(Photo from Spotify)
From TikTok-viral clips to Christmas classics, the following songs span a wide range of musical genres. However, each track was special to me — and millions of others around the world.
“All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
You have heard it on the radio, in stores, and even in ads. That’s right, folks, the Christmas season cannot start without Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” This song has won three Guinness World Records for the sheer number of times it has been streamed and the period it remained at the top of the charts.
Despite its success, Carey announced that she wrote the song quickly and did not want to release it at first. She could not believe how much attention her song still garners today, nearly three decades after its release. In my opinion, the worst part of this song is the background music.
Supposedly, there has never been a version of this song that has a live band playing in the background during recording. To keep the song on a lighter tone, it mostly used computer-generated audio. While it may be overplayed, Christmas cannot truly be Christmas without her voice.
“Dynamite” by BTS
Korean pop music, more commonly known as K-pop, has swept the world off its feet and become an international sensation. There is no corner of the world that you can visit without coming across someone who has heard of K-pop. This phenomenon not only brings beautifully written melodies and stunning visuals to listeners, but also introduces the world to Korean culture.
However, this is not the full story; like in any entertainment industry, singers are often exploited by larger corporations. They are called idols because they are expected to be perfect, upholding societal beauty standards and having no mental health issues. K-pop idols are molded into a version of themselves that is demanded by the public, corporations, and netizens.
Stories have emerged about singers starving themselves until they faint, as well as having mental breakdowns. Frighteningly, these idols start this journey during their teenage years. They are still adolescents while they are pushed into multi-year contracts.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule; one is Big Hit Entertainment, the label behind the boy band BTS. In recent years, the company has become laxer in restricting the members’ diets, allowing them to be a healthier weight and take breaks.
Knowing this, the meaning of “Dynamite” is quite refreshing. While it is their first title track completely sung in English, it conveys the message of taking things easy and having a positive outlook on life. The singers want their listeners to have a lively outlook on life.
“Anti-Hero” by Taylor Swift
Swift’s album “Midnights” is one of the most widely streamed albums in the United States, and she is currently one of the world’s most popular artists. However, there is one thing about this album that sets it apart from the prior nine. Most of Swift’s albums are about the changes she has experienced through her life, from getting heartbroken to learning how to navigate the world as an adult.
“Midnights,” on the other hand, is an album in which she puts her insecurities on full blast for the public to see. Swift often refers to “Anti-Hero” as her favorite song, although it is about everything she hates about herself. We are all human, and everyone has aspects of themselves that they would like to remove.
The song becomes even more relatable as she overthinks her future, using imagery that makes her seem inhuman. One of her more morbid thoughts is about how her daughter-in-law will eventually kill her for her money, causing everyone in the family to fight over the will.
Swift is nowhere close to that stage of her life, but that is one of the thoughts she decided to share. She started the “#TSAntiHeroChallenge” on TikTok, which encourages people to share their own insecurities. After all, whose mind does not spiral at 3 a.m.?
“Heat Waves” by Glass Animals
This song took the spotlight on the global stage, quickly becoming a song that has been replayed all year. “Heat Waves” is not a generic song about heartbreak; in fact, it is quite the opposite. The narrator believes he was helping the partner he loves by breaking up with them.
Heat waves are a metaphor for their relationship, as they can often cause highway mirages. This phenomenon is caused by a layer of heat just above the ground, distorting the image seen. The illusion presented here correlates to the narrator’s own failed promises.
“Heat Waves” could be a sequel to the band’s previous song “Your Love.” While “Your Love” refers to dysfunctional and toxic relationships, “Heat Waves” conveys the message that sometimes relationships are not meant to be, although you love your partner.
This song was written when Dave Bayley, lead singer and songwriter of the band, was reminiscing about his lost relationship. This can particularly resonate with college students; we want to be perfect, although we are still growing.
There are moments when trying your best is enough. You cannot make yourself happy when you are constantly holding yourself to unrealistic expectations that others have set.
“As It Was” by Harry Styles
Styles, a member of the world-famous now disbanded English-Irish boy band One Direction, branched out to create solo music in 2017. His most recent title track, “As It Was,” was released on March 31 and accrued 8.3 million streams in a single day. The song broke the record for the highest number of streams in a day on Spotify.
Music is often a reflection of one’s innermost thoughts and feelings, allowing listeners to find solace in their favorite songs. The basis of “As It Was” deals with a personal transition while grappling with feelings of loneliness and loss. The song is very relatable, especially for those who can’t find anyone to speak with.
Just like “Heat Waves,” this song has been used in thousands of clips on several social media platforms. The chorus was first used on TikTok, then on Instagram, and finally landed in YouTube Shorts.
When we consume social media, our minds divert to short, catchy clips, such as these reels. Songs like “Heat Waves” and “As It Was” became very popular due to constantly being used in 30-second clips. Due to this attention-grabbing tune, people tend to give the song a listen.