Every school year, when I get to the end of the spring semester, I think, “there’s no way it could get any tougher than this,” and then somehow, it does.
That’s not meant to be a complaint – my years in college have been some of the most challenging, but also the most rewarding years of my life. Still, the rewards are easy to forget when you’re drowning in multiple 10-15 page papers and group projects while working two jobs and a maintaining some excuse for a social life. A lot of times, I find myself listening to music for encouragement, motivation, or just comfort.
As is my tradition every year, today I’m sharing a short playlist of the songs I listened to this past school year that encouraged and inspired me. As is NOT tradition, this post comes halfway through the summer. Even though it’s been a few months since the semester wrapped up, I still think this is worth sharing (and I’ll never let myself live it down if I let this school year go by without a playlist.
If you’d like to listen to each song as you read about them, you can check out the playlist with (almost) all of them on Spotify!
1) “When Everything Means Nothing” – Fit For A King
Dark Skies was released towards the beginning of my fall semester, and while I love almost all of the songs on the album, this is the one that stuck out to me the most. It put words to some of the things I was experiencing at the time and throughout the semester, and it’s remained one of my favorites since then.
2) “Oh The Depths” – Wolves At The Gate
For some reason, I never listened to Wolves At The Gate’s We Are The Ones EP until a few months ago. “Heralds” gets all the attention (and for good reason; it’s also a great song), but “Oh The Depths” is my favorite from the EP. When I made my tattoo wishlist in September, this was one of the songs I used.
3) “Wait For Me” – Hadestown Cast
Just as Hadestown was getting ready to open on Broadway, my friend introduced me to the musical and an older cast recording from a different run of the show. Since then, a recording with the new cast has been released, so I included both versions of this song on the soundtrack. But all that aside, “Wait For Me” was one of my most listened-to tracks in the spring semester. I love the show’s unique take on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and the catchy music is an added bonus.
4) “Disease” – Beartooth
Like “When Everything Means Nothing,” this is another song I heard that put words to something that had been on my mind at the time.
5) “Good Kid” – The Lightning Thief musical cast
In February, Kiara and I went to go see The Lightning Thief musical while it was on tour in Pennsylvania, and we had an amazing time. It was great to finally see a faithful adaptation of one of my favorite books (
especially after those “movies” or whatever you want to call them). “Good Kid” may not be my favorite song from the musical, but I think it does a good job capturing the character of Percy Jackson and is a good representative of the show as a whole.
6) “In Absence” – Silent Planet
There isn’t much of a story here – “In Absence” was making its rounds on RadioU, and it became one of my favorites to hear on air. I always appreciate the thoughtfulness and effort that Silent Planet puts into their songwriting – not that other bands don’t, but Silent Planet’s songs always have so much depth to them.
7) “Rain” – AmaLee
In the fall semester, I watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and fell in love with its characters, story, and pretty much everything else about it. Being an anime, the opening themes are in Japanese, but after finishing the series I discovered AmaLee’s English cover of the fifth and final opening and fell in love. It’s a good song independent of its origins and worth a listen.
8) “Therapy” – Relient K
I’ve been listening to this song for a while, but this year I rediscovered my love for it. It’s a good song for long and lonely drives, or when you just need to get away for a little while.
9) “Cold Like War” – We Came As Romans
I actually lost track of We Came As Romans until I saw the news that their lead vocalist had suddenly passed away in August 2018. Listening to their music again, their latest release,Cold Like War, started to grow on me. It was a close tie between this song and “Promise Me,” but ultimately, I think the title track is my favorite of the album.
10) “Know Death; Know Forever” – Phinehas
Last year I included “Meaningless Names” on my sophomore year soundtrack, and while I still love that song, “Know Death; Know Forever” was more my song this year. They’re both similar thematically, but “Know Death; Know Forever” has a more victorious tone to my ears. They’re both encouraging in different ways; this was just the one I needed this year.
11) “Crusades” – August Burns Red
I don’t have much to say about this one other than I just really like the way this song (and Constellations as a whole) sounds. And this will definitely make me sound like a cliche, but it’s a great album for the gym.
12) “Ballad of the Goddess” – The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony
This is the only song on the soundtrack that lacks words, but that’s one of the reasons I love it. Similar to main themes from video games, this track from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword conveys a feeling of adventure, heroism, and perhaps most importantly, victory. It’s most unlike anything else I normally listen to, but there’s just something about it that made me smile on really bad days.