An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things, ever. We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs—even if only for the weekend. So shove this into your grey matter!
Well, to say this past week was an interesting one would be the understatement of the year. I don’t think anyone would argue that the things aren’t fairly different than they were a few weeks ago and we all, in one way or another, will have to come to terms with it. As tempted as I am to get political or opinionated about certain subjects, I realize that this is not the platform to do so. Considering that I’m someone who shares his unique (read: garbage) taste in music with this site’s readership on a weekly basis, I am acutely aware that opinions vary (and feelings even more so) about even things as inconsequential as music. So for many reasons, this is not a place to get too serious but I feel it would be a disservice to not use this column to do some good.
Whatever your thoughts on recent events may be, we all have the unique opportunity to be compassionate and try to make things a little better for the people in our lives. I’ve been lucky enough to have this space every week where I can share music with the goal of entertaining (read: annoying) people and bringing happiness (read: annoyance) to others. I know that there are folks out there who are elated due to recent events and, in certain circumstances, those feelings are completely valid. However, I am also aware that there are those out there who are hurting, confused, and scared. The following songs are for anyone who needs a little bit of positivity and a sort of auditory hug from me because music can relate my empathy and compassion in more eloquent ways than I could ever hope to write. From time to time, we all need a jump-start, and I hope that these songs can help for those who need that jolt this week.
The Beatles – “With a Little Help from My Friends”
I don’t know about you, but I have this habit of trying to “soundtrack” my life on a near constant basis. It’s always assuming that the movie of my life would have a budget big enough to afford good music and after this week, this song certainly popped into my head a few times. I’d be hard-pressed to think of any scenario that isn’t made better by interaction with those closest to you. Family can be a good support structure, but friendship holds a special kind of magic. Friends find each other amidst a sea of strangers and bond over what makes them happy. And, in tough times, The Beatles’ song (that may or may not be completely about drugs) says it best with “Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends”
That’s not to say you won’t run into obstacles…
The Toasters – “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down”
Under section 12, clause G of the “Keep Blake As Unattractive As Possible To The Opposite Sex” accords, I am contractually obligated to incorporate annoying ska songs like this one into my life whenever possible. Still, the chorus of this 1997 ska classic by The Toasters has, over the years, become my default mantra. The titular “bastards” may change from time to time, but the message remains the same; don’t let them get you down. Whatever you may be going through, try to rise above it in some way and power through that hardship.
Jonny Lang – “One Person At A Time”
While this 2006 song by Jonny Lang (Yes, this Jonny Lang) may technically be a gospel song, the message about changing the world can be applied to anything that needs changing. What I love about this track (other than the neat AM/FM effect at the one minute mark) is that the lyrics recognize that change isn’t always immediate or even widespread. “Sure be nice to go triple platinum/There’s no guarantee it’s ever gonna happen/And if I can only reach one set of ears/I know that I’ve fulfilled my purpose here/To change the world/One boy, one girl/One person at a time”
It’s a beautiful and realistic sentiment that we should all hold in our hearts when going through any sort of trying event. Realizing that tactile and real global change is best accomplished on a personal level because it allows the people involved to be just that: involved.
Despite my goal of staying as light as possible this week, I feel I may be coming off as a bit priggish so I need to bring the big guns of positive songs out of the earworm vaults. I preemptively apologize for what I’m about to share and trust that I am only doing so in the hope that, going forward, everyone can point to me as a common adversary for getting the following song back into your heads.
Matthew Wilder – “Break My Stride”
You know what? I’m NOT sorry! This song is amazing and the video accompanying it is rivaled only by KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Give it Up” in terms of ’80s creep factor. Somehow, it still remains a fairly positive song even with the occasional weird mention of dream laundry and sailing expeditions to China. Of all the songs I’ve ever shared in this column, this may be one of the most infectious and I tip my hat to you if you manage to listen to it without singing along.
I know that people are going through things they never thought they would ever have to go through. I know arguments may break out, relationships may bend (but hopefully not break), and that people are now forced to look at the world in a different way then they thought they ever would. However, it’s important to try and stay positive even when it’s the last thing you want to do. Perhaps it’s even most important when it’s the last thing you want to do. Use these songs, and any people share in the comments below, to keep your chin up and your thoughts on better days ahead.
Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago, IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)