Energetic tunes to help students bounce back

Back in the day when I was 13 years old and just learning how to use iTunes, I would obsessively burn mix CDs for my friends. Graduation party? Mix CD. Birthday? Mix CD. Sad friend? Mix CD.

I was clearly a creative teenager.

But honestly, not much has changed, since one of my favorite pastimes is to put together Spotify playlists. So this semester, we’ll explore various genres and curate music together. From pop to country or R&B to reggae, you can find a unique lineup of oldies and newbies each week. Have a suggestion? Tweet me @RiniSampath.

This week, I made a playlist to help us bounce back from that disappointing loss this weekend against Washington State, so it’s time to bring the sunshine back into our lives. Tune into this collection of songs to de-stress and elevate your spirits. A combination of mainstream acts and underground gems, this playlist will have you bopping your head, tapping your feet and smiling at the little things that make the University of Southern California the sunniest university around.

1. “Faster” by Matt Nathanson

This Massachusetts-based folk musician rose to fame with his chart-topper, “Come On Get Higher.” Listen to “Faster,” from his album Modern Love, and you’ll find yourself addicted to his cheerful vocals, rhythmic handclaps and brilliant guitar riffs.

2. “Simple Life” by Casey Abrams

There’s a reason why this song is my current ringtone. Casey Abrams croons in his first verse, “Go get your butt off of that lazy couch.” So if you’re feeling particularly down with intentions of sitting in your bed all day with Nutella and Netflix, listen to “Simple Life.” You’ll want to hug your friends and dance in McCarthy Quad before you know it. And check out Abrams’ music video: It’s hard not to smile at the unexpected quirkiness of his dance moves. Though Abrams didn’t win American Idol, he’s stolen plenty of hearts and found great success following his reality-television stint.

3. “Hey Mama” by Mat Kearney

Dimension. Depth. Clarity. Those are the best three words to describe Mat Kearney’s voice. His simple rhyme scheme give his lyrics a kooky, elementary feel: “I met her at Anthropologie / Purple boots and her golden dreams / Standing there like a Tennessee queen.” “Hey Mama” is a wonderful track for any time of the year.

4. “Up Up Up” by Givers

You might recognize this song as one of many renditions by the Glee cast, but you might not know that it was originally composed by indie-pop group, Givers. But a season three episode of Glee wasn’t the first time Givers made an appearance on national television: Lipton Iced Tea picked upon their addictive tunes for one of their 2013 commercials. As the title implies, it will lift your mood up, up, up.

5. “Tip Toes” by Jayme Dee

If “Tip Toes” was an object instead of a song, it would be a large present wrapped in sparkly paper with millions of bows and stickers. Everything about it is a girly explosion of sparkles, but in all seriousness, when Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato get tiresome, give Dee a chance. Not only does she have California roots, but also Trojan blood: She spent some time studying at USC.

6. “Ladies” by Andy Grammer

He told us to “keep our heads up.” Now he’s reminding girls everywhere of their self-worth by singing: “Ladies, you are beautiful, you are beautiful / You don’t even have to try.” Andy Grammer clearly has a knack for happy music, so put on those headphones, go for a little bike ride and let Mr. Grammer’s sunny verses serenade you.

7. “The One You Say Goodnight To” by Kina Grannis

Like Dee, USC alumna Kina Grannis found fame through YouTube. Her music shines with a sense of innocence and purity unlike any other. In this selection, her lyrics are particularly endearing: “I will be the one you say goodnight to / Let me first say that you’re so charming / Don’t you think that you could use someone to charm?” Exploring other tracks off her album will lead to quite the crush on her production and personality.

8. “I Blame You” by Plug In Stereo

Don’t be mistaken. This title might have you thinking it’s a sad and sappy Bruno Mars single, but it’s actually a brilliant creation of curly-haired Portland soloist, Trevor Dahl (better known as Plug In Stereo). A steady drum beat, little touches of the electronic keyboard and cutesy “oohs” and “aahs” accentuate his youthful voice.

9. “Little Bitty Pretty One” by Thurston Harris

We’re about to wrap this playlist up with a nice throwback. Harris’ soulful voice accompanied by happy humming brings back memories of classic films like Matilda and The Princess Diaries, two contemporary movies in which Harris’ track was featured. Though he passed away nearly 20 years ago, Harris has left an unforgettable mark on the musical world. Give this song a go on your morning walk to class and BUAD 302 or WRIT 140 won’t seem as draining as usual.

10. “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root

Another classic song. Another track that’s recognizable thanks to the film Matilda. Tons of whistling, flute solos and lyrics that sound like complete gibberish, yet still have the capacity to make you feel like you’re floating on a cloud. Rusted Root, a Pennsylvania band, gained immense popularity in the ‘90s, but are still an excellent addition to any day in need of some more joy.


Rini Sampath is a sophomore majoring in international relations. Her column “Traveler’s Tracks” runs Mondays.

Follow Rini on Twitter @RiniSampath