The trees have begun to flaunt their colorful blossoms, covering Grounds with a sheet of pink and white petals. Weather forecasts boast rising temperatures as chilly mornings melt into warm afternoons. Droves of students flock to the Lawn after class to soak up the sun and lounge in the breeze.
It seems that spring is officially here to stay in Charlottesville, and the changing of the seasons calls for a fresh new playlist to welcome the transition. Whether you’re having a picnic, hiking on Skyline Drive or just taking a stroll around Grounds, these four tracks are sure to help you soak up spring.
“Les Fleurs” by Minnie Riperton
What could be better for spring than a song about a personified flower? Released in 1970, “Les Fleurs” feels nostalgic and timeless all at once. While Riperton’s genre-defying debut album “Come to My Garden” was not a commercial success, the growing popularity of her work — and this song in particular — has cemented her as an artist ahead of her time.
The track opens with the plucking of a relaxed, unassuming acoustic guitar. In her signature airy voice, Riperton asks, “Will somebody wear me to the fair? / Will a lady pin me in her hair?” Riperton explores the beauty and healing power of nature over a simple instrumental until she reaches the chorus, where the song swells into a lush climax. The listener is enveloped in a sweeping orchestral arrangement under the impassioned vocals of a choir.
“Les Fleurs” may sound familiar even to those who are not fans of the singer. Its atmospheric power makes it the perfect track for advertisements and movie soundtracks — however, it is best enjoyed in the car on a warm day with the windows rolled down.
“Hey Lover” by Blake Mills
Nothing says spring like a jangly, upbeat indie rock tune about a budding romance. Blake Mills is an established singer-songwriter from California, having produced tracks for artists like Sky Ferreira and Fiona Apple. His solo work is understated, wistful and guitar-driven — “Hey Lover” is a shining example.
A warm acoustic guitar sets the song in motion before upbeat drums kick in, creating an infectious groove that falls over the listener. Mills’ toasty, earnest vocals make the song feel like it is being sung by an old friend.
About 30 seconds in, the song breaks into a tender, catchy chorus as Mills repeats the song’s namesake, “Hey lover, hey lover, hey lover, hey lover.” He gets vulnerable with his subject, telling them, “I want to raise with you and watch our younglings hatch / F—in' make the first letters of their first names match.” With lyrics that explore young love and new beginnings, “Hey Lover” is a great compliment to a season of transformation for those both single and in relationships.
“Ladies of Cambridge” by Vampire Weekend
Perfectly capturing the youthful excitement that comes with the changing of the seasons, “Ladies of Cambridge” explores the life of college students in Boston while communicating both the joy and the alienation associated with this metamorphic stage in life.
A flourish of guitars accompanied by lively drums and bright synths kicks off the song. Lead singer Ezra Koenig sings with an energetic, boyish belt that moves hurriedly as if he has somewhere to be.
The first verse sees the singer describe a flirtatious encounter with the titular women — “Raggedy wisdom falls from my hand / the ladies of Cambridge know who I am.” A flood of strings punctuates the chorus, where Koenig takes a more wistful turn by confessing to his lover, “If you leave I just don’t think I could take it.”
The contrast between lighthearted fun and romantic longing perfectly sums up the experience of many college students. This sentiment, coupled with its bubbly sound, makes “Ladies of Cambridge” the perfect spring soundtrack for any student at the University. Try listening to it on your way to grab drinks on the Corner in the early evening.
“First Love / Late Spring” by Mitski
For some, springtime’s transitory nature doesn’t bring happiness or romance, rather standing as a bittersweet time full of uncertainty and emotional turmoil. Japanese-American artist Mitski — a master of articulating complicated feelings — artfully utilizes spring-related imagery to convey the anxiety that new love can bring.
“The night breeze carries something sweet, a peach tree,” Mitski croons early in the song, creating a strong sensory experience. Her soft voice grows into a pleading cry in the chorus — the artist begs, “please, hurry, leave me, I can’t breathe / please don’t say you love me.”
Beneath the personal lyrics lies a subtle, stripped-back instrumental that allows the listener to fully bask in Mitski’s poetic genius and reflect on what her words mean to them.
While other songs on this list encapsulate the joy that spring can bring, Mitski reveals the complications and unease that come with it. “First Love” is unique in its revelation that great new things cannot be experienced without the discomfort of change. This track is best enjoyed on an April night in one’s bedroom with the window open.