bridges grill chicken and Mayer eat a pint of ice cream on the couch.
“Best Friend” — King Princess
Earlier this year, King Princess released the painfully relatable song “Best Friend” about friendship and loyalty as a bonus track on her debut album Cheap Queen. King Princess once again successfully demonstrates that she is bitter while simultaneously maintaining her unamused and “above it” tone. We see this all too clearly when she opens with, “now you wanna be my best friend again / call me after 2 years and then / cry about your bad luck with men / and ask me how the fuck have I been”—a sad reality of friends who like to lose touch and reconnect on their own terms. KP crushes listeners further in the second verse, where she sings, “and now you’re trying to make it go back / to whispers in the middle of class,” perfectly encapsulating the passage of time and inability to return to how things were.
“Southern Nights” — Whitney
And for those who will eventually be returning to Nashville in January, or hope to at some point in the future, Whitney provides a serene cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights” that feels like a warm summer breeze. Through melancholy falsettos, smooth guitar tones, and folk and country elements, this cover, and Whitney as a whole, defies the limitations of the labels of “Spotify Indie” or “algorithm Indie.”