Ahh, May —the last week of dreading finals and a walk to your last few classes of the semester in the 90 degree heat. Sweat drips down your forehead as you try to remember what exactly elastic demand means, wishing you were somewhere tropical instead of Wilson 402. The smell of summer is right around the corner, and you’re so close to the end. Here are a few songs to listen to for some motivation through the last minute cram sessions and all-around good vibes.
“just like magic” by Ariana Grande
A killer pop hit from Ariana Grande’s most recent album “Positions,” this song captures all of the good vibes needed for finals week. In “just like magic,” Grande tells fans how she pursues her goals, and when she wants something to happen, she achieves it.
The opening synth waves fade with a beat drop as she sings “Wake up in my bed, I just wanna have a good day / Think it in my head, then it happens how it should, ayy.” Grande uses manifestation techniques throughout the song to tell her fans that she — and they — can create the future they want. Grande’s high notes are powerful yet light and airy. Her effortless riffs never let anyone forget the vocal force that is Ariana Grande.
Try embodying some Ari confidence this exam season! Walk into your next exam singing “I get everything I want cause I attract it,” and you will ace that final, just like magic.
“Moving Out” by Dayglow
Looking for a groovy, 80’s-style song to blast as you move out for the summer? Look no further than “Moving Out” from Dayglow’s 2021 album “Harmony House.” The song has a production reminiscent of that of the end credits of an ‘80’s sitcom. The synth brings the listener back to the past as the lyrics motivate for the future — “Man, get up on your feet / Go see what your dream’s about.”
Whether you’re leaving Grounds for just a few months or nearing graduation, “Moving Out” symbolizes a period of change in life, a time full of uncertainty about the future. The song expresses the discomfort that “it's so hard to leave when you've got your feet on the ground.”
After a year — or four — in the same place, it can be challenging to imagine yourself somewhere else. However, the prevailing message of the song tells listeners that “you're growing to be / Something you can't see right now.” There can be optimism in the uncertainty of finals and what lies beyond.
“Lemon Tree” by Mt. Joy
Even if you didn’t see them perform at Carr’s Hill or Ting Pavilion last weekend, Mt. Joy has the perfect soundtrack for the summer. “Lemon Tree,” which the band originally released in 2022 as a single, appears on their newest album “Orange Blood.” The band is most known for its hits “Silver Lining” and “Astrovan.”
The song starts out as a slow guitar solo, which remains the most prominent instrument in the production even as the song builds. The verses of the songs are broken up by euphoric guitar solos with a driving beat, making the song a great mood boost for walking home from a long exam or sitting on the lawn absorbing the sunshine.
Lead singer Matt Quinn recently told World Cafe that the song is about “leaning into positive energy and accepting what you can't change,” written by the team during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Quinn starts out by singing, “I just found a lemon tree / It's a bad day for my enemies,” a sort of dare for someone to try to ruin his positivity. In the outro, almost drowned out by the guitar, Quinn calls out “Let it roll / Let it roll now that we’re alive.”
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears
No upbeat playlist would be complete without this timeless classic, the ultimate protagonist-at-the-end-of-a-coming-of-age-movie song. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is the quintessential ‘80’s song, a tune that instantly boosts listeners’ spirits just from the sound of its iconic intro.
Okay, so maybe Tears for Fears meant for the song to be a commentary about corruption of power-hungry leaders amidst the looming threat of nuclear war, but the song often takes on a different connotation in pop culture. The upbeat synth background gives the listener a sense of contentment. Listeners can interpret the opening line “Welcome to your life, / there’s no turning back,” as a call to action to take charge of their own destiny.
If you’re looking for a little 1980s nostalgia, the walk to Clem can turn into a main character montage with a John Hughes-esque soundtrack. A picnic on the lawn can help you soak in the best moments of college. The lyrics can turn into a mantra: everybody wants to rule the world, just like you rule your exams.