The beaches, booze and beauty of spring break have come and gone. Dreadful and distressing midterms are somehow rapidly approaching yet again. The weather app displays a sea of mid-40s and light drizzle. March Madness? More like March sadness.
As we hope and plead for spring to arrive, secretly cursing that dumb groundhog for seeing his shadow once again, only one thing can get us through this miserable month — misery-drenched music.
“Misery” by Michigander
Singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Jason Singer — or Michigander — creates music self-described as “the product of restless feet and the need to say something,” as quoted on his artist website. Both this energy and urgency are tangible in “Misery,” the second track off his 2019 EP, “Where Do We Go From Here.”
Inspired by the music which filled his childhood, Michigander marries the unapologetic angst of Radiohead and early Coldplay with the invigorating alternative rock of The White Stripes and The Killers. Defined by vulnerable lyrics, intriguing guitar riffs and nondescript intervening vocals, “Misery” composes a dreamlike state that characterizes Michigander’s unique sound.
While the song begins slow and steady, the guitar, drums and vocals pick up on the chorus. Calling out to shy, scared and secretly-in-love girls everywhere, the singer begs, “So tell me what you’re thinking / Cause I think I feel the same as you / She got my knees shaking / So take my heart and break it in two.”
The track builds to a pleading guitar solo, preluding an emotion-filled bridge where Michigander cries, “I'm trying to stay awake ‘till I fall asleep / I’m stuck between a pillow and a dream.”
Every insomnia-enraged, heartbroken, yet hopeful kid can find solace in this song’s sympathies.
“Misery” by The Beatles
While the most legendary band of all time has inarguably sewn itself into the permanent fabric of our culture, many of The Beatles’ early albums remain unexplored by today’s youth. “Misery” may lack the popularity of its adjacents — “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Twist and Shout” — but the track revels in the well-loved sixties charm that fills the 1963 debut album “Please Please Me.”
The high-pitched piano notes, a guitar riff to match and Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s iconic vocals trick the listener into a good mood. The song’s beauty, however, stems from the juxtaposition between its upbeat tune and its melancholy lyrics. The title serves as a constant thread throughout the chorus, and the bridge echoes the tired words of a broken-hearted soul, “I'll remember all the little things we’ve done / Can't she see she’ll always be the only one?”
Take comfort in the fact that such rock stars have felt such pedestrian sorrows, or ignore the lyrics altogether. Either way, clocking in at only 1:49, this speedy song will provide momentary relief from the March blues.
“Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now” by The Smiths
One could easily mistake frontman Morrissey’s singing for crying as he unravels his agony on this mournful track. Released soon after their debut record, nobody could mistake the 1984 hit “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” for anyone but The Smiths.
As if he were a Hoo who has just returned from spring break, Morrissey begins this Shakespearean soliloquy — “I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour / But heaven knows I’m miserable now.”
This depressing profession is followed by a series of rhetorical questions, which ultimately surmount to the final line, “Oh why do I give valuable time / To people who don’t care if I live or die?”
Kill one dreary March afternoon wondering if Morrissey is expressing the sarcastic woes of a self-aware loner or the serious pleas of a pitiful alcoholic.
“Miserable” by Heart to Gold
If this four-song playlist is a family, Heart to Gold’s 2022 track “Miserable” is the angsty teenage cousin who might just storm off from the Thanksgiving dinner table, never to be seen again.
While the introduction feels gingerly downcast, the first verse sets the record straight. The guitar screams unpredictably while lead singer Grant Whiteoak desperately demands, “How the hell am I / Supposed to know / Why I feel so alone?”
Taking after Green Day and The Clash, brawling on every chord, Heart to Gold kicks the punk back into alternative rock. The indie undertones fight back, however, forcing this anger to spar with the gentle guitar that fills the void between verses.
Give “Miserable” a listen this month to reminisce on the disturbed, distressed and disgruntled high schooler you once were — and still might be.