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The Power of Nostalgic Music

My Airpods are locked into my ears as Sean Kingston and Justin Beiber’s “Eenie Meenie Radio Version” transport me to a utopia of freedom and serenity; adolescence. This sensation rushes through my body, pumping sounds that revive memories of sweet summer air blowing through the minivan window during the summers of the 2010’s. Reciting every word to the songs as the bumpy van cruises across the Tappan Zee Bridge, I now return home from a confining prison (also known as high school). These sounds are my escape.

The thirst for nostalgia always resurges during moments of insatisfaction. As humans, we have an innate tendency to dwell on the past; never satisfied with present day life. As a member of Gen-Z, who’s social life has been infiltrated by the crippling COVID pandemic, the desire to turn back the clocks, and revert to the era of childhood innocence, increased dramatically. This passionate desire led today’s teens down deep rabbit holes of endless Maroon 5 and Black Eyed Peas songs, a combination of cheesy pop with fragments of alternative rock. My Spotify playlists flooded with Rihanna, 21 Pilots, Usher, and Imagine Dragons, dominating the sounds of current dull hip hop and pop punk tracks.

As I reminisced I noticed the drastic decline of pop music in today's age; no more thrilling boy bands songs to scream too or Taylor Swift songs to sob too, just remnants of iconic songs from over the decades that have slowly traveled to the background of our minds. Where’s the creativity? This dreary period in music of monotone rap songs, discussing exclusively drugs and sex which are all indistinguishable from the other, has plagued the ears of today’s adolescence. The advancement towards the steep decline of pop music will be hard to recover from.

While the search for a taste of simpler times prolongs, the ability of these songs to hold up today hangs in the balance. The thread of claims questioning these nostalgic sounds are inaccurate in considering the ability of these songs to tug on our emotions. Since the purpose of music is to make us feel something, relieve our stresses, distract us from our problems, and ignite a fiery temper within us, then isn’t this era of music achieving just that? If a song can accomplish this, whether presently good or bad in its actual product, it is fulfilling its mission of triggering emotion.

Music is subjective and the current judgmental and elitist perspective towards “popular” or “basic” songs is harmful to the power of sound. Yearning for the feeling of nostalgia is inevitable, but whether we use music as a tool of confining ourselves to the past or utilizing it as a mechanism of sentimental positivity can alter the effects of music on this generation and those to follow.

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