In trying times, music is the answer

It’s safe to say that, for many people, the pandemic and political turmoil that followed on 2020’s heels has left a lasting emotional impact on their lives. It’s also safe to say that, for many people, music became a source of comfort for the tumultuous period that has defined the past year.

Here, numerous members of Canfield High School from students to staff were questioned about their musical tastes, and more specifically, for a song they would always be up for a listen to – whether the situation be rain or shine, full of despair or hope. 

As expected, Canfield’s tastes are varied in both style and subject, with everything ranging from baroque classical to postmodern pop. Artists Jeff Buckley and Ludwig van Beethoven receive the distinguished honor of having been recommended twice, both for two separate works, as well. 

Of course, now comes the real scoop – which of these recommendations are the best? Having listened to all of them, a judgement will now be given. Here are the top five best songs on this playlist:

  1. “Love Somebody” by Doris Day (recommended by Delaney Pallo)

A charming, relatively unknown song from 1948,  “Love Somebody” is a playful duet between a man and a woman who both proclaim to ”love somebody” and dance around each other with the implications. The vocals and instrumentals are set to an easy jazz style that bounce off each other wonderfully, each filling the space the other leaves behind. There’s no point where the song feels too empty or too full. 

Despite the multiple octaves in difference between the male and female leads, instead of a hindrance they utilize the fact to create some incredibly impressive transitions. It’s simple without being plain, cute with being too cliche, and just a fun listen all around.  

  1. “Bye Bye Bye” by N’ Sync (recommended by Mrs. Gerberry)

Talk about mood whiplash! In direct contrast to “Love Somebody”’s tale of budding young love, “Bye Bye Bye” is the story of a relationship that’s wilted down to the stems, someone cutting ties with a connection that’s no longer working. 

The vocals convey as much emotion as it needs to and sometimes even more, but it’s the instrumentals where it really shines. The beats hit hard where it counts without overdoing it, and the rhythm maintains a steady pace while somehow still coming off as erratic as the singer’s state of mind. An amazing harmony of vocal, instrumental, and story themes.

  1. No Mercy by The Living Tombstone (recommended by Lara Tyson)

Here is a song that’s got everything going for it. 

First of all, the instrumentals. Absolutely phenomenal – varied and stylized to its themes without sounding too overblown. Its pairing with the vocal leads is amazing as well – like the previous two recommendations, “No Mercy” understands the importance of filling space while not being too repetitive or pretentious. 

The premise is that the two vocal leads are bickering over how a match in the video game Overwatch went – namely, how the female lead refused to be the support character “Mercy,” and the male blames the fact that their team lost on that judgement. The singing itself accompanies the tone of the characters amazingly well, as if they really had just stepped away from a failed match. 

It’s an allegory of double standards encased within the postmodern lens of gaming culture, where women are often assigned roles that “support” the fighters, whether subconsciously or not. And if that kind of deep thinking isn’t your thing – well, the banter is hilarious, and who doesn’t want to just hear two people completely roast each other to oblivion? (One doing it far, far better than the other. “Should’ve gone back to Team Fortress 2” – ouch.

  1. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey (recommended by Mrs. Gerberry (again! She’s just got good taste.)

It’s catchy. It’s iconic. It features some of the best written and best performed lyrics of all time in musical history. And it is shamefully underrated. 

“Don’t Stop Believin’” opens with a beautiful flowing series of piano chords, and then the ever so famous line “Just a small town girl” sung with a lilting crescendo and brimming with raw emotion. Here is a song about growing up, about learning your place in the world, about shaping your life to the way you want it to be. 

The background instrumentals themselves are worth an endless loop, smooth and driving forward into the unknown world. Combined with a soulful lyrical performance packed with both spirited feeling and technical mastery over phrasing, here we have a timeless piece of music that strikes deep the hearts of nearly all who listen to it. 

  1. “Ode To Joy” (Symphony No. 9) by Ludwig Van Beethoven (recommended by Harrison Miller)

Before this is taken as a joke reveal, consider this – how many people know that in the original score for Beethoven’s famous 9th symphony, in addition to an orchestra he also called for a full choir? In fact, it is the choir that sings the most resounding instance of that famous theme with German lyrics, a thundering rendition that truly lives up to its name of being an ode to the joys of life.

“Ode To Joy” is not just some silly little ditty that 5 year olds like to tap out on the piano – it is a piece of music with history, with richness, and when done right, with an intensity that has the ability to shake every fiber of your being. Everyone absolutely needs to listen to it in its original context – with dozens of people singing their hearts out while a haunting string section encompasess the spaces in between. A masterpiece of human culture borne from a mastermind, “Ode To Joy” is one of those few things everyone deserves the chance to experience within their life. 

Of course, (nearly) all these songs are worth a listen, if not a million, and that is exactly why a Spotify playlist has been compiled for listening convenience! These songs also include recommendations by this journalism group, featuring Irene Dong, Josh Farley, Grace Min, and Amy Zarbaugh. You can find the playlist above!

Speaking of which, curious about our song tastes? Listen to our episode of the podcast on The Pod from The Cardinal, where Irene, Josh, Grace, and Amy listen and react to each other’s song preferences! There were some surprises for sure, so be sure to watch to the end!