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LOVE LETTERS TO SONGS THAT LIFT US UP

“Music can be a useful emotional edifier to help fill in the blanks. To unlock a cool reserve, a mislaid confidence, an unwavering sense of joy.”

09.04.2021

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You’re in love, high on sex, asking for more of the same. It’s a Sunday morning. Or, maybe, it's the afternoon? Time is wondrously irrelevant. You’re walking unfamiliar streets - walking is suddenly a completely intoxicating and romantic endeavour - to an unfamiliar location. To talk, maybe dance, most definitely flirt, with unfamiliar faces.

It’s been hard to come by, that feeling – or, more accurately, a cocktail of many - sweet, unfettered pleasure. As stagnant days roll un-merrily into weeks and months and now an actual f'ing year, we’re all in firm agreement: nobody feels quite as they once did. Familiarly, a bit detached from the feel-good apparatus of life that once bound us so comfortingly. And so, we wait. For enhancements that equate to a holiday of hope and happiness (ah!).

Yet we forget, that it can take something as sceptically small as a good song to remind us of good times. To transport us to a moment, however brief, both real and imagined, of genuine gratification. Joan Didion once said that she writes entirely to find out what she’s thinking, looking at, seeing, and what it means. Music, too, can be a useful emotional edifier to help fill in the blanks. To unlock a cool reserve, a mislaid confidence, an unwavering sense of joy. Obama, before a big debate, would listen to Jay-Z, Eminem and Frank Sinatra to get his “mind right”; nodding his head to the beat of those songs was, he says, a sort of private rebellion.

Musical tastes are both uniquely personal, private postcards, as well as shaped by those who enter our lives. If someone sends you a song they love, what they are really sharing is an imprint of a feeling and memory. That’s a hard one to shake (how many times have you listened to a song and you are reminded of someone, somewhere?) Even for those who shudder at – whisper it - spirituality, one tune can connect us to something and that’s, surely, some kind of magical.

To mark spring finally awakening, writers, podcasters, DJs and creatives share their all-time favourite happy song, the one that makes them feel marginally better post-listen. An aural memo of moments of pure joy worth holding on to (and out for). Hear! Hear!

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Tara Joshi, Music Editor at gal-dem

Deceptacon by Le Tigre

“As someone with an endlessly anxious brain, there's something about the chaotic, loud and silly frenzy of this that is weirdly soothing and joyous. It's got real dance and scream like no one's watching energy.”

Henry Holland, ceramicist, creative and podcaster

All Of The Lights by Kanye West (feat. Rihanna) 

“It’s my go-to banger to lift my spirits and I find it physically impossible to sit still while it plays. The opening of the song is all I need to get out of my seat - it banishes any bad mood in an instant!”

Megan Nolan, author of Acts of Desperation

Pretty Please by The Triplett Twins

“I heard this song when my old friend Orlando put it on a mix tape (an actual physical one) for me when I was 22 and sad. He took me to the top of a mountain where his Dad lived in Wicklow and sat me down and played his cheer up mix for me, and now I think about it and him whenever I’m down and when I’m up too- it’s impossible not to smile listening to this song.”

Cressida Bonas, actress and podcast host of Fear Itself

Sunny by Marvin Gaye

“Whenever I’m feeling blue I go for a walk with my headphones in and play this song really loud - it instantly makes me feel happy."

Lauren Bravo, writer and author of How To Break Up With Fast Fashion

Sexual Healing by the Hot 8 Brass Band

“It's that rare thing: a cover version that's as special as the original. I first heard it about 13 years ago in a club (remember clubs?) in Paris (remember Paris??) while on holiday with some friends and it just sounded like the most joyful, raucous eight minutes and 52 seconds imaginable. It was the depths of winter then but to me it always sounds like summer, like being barefoot on grass with a drink in your hand. I defy anyone to hear it without dancing.”

Alex Holder, author of Open Up: Why Talking About Money Will Change Your Life

Love My Way by Psychedelic Furs

“From the film Call Me By Your Name. It always makes me think of humid, sweaty, still days and that wonderful, yet suffocating feeling of summer love.”

Eshita Kabra-Davies, founder and CEO of By Rotation

Beausejour by JNL

“A VERY fun song that reminds me of a club night at Boujis. I can't wait to go dancing and feeling like I'm 21 again!”

Emma Firth, BURO. Associate Editor

“OK, so I’m going to bend my own brief here, featuring a tune for every day of the week. Starting with Spring 1 - Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (hope distilled into song). LOVE. By Kendrick Lamar (so soothing). Living For The City by Stevie Wonder (Stevie!!!). Can’t Take My Eyes Of Of You – Lauryn Hill’s version (her voice is endless joy). Harry Nilsson - Gotta Get Up (for motivation with a side of sarcasm). Brenton Wood's The Oogum Boogum Song (like the first day of summer). Don’t Worry Baby by The Beach Boys (so sweet - will never not love this).”

Charlotte Mei, artist

Summer by Joe Hisaishi

“It makes me feel positive and calm when I’m walking to my studio in the morning. I first heard it on a film called Kikujiro.”

Madeleine Spencer, writer and podcast host Beauty Full Lives

Club Tropicana by Wham!

“Does it for me every time. From the first whisper of crickets in the intro suggesting warmer climes, to the sound of someone getting out a car (presumably to enter the enclave where castaways and lovers enjoy their frolics as drinks are handed out wantonly, and the weather is so excellent that a suntan is a guarantee), and, finally, George’s sublime voice, it makes me think of holidays in the 1980s, all neon and sugary confections and swimming pools. I especially love the spectacularly uncool cooing of ‘cool’ repeatedly at the end of the song, because that is an ancillary abiding memory of the 80s: a bit posey, a lot of everyone trying - and on the most part failing - to be cool, but a lot of fun to be had in the process.”

Elizabeth Ilsley, artist and DJ

This Is The Day by The The

“I love this song as it’s a blues song in reverse. It’s about waking up in the morning and seizing the day so to speak. It makes me feel optimistic and not many songs do that to you. It’s a really beautiful song.”

Heather Gwyther, BURO. Contributor

Smell Yo Dick by Riskay

“I toyed between proffering something like 'Happiness' by Alexis Jordan or 'Everywhere' by Fleetwood Mac for this, but neither of those songs make me anywhere near as happy as this one. It's sassy and empowering (and admittedly a bit ridiculous), which – to me at least – are wholly positive states of being.”

Tahmina Begum, writer

Hips Dont Lie by Shakira

“It was one of my first singles that I bought on CD in a local ASDA once and I remember playing it all the way on loop on a three-hour drive. When I play it, it has always been able to bring me joy and I low-key imagine I can dance like Shakira.”

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