Twelve songs for the soundtrack to your life

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In film and television, music tells us what we’re supposed to be feeling in those moments of all-consuming happiness or devastating heartache. In our own lives, music works in the same way. Whether it’s putting a melody to the low points or using lyrics to spell out our greatest triumphs, music tells the story of our lives. The twinklings of new love, the grief of heartbreak, and the feeling of “oh my god what am I doing with my life?!?” — here are 12 songs to add to the soundtrack of your life. Because when nothing else can solve your problems, music will.

1) Something Good Can Work (Two Door Cinema Club)

Sometimes all you need is a little shove out of the nest. You’ve “gotta little competition now” and you need to “step up your game to make it to the top.” But if other people have been able to make it on their own, then damnit so can you! Prove those cynics wrong, go out there, and show the world that “something good can work.”

2) Always Love (Nada Surf)

The opening line to this mid-2000s alternative classic says it all: “to make a mountain of your life is just a choice.” Your toughest moments are only difficult if you let them get to you because only you are in control of your own happiness. Hate and anger only make life harder, so why not “always love?”

3) Sweet Disposition (The Temper Trap)

There’s a reason this was in 500 Days of Summer! The song’s airy vocals contrasting the quick, synth beats perfectly capture the fleeting innocence of being young and in love. “A moment, a love, a dream aloud, a kiss, a cry.” All so short, so sweet, so damn beautiful.

4) Telescope  (Cage the Elephant)

“Frantically searching his dreams, he wonders what it’s all about,” a.k.a. WHAT WE ALL FEEL AT THE SPRING CAREER FAIR. Having to figure out what you want to do or where you want to go is terrifying, but “time is like a leaf in the wind!” You’re not doing yourself any favors by just waiting around, so grow a pair and send out that resume!

5) Let it Go (James Bay)

Soulful British singer-songwriter James Bay tells the story of that moment in a relationship when you realize you’re holding onto nothing. Everything in the beginning is always peachy until, somehow, it’s not. When that happens, just let it go, and at the end of it, you’ll find that being by yourself is so much better than being with the wrong person.

6) Cool Kids (Echosmith)

Remember Jenny, that annoying brat who was the first girl to get a training bra in junior high? UGH, SHE WAS SO COOL, RIGHT? We’ve all been through that struggle of looking over at the popular kids in the cafeteria and thinking, “What do I have to do to sit with them?” But it’s okay, because everyone’s a cool kid in my book. *Group hug*

7) Bloom (The Paper Kites)

“Bloom” takes you back to your first crush in the 6th grade or to that one time the hot guy in your business communication class asked you when the professor had office hours. This song is the anthem of unrequited love because having a crush on someone so deeply that they’re the best part of your day? It never gets old.

8) Holocene (Bon Iver)

This hypnotic, indie masterpiece by Justin Vernon points out those moments when you realize that you’re part of something so much larger than yourself. You have so much to offer the world, don’t just live within your own boundaries. Take a step back from what you want and what you need, and you can “see for miles, miles, miles…”

9) Not With Haste (Mumford & Sons)

Only Mumford & Sons can pull off comparing love to a corporate stock investment. This indie-folk love song is part “fulfilling dreams” and “being free” but also part “hey, please don’t break my heart because I really invested my emotions in you.”

10) Gravity Happens (Kate Voegele)

Every failed midterm, every cheating ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, every college or job rejection. They all sucked, and you’ll probably experience even worse things later in life! Yay! But after you cry and wallow and eat your body weight in ice cream, you’ll pick yourself up, get the hell over it, and realize that you’re now an even better version of yourself. Because gravity happens. Deal with it.

11) Kiss Me (Ed Sheeran)

The best kind of love is the one that doesn’t sweep you off your feet like in the Disney movies. It’s the love that’s shared between two people who know everything about each other, who find so much comfort together, and who fall in love slowly but completely. And of course, Ed Sheeran, the Ginger Jesus, can put all those feelings in a four minute song.

12) Someday (The Strokes)

You go home for winter break and meet up with friends from high school just to realize that you guys just aren’t the same people anymore. Yeah, it’s time to let them go. Someday, you’ll miss the “good old days,” but until then, you’ve got to live your life according to your own rules. You’ll always have the amazing memories, so don’t be afraid to let go of the past. You’ll come back to them…someday.

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