Whenever I hear the opening, airy guitar riff of “Miles Away,” I feel like I’m back in my car with the windows down, my friends in the back seat and everyone is singing at the top of their lungs. The smell of newly-blooming flowers fills the car, lifting everyone’s spirits as they join John O’Callaghan in song.
Opening with an upbeat melody, the Maine’s year-old single embodies all things spring. The lyrics crave a desire to get back to the beauty and peace of warm weather. The light, upbeat tempo and sound make it feel like you’re standing outside, soaking in the sun and taking a walk as you’re finally able to get away from the indoors and enjoy the fresh air.
The song is my spring-time miracle. Even through the stress of midterms and finals, “Miles Away” is a constant reminder to enjoy the little things, whether it be taking a stroll outdoors or sitting under a tree and reading a book. It reminds me that even through all of the stress, I can take a trip “miles away” whenever I please, wherever I please.
Spring on campus means several things to me: rain, wind, overcast skies, and if we’re lucky a few days (or hours) where it’s sunny, 70 degrees and pleasant. For days like this, now that you’ve shed your heavy layers and have seen more than a few hours of sunlight, you need to feel like you’re walking the quad to your own soundtrack.
I find escaping to California with Randy Newman’s 1983 hit “I Love L.A.” is the best way to start off this season.
I, like many people I know, continue to listen to certain songs because of their nostalgia factor. “I Love L.A.” is exactly that for me.
So when I stroll around campus listening to this song, it takes me back home to my car: rolling down all my windows in accordance with the lyrics and imagining myself a Newman’s “big, nasty” video vixen sitting next to him in the convertible as they cruise by Los Angeles landmarks. This is one of the songs in the soundtrack to my life.
A tried and true car-cruising anthem, “I Love L.A.” has been my start of spring soundtrack for years now, because it musically sheds off winter with you. Going from simple piano accompaniment to punched-up chord progressions with the full band, the song exuberantly builds all the way to the final harmonious chants of “We love it!”
Sure to get the spring in your step or get your motors revving, couple this with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and “Hungry Heart,” and follow it up with some Beach Boys hits, and you’re ready to get rolling.
A song that puts me in a good mood is Adult Diversion from Alvvays. Recently, my older brother introduced me to this band (shout out to Kevin Kiley, you the real MVP). I even discovered that Alvvays is signed with Champaign’s local record label Polyvinyl, which is kind of cool.
The song Adult Diversion is about a girl who admires someone from a distance and wishes to have a life with this person. She sings about having admiring this person on the subway.
The lyrics also say that after a few cocktails she acquires some liquid courage, and eventually gets physically closer to this person. She acknowledges that if she fails at this she would disappear and act as if it never happened. The song is kind of funny but also relatable in some ways.
Who hasn’t admired someone from a distance but is too shy to actually do something about it? The whole stalking part as she stands outside the person’s window isn’t exactly relatable, nonetheless, the song is great.
“Adult Diversion” has an old school feel to it with electric guitar and loud drums. This song and others from Alvvays has a collaboration of guitars, drums and echoed vocals.
Personally it’s a throwback to the sixties almost resembling The Mama’s and Papa’s (California Dreamin’) etc. The lead singer has a unique voice and in the song she has back up vocals to accompany her during the bridges of the song. The upbeat pace and high notes of the electric guitar just puts me in an overall good mood.
Similar to this song, the band carries these old school sounds throughout their other songs. Though they only have one album, I have been constantly playing their music and I have no shame about it. Make sure to check out Alvvays.
-Mary Kate Kiley
I live in a ‘free country.’ I am very privileged to have free will, freedom of speech and all that good stuff, but often find myself pondering my freedom. Am I really free? Do I know I am free just because my government says so? Could I be pushing the extent of my liberation even further?
These questions would be silly to Lou Reed. He knew he was free. In fact, he was “so free”. Reed’s work with The Velvet Underground may not prompt such thoughts, but this track from his solo work could certainly strike that chord.
“I’m So Free” synergizes with a sunny day like no other. The tempo sets a great pace for walking, while the upbeat melody and backing gospel choir elate. It challenges the listener to kick a bottle down a street, lay in the grass, or take a walk on the wild side (see what I did there?)
“Back Pocket” by Vulfpeck has light vocals overlaid on a deep bass with the occasional drum beat so you don’t get lost amongst the whimsical lyrics. The song describes a playground-type romance, recalled from memory by a band that now understands the nostalgia from not acting on one’s feelings.
The song is upbeat enough to help you power-walk across the quad to get to those last classes of the semester on time, and melancholy enough to remind you that with the turning tide of warmer weather comes the opportunity for a summer fling. “Back Pocket” has become a quintessential song for the oncoming spring.
For Nirvana fans, spring is always a bittersweet time of year. Due to Kurt Cobain’s tragic passing on April 5, 1994, many fans of the band associate this time of year with that dreadful announcement.
However, I think Nirvana is perfect spring music because it counterbalances itself just like the world around us. Springtime is when the coldness of winter remains, but the leaves start to change colors, the grass returns to its natural green, and flowers start to bud.
Some days you will get a taste of summer, others will be colder than anything else all year. Most days are somewhat grey, sulking in rainfall, which is recurring weather in the Seattle area. Nirvana has a similar dichotomy. Their music goes from a humble chill to a raging inferno, usually within the same song.
Clean and chorused guitars, sometimes sounding like they are underwater, will gradually transform themselves into distorted behemoths that growl and scream like nothing else. Such is the case in “In Bloom,” the second track off of “Nevermind” and a hit single for the band.
“In Bloom” is a great spring song not only for its lyrical references to the season, but also because it fits well musically. The murmur of the verses juxtaposes the blazing chorus, especially in the vocal department.
Only Kurt Cobain and co. could pull off such a feat so effortlessly. Kurt would prove his prowess by repeating the act in songs throughout his short career.
Spring in Illinois means trading those ugly mittens your grandma bought you for your favorite Hawaiian shirt (even if it is only 40 degrees out). With spring being my favorite season picking one song was a tough choice for me.
Eventually, after sifting through my “so close to summer” playlist on Spotify, I stumbled on a song that made almost too much sense. “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers is a song that almost every student who’s attended a college party has heard before.
With spring being a time to celebrate school coming to a close, students and faculty crowd the quad tossing Frisbees and sipping Starbucks iced tea. The angsty voice of Brandon Flowers coupled with an quick drum beat help create a unique and upbeat song that’s perfect for any springtime activity you might find yourself doing.
Hahah, you think you can beat K-pop for cheesiness? You are wrong!
The most-downloaded single in South Korea, “Cherry Blossom Ending” by Busker Busker is truly a song that represents spring in Korea, where cherry blossoms bloom and cover the country in pink.
Although I don’t get to enjoy cherry blossoms showering on me here in Illinois, listening to the song still switches me into hyper-spring mode and makes the world around me look pink, at least for its running time.
The band’s representation of spring in the song through their instrumentation and the soothing vocals is so fitting that you will feel as if you were soaked in spring, even without understanding the lyrics.
An interesting fact about this song is that it still manages to ease into Korean music charts every spring, even though it was released five years ago. This has earned the song the nicknames “Cherry Blossom Zombie” and “Cherry Blossom Annual Pension” for Busker Busker who is now on a long-term hiatus.
This lovely song romanticizes spring by representing a guy’s heart fluttering like a cherry blossom and motivates single youths to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. I know the song is super cheesy, but spring is the season that thaws the frustrations you have held during the biting winter of Illinois, and it lets you embrace even the most cheesiest thing in the world.
As long as the song lightens up your mood along with spring’s balmy breezes, why does it matter that it is cheesy?