Dozens of methods exist for coping with the hard stuff in life. Talking with friends, journaling, self-care sessions, meditation and even eating your favorite food can give you little boosts of positivity. But many psychology journals say music can function as a tool to help you cope with stress or sadness, and it takes little to no effort to whip out your phone and set up a playlist full of your favorite songs. It doesn’t really matter whether you like heavy metal, new wave, trap music or bubblegum pop. We all favor specific genres and create emotional connections to certain songs or styles of music. Students say these various songs do the best job at getting them out of their emotional ruts.
You can add these 10 tunes straight to your pick-me-up out of a winter slump playlist.
1. I Do – Cardi B
“I Do” features social media star, trap music new comer and fashion icon Cardi B, as well as creator of 2017’s hottest album CTRL and talented R&B singer, SZA. This song oozes with confidence and will make you feel like the world is your oyster. “In the song, she talks about putting yourself first over men which is super important to remember. So when I listen to that song it’s a good reminder that I’m first over anybody,” Anne Arundel Community College sophomore Annie Belle Negebauer said. Many can immediately recognize Cardi’s in your face and unapologetically fierce style of rapping, but this song takes it to new heights by declaring that she and SZA do what they want whenever they feel like it. You could possibly take a page from their book (to a chiller degree) by remembering to do the things that make you happy.
2. Pet Cemetery – Tierra Whack
Don’t let the title scare you, this ode to dogs will lift your spirits. Tierra Whack skillfully exemplifies the rise of female mumble rappers. “Your companionship with your pet goes farther than just a human thing. If they could communicate in a human way, they would do the same sh*t for you.” Philadelphia artist Raven Squire said. In addition to this song, Whack’s most recent 15-minute album features 15 songs that go on for only a minute. That means 15 different songs, just like the incredibly catchy Pet Cemetery, that exude Whack’s enigmatic skillful rapping, while taking on metaphorical subjects like fashion, dogs and vegetables. While many upbeat, good-mood songs can infect you with the confidence that only a multi-millionaire singer has, Whack’s music levels and relates with you.
3. Night Fever – The Bee Gees
The 80’s disco comeback is here, and we need to embrace it. Disco is known for such a fervently upbeat energy, you’ll find it hard to keep maintain your sadness when the urge to dance alone in your room strikes. This song by the iconic Gibbs brothers features consistently positive lyrics, funky bass guitar and a beat that sounds best when blasted at belligerent volumes. “Night Fever” features lyrics like “Here I am/Praying for this moment to last/Living on the music so fast/Borne on the wind/Making it mine” that transcend the 80’s. For a song basically about dancing, the Bee Gee’s wrote some pretty moving lyrics.
4. Pocketful of Sunshine – Natasha Bedingfield
Remember the early 2000’s? A time when student debt and essays weren’t even concepts you knew about? Well you can (mentally) return to those times through old (but not that old) bops like Pocketful of Sunshine. “Its just to happy and warm. I feel like a sea of daisies when I’m listening to it,” Annie Belle said. You probably know every inspirational lyric by heart, but just had no reason to think about this song since 2008. You’ll feel so overwhelmed by nostalgia, you might completely forget about your bad mood.
5. I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers
While a lot of upbeat songs excel at distracting you from your sadness, Bleachers takes it head on. This song features loud banging piano, easy to scream along to vocals and Jack Antonoff’s uplifting lyrics like “I didn’t know I was broken ‘till I wanted to change.” This frantically paced song will truly make you want at stand at an overpass and scream at yourself. “They’re genuine, straight-forward, but also wanting to push you out of your comfort zone. In this song, they focus on a bad situation and how someone can get out of it with their own will… they say this sucks, this hurt me and I feel like sh*t. But hey, I wanna make this situation better for myself (hence the title) and here’s how I’m gonna do that,” University of Iowa sophomore Elizabeth Rioux said. If you find yourself in the mood to tackle your gripes with life, give it a listen.
6. Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra
In this song, the lyrics set out directly to cheer you up. This 70’s hit song features five minutes of some of the most hopeful lyrics on this list. “Sometimes you just need to be reminded that the winter blues aren’t forever. As soon as the first chords of Mr. Blue Sky plays, I can’t help but start dancing around and remembering that blue skies are coming soon,” University of Florida freshman Hilary Droke said. This song has no dark underlying meanings to dwell on. The Electric Light Orchestra is just telling you the facts: the sun will rise again and sometimes it’s nice to simply appreciate that.
7. Africa – Toto
This undeniable bop deserves a place on every playlist in existence. With pan flutes, a sick drum breakdown and catchy lyrics that require belting them at top volume, Toto pulled out all the stops on this masterpiece. What other love song do you know that references the sun rising above the Serengeti? A song like this fills you with emotion even though the lyrics don’t really intend to metaphorically imply anything. You can listen to “Africa” by Toto and just appreciate the straightforward picture it paints, because the lyrics don’t mean all that much except for descriptive purposes. The song simply paints a beautiful picture and carefully curate a certain feeling of grandiose love.
8. Ramble On – Led Zepplin
Under all the fantastic references to the Lord of the Rings series, Led Zepplin offers an inspiring story about continuing a journey despite difficulties in “Ramble On.” Metaphorically, the song follows the groups journey as a band, traveling the world and laying down the groundwork for metal bands to come. You can find tons of motivation in these eccentric, energetically sung lyrics. Or you can simply enjoy the sick guitar solos and talent of a legendary band like Led Zepplin.
9. HOTTIE – BROCKHAMPTON
This song spares no room for toxic masculinity. The easy-listening, wholesome piece details a 14-member boyband’s love for their art and their friendship together. The song features vulnerable verses by Dom McLennon, Joba, Matt Champion and Merlyn Wood, alongside the utmost catchy chorus by Kevin Abstract, all backed by an extremely cheery beat. In addition to boosting your mood in a little over three minutes, this song could introduce you to your new favorite queer led, rap-oriented boyband.
10. Cousins – Vampire Weekend
This song harkens back to that amazing era of 2000’s and early 2010’s indie music, championed by bands like MGMT, Passion Pit, Phoenix, The Shins and arguably the most iconic, Vampire Weekend. The Columbia University bred band combined afro beat inspired indie rock with brainy lyrics to create super memorable songs like A-Punk or Cousins. The song uses non-stop high-speed guitar and drums along with colorful lyrics to paint this portrait of the joys of family.